Matt Brash Among Rookies to Watch

MLB prospects. Whether you’re in a dynasty or deep keeper league, they’re the trick to being consistent in fantasy baseball. Every MLB season there are top prospects and unknown rookies alike that can be the reason for winning your fantasy baseball leagues. We’ve already seen players like Steven Kuwan, Jeremy Pena, Bobby Witt Jr., Hunter Greeneand seiya suzuki give us early returns.

Who could be the next prospect to get called up and make a difference in fantasy baseball? That’s what we’ll be trying to answer each week in our MLB Prospect Report articles. Some weeks will be a recap of top performers in the minors while others will be deeper dives into farm systems. However, no matter what is being talked about, it will be actionable information and I’m always available on Twitter (@theselzman) or in the Fantasy Alarm Discord to answer any questions.

One other thing, my Top-300 Prospect list will be updated consistently throughout the MLB season as players graduate and others come in. Let’s dive in!

Recent MLB Prospect Debuts

The Seattle righty with quite a lot of pub this spring and last year, Matt Brash, made his much-anticipated MLB debut over opening weekend. The No. 6 prospect for the Mariners has a double-plus fastball-slider combo that anchors his repertoire. He also mixes in a curveball and change that are both, at least, MLB-average with room to improve. Brash’s four-pitch mix produced a whopping 142 strikeouts in 97.1 innings across the low-minors last year. Now, he’s bringing his filthy stuff to the Mariners’ rotation. Not only does he have better movement on his pitches, but he also tunnels them well in his delivery to add to the disappointment. While he’s gotten overshadowed by Logan Gilbert, Emerson Hancockand George Kirby in the Seattle farm system, Brash’s stuff might be the best outside of Gilbert.

And it is, Christian Patch has already debuted in the majors – but now he’s debuted for his new team. We knew following the trade to Oakland that he’d get ample at-bats, but the question was if Pache’s bat would play better than it did in Atlanta. There have been mixed reviews — so far. The four hits in 15 at-bats are nice, including a double, but the four strikeouts aren’t. That continues his trend of striking out too much in the majors. In 1,970 minor-league at-bats, Pache had a 22.5-percent K-rate and it’s risen to 36.4% over 85 MLB ABs. Not great Bob, as they like to say. If Pache can’t get his swings and misses under control, the 70-grade speed will never play. Lastly, about that 70-grade speed that produced a 32-steal season in 2017 – he only has 35 combined steals in all the rest of his games combined before and since that season.

The Braves have been short in the rotation all spring training, so it shouldn’t have been a shock that they called up a starter already. While Tucker-Davidson, Spencer Striderand even Kyle Muller got more attention in the Atlanta farm system, it was Bryce Elder who filled the spot. Drafted in 2020, Elder was a quick-moving pitcher who went through all three minor-league levels in 2021. The righty doesn’t have overwhelming stuff, but what he does have is a simple delivery that’s repeatable and around the zone a lot. Elder’s fastball might be in the low-90s, but his slider and changeup from him are both plus-offerings in any count. The curveball is also a usable fourth pitch. Control has been a bugaboo of his him with too many walks at times but, with a K-rate of over 27-percent, he can be a high-strikeout No. 4 starter going forward. Expect Elder to make the case to remain in the Atlanta rotation the rest of the season.

Upcoming MLB Prospect Debuts

While Hunter Greene has been getting most of the buzz in Cincinnati, Nick Lodolo shouldn’t be slept on. The southpaw was a first-round pick a couple of years ago and has been carving up hitters in the minors ever since. He’s started 21 games since 2019 (missing 2020 due to COVID) and in those 69 innings, he’s posted 108 strikeouts and a .218 batting average against. Lodolo utilizes a three-pitch mix of all plus-pitches backed by near double-plus control. The fastball is of the heavy variety (AKA a sinking fastball) that is getting closer to sitting 94-95 mph and even touching 96-97 at times. The slider is a two-plane breaker that’s his main wipeout pitch, while the changeup is mainly used to keep hitters off-balance. The Reds need as much help in the rotation as they can get and Lodolo looked quite ready to help in Spring Training. If he’s still available in your league, redraft or not, grab him.

