Fantasy

MiLB Players Watch-List: NL West

Ryan-McMahon

The NL West is in order in part 4 of the series of MiLB players who should get promoted at some point this season (or have been called up recently).

 

NL WEST

Arizona Diamondbacks

1. Ildemaro Vargas 2B/SS and Ketel Marte SS/2B
Ildemaro Vargas is a relatively unknown prospect. He has been in the minors since 2008 and has slowly developed into a solid reliable 2B. Plate discipline is his ticket to the big leagues. He strikes out very seldom and has even had more BB’s than K’s during the past two seasons, hitting .321 and .305 respectively. He can also steal a base here and there and is a switch-hitter. Those are the main reasons why I have him here together with Ketel Marte. They are Reno’s infielders at the moment and have very similar profiles as switch-hitting thieves who can hit for average with almost no boom in their bats. Marte came to Arizona as part of the Taijuan Walker for Jean Segura deal after having disappointed as the Mariners everyday shortstop. Not being able to fulfill the promise of his minor league numbers, he’s gotten the opportunity to click the reset button in a new organization and early results have been encouraging. He’s off to a sizzling start hitting .438 in AAA. While the 25-year old Vargas appears to be destined for a future as a utility player, it wouldn’t take a lot for the 23-year old Marte to find himself in the lineup in the near future. The D’Backs infield is set at the moment with Owings and Drury, although Drury did suffer a knock, and those knocks have been landing players on the new 10-day DL quite often to start the season. Neither Vargas or Marte have much fantasy upside, but they could have hidden value if able to transfer their hitting for average habits to Arizona. Especially Marte, who as a leadoff man for a high-scoring club could provide you with a steady dose of runs.

2. Jimmie Sherfy RP
Jimmie Sherfy is here more because Arizona doesn’t have a closer than his skills. He’s had his struggles in the minors, but at 25 and off to a good start in Triple-A (7 IP, 9K, 1BB, 1ER, 4 hits allowed), he’s no worse than any other Diamondbacks bullpen arm at the moment. Rodney has honestly looked awful since the start of the season and even though he escaped a couple of times unharmed, he’s not the reliever Arizona can afford to have closing games if they are to be truly competitive in the NL West. Sherfy will get his opportunity relatively soon. He might not run away with it, but my odds are he finishes the season at the team’s closer.

 

Colorado Rockies

1. Raimel Tapia OF
Tapia has not finished a minor league season (other than his first one in 2011) with an average below .300. That is something rather rare. He has also stolen at least 20 bases in each of the past three campaigns. The Dominican had a decent MLB debut in 2016, hitting .263 in 38 at bats. He does have a tendency to strike out, which means he sees the ball well (high average), but deceptive pitches make him swing and miss. The lean lefty is not much of a power hitter, though he can launch a ball over a fence here and there. That is not much of an issue if he stays in Colorado, where the Coors Field air will carry a few of those well-hit balls much further than anywhere else. The bigger issue is that the Rockies outfield is jam-packed (Blackmon, Gonzalez, Desmond, Dahl and Parra). It would probably take a Car-Go trade plus Desmond to move to first base for Tapia to not only be promoted but get regular at bats as well. The other option is for Raimel himself to be traded. Regardless of how it happens, the 23-year old will be a major leaguer this season.

2. Ryan McMahon 3B/1B
I was not going to include McMahon in this list, but his great start had me change my mind. A 2nd round pick in 2013, he has been inconsistent even though his full season numbers might not suggest so. He also gets fanned a lot. Yet there’s something which tells me that somehow, someway he’ll carve out a role for the Rockies. The 22-year old left-handed batter is hitting .391 with 3 home runs, 6 doubles, 2 triples and 18 RBI for the Double-A Hartford Yard Goats thus far. Mixed in there are a 4-hit game and a 5-hit game. If he keeps this up a promotion to Triple-A is coming up. After that, I think it all depends on whether Mark Reynolds continues to produce. Third base is McMahon’s natural position, but obviously, that’s not available (Arenado), so he’ll take what he can get by playing first base. As far as fantasy is concerned, I think it’s pretty much a given that almost any Colorado hitting prospect will have value.

