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“Tranquilo” – Five Players to Watch in the Midwest League

The first stop on our trip around Minor League Baseball is in the Single-A Midwest League. This is often the first experience of full season baseball for international and domestic prospects alike, and players are exposed to both the mental and physical grind of a full baseball season. Some make a flawless transition while others require more than one season at this level. Teams hope that players will not need to repeat the Midwest League but it does happen.

19480872282_a68dd3a2da_bOne example this season is Houston Astros’ prospect, Daz Cameron. He struggled mightily last season in his first exposure to full-season baseball before getting demoted, and the Astros’ have assigned him back the Midwest League to give it another go. This is concerning for the MLB franchise and fantasy owners alike but may present a buy low opportunity to an impatient fantasy opponent that has already given up on Cameron’s development.

Today we will cover a selection of promising hitters that dynasty owners should follow throughout the season as they take their first tour of the Midwest League. The outlook on these players is long term as most of them can’t yet legally drink a beer but in the modern fantasy community full of prospect junkies, it is necessary to identify talent early in the development process and invest while players are in the lowest levels of the MiLB pipeline.

One note before we begin: Kyle Lewis would have headlined this list but due to his injury and the lengthy rehab process he is enduring I decided not to include him. That is not to degrade his prospect value but rather to shed light on other players that otherwise may have not made the list.   However, if you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t heard of Lewis yet, remember the name. He won the Golden Spikes Award last year, has earned comps to Adam Jones, and is the top prospect in the Seattle Mariners’ farm system.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (TOR)

Age: 18 Bats/Throws: R/R Position: 3B Height: 6-1 Weight: 200

The Lansing Lugnuts boast one of the highest ceiling hitting prospects in all of baseball in Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Son of the former All-Star, Junior signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2015 for a hefty $3.9 million thanks to his promising potential as a hitter. vladsHe is a natural power hitter to all fields with a knack for barreling the baseball and an advanced feel for hitting. He skipped the Dominican Summer League entirely and jumped straight to Rookie-League last season where he slashed .271/.359/.449 with eight home runs and only two fewer walks than strikeouts. The biggest weakness in Guererro’s profile is his defense as he signed as an outfielder but has moved to third base. The defense is a question mark but not matter where he lands in the field his bat projects as an above-average run producer that will likely make his MLB debut before his twenty-first birthday.

Josh Lowe (TAM)

Age: 19 Bats/Throws: L/R Position: OF Height: 6-4 Weight: 205

The Bowling Green Hot Rods’ bevy of talented position players this season is lead the 13th overall selection in last year’s draft, Josh Lowe. He was originally expected to play third base but the Rays moved him to outfield late last season where they see him as a potential above average defender. At the plate, he is a left-handed hitter with plus raw power and the ability to spray line drives all over the field or hit the long ball.

lowe_josh_1280_rw1c6z1m_xsjfs4bdLowe began last season in the Gulf Coast League where he slashed .258/.386/.409 with two homers before earning a promotion. In the Appalachian League, he ran into some struggles as he hit a mere .238 and struck out 32 times in his 80 at-bats. However, there is no need for concern as he is a polished hitter that getting his first taste of the grind of a full professional baseball season. Lowe has the makings of a middle of the order run producer and offers one of the highest ceilings in the Rays’ system.

Taylor Trammell (CIN)

Age: 19 Bats/Throws: L/L Position: OF Height: 6-2 Weight: 195

57da112f29508.imageNow starring for the Dayton Dragons, Trammell was a two-sport standout and earned Georgia’s high school football player of the year. He also carried a 4.0 GPA in high school and speculation swirled before the about his signability and whether he would honor his commitment to play baseball at Georgia Tech. However, the Reds’ selected him 35th overall in the supplemental first round and signed him out of his commitment for $3.2 million.

Trammell skipped the GCL and was assigned to the Rookie-Level Pioneer League where he slashed .303/.374/.421 with 24 stolen bases over 61 total games. His 70-grade speed offers stolen base upside to complement his hit tool, but there is also a chance he matures into a just above average runner with more power if he adds muscle mass. Either way, he’s a promising hitter that is earns praised for his work ethic and maturity and projects as an above-average left fielder and top of the order hitter.

Jesus Sanchez (TAM)

Age: 19 Bats/Throws: L/R Position: OF Height: 6-3 Weight: 210

Risk averse owners beware – this Bowling Green Hot Rods’ outfielder may not suit your fancy. Sanchez was part of the 2014 international class when he signed for $400,000 out of the Dominican Republic. In his first taste of professional ball, he tore up the Dominican Summer League to the tune of .335/.382/.489 with four homers and eight stolen bases. Then last year, he hit .329/.352/.549 in 56 games between two levels of Rookie-ball. Meaningless statistics aside, he offers a promising offensive skillset.

Sanchez has a compact, rhythmic swing Jesus-Sanchez-2016-cwthat he uses to spray line drives to all fields although he could stand to improve his plate disciple. An adjustment to his approach that would yield more contact and walks could help to compliment his above average speed. Also, he has matured into some power as he’s grown into his body and now projects to have above average power. The ceiling here is an above average offensive outfielder but there is plenty of inherent risks associated with this type of player profile.

Hudson Potts (SD)

Age: 18 Bats/Throws: R/R Position: SS/3B Height: 6-3 Weight: 205

Potts wasn’t expected to go in the first round last year but the Padres drafted him with the 24th overall pick and signed him out of a commitment to Texas A&M for $1 million. Screen Shot 2017-05-09 at 1.01.21 PMHe is a prep shortstop that will likely move to third base in the future due to his only average range, but his bat is what has the Padres excited.He has a natural feel for hitting despite his youth and projects as an above-average hitter if he can iron out the kinks in his plate discipline. He possesses only average speed on the bases and isn’t a long-term stolen base threat despite swiping 8 bags in the Arizona Rookie League last year, but he complements his hit tool with the above average power. He offers the type of offensive profile that uncreative, risk-averse fantasy owners are looking for and will likely play this full season with the Fort Wayne Tin Caps.

 Honorable Mention

  • D.J. Wilson (CHC)
  • Monte Harrison (MIL)
  • Jorge Ona (SD)
  • Bo Bichette (TOR)
  • Jahmai Jones (LAA)

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Native Mainer. Ski the East. I enjoy dynasty league formats and am partial to Latin American prospects. Currently living in the Dominican Republic.

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