Fantasy

MiLB Players Watch-List: AL West

Derek-Fisher

In part 3 of the series, I’ll take a look at AL West MiLB players to watch for this season.

AL WEST

Houston Astros

1. Derek Fisher OF
Derek Fisher has quietly climbed the ladder and is now on the last step to a promotion. I see him as the younger version of Josh Reddick. It is conceivable the Astros brought and kept Reddick to keep the right field seat hot until Fisher is ready to come off the bench and take over full time. I would sum up his profile like this: he strikes out a lot, but also walks often; he can hit home runs and steal bases (22HR/31SB and 21HR-28SB in 2015 and 2016 respectively) with an acceptable average of .270. The 23-year old left hitting RF has more long-term potential compared to Teoscar Hernandez and is all-in-all the better player.

Update: Teoscar Hernandez has suffered what is thought to be a serious knee injury in the first game after being promoted.

2. Francis Martes RHP

After Joe Musgrove and Lance McCullers Jr., Francis Martes is the next Astros pitching prospect trying to become a part of the rotation at the very young age of 21. He spent the entire 2016 in AA finishing the year with a 3.30 ERA in 22 starts, .222 avg against and 1.20 WHIP – very solid statistics taking his age at that time (20) into account. Now in AAA, Martes has had an unbalanced start to the season, getting himself into trouble way too often (12K/12BB and .300 avg against). He’s been able to avoid the bullets, but they’ll start finding their target if he keeps this up. If the right-hander settles down and adjusts, he’ll get a shot towards the latter part of this season. If not, we’ll have to wait until next season.

– David Paulino has the looks of a starter more than Martes, however he’s been dealing with right elbow soreness for some time now and has no timetable for a return. If he returns soon and has a few good starts in AAA, he immediately jumps to the top of Houston’s watch-list.

 

Los Angeles Angels

Despite my honest efforts, I didn’t find a single Angels player who could have influence at the highest level from what is the weakest farm system in baseball.

 

Oakland Athletics

1. Franklin Barreto SS/2B
The most anticipated A’s prospect in quite some time, Franklin Barreto is the next in the line of promising MiLB shortstops whose footsteps he should follow (Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, Addison Russell, Corey Seager, Trevor Story). He’s already knocking on the doorstep at the age of 21. Mature beyond his years, he’s excellent defensively and can play 2B and CF in addition to SS. He also has a relatively open path to the majors, with neither Semien or Lowrie representing a reliable trustworthy option. One obstacle he has to overcome is his work on the base-paths when trying to steal. He was caught 17 times last season. Other than that, Barreto has a career average of .295. In addition to that he has at least average if not above average power, which is always intriguing for a shortstop, and the capacity to steal at least 25/30 bases annually. A lot to look forward to.

2. Daniel Gossett RHP
Gossett is not a “sexy” pitcher like Sonny Gray or Sean Manaea. He doesn’t have amazing stuff that would allow him to strikeout 10 or more batters on any given game day. What he does have is pitchability and durability. He has started 27 games in each of the past two seasons, ending 2016 with a 2.69 ERA, 151K, 41BB, .221 avg against and 1.08 WHIP. He will never blow anyone away. Rather, he’ll be a guy who provides his team with quality starts, holding onto the #3 or #4 spot in the rotation in the process. I’m convinced Daniel will be a member of Oakland’s rotation by July.

 

Seattle Mariners

1. Tyler O’Neill OF

Alex Jackson was supposed to be the next big thing in Seattle, while Tyler O’Neill was more of an afterthought. 3 seasons have passed since and O’Neill is on the brink of joining the Mariners while Jackson was traded to the Braves and has failed to live up to the hype. Tyler’s bat is his forté and what turned everyone’s heads making them take notice. He hit 32 home runs in 2015 (A advanced) and followed that up with 24 last season, along with a league leading 102 RBI (AA). He started this season in AAA and although his average and strikeouts are underwhelming, he does have 3 HR and 4 SB. In all likelihood, O’Neill will spend the majority of 2017 in AAA, with a call-up during the 2nd part of the season a possibility. This is a talented, hard-working young man who can launch a baseball very far. Seattle’s gate will be unlocked whenever he decides to open it.

