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In this week's edition of Hot Prospects to Watch, we're going to focus on some interesting prospects from the Single-A and Single-A Advanced levels of the minor leagues. Some of the more interesting prospects at this level are outfielders, but there are some pitchers worth keeping an eye on including potentially the next two-way player to reach the major leagues.

The majority of the players on this week's list are guys that are flying under the radar, and in most cases deservedly so. It would not be a surprise if only one or two of these players ever reach the major leagues and provide good fantasy value. But the high-risk players on this list could end up becoming a great value for fantasy owners at a low cost within just a few years.

Now it's time to swing for the fences on these prospects. No guts, no glory.

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Reed-y Player One

1B/SP Brendan McKay - Bowling Green Hot Rods (Single-A: Tampa Bay Rays)

Upcoming games: at Clinton 5/1-3, at Burlington 5/4-6

Projected Starts: at Burlington 5/5, vs Cedar Rapids 5/11

Announced in last year's draft as a first baseman, the Rays seem to be letting McKay continue to go for a chance of becoming the league's next two-way star. Getting his first taste of full-season ball, McKay is currently hitting .268 with a .766 OPS over 57 plate appearances, hitting one double and driving in 10 runs while drawing 16 walks to seven strikeouts. Meanwhile on the mound, McKay has been nothing short of dominant through his first four starts with a 1.93 ERA, 0.571 WHIP and 15.4 K/9 across 14 innings. What's even more impressive is the fact that his FIP is currently 1.52 and his xFIP is 0.87, and his .261 BABIP from opposing players suggests that he isn't just getting lucky in his performances on the mound. McKay's next start against Burlington will be a challenge, as the Bees are fourth in the league with a .252 average and second with a .363 on-base percentage, but the following start should be much easier against Cedar Rapids who rank in the bottom half of the league in almost every category. While his starts on the mound should be interesting to watch, owners should pay close attention to McKay's performance at the plate over the next week to see if he can start racking up more extra-base hits.

SP Kutter Crawford - Greenville Drive (Single-A: Boston Red Sox)

Projected starts: at Greensboro 5/5, vs Kannapolis 5/11

Boston's 16th round pick in last year's draft, Crawford only threw one inning in 2017 — allowing one hit and one walk while striking out two. Now in 2018 Crawford already has 24 innings of work across five starts, posting a 2.25 ERA and 1.125 WHIP with a 13.5 K/9. Crawford has held opposing batters to a .221 average, and his 1.48 FIP suggests that he is pitching slightly better than his numbers suggest. He will however face some of the better hitters in the South Atlantic League in his next two starts, as Kannapolis is second in the league with a .263 average and third with a .332 on-base percentage while Greensboro's .251 average and .319 OBP rank them fourth and sixth in the league respectively. Despite the tough outlook, Crawford has the potential to not only do well in his upcoming starts, but he could also pitch his way to Single-A Advanced Salem very quickly. The Red Sox currently have several pitching prospects with higher rankings and potential than Crawford, but with a full season to display his talent Crawford could fly up through the rankings very quickly.

OF Forrest Wall - Lancaster JetHawks (Single-A Advanced: Colorado Rockies)

Upcoming games: vs Portland 4/24-25, at Richmond 4/27-29

After his 2017 campaign ended early from a dislocated shoulder, Wall is back in action and off to a great start with Lancaster. Hitting .318 with a .910 OPS over his last 10 games, Wall has hit two doubles, two triples and a home run in that span while going a perfect 6-for-6 in stolen base attempts. Speed is Wall's biggest asset, as he is 10-for-12 in stolen base attempts this season and 80-for-112 over his five year career in the minors. What owners should keep an eye on this season though is Wall's power output. Wall's career-high for home runs is seven back in 2015, but he was on his way toward a double-digit home run season last year before his season ended prematurely. For now, Wall looks to be a 10 HR/23 steal player with a .280 average, but this year will likely solidify whether or not he can be more than that.

OF Juan Soto - Potomac Nationals (Single-A Advanced: Washington Nationals)

Upcoming games: vs Wilmington 5/1-3, vs Salem 5/4-6

Soto was already one of the top prospects worth watching in the Nationals system, but now that Victor Robles is out for a couple months with an elbow injury it's all eyes on Soto. He has gotten off to a good start this season with a .341 average and 1.175 OPS, and over his last 10 games between Single-A and Single-A Advanced he has his two doubles, two triples and two home runs with a .273 average and .918 OPS. This could be a breakout season in the making for the 19-year-old outfielder, as a look at his batted ball tendencies Soto currently has a career-low 41.9 ground ball percentage while posting a career-high 21.6 line drive percentage. Owners this week should keep an eye on how Soto performs against a tough Salem pitching staff, but the future is bright for Soto and his potential value in fantasy.

OF Buddy Reed - Lake Elsinore Storm (Single-A Advanced: San Diego Padres)

Upcoming games: at Inland Empire 5/1-3, vs Modesto 5/4-6

A second-round pick in 2016, Reed has been somewhat underwhelming in his first two seasons of pro-ball with a .242 average, six home runs and 27 steals across 139 games. Things seems to be clicking for Reed this season however, as he is hitting .348 with a .913 OPS, four homers and 12 steals in just 21 games. Granted, his .443 BABIP and 17.4 percent HR/FB rate are both going to come back down to Earth at some point, but he could be taking a step towards becoming a potential 10-15 HR/20 steal player. Reed will have some decent match-ups this week against the Inland Empire and Modesto pitching staffs, and this week will also be a good indicator of whether he can continue to perform at the level he has so far.

SP Sam McWilliams - Visalia Rawhide (Single-A Advanced: Arizona Diamondbacks)

Projected starts: at San Jose 5/1, vs Rancho Cucamonga 5/6

The Diamondbacks acquired McWilliams after the 2015 season in the trade that sent Jeremy Hellickson to the Phillies, and he has improved his game each year since then in Arizona's system. This season McWilliams is poised to have a breakout campaign with Visalia, as he currently sports an 11.2 K/9, 2.10 ERA and 1.013 WHIP — all career-bests — over 25 2/3 innings of work. McWilliams has pitched at least five innings in every start this season, and over his last three starts he has allowed one run while striking out 25. Owners in deep dynasty leagues should keep an eye on McWilliams in his upcoming starts, as Rancho Cucamonga and San Jose are in the top three in the league in batting average and on-base plus slugging percentage. But if he does well against them, he could be on his way to becoming a good under-the-radar stash.

 

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