 

Los Angeles Dodgers

1. Cody Bellinger 1B/OF
Unfortunately, these articles are not getting published as I write them so as a consequence some of my predictions become reality before you read them. Cody Bellinger is one such example. If I would make a list of all the players who should get promoted and rank them by potential fantasy value, Bellinger would share 1st place with Milwaukee’s Lewis Brinson. As it stands, he was already promoted a couple of days ago, so at this point, all I can say is pick him up while still available. It doesn’t matter that he’s only 21, his power is legit, his upside is enormous. It’s very possible Joc Pederson finds himself on the bench when he comes back from the DL due to Bellinger’s performance. The fact he plays 1B and OF will assure he has a spot on the roster, and you might even see Adrian Gonzalez depart via trade if not during the season, then in the off-season. If you’re in a dynasty league, don’t hesitate for one second, just click add and enjoy the ride.

2. Willie Calhoun 2B
A 4th round draft pick in 2015, Willie Calhoun epitomizes the phrase ‘small player big heart’. The 5’8” lefty came in flying right out of the gate, going through 3 levels in his first season and ending up hitting .316 overall, with a .390 OBP, .519 SLG, 11HR, 38K and 35BB. He followed it up with a breakout 2016 in AA in which he belted 27 home runs. That came at the expense of his average like you would expect, which dropped to .254, but his K to BB ratio remained very solid (65K to 45BB). He has a very quick bat that allows him to pull balls for extra base hits despite his small stature. The Dodgers brought Logan Forsythe in the off-season, so 2B is taken for now. However, Calhoun’s defense is not smooth, so a position change to the outfield is a high possibility. In general, he’s more of a long-shot to have any significant fantasy value this season, but I’m a believer. His home run hitting ability would be invaluable if here were to stay at second base. Otherwise, he could be suffocated by the Dodgers positional depth.

3. Alex Verdugo OF
Verdugo belongs to the same long-shot category as Calhoun. Only 20 years old, LA is unlikely to rush him, although he might make them do so. He’s not getting as much attention as some of the other youngsters in the game (Victor Robles, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Ronald Acuna, Austin Meadows, Eloy Jimenez, Clint Frazier etc.), yet he could be the first one to reach the highest level. Already off to a very promising start in AAA, the lefty is batting .369 as of this moment. He has done everything right so far, has a very advanced approach at the plate for his age, has a great outfield arm and all in all it’s not like the Dodgers outfield situation is in great condition. Verdugo has been beating the odds by moving much faster than anyone anticipated, so who’s to say he’s not going to do it again this season?

All three players are very young, yet I think all three players are the exact rejuvenation the Dodgers need to get over the hump and take a step forward this season.

Note: I didn’t include Julio Urias in this list because, well, he’s Julio Urias. I don’t think there’s a fantasy baseball player who doesn’t know who he is and how much potential he has.

 

San Diego Padres

1. Dinelson Lamet RHP
Lamet is one of the more interesting prospects I’ll discuss. He definitely doesn’t belong to the known commodity category and is flying under the radar. The Padres have mostly traded for pitchers recently, rarely having had ones come up through their ranks to become successful. That makes being cautious with a Padres starting pitching prospect a necessity, even if the statistics are great. Lamet finished with a 2.99 ERA in 2015 in A full and was even more impressive last season making the jump from An advanced, through AA to AAA. He pitched a total of 150 innings, had an overall ERA of 3.00 in 28 games started to go along with 158 K’s, .229 avg against and 1.25 WHIP. The righty has a pitcher’s build and is very fluent in his motions. The Padres have the worst starting rotation in baseball, so at age 24, Lamet getting promoted at some point this season is a given. The better he pitches in AAA the faster it’ll happen. Having struck out 13 and 9 in his last two starts and holding a 0.45 ERA is a sign it might be soon.

 

San Francisco Giants

1. Christian Arroyo INF
What I wrote about Bellinger goes for Arroyo as well. Another prospect who got called up while I’m writing these articles. The Giants rarely if ever have exciting prospects. What they do have in their farm system is sneaky contributors. It’s a unique system that seems to have figured out a recipe that works for the organization perfectly and is used when drafting and choosing players. Arroyo is currently at the top of the food chain in that process. The guy can hit, and can hit so good that he forced his way to a promotion. Arroyo is as close to a complete player as you will find in the minors, and that’s at age 21. All the tools are there for him to keep growing and growing… the upside is limitless. He was scorching hot before the call-up batting .446 with 3 homers and 2 stolen bases and can also play any infield position. I highly doubt the Giants will send him back down ever again. Dynasty league owners – pounce!!!

That’s it for the NL West. The NL East is on the clock …

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