MacKenzie Gore — LHP San Diego Padres

Did everyone just forget about MacKenzie Gore last year? I know the numbers were not great, to put it politely, but the pedigree didn’t go anywhere. Triple-A was a major adjustment for him, as was the new ball, but now that appears behind him. Spring Training was a great showing for him and now, with the Blake Snell injury in San Diego, there’s a pending call-up later this week. Gore seemed to get back on track with five scoreless innings in his Triple-A debut over the weekend. The pedigree and stuff are there for him to be a No. 1 starter and the ace of the Padres’ staff in the next couple of seasons.

MLB Prospects To Invest In

daniel espino — RHP Cleveland Guardians

It’s about time daniel espino started gaining steam among prospect writers. When he was drafted in 2019, I said that he was the next Peter Martinez – and I stand by that comp, as lofty as it is. In his 119.1 innings in the Guardians’ minor-league system, he’s posted 195 strikeouts and 49 walks for a great 5:1 K:BB ratio. The four-pitch mix for Espino is anchored by a double-plus fastball along with two other plus pitches and an above-average fourth offering. Ranging in velocity from the low-80s (curveball) to 101 (four-seam fastball) and having movement that wreaks havoc on hitters from both sides of the plate, it’s not hard to see why the Pedro comp fits. He’s still just 21 years old and in Double-A, but now is the time to get him on your roster and enjoy the return if he’s still available.

Bobby Miller — RHP Los Angeles Dodgers

Wait… the Dodgers — for all their fanfare — have a prospect that’s not being talked about? Yup, it happens. Bobby Miller was drafted in the first round of the 2020 draft out of Louisville and has been progressing — as quickly as he can — through the Dodgers’ system. The righty has four plus-pitches and that doesn’t include the two different fastballs, a rising four-seamer and a sinking two-seamer. The biggest question for Miller coming out of college was his involved delivery of him, but he’s toned that down as well as the walks that have dropped to just 2.1 per nine to this point. He should be up with the Dodgers later this season and, as soon as next year, he could be second in the rotation behind Walker Buehler.

Michael Vargas — INF Los Angeles Dodgers

Hold on. Didn’t you just say it’s unusual for the Dodgers to have a prospect slip through the cracks? And it is. Yes, I did. That said, they do have a second one who’s unheralded. Michael Vargas was signed by the Dodgers in 2017 and has been moving up two levels per year since then. He’s a natural third baseman but has also gotten time at second and first as LA tries to increase his value in the upper minors. That does n’t mean his bat is n’t valuable, though. Vargas hit 23 homers last year and has a great command of the zone to go with double-plus bat-to-ball skills. Ultimately, he profiles as a .285 or better hitter with 25 home run pop and enough defensive skill to stay at third base in the majors. Vargas’ time could be coming sooner rather than later, with justin turner likely not in town much longer.

Zack Geloff — 3B Oakland Athletics

We all watched the moves that Oakland made in the offseason to shed a bunch of stars and future spending. Part of the reason they felt comfortable moving Matt Chapman was because of Zack Geloff coming up through the system. He was drafted in last year’s draft as one of the best raw-power hitters in the class and one who impressed well enough defensively at third to likely stay there. Gelof hit the ground running in his first pro campaign last season with seven homers and 13 steals in 36 games spanning three levels. Now, the speed was a product of being in the lower minors and he likely wouldn’t stick. The power, though, will. Gelof has average to above-average skills across the board, profiles as a .270 hitter with 25-30 homer pop, and possesses speed for 10 or so steals a year while also providing solid defense. That’s more than enough to make up for Chapman’s departure from him.

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