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Do These Prospects Matter for Fantasy Baseball? Quinn Priester, Bryan Woo, Connor Phillips, David Hamilton, Jordan Beck, more

David Hamilton - fantasy baseball rankings draft sleepers prospects waiver wire pickups

Prospects in Major League Baseball often progress at a routine pace until the player changes something – a new pitch, a new arm angle, a change in approach at the plate, or a change in his swing. That's often the final thing a player does to make himself big league-ready.

Many of the players highlighted this week have made a change, whether by choice or because of a change in environment, and it's provided a different perspective on their potential. We'll look at six hitters and six pitchers and decide whether they're fantasy-worthy.

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

Michael Curialle, 3B, St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals snagged Curialle out of UCLA in the 12th round last summer. After a fairly nondescript career for the Bruins, Curialle put himself on the draft map with a huge showing in the MLB draft league, hitting .353/.532/.471.

While in college, Curialle spent most of his time playing the outfield, but the Cardinals have focused him at third base so far in their system. Curialle repeated Single-A Palm Beach to open 2023 and has shown tremendous improvement in his plate discipline. Curialle's right-handed swing shows power potential, but he's not consistently accessed it yet.

VERDICT: Settling into a definite position defensively has certainly agreed with Curialle. If he can consistently access his above-average raw power, he could quickly become a very interesting prospect. No reason to roster right now, but keep the name in mind!


Jordan Beck, OF, Colorado Rockies

Down the road, we may look back at the 2022 Tennessee team as one of the deepest teams in future major league talent in recent college baseball history. On many college teams, Beck would have been a no-doubt center fielder, but he was arguably the third-best defensive outfielder for the Vols last year.

Beck's high emotions were part of what put off a number of major league teams and allowed him to slide to the Rockies with the 38th overall selection in the draft. Because he wasn't the star of his own team, he was overlooked during FYPD season in large part. Beck has opened the year in High-A simply demolishing baseballs. He's clobbered 12 home runs with a .308/.385/.654 slash line over 33 games.

VERDICT: Beck's power is legit, and he's been walking around 12% of the time while striking out less than 22%. While he's not stolen many bases, he has above-average raw speed as well, making him a very impressive potential fantasy prospect. He should be added in deep dynasties, and if he can continue this play in Double-A later this year, shallow leagues should be taking notice.

Buddy Kennedy, 2B/3B, Arizona Diamondbacks

Kennedy was drafted in the fifth round in 2017 out of the same high school that gave baseball Mike Trout. He worked his way through lower levels before the 2020 pandemic. When Kennedy returned to enjoy the offensively-potent Amarillo environment, he hit 17 home runs in just 66 games.

That level of power production has not held, and it's really not part of Kennedy's game overall. He has a strong utility vibe as a passable defender around the infield and in corner infield spots, but not an excellent glove man at any one spot.

After debuting in Arizona for 30 games last season, Kennedy returned to Triple-A to open this season with one big change – he simply stopped swinging at pitches he couldn't hit. His strikeout rate has dropped below 13% while he's walking at a higher than 18% rate.

VERDICT: Kennedy is not a guy that likely will give big counting numbers, but if he's up and filling in, he could provide strong AVG/OBP production as a fill-in. There is no reason to roster him outside the deepest dynasty leagues, but if he gets a call to fill in somewhere for Arizona, he'd be a pickup that wouldn't hurt you.


David Hamilton, SS, Boston Red Sox

If not for an Achilles injury in his draft season, Hamilton very well may have been a first-day talent in the draft, but the Brewers snagged him in the eighth round of 2019. He spent the rest of that year rehabbing and then missed the 2020 pandemic year, so Hamilton's pro debut did not come until 2021.

He wasted no time displaying his speed, which could be argued among the very top in all of the minors. After an offseason trade to Boston before 2022, Hamilton set a Red Sox minor league record with 70 seals last season.

Hamilton is more than a one-trick pony, however, with better-than-expected power, often to his pull side. He has a strong contact tool, but he can get power-happy and chase.

