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We're getting even more baseball this week in the minor leagues, as the Single-A Short-Season and Rookie Leagues finally begin to start their 2018 campaigns.

With the start of short-season ball, this week we're going to highlight several top prospects who have either just started or will be starting their seasons this week. The New York-Penn League, Northwest League and Pioneer League are all already several games into their seasons by now, while the Appalachian League opens its season tonight. One thing to keep in mind with these prospects is that the majority of them are two, three or even four years away from contributing at the major league level, but it's because they're still a ways off that they can still be acquired with relative ease.

So without further ado, let's take a look at the players starting their 2018 campaigns that you need to be watching this week.

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Amaya-zing Grace, how sweet the sound

SP Shane Baz — Bristol Pirates (Advanced Rookie: Pittsburgh Pirates)

Projected starts: TBD

The Pirates' first round pick in the 2017 Draft, Baz is moving up to the Appalachian League this season after making 10 starts with the Gulf Coast League Pirates last year. Over 23 2/3 innings of work, Baz showed good strikeout potential with a 7.3 K/9, but his 5.3 BB/9 and 9.9 H/9 left something to be desired. The good news with Baz though is that he is still very young, having just turned 19 on Sunday. He has four solid pitches according to MLB Pipeline, including a fastball that will, "sit at 92-96 mph and can reach back for 98 mph, with the ability to run and sink it while not losing velocity deep into his starts." While his first start of the season has not been formally announced yet, he will pitch sometime this week for Bristol, whether it's against the Greeneville Reds or the Elizabethton Twins. This season will in no way be a "make or break" year for Baz, but it will be a good indicator for fantasy owners as to what his future fantasy potential may be.

SS Jacob Amaya — Ogden Raptors (Advanced Rookie: Los Angeles Dodgers)

Upcoming games: vs Orem 6/19-20, at Orem 6/21-22, vs Grand Junction 6/23-25

Amaya is making the jump to the Pioneer League in 2018 after spending his first season in the minors with the Arizona League Dodgers last year. Over 30 games last season, Amaya hit .254 with a .720 OPS, two home runs and four steals, which would put him on pace for a 10 home run, 20 stolen base performance over a full season. Along with those numbers, Amaya also showed good plate discipline with a 13.6 percent walk rate over 140 plate appearances, while maintaining a not terrible 17.9 percent strikeout rate. The Raptors have already seen their season begin, having played three games so far over which Amaya is currently hitting .231 with a .641 OPS, a double and a steal. As of now Amaya isn't showing superstar potential, but there's plenty of time for him to change that, and even if he doesn't he still has the potential to be a solid everyday player once he hits the majors.

OF Mc Gregory Contreras — Vancouver Canadians (Single-A Short-Season: Toronto Blue Jays)

Upcoming games: at Eugene 6/19, vs Everett 6/20-22, at Spokane 6/23-25

Having already done his time in Rookie ball, Contreras has started 2018 in short-season A ball after a big year in the Appalachian League in 2017. With five home runs and four steals over 207 plate appearances, Contreras' numbers put him on pace for 16 home runs and 13 steals with a .279 average and .756 OPS over a full season. Building off his success from last season, Contreras has already gotten off to a hot start with the Canadians this year with two of his three hits being home runs over his first four games. This year in particular will be worth watching Contreras just to see if his power can develop even more. Last season's performance put him on the radar of many prospect watchers, with MLB Pipeline ranking him the Blue Jays' No. 21 prospect this year after not being ranked in 2017. If Contreras' power output can take another step forward this year, he could become a very interesting fantasy option once he reaches the majors. For now, owners looking at stashing Contreras should expect about 15 home runs and 15 steals from him, but there is potential that he could become a 20-25 home run outfielder as he continues to grow. If he can reach that potential, he'll quickly become of the the upper-tier fantasy outfielder prospects.

 

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