Fantasy

MiLB Players Watch-List: AL East

In the last part of the series of MiLB players who should get promoted (or were promoted recently) this season and could help your fantasy team out, I’ll discuss the AL East.

AL EAST

Baltimore Orioles

1. Chance Sisco C
The catcher position is so weak in fantasy at the moment that owners probably can’t wait for some fresh energy to be inserted from MiLB. Other than Cleveland’s Francisco Mejia and Philadelphia’s Jorge Alfaro, the Orioles have the third catcher who could provide that much-needed boost at the position – Chance Cisco. Since the moment Cisco was drafted he was considered to be the Orioles next possible long-term solution at catcher. Matt Wieters also received a lot of hype before coming up to the MLB and he never fulfilled on the promise. Many will be scared the same might happen with Cisco. I am not going to deny that it is possible since injuries are always a concern. However, from a purely player’s perspective I’ll say he should definitely be better than Wieters. And if his hitting skills translate to baseball’s highest level, he will be very valuable from a fantasy perspective as well. The lefty is off to a slow start for the Triple-A Norfolk Tides, batting only .230 with no home runs, 26 strikeouts, and 7 walks. His minor league career numbers tell a different story though, with a .318 batting average and a very good overall K to BB ratio (271K/170BB), so my guess is he’s focusing on improving his catching abilities. In general, nothing will change the fact Chance should be a major-leaguer by season’s end. Wellington Castillo is and always was just a temporary solution until he gets ready.

Boston Red Sox

1. Rafael Devers 3B
The Red Sox have had so many good prospects for the past few seasons that I find myself in disbelief I can’t find a single one who I’m convinced will be called up and help the team this season. Trading away Moncada and Kopech has a lot to do with that. I could have written about Brian Johnson or Henry Owens, but their inconsistency has frustrated me so much that I’d rather skip them and instead go with a player less likely to have any significant contribution in 2017 – Rafael Devers. I’m thoroughly convinced that Devers (other than the fact the Red Sox needed an ace) was the reason they decided that they can afford to deal Moncada. A great hitter for his very young age (20), he has been climbing the ladder very fast and is already in AA. Even there he’s already up to 6 homers to go along with a .315 batting average. Quite impressive, and perhaps even more important, not much worse than the numbers Moncada is putting up (other than steals). Why do I think he’ll be promoted this summer? Simple. Boston needs a third baseman. Devers might not be ready, but just like they did with Moncada last season, the Red Sox might throw him to the lions and let him figure a way out. Odds are he’ll struggle even if called up, thus making him a much more appealing asset for keeper/dynasty leagues. Looking at it from a future perspective, his hitting abilities and Fenway Park could be a match made in heaven.

New York Yankees

1. Gleyber Torres SS
For several years the Yankees were a bottom 10 team in MiLB system ranking lists. Not anymore. Not being really competitive afforded them to acquire some prospects in exchange for veterans. That and some good scouting has led to a turnaround and the result is currently one of the best farm systems in baseball. We are seeing the results already, and there’s more to come. First in the queue is Gleyber Torres, the former Cub acquired in the trade that sent Aroldis Chapman to Chicago. The deal certainly worked for the Cubs in the short-term, but the Yanks (essentially getting Torres for free after re-signing Chapman) may very well be unanimous winners in the long-term (although the Cubs do have Addison Russell).

Torres fits the same mold as Amed Rosario and Ozzie Albies, so going into more detail would be redundant and repetitive. Instead, I’ll just state that he’s better than Didi Gregorius and should receive his opportunity before long despite the tender age (20). Fantasy owners in need of SS help should be on the lookout. Shortstop is quickly transforming from one of the shallowest to one of the deepest positions in fantasy baseball.

2. Chance Adams RHP
On the other front, there is Chance Adams. A relative unknown who started off as a reliever and had very little experience as a starter in college, he had a dominant 2016 as one of the best pitchers in the minors. The numbers (through two levels) were ridiculous. He went 13-1 with a 2.33 ERA in 24 games started, 144K, 39BB, .169 avg against and 0.90 WHIP. For those who thought he couldn’t possibly keep that up (including me), he is 4-0 this season in 6 games started with a 1.03 ERA, .183 avg against and 1.09 WHIP. And that’s all with only a 2:1 K to BB ratio. That is just too much consistency for me to still be doubting. Jordan Montgomery was almost as good as Adams last season and look where he is right now. Holding up pretty good thus far I would say. Lightning quick rises tend to be followed by lightning quick falls. However, there are always a few exceptions. Chance Adams seems to be one of those exceptions. New York’s rotation is doing pretty well, but a couple of injuries could change the situation in a hurry. Look for Adams to come in handy when that occurs.

The Yankees are on their way to becoming a powerhouse once again. The future of the franchise is really bright. Adams is just the next in line after Severino and Montgomery. And more are coming, with Dietrich Enns, Domingo Acevedo, and Justus Sheffield among others on deck. I would actually be writing about Enns here as well if he hadn’t landed on the DL in the meantime.

3. Dustin Fowler OF and Tyler Wade SS/2B
Dustin Fowler and Tyler Wade are two prospects who are more or less ready to join the Yankees, however, their path to roster spots is blocked. Even if they were to be called up, they would probably be utility players, making them fantasy irrelevant, unless injuries strike. I’m mentioning them because both of them are good players with sneaky value.