The Red Sox have used Hamilton primarily at up-the-middle positions this year, and the big league club could use help at all three positions he's played (2B/SS/CF). He's likely put himself on the shortlist for the next guy to get reps at shortstop in the first year post-Xander in Boston.

VERDICT: Hamilton is not going to remind anyone of Ozzie Smith at short, but with the Red Sox trying guys like Connor Wong and Bobby Dalbec at the position, defense is obviously not a primary concern. Hamilton would bring a speed dynamic that recent rule changes have made quite valuable, and he is a guy that should be considered in dynasty and redraft leagues with an impending call-up soon.


Tyler Black, 3B, Milwaukee Brewers

Black was drafted out of Wright State in 2021 by the Brewers, and he was showing his elite plate discipline in High-A last year while trying new defensive positions when he fractured his scapula diving for a baseball.

He played well in the Arizona Fall League, setting him up to move to Double-A Biloxi to open 2023. Black has worked on his swing from the left side, adding to his leg kick and altering his swing path to generate more impact on the ball. Thus far, the results have been impressive, with a .208 ISO, far outpacing his .143 mark in 2022.

Black is still showing elite plate discipline, walking more than he's struck out on the season, but he has encountered a notable reduction in his BABIP with the swing alteration, leading to a .243 average.

VERDICT: Black seems to have found a defensive home at third base with quick hands and an adequate arm. His added power to go with his elite plate discipline could lead to him being a much more interesting fantasy player as well. While he's not a definite add in dynasty at the moment, he's made big strides that should be watched.


Nate Furman, 2B, Cleveland Guardians

The Guardians selected Furman in the fourth round last summer out of Charlotte. The 5'8" infielder did not play in his draft season, but after an impressive showing in instructs, he was sent to Single-A Lynchburg in the Carolina league.

Furman was drafted with impressive bat-to-ball, batting eye, and baserunning skills. All of those have been on display this season, as Furman has posted a .317 batting average and .482 on-base while swiping 25 bases and only being caught three times. He's likely headed to High-A soon, and it would not surprise if he reaches Double-A by the end of the season.

VERDICT: Furman's skillset should allow for plenty of success in A-ball levels, but upper minors will be the test for him. While not a priority roster player at this point, if he can show the same level of plate discipline and base-stealing skills in the upper minors, he'll quickly become a deep dynasty grab.


Top Pitcher Prospects

Statistical highlights:


Pitcher Prospect Outlooks: Fantasy Six-Pack

Connor Phillips, SP, Cincinnati Reds

Much has been written about Reds' lefty Andrew Abbott's results to open the season, but former teammate Phillips has been having a very similar season. Acquired in the 2021-2022 offseason by the Reds from the Mariners, Phillips reached Double-A last year, but he struggled with his primarily two-pitch attack getting hit hard last season.

Phillips can reach the upper-90s with his fastball, and he has a plus curve that has been his go-to pitch prior to 2023. With the tackified ball in the Southern League, Phillips' slider has been showing significantly better results this season, leading to Phillips ranking second in the game with 16.1 K/9, behind only Abbott's 16.16 K/9 mark.

VERDICT: There is still reliever risk with Phillips due to a delivery that can be "punchy" and abrupt. However, he is having success at the Double-A level and should be rostered in deep leagues with an eye on him for shallow leagues.


Bryan Woo, SP, Seattle Mariners

Drafted due to an elite fastball, per analytics, Woo was picked in the sixth round by the Mariners in 2021 out of Cal Poly. There was an extreme risk due to his strength really being one pitch.

Woo's dominant fastball allowed him to put up elite strikeout numbers last season, posting 84 strikeouts over 57 innings. He then turned plenty of heads with a dominant showing at the Arizona Fall League in 10 2/3 innings.

The secondary offerings have always been key for the righty, and the slider has begun to come around with his changeup still trailing significantly behind. He's also done a notably better job of locating pitches this year, leading to a 1.85 ERA and 49/7 K/BB ratio in 34 innings at Double-A.

VERDICT: Woo still has notable reliever risk, but if he moves to the bullpen, he'd be a potential backend reliever. He should absolutely be rostered in deep dynasty leagues, and he will likely be one of the best arms available in shallow leagues, especially as he's already succeeding in the upper minors.


