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Hot MLB Prospects To Watch For Fantasy Baseball - Week 18

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Welcome back, RotoBallers! The All-Star Break and trade deadline are in the rearview mirror. We're heading into Week 19 of the fantasy baseball season, and the minor league season rages on. It would be foolish to proceed without highlighting the top performances from Week 18.

It's imperative to monitor the top fantasy baseball prospects who have turned heads thus far. The players listed here are not only coming off dominant weeks but have also impressed over the entire season. Don't be surprised when these exact names are painting corners, mashing homers, and swiping bags at the big-league level soon.

Fantasy managers should certainly keep an eye on these players over the long haul as they may prove to be excellent waiver wire adds in no time.

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Yonathan Perlaza - OF, Chicago Cubs

Level: High-A
2022 stats: 91 G, .257/.357/.506, 19 HR, 55 RBI, 59 R, 7 SB, .296 BABIP, .379 wOBA, 125 wRC+, 12.7 BB%, 22.8 K%

The Cubs signed Perlaza out of Venezuela in 2015 when he was just 16 years old. He has climbed his way to Double-A but still remains a big question mark in the Cubs system. Just last year, folks were doubting his power, but he has now clobbered 34 dingers over his last 190 games. He has swung a hot bat and shown an ability to draw walks.

Perlaza's defense is where the main concerns really lie. Originally viewed as a second baseman, Perlaza has been relegated to a corner outfield role, which could make it harder for him to emerge as a truly impactful player. He'll likely need his bat to emerge even stronger in order for the Cubs to bring him to the majors someday.

Perlaza certainly helped his case this past week, going 10-for-24 (.417) with five homers, eight RBI, three walks, and eight strikeouts. His best game was on Aug. 3 when he notched a single, double, and two homers.

 

Cade Povich - SP, Baltimore Orioles

Level: High-A
2022 stats: 17 GS, 84.2 IP, 7-8, 4.15 ERA, .312 BABIP, 12.22 K/9, 2.76 BB/9

Povich was arguably the centerpiece of last week's trade that saw big-league closer Jorge Lopez dealt to the Twins. The southpaw has a mid-90s fastball that figures to increase a few ticks as he rises through the minors. He also throws a decent changeup, slider, and curveball. Povich's best tool is his control; he has a fantastic tendency to locate his pitches in the zone, inducing strikeouts and weak contact all while keeping walks to a minimum.

The 24-year-old made his debut in the Orioles' system on Saturday, throwing six shutout innings. He surrendered one hit and zero walks while striking out eight batters. He was quite efficient, working through the Wilmington lineup with ease. It's hard to imagine this is the last time Povich appears on one of these prospect reports.

 

Heriberto Hernandez - OF, Tampa Bay Rays

Level: High-A
2022 stats: 92 G, .246/.356/.494, 18 HR, 67 RBI, 54 R, .341 BABIP, .379 wOBA, 128 wRC+, 12.8 BB%, 32.4 K%

Hernandez was already 18 years old when he signed a cheap $10,000 deal with the Rangers in 2017. Since then, he has been dealt to the Rays and emerged as one of the club's better prospects. Originally a catcher, Hernandez now covers the corner outfield positions while also filling in at first base here and there. He has a loud swing that produces fantastic power, yet he still draws walks at a decent clip. He needs to bring his strikeout rate down, but it's clear that the Rays are very excited about the offensive upside he could offer the big-league club someday.

Hernandez doesn't run extremely well, but he has an average glove and plus arm in the outfield, making him a candidate to play right field long-term. If that doesn't work out, he would have no trouble pivoting to left field or first base. At the end of the day, though, his bat is still his top tool.

The 22-year-old certainly put his swing to good use this past week, going 8-for-19 (.421) with four homers, 12 RBI, five homers, and four strikeouts. Not only did he continue to clobber the ball, but he showed that he is also capable of cutting down on strikeouts. His powerful bat could translate to some very nice fantasy production in a few years.

 

Samuel Strickland - SP, Atlanta Braves

Level: Single-A
2022 stats: 12 G, 9 GS, 48.1 IP, 4-2, 2.98 ERA, .329 BABIP, 9.31 K/9, 2.42 BB/9

The Braves selected Strickland in the 19th round of the 2021 draft. The Samford product was a left-hander with upside, but at his draft slot, he certainly wasn't a big name. So far, it seems like the Braves might have found a promising prospect with their late-round choice. Strickland has posted solid stats while working primarily out of the rotation, initiating relatively weak contact and a low walk rate.

This past week was especially noteworthy for the 23-year-old. During his start on Saturday, the southpaw lasted eight whole innings, surrendering zero runs, two hits, and one walk while striking out a whopping 11 batters. It was an impressive, much-needed gem from Strickland after he allowed eight runs through two innings during his last outing on July 31.

 

Axel Sanchez - SS, Seattle Mariners

Level: Single-A
2022 stats: 92 G, .286/.358/.500, 6 HR, 26 RBI, 24 R, 10 SB, .345 BABIP, 8.7 BB%, 22.5 K%

Sanchez signed with the Mariners out of the Dominican Republic back in 2019. He has emerged as a promising young ballplayer, and it appears that he's on the cusp of being recognized by most baseball prospect lists as one of his club's most noteworthy minor leaguers. Definitely a glove-first player, Sanchez has made noticeable progress at the plate, too, especially in regards to his power. He has bolstered his well-roundedness and has the potential to rise through the levels of affiliated ball quickly if he continues to find a groove offensively.

Sanchez opened the season at High-A but has mainly spent time in the Florida Complex League and Single-A over the last couple of months. He's coming off a fantastic week in which he went 10-for-27 (.370) with four homers, 15 RBI, three walks, and 17 RBI. He also swiped one bag on two attempts.

 

Gunnar Groen - RP, Arizona Diamondbacks

Level: Rookie
2022 stats: 11 GS, 21.2 IP, 2-3, 6.23 ERA, 4.31 xFIP, .388 BABIP, 47.9 GB%, 13.71 K/9, 5.40 BB/9

Groen is a very interesting prospect. Already 25 years old, he didn't appear in affiliated ball until the Diamondbacks purchased his contract in June this year. He's also a U.K. export, though he played his college ball at Pepperdine. In his final collegiate season, he struggled to the tune of a 7.15 ERA, 1.68 WHIP, 6.95 K/9, and 5.76 BB/9. However, he has a good baseball profile, checking in at 6-foot-6 with a fastball that touched 96.3 mph. Since making the jump to Minor League Baseball, he has induced ground balls at an impressive clip while also bringing his strikeout rate to a much higher mark than he established in college.

The D-backs have used Groen out of the bullpen with their Arizona Complex League affiliate this season. He made two outings this past week, totaling zero runs, zero walks, one hit, and eight strikeouts over five innings of work. His better of the two appearances came last Tuesday when he struck out five batters over two perfect innings. Given his advanced age and relatively underwhelming resume, Groen may never reach the upper levels of affiliated ball. Nevertheless, he is a cool story and certainly produced some impressive numbers over the last seven days.

 



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