The Minor League Big Board will keep tabs on the players down on the farm that have the highest potential to make a positive fantasy impact for their MLB parent clubs if/when they receive a promotion in ’17. This top 10 ranking is based upon statistical upside for the traditional 5×5 roto categories, while also heavily factoring in the player’s expected time frame for reaching the majors.
1. Yoan Moncada, ChW, 2/3 – Triple-A Charlotte – No. 1 on previous Big Board
Moncada has struggled since coming off the DL (thumb) in late May, and has hit just .154 over his past 10 games. As the White Sox are generally considered to be holding off on promoting the game’s top prospect until they feel he’s safely cleared the Super 2 threshold, his slump could be considered convenient for the club in that it should quiet their crowd-base cries demanding to see him in a Chicago uniform. If you want an excellent explanation of how the Super 2 status is determined and how it pertains to Moncada’s situation, check out this article written a few weeks back by SouthSideSox.com. With a .287 batting average, 6 HR and 12 SB in 47 games at Triple-A this season, Moncada’s numbers still look pretty good despite his recent slide, especially when you consider that the Sox have generated the seventh-lowest OPS from the 2B position in MLB and their second sackers have combined for just five stolen bases in 13 attempts. If you read that SouthSideSox.com article, it pins the All-Star break as a very safe time for the team to call up Moncada (so as to steer clear of Super 2 status). For those holding him on a fantasy bench, unfortunately your patience is going to continue to be tested.
2. Amed Rosario, NYM, SS – Triple-A Las Vegas – No. 2 on previous Big Board
Currently seven games under .500 and nine games out of the wild card race, you can be sure the Mets aren’t going to risk calling up Rosario, their top prospect, before the Super 2 threshold is safely in the rear-view mirror. That said, we are getting very close to that point on the calendar and, as the Mets wait, they are forced to watch well-worn veterans Asdrubal Cabrera and Jose Reyes combine to produce, what has been to this point, the seventh-lowest OPS (.641) at the SS position in all of the majors. Rosario, despite being just 21 years old, is lauded for his mature approach to the game. In addition, he’s a slick fielder and continues to blossom as an offensive player (.339 BA, .502 SLG%, 6 HR, 11 SB in 58 games at Triple-A Las Vegas). It’s reasonable to expect the Mets to make a move for Rosario, one of the game’s elite prospects, before the All-Star break.
3. Lewis Brinson, Mil, OF – currently at Triple-A Colorado Springs – No. 3 on previous Big Board
After a mid-May lull, Brinson is starting to heat up at the plate again, hitting .350 for Colorado Springs over his past 10 games. The 23-year-old is considered a strong future 20/20 candidate for the Brewers, but as long as Milwaukee continues to hang around in the postseason hunt, Brinson’s chances of being called up are likely to stay low. After all, the team would need to clear a spot in its outfield and veteran Ryan Braun would be the likeliest candidate to be moved out (in a trade). But Braun probably isn’t going anywhere while the team is in contention. Of course, we could see Brinson get a look in the very-possible scenario in which Braun (currently on the DL) were to suffer another injury over the summer.
4. Gleyber Torres, NYY, SS – Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre – No. 10 on previous Big Board
With a promotion to Triple A, Torres suddenly got a whole lot more interesting from a fantasy perspective, especially when you consider that Yankees third baseman Chase Headley is hitting just .232 with a .655 OPS. “But, wait! Headley is a third baseman and Torres is a shorstop,” you say. Well, it’s true that Torres had only played a position outside of shortstop (2B) just once in his pro career before ’17. But this season, he’s logged seven more games at 2B and 12 games at the hot corner, so you can see the Yankees are exploring all possibilities. So far, Torres has held his own through 14 games at the Triple A level, producing a .414 OBP and .783 OPS. After Moncada, Torres is most-widely regarded as the game’s No. 2 prospect. If Headley continues to struggle, Torres’ promotion timetable could move from September to mid-summer.
5. Rafael Devers, Bos, 3B – currently at Double-A Portland – No. 7 on previous Big Board
After a chilly finish to May at the dish, Boston’s top prospect is raking again for Portland, going 10-for-23 with 2 HR in his past seven games. Not surprisingly, given the woeful state of Boston’s hot corner position, push from the baseball punditry in the New England area to promote Devers is gaining strength by the day. A promotion to at least Triple-A Pawtucket seems likely to happen soon. And if that goes well (if/when that happens), it’s conceivable to think that Devers could be given a trial run in Boston by late July or early August. With his power and ability to consistently make solid contact, he’d be a very intriguing roto commodity plugged into that potent Boston lineup.