Cristian Mena, SP, Chicago White Sox

Signed by the White Sox out of the Dominican Republic in 2019, the pandemic delayed the debut of Mena, and his first showing at the complex level would not have impressed casual observers (7.82 ERA in 48 1/3 innings with a 62/21 BB/K ratio).

However, the evident strikeout stuff played up even further in 2022 as Mena began to control his stuff better, and he struck out 126 over 104 1/3 innings, reaching Double-A by the end of the season. He returned to Birmingham to open 2023, and while many have reported about the excellence some pitchers are getting from the Southern League tackified baseball, Mena is on the opposite end.

So far, even with strong control, Mena is posting a 6.27 ERA over 33 innings, as his once-elite fastball spin has seemingly disappeared with the new ball. He's also struggling to command his stuff, leading to many pitches in the heart of the zone, as evidenced by six home runs allowed already in 33 innings after allowing seven in more than three times as many innings in 2022.

VERDICT: Mena is just 20, so there's no reason for Chicago to push him. He does have legit upper mid-rotation stuff, though, which should make him a desired stash in deep leagues, especially before his results balance out with a change in the ball in the Southern League in the second half of the year.


Orion Kerkering, RP, Philadelphia Phillies

A fifth-round draft pick by the Phillies last summer out of South Florida, Kerkering lost his rotation spot in his draft season, but still had plenty of pro interest due to his elite slider, which has received 70 grades on the 20-to-80 scouting scale.

Kerkering's two big hangups coming into 2023 were his fastball shape/velocity and the command of his entire repertoire. He's seen his fastball tick up from the low-90s to consistently 94-96 this season, but more importantly, he's getting much more swing and miss on the heater.

Add in that Kerkering has dropped his walk rate to 5.5% this season, and Kerkering's move from low-A to high-A this year might not be the last jump he makes.

VERDICT: No need to roster Kerkering in any dynasty right now, but with the elite slider and better command, he could become an interesting ratio pitcher once he hits the majors, likely in 2024 at the earliest.


Quinn Priester, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates

The first prep pitcher taken in the 2018 draft when the Pirates selected him 18th overall, Priester has had his ups and downs along his development path, all the while showcasing major league-quality overall stuff when he's healthy and commanding and controlling his arsenal of pitches.

After pitching across all four full-season levels in 2022 as well as making six starts in the Arizona Fall League, Priester opened the 2023 season with Triple-A Indianapolis. While he's posting a 4.12 ERA thus far, all of his baseline numbers have improved over his 2022 performance, primarily done at lower levels.

Priester once worked with upper-90s velocity, but now peaks around 95-96, but he's developed multiple pitch options to compensate, with Baseball Savant classifying Quinn with six pitches that he used at least 10 times between two starts against Iowa this past week. Between the two starts, he generated 31 swings and misses, with all six pitches recording at least one whiff.

VERDICT: The profile for Priester is likely more mid-rotation starter than an ace, but he could be an inning-eater at the big-league level. He should be rostered in all dynasty formats.


Patrick Monteverde, SP, Miami Marlins

Drafted in the 8th round out of Texas Tech in 2021 by the Marlins, Monteverde was viewed as a late bloomer in college after having Tommy John surgery and the pandemic wipe out two years of his college time. In his first full season, Monteverde put up strong numbers with a 3.20 ERA and 122 strikeouts over 109 2/3 innings.

The beginning of the 2023 season has seen Monteverde blow hitters away at a surprising rate, with a 1.29 ERA over 42 innings, posting a 57/12 BB/K rate. However, he has done this in the Southern League, and whether increases in the effectiveness of his low-90s fastball and collection of average-ish secondary stuff are real or a result of the "sticky ball" being used at that level is to be seen.

VERDICT: Monteverde is a lefty with a strong grouping of offerings and above-average control that gives him a floor of a backend starter. However, he may have to change organizations to get that chance with the depth of pitching in Miami. No need to rush out yet, but keep your eyes on his results if he would be promoted or once midseason is done and the ball is returned to normal in the Southern League.


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

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