Yesterday we explored some of the top prospects who are knocking on the door of an MLB call-up. Names like Moncada, Torres and Devers are well known, even in non prospect nerd circles, so today we will explore five lesser known prospects who making waves in the minors. But first, a summary from yesterday’s post:
Yoan Moncada / 2B / Chicago White Sox (ETA: June 30th)
Gleyber Torres / SS / New York Yankees (ETA: September 1st)
Amed Rosario / SS / New York Mets (ETA: June 30th)
Rafael Devers / 3B / Boston Red Sox (ETA: June 30th)
Franklin Barreto / SS / Oakland Athletics (ETA: August 1st)
Austin Meadows (OF / Pittsburgh / AAA / 22)
MLB.com Prospect Rank: 6th
MLB ETA: August 1st
Austin Meadows, the ninth overall pick in the 2013 draft and name-sharer with a Dekalb County townhome development, is a toolsy outfielder that has made quick work of Pittsburgh’s minor league system. Although he was expected by some to compete for a
roster spot out of spring training, Meadows was sent down to AAA prior to the season and subsequently had a very rough month of April, posting a .503 OPS and 40 wRC+ in 82 at bats. Since then Meadows has looked more like his normal self, cutting his strikeout rate significantly and posting a .797 OPS since May 1st. Recently turned 22, and with over 1,250 minor league plate appearances to his name, Meadows is likely nearing MLB readiness, however Pittsburgh has a logjam in their outfield with Andrew McCutchen, Gregory Polanco, Starling Marte (who is nearing a return from his suspension) and Adam Frazier. The Pirates are currently last in the NL Central and don’t have much hope to contend in 2017, so it’s likely that they trade McCutchen by the July 31 trade deadline. Meadows’ path to the MLB will become a lot clearer after an outfielder is dealt from the MLB roster, so expect a promotion shortly thereafter.
Brent Honeywell (SP / Tampa Bay / AAA / 22)
MLB.com Prospect Rank: 24th
MLB ETA: 2018
Honeywell has been one of minor league baseball’s most consistent pitchers since being drafted in 2014, never posting an ERA above 3.50 at any level and displaying a polished approach with lots of strikeouts and very few walks. He made two starts in AA for the Montgomery Biscuits to start the season and struck out 20 batters in 13 innings, prompting a promotion to Tampa’s AAA squad in Durham, NC. Honeywell’s made eight
starts in AAA, holding the opposition to three or less earned runs in six of them. His most recent start was a seven run, three inning affair that bloated his ERA in AAA to 4.93, however his underlying performance has been much better than that. Honeywell’s 26.2% strikeout rate and 3.8% walk rate produce an elite 2.90 xFIP, which is third best in the AAA International League. Given his strong performance, it’s only a matter of time before Honeywell’s ERA descends into the 3.00’s, however an MLB call-up might not come until 2018 regardless. Tampa’s MLB staff is fairly deep, with Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, Alex Cobb and Matt Andriese all profiling as above average starters. The Rays also have some of the best minor league pitching depth in the league, with Blake Snell, Jacob Faria and Jose de Leon likely ahead of Honeywell in the call-up queue. While Tampa will likely unload some pitchers at the deadline, Honeywell probably won’t see significant MLB action until 2018.
Derek Fisher (OF / Houston / AAA / 23)
MLB.com Prospect Rank: 74th
MLB ETA: August 1st
Derek Fisher was a standout collegiate player at the University of Virginia prior to being drafted by the Astros 37th overall in the 2014 draft. Fisher possesses a well-rounded game, flashing plus power, speed and hitting ability combined with decent outfield
defense. He’s been remarkably consistent while climbing the ranks of Houston’s minor league system, never posting a wRC+ below 124, however his game elevated to another level in 2017 with the AAA Fresno Grizzlies. Fisher has swatted 14 home runs in 227 plate appearances thus far, with a 1.016 OPS and 162 wRC, which both currently rank third in the AAA Pacific Coast League. Due to his age, collegiate pedigree and minor league experience, Fisher would already be in the majors for most teams, however the league-leading 38-16 Astros don’t have much space on the MLB roster. Their current outfield is comprised of George Springer in center, Josh Reddick in right and Nori Aoki in left, with Jake Marisnick and Marwin Gonzalez sprinkled in from time to time. Springer and Reddick are locked in to their positions, however if Fisher keeps raking in AAA it’s possible that he can nudge Aoki, who is running a 70 wRC+ in 2017, out of a starting role. Houston is looking to win it all this year, so if they think Fisher can improve the MLB squad, he’ll get the call-up.
Rhys Hoskins (1B / Philadelphia / AAA / 24)
MLB.com Prospect Rank: NA
MLB ETA: August 1st
It’s kind of weird how certain prospects receive little to no fanfare, even after decimating minor league pitching over the span of three years. Hoskins, a 6’4″, 225lbs first baseman hailing from Sacramento, CA, is definitely one of those prospects. He’s dominated at
every minor league level, posting a wRC+ of at least 159 at stops in A, A+ and AA. He’s been unconscious with the AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs in 2017 and is the International League-leader in HR, RBI, OBP, SLG, OPS and wRC+. It’s also not particularly close in many of those categories. Hoskins’ 1.044 OPS is 90 points higher than second place Max Moroff, who is at .954. Hoskins played collegiate ball, has logged at bats at every minor league level and is already 24 years old, so why isn’t he in the majors yet? Unfortunately, Hoskins is blocked on the MLB team by incumbent 25-year old first baseman Tommy Joseph, who has hit 29 home runs in his 154 game MLB career. Philadelphia, despite having a strong farm system, has holes across the entire MLB roster, so they would be wise to trade redundant assets to plug those holes. Expect one to be dealt by the trade deadline, and for Hoskins to be in the MLB wherever he ends up.
Luke Weaver (SP / St. Louis / AAA / 23)
MLB.com Prospect Rank: 60th
MLB ETA: Sometime in July
Luke Weaver was St. Louis’ 1st round pick, 27th overall, in the 2014 draft. He has impressed at the professional level since, posting a dominating 1.62 ERA in high A in 2015, followed by an even more impressive 1.40 ERA in AA in 2016. Weaver was so dominating in AA that he earned an MLB call-up in August, starting eight games for the Cardinals and posting a 5.70 ERA along the way. However, his strikeout ability and control earned him a 3.34 xFIP, indicating that his true performance was better than the boxcar stats showed. With St. Louis possessing a stacked MLB rotation, Weaver accepted a demotion to AAA to start the 2017 season and picked up right where he left off in 2016. Weaver’s ERA with the Memphis Redbirds is a stingy 2.08, and he’s striking out over 25.0% of the batters he faces. Unfortunately for Weaver, every St. Louis starter currently has a sub 4.00 ERA, so he won’t be taking anyone’s MLB job due to ineffectiveness. It will take an injury to someone on the Cardinals’ staff to open up a rotation spot. However, the likes of Wainwright, Lynn and Wacha are hardly beacons of health, so don’t be surprised if Weaver is starting games for St. Louis soon.