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Do These Prospects Matter for Fantasy Baseball? Ethan Salas, Aeverson Arteaga, Owen Caissie, and more

Every week Minor League Baseball highlights a host of players who have played well over the previous week. Usually, most of the players are ones that have already been mentioned in this series this season, but the past two weeks have highlighted a number of new prospects due to their recent success.

After the big trade deadline piece last week, we are back to the typical six-pack of hitters and pitchers that you need to know. This week's grouping includes players that have been Minor League Baseball players of the week at a level over the last two weeks.

Look here for insight on potential fantasy baseball dynasty league pickups before they hit and to get to know players as they ascend to the major leagues!

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Top Hitter Prospects

Statistical highlights:


Hitter Prospect Outlooks: Fantasy Six-Pack

Owen Caissie, OF, Chicago Cubs

Canadian Owen Caissie was drafted in the second round by the San Diego Padres in 2020. Before he was able to make his pro debut, he was part of the five-player package that the Padres sent to Chicago in exchange for Yu Darvish and Victor Caratini.

Caissie has struggled to stay consistently healthy since his impressive debut in 2021 which saw him earn his way to full-season ball with seven homers and a .302 average in 54 games. Last season was not as kind, but Caissie hit .306 with four home runs in April this year and hasn't slowed down since. He now has a .285/.394/.545 slash line and 20 home runs in 90 games at Double-A.

As he's moved up the system, strikeouts have become more concerning for Caissie, as he's struck out 32% of the time this year, even though he does offer a 14% walk rate.

VERDICT: Caissie opened the Double-A season as a 20-year-old, so he has plenty of time to continue to develop. He's only a deep dynasty play right now, but hitting like this in Double-A is going to put him on the radar for shallower leagues by year's end.

Ethan Salas, C, San Diego Padres

The top international signee this January, Ethan Salas received a $5.6 million bonus, an enormous amount in the modern international signing era. For reference, the Padres had just $5,285,500 in bonus pool money in the 2023 period, so the Padres invested a lot of money in Salas.

The rumors during spring training began to fly about his elite defense and potential power, with veteran Padre pitchers raving about his performance behind the plate. His arm was also on display in a handful of games, showing pop times that would be elite among MLB catchers.

Salas skipped straight over complex ball to full-season ball at 17 years old, but he's held his own, hitting .267/.350/.487 with nine home runs and 22 extra-base hits over 220 plate appearances. He's only caught half of his appearances thus far as the Padres attempt to ease him into a catcher's workload, but the raw tools are incredibly impressive.

VERDICT: It's rare to suggest a catching prospect lower than Triple-A should be rostered in all levels of dynasty, let alone a teenage catcher, but Salas is the type of unicorn that warrants that. If he's available in your dynasty league, he shouldn't be.

Yunior Severino, 3B/2B, Minnesota Twins

The switch-hitting Yunior Severino was originally signed by Atlanta as part of their enormous 2016 Latin American class. That class ended up being removed from the organization after the 2017 season due to violations by the Braves in 2016 that would not have allowed them to afford the players they signed.

Severino signed that offseason with the Twins, and many regarded him as the jewel of the crop of newly-minted free agents from the Braves' system. Since then, he has struggled to develop due to the pandemic and significant injuries.

This year, he's finally healthy and hitting like he always showed that he could, slashing .287/.365/.560 with Double-A Wichita before a promotion this past week to Triple-A.

VERDICT: He's worked his way up the system, but at 23, he's still got development to do, such as controlling the strike zone. Watch him, as he could develop quickly similar to Jose Miranda in 2022, but there is no need to roster him right now.

Brock Jones, OF, Tampa Bay Rays

After a brilliant college career that saw Jones hit 39 home runs and steal 30 bases over his final two seasons in just 121 games, Brock Jones was the second-round pick of Tampa Bay last summer out of Stanford.

Jones flashed his speed and power in his pro debut, working his way up to Single-A while hitting four home runs and stealing 11 bases in 19 games. This season, Jones got off to a very slow start in High-A after his season was delayed by injury.

From July 1, he's flipped a switch, and he's hitting .270/.405/.520 with five home runs and five steals in 27 games. He's a natural center fielder, but there are other center fielders in the system that he has to share time with right now.

VERDICT: Jones draws walks and has both power and speed. How much contact he makes in the upper minors should indicate his chances of tapping into those tools. Hold off in anything but deep dynasty until he produces in Double-A.

Aeverson Arteaga, SS, San Francisco Giants

The Giants signed Aeverson Arteaga out of Venezuela in July 2019. Due to the pandemic, he did not get to make his pro debut until 2021, when he played so well in complex ball that the Giants gave him one game in Single-A.

He moved up to Single-A San Jose in 2022 and spent the year there, hitting .270/.345/.431 with 35 doubles, 14 homers, and 11 steals. He was aggressive on the defensive side which lead to some silly errors.

The Giants hoped to have Arteaga slow down on defense at High-A this season, and it's worked so far. His bat was slow to come around, however, as he was hitting .209/.298/.371 on July 1. From that point on, he's hit .286/.328/.563 with seven home runs in 29 games.

VERDICT: Arteaga should get a splash of Double-A by the end of the year after this recent run. He should definitely be owned in deep and mid-size dynasty leagues, but hold off in shallow leagues until he shows he can control his strikeout rate in the upper minors.

Cristian Santana, 2B/3B/SS, Detroit Tigers

Cristian Santana signed with the Tigers in January 2021 out of the Dominican Republic. He immediately showed impressive patience at the plate that summer in the DSL, walking at a 13.9% rate while adding in 23 extra-base hits and 12 steals in 54 games.

