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Mining the Minors for Hot Prospect Hitters and Call-Ups - Nolan Gorman, Triston Casas, Luis Garcia, and more

luis garcia second base fantasy baseball rankings draft sleepers mlb prospects

If you've played even one year of fantasy baseball, you know that predicting minor league call-ups can be a frustrating endeavor. We have to weigh not only the talent of the player and the potential lineup opening in his major league organization but also the relative competitiveness of that organization and any financial or service time factors. Since a year of service based on MLB contracts is 172 days and not the 187 days in a typical MLB season, we often see prospects getting called up after the first two or three weeks of the season to ensure a team doesn't lose a contractual year for that prospect. While the new CBA gave minor incentives to keep top prospects up from the beginning of the season, not all teams changed their tactics (see the Pirates and Oneil Cruz), so we could still expect a few prospects to be promoted in the coming weeks.

Even if the fantasy baseball prospects we see are not the elite caliber players like Julio Rodriguez and Bobby Witt Jr., they can still have major impacts on our fantasy team. Rhys Hoskins was not a household name when he hit 18 home runs in 50 games as a rookie. Matt Olson hit 24 HRs in 59 MLB games as a rookie just one year after hitting 17 HRs and batting .235 in an entire season at Triple-A. Sometimes something "clicks" for a prospect and we see a major jump that can propel them to fantasy usefulness even if we weren't looking for it at the start of the season.

For this article, I combed through the minor league offensive leaderboards to see who was having a particularly impressive start to the season. I then tried to break down whether the performance was for real and whether or not this player should be somebody that we should have on our radars in redraft leagues. Since many prospects of all levels are rostered in dynasty formats, we're going to stick to redraft formats when looking at the value here.

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Nolan Gorman - 2B, St. Louis Cardinals

.316/.371/.737, 8 HRs, 9 RBI, 15 Runs in 15 games

A lot of words have already been written about Nolan Gorman. He seems like a lock to be one of the first, if not the first, top prospect call-ups in the 2022 season. The power numbers in Triple-A obviously stand out; although, what also stands out is how infrequently his teammates seem to be on base when he hits home runs. Sheesh; some help would be nice.

Gorman has long been a prospect with plus raw power and hit 25 HRs across two levels last year. He has the ability to play both 2B and 3B but, unfortunately, both of those positions are currently manned by players that are swinging the bat pretty well in Tommy Edman and Nolan Arenado. Edman has the ability to play the outfield, but it's unlikely the Cardinals give up on Dylan Carlson so quickly. As it stands, the only opening for Gorman would be to call him up as the primary DH instead of Corey Dickerson, but it seems unlikely the team would want to call up their top prospect just for him to DH.

Gorman also is not on the 40-man roster, which means the Cardinals would need to cut or trade somebody to free up space for him, which could be complicated. The bat is knocking on the door, but we might need something to shift around in order for there to be a spot.

 

Luis Garcia - 2B/SS, Washington Nationals

.324/.368/.507, 2 HRs, 8 RBI, 16 Runs in 16 games

Remember Luis Garcia? He debuted in the 2020 season as a 20-year-old, hitting .276 in 40 games for the Nationals. Despite many assuming he was the long-term answer up the middle, and Garcia himself hitting .303 in Triple-A last year, he found himself back at the same level to start the 2022 season. Needless to say, he continues to acquit himself well.

Having just a 6.6% walk rate isn't ideal, but he also has a strong 15.8% strikeout rate because Garcia is a bit of a free swinger. He's not going to steal many, if any, bases, which is tough for a MIF in fantasy baseball, but he could produce a solid batting average and 10-15 home runs, which isn't bad in deeper leagues. You have to wonder how long the team will keep rolling out 35-year-old Alcides Escobar at SS when he's hitting just .132/.207/.151 with a -0.5 WAR.

 

Leody Taveras - OF, Texas Rangers

.394/.412/.667, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 9 Runs, 2 SB in 15 games

Oh, hey, another blast from the past. Leody was supposed to win people the stolen base category last year, but he hit just .161/.207/.270 in 49 games. Although he did steal 10 bases over that span as well. The Rangers sent him down, where he had moderate success and finished with a .245 average, 17 HR, and 13 SB in 87 games at Triple-A.

Obviously, the high batting average this year is really nice to see. He still has just a 2.9% walk rate, which is a bit concerning from a player that you need to get on base to have value, but he's cut his strikeout rate down to 20.6%, which is interesting and because we can live with fewer walks if he's making far more consistent contact.

Shockingly, Tavares has also been thrown out stealing three times already in just 15 games; however, we know he's fast and he's going to run a lot if/when he gets on base. If Taveres continues to hit like this, I don't think it would be surprising to see him get another shot. The Rangers could move Adolis Garcia to a corner outfield spot and allow Tavares to take the lineup spot of Kole Calhoun, who is hitting .200/.243/.229, or Brad Miller, who is hitting .216/.250/.405 and is probably best used as a multi-position bench bat.

