This is a list of MiLB players who should get called up (sooner or later) at some point this season and more importantly, could help your fantasy team out. Some of them you know, some of them you’ve heard of, some of them are long shots and some are relative unknowns. So, here we go…
- MiLB Players Watch-List: NL Central
- MiLB Players Watch-List: NL West
- MiLB Players Watch-List: AL West
- MiLB Players Watch-List: NL East
Chicago White Sox
1. Yoan Moncada 2B/3B
I’ll commence with the most obvious one – Yoan Moncada. Not much to say here. He has been drafted in many fantasy leagues despite beginning the season in AAA. He’s owned in pretty much all dynasty leagues. Everyone is basically waiting when he’s going to get called up and no one is worried about how he’s going to perform. The expectations are sky high and he has the talent and tools to deliver. He is by far the most anticipated add in all fantasy formats this season.
2. Reynaldo Lopez RHP
Many thought Reynaldo Lopez will start the season in Chicago’s rotation. The team decided to get him some more practice runs in AAA, where he hasn’t pitched well in three starts so far. That’s probably why Dylan Covey is the 5th starter right now. Nevertheless, it’s a matter of time when he gets called up (likely within the next month or two). It’s not clear whether he’s a starter long-term, especially since his stuff and size (6’0”/185 lbs) scream reliever, so it’s not a given he’ll be fantasy worthy. Yet the ability to rack up K’s along with the fact that he’s one of the safest bets from all MiLB pitchers to reach the Majors soon earns him a spot on my watch-list.
3. Michael Kopech RHP
I’ll say it right away – I’m not a Lucas Giolito fan. I think he’s all hype. He hasn’t shown anything that tells me he’ll ever be a dependable Major League starter, much less an ace. However, I do think the White Sox have a true ace in the making in Michael Kopech. He’s only 20, but I believe he’ll get a few starts for the White Sox towards the end of the season when they are likely going to play the role of a spoiler rather than a contender. That time is playoff time for fantasy owners though, so make sure not to forget him. ERA might not be low but accompanied with strikeouts a-plenty.
1. Mike Clevinger RHP
2. Francisco Mejia C
Francisco Mejia is Cleveland’s next Francisco Lindor. He will come and stay, and for a long time. The question is when will that happen. If it would be up to me I would say right now. He’s a better hitter than Yan Gomes and not a worse defender. I’ll even say that if the Indians want to have a shot at repeating what they did last season, they must make Mejia their starter and get some offensive value out of the catcher position. He’s only 21 and sort of came out of nowhere last season, so the Indians are taking it easy and checking whether he’s for real. I think that when a player, no less a catcher, has a 50-game hitting streak, he is for real. He’s currently playing for the Double-A Akron Rubber Ducks and hitting .368. In all likelihood, the most promising catcher in the minors gets promoted to Triple-A before the All-Star break and makes his MLB debut during the second half of the season. A Gomes injury might fast forward the process.
3. Bradley Zimmer OF
Bradley Zimmer was one of the first prospects I added when I started my prospect list 3 years ago. Most experts predicted the 24-year old would be an Indian by now. Injury setbacks and his inability to control his swing (too many K’s) have prevented that. He’s more or less a copy of Michael Brantley and I say that as a good thing. Strikeouts and slumps aside, Zimmer has 20/30 potential with an average that won’t blow you away, but won’t hurt you either. I don’t think Tyler Naquin is a long term solution at CF, so the time is coming for Zimmer to get his opportunity. The center fielder is in AAA and the strikeouts are still an issue. A little more seasoning and he should be good to go. After Grady Sizemore and Michael Brantley, Bradley Zimmer is the next great, injury-prone outfielder to come out of Cleveland.
1. Joe Jimenez RP
I’m not going to go into much detail here. Simply read the article I wrote about him and go from there. I can only provide an update that he had a short stint with the Tigers in which he threw a scoreless inning. He’s had a total of 5 appearances in Triple-A with no earned runs, 2 saves and has struck out the side in the last two. K-Rod has blown 2 saves and has a 5.40 ERA. I don’t know what the Tigers are waiting for…
Other than Jimenez, I don’t see anyone in a very weak Detroit Tigers farm system who could emerge as a fantasy contributor this season.
Kansas City Royals
1. Peter O’Brien OF/1B
The same applies to the KC Royals farm system. Peter O’Brien is the only player who could have potential value as a home run hitter more than anything else. The former D’back is a swing-and-miss player who has never lacked power and can launch balls a long way. The price to pay is a very low average and gallons of strikeouts. On the other hand, the Royals won a World Series by getting the best out of average players, so O’Brien becoming an everyday Royal and worth a fantasy bench spot might not be out of the question.
Jonathan Dziedzic and Eric Skoglund have had good starts in Triple-A, but it’s highly unlikely they’ll be fantasy relevant even if called up.
1. Jose Berrios RHP / Fernando Romero RHP / Stephen Gonsalves LHP
– Jose Berrios was one of the most frustrating prospects to reach the major leagues in 2016. His numbers and makeup were great, yet he struggled mightily despite the immense patience Minnesota showed. Maybe he was promoted too soon, or maybe his stuff just doesn’t play up at the highest level. We should find out soon. He’s been his typical self in Triple-A so far and at only 22, the odds are still in his favor.
– Fernando Romero was second to none in the Twins farm system last season going 9-3 in 16 starts with a 1.89 ERA, 90K/15BB and only 1 HR allowed. He’s a relative unknown because of missing two seasons due to Tommy John surgery, but he’s been making a name for himself ever since he came back. At the moment he’s in AA and although chances he reaches the Majors in 2017 are slim, they do exist. It just might require an injury or two.
– I was convinced Stephen Gonsalves will reach The Big Show this summer until he was put on the disabled list. Now, I’m not so sure, considering the Twins will likely choose the safe route and watch his workload. That being said, if he continues to dominate when he returns and Minnesota’s rotation falters, I believe he’ll get his first taste of MLB baseball towards late summer.
If all goes according to plan, this trio might become a hell of a 1-2-3 punch for the Twins for years to come.
2. Trevor Hildenberger RP
Relievers need to be borderline perfect for me to contemplate adding them to a watch-list. Hildenberger has been just that. His career Minor League numbers are amazingly good – 1.41 ERA, 172K/19BB, .193 Avg against, 0.83 WHIP and only 3 HR’s allowed in 3 years. He’s not a closer but has all the makings of an ideal setup man (including his last name). After being drafted in Round 22 in 2014, the now 26-year old is on the cusp of becoming a member of the Twins bullpen. In hold/savehold leagues, he’s worth a roster spot as soon as he’s promoted. That should happen in no more than a month or two.
3. Daniel Palka 1B/OF
Palka hits home runs (no wonder, since his last name in my mother tongue means bat). He had 29 dingers in 2015, 34 last season and is already up to 5 in this one. That, of course, comes with plenty of strikeouts, but his overall average hasn’t been that bad and floats around the .250 to .270 range. At 25 and playing for Triple-A Rochester, he could very well receive a call-up somewhere in the near future for a Twins team always in need of runs. Palka can play 1B on days when Mauer is the DH, and can also take over Robbie Grossman’s spot in the outfield. A name to remember.
Note: It will probably take another year of development for Nick Gordon to have a legitimate chance at making the Twins roster. That along with the recent play of Jorge Polanco are the reasons why I excluded him from this watch-list.
That concludes the AL central. The NL Central will be up next. Stay tuned!