Last year, Santana was moved off short and began playing around the infield defensively. However, he struggled with consistent contact despite continuing to show excellent plate discipline.

The Tigers returned Santana to Single-A, and he has shown more of the same an impressive walk rate, strong athleticism, poor contact rate, and slashing .115/.332/.189 as of July 1. Since then he's come alive, hitting .265/.475/.542 with five home runs.

VERDICT: Santana has excellent hands but probably no defensive home. His contact rate worries me enough to stay away for now.


Top Pitcher Prospects

Statistical highlights:


Pitcher Prospect Outlooks: Fantasy Six-Pack

Grant Gambrell, SP, Boston Red Sox

After an up-and-down career for Oregon State, 6'4" righty Grant Gambrell was selected by the Royals in the third round in 2019. He wasn't able to debut in 2020, and after just a handful of starts in 2021, he was traded to Boston as part of the Andrew Benintendi trade.

He was hurt last season, which was an issue that dates back to his college days due to the style of his delivery. He returned to full strength this season and has made 19 starts, tossing 104 2/3 innings with a 3.87 ERA, and striking out 111. Though his first start in August was rough, he had a dominant July, tossing 27 innings with a 1.67 ERA and 31 strikeouts.

Gambrell works with a mid-90s heavy fastball and pairs it with a downer curve and a change. He needs to be able to repeat his delivery and calm it down to have success moving forward.

VERDICT: Gambrell is 25 at Double-A, but when the delivery is synced up, he can be an inning-eater backend starter. No need to roster him now, but keep him in mind in the second half of 2024.

Luis Palacios, SP, Miami Marlins

Luis Palacios has been with the Marlins organization since signing in 2016. He finally reached complex ball after two seasons in the DSL.

The 6'2" lefty has never had dominant stuff, topping out at around 90 and sitting in the upper 80s with his fastball. His secondary stuff is there, but none has elite swing-and-miss movement. What Palacios does have is incredible elite command of his stuff, walking just 4.2% of hitters he's faced.

The Marlins have bounced the left-hander across three levels this year with mediocre results, allowing 23 home runs over 107 1/3 innings with a 88/24 K/BB ratio. In his most recent start, Palacios was hit hard. However, in his previous two outings, he did not allow a run across 14 innings, with 16 strikeouts and no walks.

VERDICT: When he is on, Palacios is incredibly impressive to watch, but he has such a slim margin of error. No reason to roster him.

Chandler Champlain, SP, Kansas City Royals

The Yankees drafted Chandler Champlain in the ninth round in 2021 after a mediocre career at Southern Cal. They worked with him to develop the shape of his pitches and then unleashed him in 2022 with a very impressive walk rate.

The Royals acquired Champlain as part of the trade that sent Andrew Benintendi to the Yankees. After spending a year at Single-A in 2022 as he learned the feel of his pitches, Champlain moved to Double-A midway through this year, posting a 2.90 ERA and 92/29 K/BB over 99 1/3 innings.

Champlain works with a mid-90s fastball that can touch 99, along with a 12-6 curve and a sweeping slider. All of his stuff has above-average spin rates.

VERDICT: Champlin has backend stuff once he gets to the majors, and if his change continues to develop, he could be a mid-rotation guy. However, there's no reason to roster him until he's ready to claim a rotation spot in the majors.

Marcelo Perez, SP, Seattle Mariners

Marcelo Perez worked as a swingman during his four years at Texas Christian. Despite strong metrics on his pitches, his frame (5'10" and 180-ish pounds) likely drove away teams and allowed him to last until the 11th round for Seattle. He pitched deep into the postseason with the Horned Frogs and did not make his pro debut until this season.

Perez works with a low-90s fastball that has strong sinking action along with an above-average slider and a change. He's been able to pound the zone and limit home runs this season, posting a 2.61 ERA over 62 innings with a 61/18 K/BB.

VERDICT: Perez is in Single-A Modesto, even though his performance and age likely would indicate a promotion to High-A. The Mariners are working to build innings on his arm, but until he can show it in the upper minors, he doesn't need to be rostered.

Brycen Mautz, SP, St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals picked the 6'3" lefty Brycen Mautz out of the University of San Diego last summer in the second round. After tossing 90 2/3 innings (with 129 strikeouts) in his draft year in college, the Cardinals let him rest, but he did make an impression in fall instructs.

Mautz was assigned to Single-A Palm Beach this year. Over 90 1/3 innings, he's posted a 3.39 ERA and a 98/40 K/BB, allowing just three home runs.

The left-hander uses a low-90s fastball and a plus sweeping slider as his primary pitches, sprinkling in a change and a sharp-breaking variation of his slider. His control is below average, as evidenced by his 10.4% walk rate.

VERDICT: Mautz has excellent raw stuff and deception that could allow him to work in the rotation as long as his change develops. However, he could end up as a lefty bullpen option, and that's not a pitcher that needs to be rostered right now.

Conor Larkin, RP, Toronto Blue Jays

Conor Larkin chose to return to Penn State after the shortened 2020 season, so he was not drafted in the short five-round 2020 draft. In 2021 he struggled with the Nittany Lions and fell to the ninth round for the Blue Jays.

He works into the mid-90s with his fastball, but it doesn't have a ton of movement characteristics that you typically look for. His slider makes up for that out of the bullpen, a role that he's assumed his entire pro career.

Larkin struggled through the first two months of the season, but he's posted a 1.08 ERA and 0.92 WHIP since June 1 with 31 strikeouts and eight walks over 25 innings.

VERDICT: A flyball pitcher without a dominant fastball is a guy that is worrisome for a fantasy-worthy relief profile, and Larkin is still in High-A. No reason to worry about rostering him.

Check back again next week for more evaluations and look behind the numbers!

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