It felt good to finally get that interview with Trevor Oaks (Royals) posted. As of this article, Oaks is second in the PCL in ERA (2.50) albeit still not a great K/9 ratio. It’s all good – Trevor, you just keep doing you and getting guys out. And limiting baserunners – 1.222 WHIP. I’m still looking for a few other players to interview, but until then, it’s back to bringing you more names to get on your radar. These next few weeks, we’ll deviate a bit from just pitchers, mixing some fielders in as well.
Name: Enyel De Los Santos (Phillies)
Height: 6-3 Weight: 170 Throws: Right Bats: Right
Born: December 25, 1995 (Age: 22),
San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic
Drafted: None; Signed as undrafted free agent
in 2014 by the Mariners
Prospect Rank: #12 (Phillies)
Currently Pitching: AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs
De Los Santos is fairly new to the Phillies system, having been acquired in December 2017 when they sent Freddy Galvis to the Padres. However, he’s done nothing but impress; in his nine starts in 2018, he’s allowed only eight earned runs, for an ERA of 1.40 (51.0 IP). He’s limited baserunners (1.078 WHIP) while averaging more than a strikeout per inning (9.82 per 9). Nearly every peripheral you’d review is promising for De Los Santos, save the walks. While his WHIP is low, walks make up 36.4% of that WHIP number, which translates to averaging 3.51 BB/9. A little on the high side. But if he’s limiting hits and his WHIP still hovers around one, it’s like asking how is he getting batters out? It almost doesn’t matter as long as he’s limiting baserunners, but it is a stat to watch.
That said, De Los Santos may have to wait until 2019. The Phillies’ rotation is pitching strong right now, with the 5th spot having the most opportunity for need. Aaron Nola (11 starts), Nick Pivetta (11), Vince Velasquez (11), and Jake Arrieta (9) have locked down spots 1-4. (Although, I would definitely support your argument that Velasquez is not consistent enough and may be better in long relief (one time through a batting order). That leaves Ben Lively (5) and Zach Eflin (4) rounding out the only six pitchers that have started for the Phillies this year. (This is good in the sense that the Phillies are 29-22, on pace for 92 wins. Well ahead of their rebuilding projections.)
There are a few options ahead of De Los Santos, should management opt to bounce Eflin (who took Lively’s spot) or Velasquez (who I believe really would be a dominant middle-relief guy): Jerad Eickhoff (although Eickhoff experienced a set back in his recovery with no new timetable for his return), Drew Hutchison (a former starter currently in the bullpen, I could see them giving him a chance, although I sure hope not), and Cole Irvin (an IronPig teammate, may get the nod before De Los Santos due to being two years his senior).
All told, quite similarly to former IronPig teammate Seranthony Dominguez (who dominated the lower level before receiving a promotion), De Los Santos has dominated at AAA and is just a few bad 5th starter outings away from getting a chance at Citizens Bank Park. He is definitely a player you want to keep your eyes on.
Name: Andrew Knizner (Redbirds)
Height: 6-1 Weight: 200 Throws: Right Bats: Right
Born: February 3, 1995 (Age: 23), Glen Allen, VA
College: North Carolina State University
Drafted: Amateur Draft 2016 (June);
7th Round, 226th Overall by the Cardinals
Prospect Rank: #5 (Cardinals)
Currently Pitching: AAA Memphis Redbirds
In only his second full season of professional baseball, Knizner is well on his way to being the Cardinals #1 backstop. Of course, none of this would be possible so quickly if Yadier Molina didn’t get hurt earlier and require surgery. When Molina went down with injury, Carson Kelly (who manages a game well, but can’t hit his weight at the MLB level) was called up. That prompted the promotion of Francisco Pena as well, which led to Knizner being moved from AA to AAA. Some might argue this should have happened on merit anyway, but now, Knizner is sitting at AAA as the Redbirds’ full-time catcher.
Knizner does not possess a lot of power as yet, but he does possess an above-average hit tool, allowing for better-than-average contact and great plate presence. In his nine AAA games, he’s batting 0.333 with only 2 strikeouts over 30 plate appearances (and two walks, with a 0.379 OBP). All told in 36 games this year, Knizner has been getting on base at a 0.405 clip with 44 hits, 12 walks (against 13 strikeouts), 14 XBH, 20 runs, and 20 RBIs. This is terrific performance for any player, especially a catcher. (I’m recalling my interview with Trevor Oaks and how important catchers are.)
The book on Knizner behind the dish are that he has solid arm strength (he threw out 45% of the would-be base stealers in 2017), but that he is incredibly accurate to second with his throws. Recently converted to catcher (sophomore season at NCSU), he continues to learn the nuances of game-calling, doing well and showing enough polish that this part of his game is not slowing his matriculation through the Cardinals minor league system.
I’m not sure when Molina is scheduled to return, but with Kelly’s offensive struggles and Pena not doing much better, we may see a time in the contending-Cardinals near future that see them call up Knizner and send down Pena to, at a minimum, see what they have with their #5 prospect. For what it’s worth, I already have Knizner on my three Dynasty League rosters. I’m wish I could read the tea leaves on this one a little better, as the Cardinals’ catching situation is an absolute mess without Molina, but all I can recommend here is be ready to grab Knizner when he gets the call.
Name: Max Schrock (Redbirds)
Height: 5-8 Weight: 173 Throws: Right Bats: Left
Born: October 12, 1994 (Age: 23), Tacoma, WA
College: University of South Carolina
Drafted: [1st] Amateur Draft 2012 (June);
28th Round, 873rd Overall by the Diamondbacks
[2nd] Amateur Draft 2015 (June);
13th Round, 404th Overall by the Nationals
Prospect Rank: #6 (Cardinals)
Currently Pitching: AAA Memphis Redbirds
All Max has done since get to the minors is hit. All the Cardinals need from their keystone is a player who … hits. Another position of need now for a team watching the Milwaukee Brewers run away and hide, the current 2B options aren’t getting it done in St. Louis. Kolten Wong is under-performing (0.177 AVG in 47 games) and Greg Garcia isn’t doing much better (0.237 in 39 games). Clearly, there’s a need in St. Louis. Yes, they could absolutely shift players around and use Jedd Gyorko at 3B and Matt Carpenter at 2B, but they do need to keep their defense strong.
Schrock does not possess the strongest arm, but his range is good and playing on the right side of second base keeps his throws to first short, meaning they are throws he can easily make. You’re not losing anything on defense with Schrock and you’re gaining a ton with the offense. Max is a career 0.333 hitter at the minor league level with good patience who walks nearly as much as he strikes out.
Traded from Oakland to St. Louis in the Stephen Piscotty trade, the Cardinals knew about their need for middle-infield help. I just wonder how long they’ll let the Wong / Garcia experiment run amuck before making the call. Schrock is another player that I’ve already stashed in all three Dynasty League formats. He is also the player that I receive at least two inquiries per week about trading. I believe he is the Cardinals’ future at 2B and I think they’d be wise to get that clock ticking sooner than later.
Stay tuned next week as we look at a couple more minor league players that look like they’re on the fringe of promotion. Have a great week!
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Brian Roach, Jr, and Cole Freel live on Sunday May 27th, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #122 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. We will discuss the latest information in the world of fantasy baseball.