Image credit: Brendan McKay
To help fantasy players make sense of prospect performance, the dynasty stock report for May is here. In this installment we focus on performance by minor league prospects at each position in May.
For each position, we highlight a Standout player, who should be viewed as that month’s prospect all-star, a Surging player, who is a lower-profile prospect who is playing well and could be worth tracking, and a Slumping player, who is a prominent prospect who has underperformed.
Struggling players are included not to pile on, but rather to highlight players for whom you may be able to buy low.
Key to the abbreviations used. Those with a plus sign (+) are index statistics in which the player is compared with league average, where a score of 100 is exactly average.
RAA = runs above league average (based on wOBA and R/9 for pitchers)
OPS+ = similar to Baseball-Reference.com version (not yet adjusted for ballpark)
XB+ = extra bases divided by batted balls
SBA+ = stolen bases attempted divided by (estimated) times on first base
FIP = fielding-independent pitching, e.g. strikeout, walk and home runs rates expressed as ERA
Standout: Sam Huff, Rangers (8.3 RAA, 175 OPS+, 203 XB+)
Huff hangs on to the top spot while carrying over his April production at low Class A Hickory to the high Class A Carolina League. He can hit (.340, 19 homers) and he can throw (59 percent of basestealers retired). The question remains: Will his low-walk, high-strikeout approach continue to play?
Surging: Julio Rodriguez, Cardinals (9.5 RAA, 197 OPS+, 165 XB+)
Rodriguez has a sterling defensive reputation, which embellishes what the 22-year-old Dominican has done with the bat this season. He ranks among the Florida State League leaders in average, on-base percentage and slugging.
Slumping: Payton Henry, Brewers (-7.4 RAA)
A fourth-year pro out of high school in Utah, Henry climbed to high Class A Carolina after receiving a surprise invitation to big league camp this year. He hit just .143 for the month of May but showed good power when he put the ball in play. Henry also excels defensively, having won the minor league Gold Glove last year.
Standout: Triston Casas, Red Sox (10.3 RAA, 202 OPS+, 229 XB+)
Casas battled the incendiary Yordan Alvarez to a draw at first base in May, hitting .315/.396/.652 with eight home runs and seven doubles. The 26th overall pick last year out of high school got off to a slow start in April at low Class A Greenville, but he is now back on track.
Surging: Mason Martin, Pirates (11.0 RAA, 201 OPS+, 303 XB+)
Drafted in the 17th round out of high school in 2017, Martin excelled in the Gulf Coast League that year but then scuffled through a lost 2018. Returning to low Class A this season, he has proven to be a three true outcomes here by mashing 16 home runs on the season with ample walks and strikeouts.
Slumping: Tyler Nevin, Rockies (-3.9 RAA)
While the Royals’ Nick Pratto continued to scuffle in May at high Class A Wilmington (.143 with 39 percent strikeouts), Nevin had not yet adapted to Double-A Hartford. Through 52 games he had hit .220 with two homers.
Standout: Luis Urias, Padres (9.7 RAA, 163 OPS+, 121 XB+)
Urias has tapped into big power in the Pacific Coast League. He swatted six homers and seven doubles in May.
Surging: Kody Clemens, Tigers (8.1 RAA, 167 OPS+, 226 XB+)
A third-round pick from Texas last year, Clemens started slowly in the Florida State League before picking up the pace in may by hitting .276/.366/.533 with 16 extra-base hits in the extreme pitcher’s league.
Slumping: Pablo Reyes, Pirates (-4.0 RAA)
I singled out Reyes in the preseason based on his breakthrough 2018, eye-opening big league debut and .879 OPS in spring training. He made the Pirates’ Opening Day roster but didn’t hit with sporadic playing time. He has continued to not hit at Triple-A Indianapolis, though he is still taking a large share of middle infield time at shortstop and second base.
Standout: Nolan Jones, Indians (10.1 RAA, 179 OPS+, 164 XB+)
Jones continues to raise his profile in the Carolina League, where he finished last season. The tall lefthanded batter hit .293/.473/.488 with four homers and a crazy walk rate of nearly 26 percent.
Surging: Abraham Toro, Astros (11.6 RAA, 182 OPS+, 156 XB+)
While scouts regard Toro more as an average-across-the-board player, there’s no denying the impact he has made for Double-A Corpus Christi this season. He has hit .311/.407/.512 with 10 homers on the year.
Slumping: Malcom Nuñez (-5.2 RAA)
The Cuban signee won the triple crown in the Dominican Summer League last year, but it’s a long way from there to the Midwest League. He hit .188 with one extra-base hit for Peoria in May, but don’t abandon ship based on this small sample.
Standout: Gavin Lux, Dodgers (8.0 RAA, 164 OPS+, 180 XB+)
The Wisconsin prep has quietly turned himself into one of the finest shortstop prospects in game. He rank among the Texas League leaders in average, home runs and slugging.
Surging: Jeremy Peña, Astros (12.3 RAA, 200 OPS+, 144 XB+, 248 SBA+)
One of the finest defensive players in the 2018 draft, Peña starred at Maine before turning pro as an Astros third-round pick. His performance at low Class A Quad Cities is encouraging, but he will obviously need to be tested at higher levels.