2. Andrew Moore RHP
Andrew Moore is the pitcher’s version of O’Neill. He has quietly worked himself into the #4 prospect in the organization and is not about to slow down anytime soon. Even though he’s in AA now, it’s not out of the question he gets a chance at the highest level by the end of the season. I, personally, expect that to happen. That’s why he’s here. He’s one more of those pitchers who know how to harness their repertoire despite not having great stuff. Moore has a 4-pitch mix which plays up due to the reason above. He started 28 games in 2016 finishing 12-4 with a 2.65 ERA and .247 avg against and has been excellent in 24.2 innings this season (1.46 ERA, 24K, 4BB). Of course, Moore is not a finished product and still has plenty of work to do in order to become less hittable. Yet for a Mariners team that always lacks pitching, he might become the spark they’ll need towards the end of the season (and fantasy playoff time).

3. Max Povse RHP
The Mariners acquired Rob Whalen and Max Povse for Alex Jackson in a trade with the Braves last November. If you ask me, the trade was lobsided and a huge win for the M’s. Whalen had a taste of the major leagues last season and it was not good. Together with the fact he’s on the disabled list to start the season made me not include him in this list. That however, doesn’t mean I think he’s not a good pitcher. He’s very underrated, but too many question marks make me hesitate. Povse is the one who excites me more. A towering presence at 6’8”, he’s not the typical pitcher you associate with that height. He’s more of a finesse thrower who’s still working on developing and honing his currently modest arsenal. Going through 2 levels in 2016, he was actually better in AA than in A advanced. His overall ERA was 3.36 (3.71 in A adv. and 2.93 in AA) in 26 starts to go along with 139 K, 29 BB, .250 avg against and 1.13 WHIP. The right-hander is Moore’s teammate in Arkansas and has had a similarly strong start to the minor league season (3-1, 1.82 ERA in 24.2 IP, 21K, 8BB). I’m really excited to see how he moves along.
In general, I believe at least two of Chase De Jong, Rob Whalen, Andrew Moore and Max Povse will be members of Seattle’s starting rotation by season’s end.

– The Mariners need a catcher. Tyler Marlette is more of a backup than a starter, but at 24 he’s ready and should not be worse than Zunino. I don’t think he’ll be successful, much less fantasy worthy (this season). However, considering the circumstances I thought I might mention him, just in case he proves me wrong.

 

Texas Rangers

1. Ronald Guzman 1B
The Rangers signed Mike Napoli this off-season, seemingly blocking Guzman’s path to the majors. Napoli’s first stint with Texas ended on a bad note and judging by the start of this season, the situation has continued where it left off. Guzman in the meantime, has been barrelling the ball very efficiently in Triple-A (.357 avg, 3 HR) and is starting (just like Mazara, who they were signed on the same day with, did last season) to force the Rangers hand. As a left-handed first baseman, there’s always that risk he ends up being a platoon player, though Ronald has been steadily improving and patiently refining his skill set not to allow that to happen. Everyone expects first basemen to hit home runs. Guzman has been more of a gap hitter in his minor league career, but his body frame (6’5”) will probably turn many of those doubles into homers as he fills it with age (he’s 22 now). The Rangers ballpark will definitely help in that regard as well. More of a fringe prospect 2 years ago, he is now the second most exciting 1B prospect in my book. Expect a similar storyline to Mazara’s, which means Napoli might not be the Rangers first baseman for much longer.

2. Yohander Mendez LHP
Yohander is more of a twinner prospect, somewhere in between a starter and a reliever. He hasn’t shown to be durable enough to be a starter yet and the short call-up with Texas last season saw him appear twice as a reliever. The Rangers are trying to develop him as a starter because of his promising stuff and the ability to pitch in and around the strike zone. It’s wait and see at this point, but there isn’t a better, more intriguing starter in the farm system who could help Texas this season than the 6’5” lefty.

That’s all for the AL West. NL West is coming up…

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