  • I see Fowler as the future replacement for Brett Gardner. Also a left-handed hitter, he had a .298/.334/.394 triple slash line in 2015 with 5 HR and 30 SB, and batted .281/.311/.458 with 12 HR and 25 SB in 2016. Those are rather good numbers for a rather unknown prospect. He’s already had 4 HR and 4 SB this season to go along with a .303 avg. in AAA. All of this tells me there is more to this guy than people realize.
  • Tyler Wade probably shouldn’t even be on this list. He’s destined for a role as a utility player. However, there’s something that tells me (like with Fowler) that the 22-year old is being undervalued. I think he’s better than Rob Refsnyder. It’s just a matter of whether he’ll receive the opportunity to prove it. With Starlin Castro raking and Gleyber Torres waiting, it might be a while.

Tampa Bay Rays

1. Brent Honeywell LHP
Like with other prospects I’ve written about, I won’t repeat myself. I’ll simply provide an update and you can read the full article for more details. Honeywell was expectedly promoted to AAA. Things haven’t been as smooth in his 4 starts there, yet that’s to be expected while undergoing the adjustments of playing at a higher level. I’m confident he’ll adapt and continue marching towards an inevitable MLB promotion.

2. Jake Bauers 1B/OF
Bauers is a bit of an enigma. It’s probably because he has a good plate approach, can walk and can hit, but doesn’t have much power or a high average. I would say he hasn’t found the key to unlock his full potential, since he has been aggresively pushed by the Rays who are in dire need for a good first baseman. Well, unless he finds that key soon, the Rays are going to regret rushing him, since he’ll likely move to right field, a position he played quite often in 2016. Even more so considering he’s a lefty. It would be a pity to see him turn into a platoon player. I think the power will come for the 21-year old. Maybe not right away, but eventually, and Longoria (if he stays in TB) will be a big reason why. He had 14 HR last season to go along with 89K, 73BB, 10SB, .274 avg, .370 OBP and a .420 SLG. In general, he’s had an excellent 3:2 K to BB ratio in his minor league career. I find it highly likely he’ll make his major league debut this season and while I anticipate a low average, I also think it will come at the expense of some not so anticipated power (home runs). So, even though dynasty leaguers are the ones who should be more aware of Bauers, there is a chance he provides you with some value regardless of the leagues you’re in. Personally, I believe he’ll be the Rays’ starting first baseman at the beginning of next season.

3. Jacob Faria RHP
Jacob Faria was nowhere to be seen on prospect radars couple of years ago. That has definitely changed. Although the righty doesn’t have a high ceiling, he is generally speaking, an underrated pitcher. He has started at least 23 games in each of the past three seasons. 2015 was his breakout year in which he went 17-4 (through A and A+) with a 1.92 ERA, 159K, 52BB, .197 avg against and 1.04 WHIP. Then he went through a turbulent 2016 which he finished with an underwhelming 3.99 ERA, but he did start 27 games, he did have 157 strikeouts and a .201 avg against and he was better after his promotion to AAA then he was in AA. At the moment, he’s 4-0 with a 3.13 ERA and he leads the league (AAA) in strikeouts with 45. Conclussion: the 23-year old knows how to get people out. The problem (and the reason why he doesn’t have a high ceiling) is that he tends to have bad innings and allows runs despite not allowing too many hits. That can become even more detrimental when he reaches the majors. The main thing for fantasy owners is usually strikeouts, especially for points based leagues. Whether he gets a chance this season or not is unknown and depends on many variables. If he does, expect a high average coupled with a steady dose of K’s.

Honorable mention: Casey Gillaspie 1B
The former 1st rounder doesn’t have as much upside as Bauers, but is pretty much the same player and has been a steady contributor since being drafted. At 24, it’s possible the switch-hitter gets called up before Bauers, and if he performs well, Bauers might not even get a chance at 1B. Since they are both similar players, their perspectives for this season are also similar, so the same projection I had about Bauers is valid for Gillaspie as well.

Toronto Blue Jays

1. Anthony Alford OF
Alford had a great start to the season but has cooled off recently. The athletic 22-year old was one of the most exciting prospects before being hampered by injuries in 2016 which caused him to have a down year (.236 avg). Now he’s slowly getting back on track, hitting .308 with 7 stolen bases and 2 home runs. A prototypical lead-off man, he could be exactly what the struggling Blue Jays need at the top of the order. However, it seems they are taking the safe route and letting Alford take his time in the minors. If he would be in Triple A, I would’ve said he could get promoted within weeks if not days. However, as he is in AA, the talented outfielder will have to be outstanding for a prolonged period of time in order to get to Toronto. It should happen at some point during the summer and when it does fantasy owners looking for steals shouldn’t hesitate to add him instantly. Alford should also be a target in deep keeper and dynasty leagues, since he has significant upside if able to remain healthy.

2. T.J. House RHP
The last MiLB player I’ll talk about is also the oldest one in the entire 6-part series – T.J. House. Trust me, I’m as shocked as you he’s on this list. A free agent signee after spending last season with the Indians, House earned a minor league contract with the Jays and has put himself into Toronto’s starting rotation conversation. I actually thought he’ll be the first one up after the injuries to Happ and Sanchez. Instead, Casey Lawrence, Mat Latos, Joe Biagini and now Mike Bolsinger have all received their opportunities ahead of House, despite him going 4-1 in 5 starts with a 1.24 ERA, 30K, 11BB and .224 avg against. Obviously, the upside is minimal, but why not use him while he’s hot? Don’t be surprised if he runs away with the #5 spot in the rotation when he does get called up. And since I’m writing about players who could help you this season, I believe House, despite his age (27), belongs to that category.

That would be all for now. Just remember, all these players in the 6 watch-lists are exactly that – players to watch. I’m not saying all of them will be fantasy worthy, some of them will probably not even make their MLB debuts in 2017. All I’m saying is pay attention to them, because picking up 2 or 3 off the waiver wire who’ll actually have success, might just bring home a championship.

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