Slumping: Luis Garcia, Nationals (-6.9 RAA)
We shift the spotlight from the Phillies’ Luis Garcia last time to the Nationals’ Luis Garcia this month. Neither one is hitting all that much, but each is notably one of the youngest players in his league. The Nationals’ Garcia entered the season as the lone teenager at Double-A.
• Trevor Larnach, Twins (14.7 RAA, 221 OPS+, 220 XB+)
The all-fields power that helped make Larnach the 20th overall pick last year out of Oregon State is on full display in the Florida State League this season.
• Adam Haseley, Phillies (14.3 RAA, 207 OPS+, 181 XB+)
The Phillies revamped their minor league hitting strategy in the offseason and Haseley is one of the early success stories. He powered his way from Double-A to Triple-A to Philadelphia after the Phillies lost outfielders Odubel Herrera and Andrew McCutchen.
• Kyle Tucker, Astros (14.3 RAA, 182 OPS+, 203 XB+, 259 SBA+)
From the doghouse to the penthouse is an expression one might apply to Tucker, who scuffled at Triple-A in April but rebounded in a big way. He hit 11 home runs in May, which was tied with the Twins’ Lewin Diaz and one behind the Indians’ Bobby Bradley for the most in the minors.
• Niko Hulsizer, Dodgers (16.2 RAA, 235 OPS+, 341 XB+)
An 18th-round pick out of Morehead State a year ago, Hulszier is a name that bears watching after he led all minor league batters with 16 runs above average in May. He hit .330 with an incredible display of secondary skills, including 18 extra-base hits and 15 walks.
• Jake Fraley, Mainers (14.5 RAA, 204 OPS+, 191 XB+)
Fraley is 24, but he’s certainly acting his age. Acquired by the Mariners from the Rays last offseason, he has put his best foot forward at Double-A Arkansas, hitting a Texas League-leading .333 with nine homers and 14 stolen bases.
• Canaan Smith, Yankees (11.5 RAA, 190 OPS+, 142 XB+)
Low Class A Charleston coaches love Smith, a third-year pro out of high school in Texas. The Yankees drafted him in the fourth round, and he is living up to that potential as a young corner bat with power and patience.
• Seuly Matias, Royals (-9.2 RAA)
Strikeouts had gotten the better of the young slugger, who whiffed 54 percent of the time in a homerless May.
• Jhon Torres, Cardinals (-5.7 RAA)
Signed by the Indians out of Colombia in 2016, Torres shined in complex ball last season both before and after being traded to the Cardinals. His learning curve at low Class A Peoria had been steep, however, after hitting .167 with two extra-base hits and 39 percent strikeouts in May. Expect him to rebound with an assignment to short-season ball in June.
• Julio Pablo Martinez, Rangers (-5.0 RAA)
While fellow Cuban outfielder Luis Robert has taken the prospect world by storm in the White Sox system, countryman Martinez has scuffled at a pair of Class A levels. He hit .170 in May but made his batted balls count (eight XBH) as well as his times on base (eight SB attempts).
• Zac Gallen, Marlins (14.2 RAA, 148 ERA+, 3.42 FIP)
It won’t be long before the Marlins give Gallen a spin in the big league rotation. The biggest thing holding him back has been that one of Miami’s few strengths this season has been its rotation. But Gallen ranked second to the Brewers’ Aaron Wilkerson for most runs above average in May, while brandishing a 50-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
• Brendan McKay, Rays (11.7 RAA, 191 ERA+, 1.36 FIP)
By striking out 33, walking five and allowing zero home runs in May, McKay recorded a 1.36 FIP that ranked fourth among minor league pitchers with 20 innings. That he did so against Double-A and Triple-A competition speaks volumes about his potential.
• Kyle Muller, Braves (12.1 RAA, 176 ERA+, 2.29 FIP)
Muller has major league starter written all over him, with a fastball up to 97 mph and a chance for two solid-average secondaries. He went 3-0, 0.81 in five May starts.
• Matt Manning, Tigers (9.6 RAA, 159 ERA+, 1.71 FIP)
Manning has a lot of conviction in his curveball, which is a valuable attribute in the context of today’s game, where pitching backwards has become almost a requisite. Thanks to a 34-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio and no homers allowed, he ranked 10th among minor leaguers in FIP in May.
• Tommy Parsons, Cardinals (8.4 RAA, 149 ERA+, 2.32 FIP)
An undrafted free agent last year out of Division III Adrian (Mich.), Parsons has shined at two levels of Class this season, recording a 1.02 ERA through 70.1 innings. He has size and deception, if not big stuff.
• Joe Ryan, Rays (7.0 RAA, 141 ERA+, 2.65 FIP)
A seventh-round find out of Cal State Stanislaus, Ryan has taken the Class A level by storm with an elite swinging-strike rate. Exercise caution for now, because Ryan relies on a low-90s fastball up in the zone, coupled with deception, and needs to firm up his secondaries.
• Forrest Whitley, Astros (-14.4 RAA)
Before hitting the injured list with shoulder fatigue, Whitley had allowed opponents to hit .458 in May, while his ERA registered at 18.29 in 10.1 innings. The break should help, but even when Whitley was healthy, scouts were dinging him for his poor body language when things weren’t going his way.
• Simeon Woods-Richardson, Mets (-15.6 RAA)
The 2018 second-rounder out of high school misses bats and finds the strike zone, but too many of the batted balls against him found holes in May (.452 BABIP). His stuff is still elite.