6. Derek Fisher, Hou, OF – Triple-A Fresno- Unranked on previous Big Board
Fisher is the only current player at the Triple-A level that can boast double digits in both home runs (15) and stolen bases (11), though the base thievery has come at a high price (caught stealing 10 times). But for fantasy purposes, it’s hard not to look at those power/speed numbers (along with a .335 BA) and not be impressed. The Astros certainly hope he impresses front office types around MLB, as well, as Fisher is regarded as a prominent trade chip for the team as it looks to add an additional arm to help their realistic drive for a World Series title. But, with Nori Aoki manning left field, the Astros also can make a strong case to turn their attention to Fisher to take over that role down the stretch. Either way, the 23-year-old Fisher, with 350 career minor league games under his belt (and back-to-back seasons with at 20 home runs and 25 steals), seems ripe for a shot at the MLB level.
7. Rhys Hoskins, Phi, 1B – Triple-A Lehigh Valley – No. 5 on previous Big Board
Hoskins’ bat barked loudly to open the season, as he hit 13 home runs in his first 44 games with Lehigh Valley. For most of that time, his path-blocker in Philly, first baseman Tommy Joseph, was struggling. But Hoskins has hit just one home run in his past 15 games, while Joseph has been on a nice tear for Philly since early May. Hoskins has shown that he can hit at every level he’s played at, thus far, and deserves a look on the MLB stage. But unless the Phillies figure out a way to clear a path for him (Hoskins and Joseph are both ill-equipped to play anywhere besides first base, and neither can be considered well-equipped to play first), he’s likely to stay where he’s at for a while.
8. Ozzie Albies, Atl, 2B – currently at Triple-A Gwinnett – No. 6 on previous Big Board
The Braves’ top prospect is currently riding the 7-day DL because of a foot injury. Before that he was getting it done on the base paths (2nd in the International League with 15 steals), but he’s been a bit underwhelming at the plate, where he owns a .703 OPS through 54 games with Gwinnett. Despite his lack of showy numbers at the dish and his young age (20 years old), Albies is likely to see a promotion to Atlanta not too long after he returns to action. His glove is MLB ready and he’s already logged 347 games at the minor league level, hitting .302 in that span. With Atlanta sitting seven games under .500 and without its top hitter (Freddie Freeman – hand), playing for the future has become much more of a present reality in Atlanta. Albies should partner with Dansby Swanson up the middle for Atlanta sometime this summer.
9. Willie Calhoun, LAD, 2B – currently at Triple-A Oklahoma City – No. 8 on previous Big Board
Calhoun’s ability to hit for power while making consistent contact is rare. In a combined 188 career games at the Double- or TripleA level, he has swatted 37 home runs and whiffed just 91 times. But Calhoun remains suspect with the glove and the will likely be forced to the outfield in the majors. But the Dodgers don’t really have room for him anywhere on the diamond at the moment, which is to say that Calhoun may have to be dealt to get a real shot at the next level. If Los Angeles winds up making any purchases in advance of the trade dealine, you can bet they’ll be using Calhoun’s name as currency.
10. Franklin Barreto, Oak, SS – Triple-A Nashville – No. 4 on previous Big Board
Barreto is considered one of the top pop/speed middle infield prospects in baseball, and the A’s seem to have a need for help at shortstop with Marcus Semien (hand) expected out until mid-July. The A’s have produced MLB’s sixth-worst OPS mark from the SS position (.636) which would make Barreto very interesting given that we are at the point in the season when service time issues start to become much less worrisome. But, unfortunately, Barreto has fallen into a nasty slump for Nashville, which includes a very un-A’s like 27:0 K-to-BB rate over his past 17 games. Clearly, he’s got some work still left to do before the A’s consider calling him up. And if he doesn’t get his act together before Semien returns in mid-July, his arrival in Oakland could come too late for the roto world to care.
Dropped Out: Austin Meadows, Pit, OF (No. 9 on previous Big Board)
Bubble Watch: Mauricio Dubon, Mil, 2/S (AA Biloxi); Dominic Smith, NYM, 1B (AAA Las Vegas); Jose De Leon, TB, SP (AAA Durham – DL); Brent Honeywell, TB, SP; Scott Kingery, Phi, 2B (AA Reading); Jeimer Candelario, ChC, 3B (AAA Iowa); Sean Newcombe, Atl, SP (AAA Gwinnett); Oswaldo Arcia, Ari, OF (AAA Reno); Christian Walker, Ari, OF (AAA Reno); Christin Stewart, Det, OF (AA Erie); Carson Kelly, StL, C