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Hot Prospects To Watch - Austin Hays, Daulton Varsho, Julio Rodriguez And More


The minor league seasons are winding down with around three weeks left. Once September hits, major league rosters will expand for the stretch run. That means that many of the big-name and under-the-radar prospects that have been performing at a high level all year will get the call to help their respective teams for the final month of the regular season.

Guys like Carter Kieboom, Kyle Tucker and Luis Robert, who have been tearing it up on the farm all year, could help the Nationals, Astros and White Sox, respectively. At the Triple-A level, third baseman Ty France (.399 average), first baseman Kevin Cron (league-high 36 homers and 95 RBI) and pitcher Hector Noesi (133 strikeouts, 1.14 WHIP) could be on their way to promotions soon.

At Class AA, a pair of Braves hurlers are standing out in Tucker Davidson (2.03 ERA) and Ian Anderson (147 strikeouts) for the Mississippi Braves. Brewers starter Trey Supak, who has been mentioned in this space before, is leading Double-A with a 0.87 WHIP at Biloxi. Who else is angling for a call-up before 2019 comes to an end?

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Varsho Is A Rare Breed Fo Sho

Daulton Varsho - C, Arizona Diamondbacks

Arizona's No. 5 prospect is having a stellar season with a .287/.372/.503 slash line, 15 home runs and 47 RBI in 92 games for Double-A Jackson, but the real head-turner is his 17 stolen bases for a backstop. He's hitting a blistering .433/.485/.900 with three homers, six RBI and a steal in eight games (30 at-bats) in August. Varsho ranks as MLB.com's No. 10 catching prospect.

The 23-year-old was drafted in the second round in 2017 and has a compact and powerful stroke from the left side. The most impressive thing about Varsho is his athleticism and wheels for a catcher. He stole 19 bases in his first full professional season last year and has a 20-20 campaign in his sights this year. Varsho is also a selective hitter, so he could continue to hit for average at the next level.

While his defensive skills behind the plate aren't top-notch, Varsho's athleticism is what will get him to the big leagues, possibly by next season. If he doesn't stick behind the plate long term, the Snakes could move him to the outfield. Varsho could wind up being a very valuable utility player in fantasy with catcher eligibility, which is always a big bonus.

 

M's Top Prospects Making Their Push

Julio Rodriguez - OF, Seattle Mariners

This Dominican product has been going off of late, culminating in a 3-for-5 performance on Tuesday with a home run (a grand slam) and career-high six RBI for Single-A West Virginia. He's hit safely in 11 of 12 games this month and is now hitting .411 (21-for-51) with two dingers and 12 RBI this month.

Seattle will want to see more, especially since he's just 18 years old, but Rodriguez has raw power and has a chance to be an impact bat for a team that is in need of that. He's taken a big leap forward in 2019 after hitting .315/.404/.525 with five long balls, 36 RBI and 10 stolen bases in 59 games in the Dominican Summer League last year.

The 6-foot-3, 180-pounder could become even more electric in the power department if he fills out a bit more, too. The one downfall is he doesn't have a ton of speed for an outfielder, which means he'll likely settle in at a corner spot if he makes it all the way up. There's a lot to like here, but because he's so young he's merely a player to watch in dynasty/keeper formats. He's already Seattle's No. 2 prospect.

Evan White - 1B, Seattle Mariners

White continues to hit in the month of August, batting .320/.346/.680 with three home runs and eight RBI in six games for the Double-A Travelers. The team's No. 4 prospect is having a fine second full season in the minors after being taken 17th overall in 2017, slashing .294/.342/.500 with a career-high 16 home runs and 50 RBI in 310 at-bats.

Touted as the best defensive first baseman in the minors, the 23-year-old ranks as the No. 74 overall prospect and as the third-best first base prospect. Not only has he shown more raw power in 2019 with the ability to make hard contact all over the diamond, but White also knows the strike zone well and takes his walks.

He stands at 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds and looks to be well on his way to the big leagues for a rebuilding club. White has a well-round profile both offensively and defensively and is a safe bet to see playing time for the M's in 2020. He could easily be a September call-up, too, making him worth a stash in dynasty leagues.

 

Flying Under The Radar In Houston

Cristian Javier - SP, Houston Astros

It seems like we mention a prospect in the Houston organization almost every week. Their farm system is just that good and that deep. Javier went 2-0 with a 0.94 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 12.6 K/9 in 28 2/3 innings at High-A Fayetteville this year before earning a promotion to Double-A Corpus Christi. The 22-year-old has gone 5-3 there with a 2.06 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 13.4 K/9 in 70 innings.

The right-hander was signed out of the Dominican in 2015 and is the team's No. 10 prospect. Unlike some of the 'Stros other big-name arms, Javier's stuff isn't flashy and features a low-90s fastball with a curve and sweeping slider. He's done nothing but miss bats in the minors, but he'll need to figure out his control (almost five walks per nine innings this year) if he's to continue advancing up the ladder. Keep an eye on him.

The Lowdown On Lowther, Hays

Zac Lowther - SP, Baltimore Orioles

This 23-year-old left-hander leads all Double-A pitchers with 12 wins and is sporting a 2.71 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 124 strikeouts in 123 innings over 22 starts for Bowie. Despite posting a career-low 9.1 K/9 in 2019, Lowther continues to miss bats due to a high-80s, low-90s heater with late riding life. The southpaw also features an above-average curveball and changeup.

Lowther, the 74th overall pick in 2017 out of Xavier and No. 10 Baltimore prospect, is a durable starter with a good frame at 6-foot-2, 235 pounds. He'll need to clean up his 4.2 BB/9 if he's to reach the next level, but given the O's struggles with pitching in recent years, Lowther is a good bet to see starts in Baltimore before long. Here's another name that could see a call-up this September.

Austin Hays - OF, Baltimore Orioles

Hays, 24, made his MLB debut in just his first season after being taken in the third round in 2017. Injuries have been the story since, as he played in only 75 games in 2018 and just 67 so far this year with Low-A Aberdeen, High-A Fredrick, Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk. While he's hit just .240, Hays also has 14 home runs and 39 RBI and looks to be past the injury bug right now.

Baltimore's No. 6 prospect should be able to hit for average and power at the next level if he can just stay healthy. He managed to pound 32 home runs, 32 doubles and 95 RBI in the minors in 2017 before his call-up. The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder has some swing and miss in his game and average speed, but his presence in the Baltimore system will help him get back to the big leagues sooner than later. If he finishes strong with the Tide, don't be surprised if Baltimore gives him another look before the year is over.

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