 

Bubba Thompson - OF, Texas Rangers

.387/.387/.565, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 12 Runs, 7 SB in 14 games

However, another prospect knocking on the door for Texas is Bubba Thompson. In addition to this tremendous name, Thompson was also a first-round pick of the Rangers out of high school back in 2017. He's still just 23-years-old and brings a fantasy-friendly game onto the field, hitting .275 with 16 HRs and 25 SBs in Double-A in 2022.

The fact that Thompson already has seven stolen bases in just 14 games in Triple-A is further confirmation that the speed is real. He's not the defender that Tavares is, but he has more power in his bat and is proving to have better contact skills. Since this is his first go-round at Triple-A, the team may want to keep him at the level for a few months, but he's certainly a name to watch given his power-speed combo.

 

Triston Casas - 1B, Boston Red Sox

.261/.395/.508, 4 HR, 12 RBI, 15 Runs in 17 games

Casas is another prospect that people are clamoring to see get called up. Part of it has to do with watching his massive tank jobs in Triple-A.

Casas moving his average up to .261 is great to see, and the on-base percentage is indicative of his tremendous eye at the plate. There really is a strong argument to be made that he's ready now, and with Bobby Dalbec hitting .154/.214/.269 with a 28.6% strikeout rate, the calls for Casas' promotion have gotten louder.

In truth, even as a Red Sox fan, I was never in on the Dalbec breakout talk. He has a clear hole in his swing, and his plate discipline leaves a lot to be desired. Still, the Red Sox aren't going to cut him; they're going to try and get something for him, so I can imagine them wanting him to at least appear like a passable major league hitter before they try to ship him off somewhere and call up Casas. There's always the possibility they keep Dalbec up and make him the short side of a platoon, but that would be a waste of his potential trade value, and I can't see Chaim Bloom doing that.

 

Ryan Fitzgerald - 2B/3B/SS/OF, Boston Red Sox

.291/.355/.691, 5 HR, 15 RBI, 10 Runs in 15 games

Of course, another prospect pushing for promotion is unheralded Ryan Fitzgerald. Seriously, you have to type his entire name into the Fangraphs search bar before it even realizes which player you're asking about. Still, the 27-year-old is a career .272 hitter in the minor leagues, crushed Spring Training, and seems to be taking his game to a new level this year. Could it be flukey? Oh, absolutely it could be. He has a 30.6% strikeout rate at Triple-A, but that also seems to come with selling out for more power, which is the norm in baseball now anyway.

The value in Fitzgerald is his ability to play pretty much anywhere on the diamond. The Red Sox are trying that with Christian Arroyo right now, but he's been an adventure in the outfield and is hitting just .179/.172/.179. With the team's offense really struggling, it's possible they give somebody else a shot. It will likely just be Franchy Cordero, but we can at least hope.

A key thing to note is that both Fitzgerald and Casas are not on the 40-man roster, so a corresponding move would need to be made.

 

Francisco Álvarez - C, New York Mets

.289/.378/.711, 4 HR, 12 RBI, 9 Runs in 10 games

There is only one Double-A player on this list because it's not that common for hitters to jump over Triple-A, especially now when the level of play across the minor leagues appears to be down, but I felt like I had to add Álvarez. The stout catching prospect has tremendous power potential for any hitter let alone at the catcher position. He hit 24 HRs across two levels last year and is already slugging .711 this year. He's added a bit more swing-and-miss to his game as the power evolves, which could be a problem, but he's also 20-years-old and playing in Double-A. That age and level is exactly the reason I don't think we see Álvarez any time soon, but James McCann has been a dud as a free agent signing for the Mets, so if it's still the summer and Álvarez is crushing the baseball, you really never know.

 

Tyler Nevin - 1B/OF, Baltimore Orioles

.382/.444/.582, 2 HR, 15 RBI, 12 Runs, 3 SB in 15 games

Tyler Nevin is another bat without a home. The former Rockies prospect, who came over in the Mychal Givens trade, had his best power season last year, hitting 16 home runs in 111 Triple-A games, but his batting average plummeted. He's a career .276 hitter in the minors so that always felt a little flukey and he's showing exactly why with a hot start to the season. In the early going, his strikeout rate has plummeted to 12.7% as he's making more consistent and useful contact. He may never be more than a 20 HR bat at the major league level, which isn't ideal of a 1B/Corner Outfielder, but it can be useful in deeper leagues if it also comes with a .250 average (especially in this current offensive environment). Unfortunately for Nevin, there is simply no opening for him barring a trade or an injury.

 

Stone Garrett - OF, Arizona Diamondbacks

.377/.415/.672, 3 HRs, 13 RBI, 9 Runs, 3 SBs in 17 games

There are a lot of Diamondbacks minor league outfielders on the fantasy radar, but I'm not sure Stone Garrett was ever a thought to be one of them. The 26-year-old came over from the Marlins organization and had a solid first year in Arizona last year, hitting .280 with 25 HR and 17 SB in Double-A. He's started off this season with a similar power/speed showcase at the Triple-A level, and the batting average has followed. He's rocking a .488 BABIP, so we shouldn't expect him to keep hitting above .270-.280 long-term, but considering the outfielders that Arizona is rolling out there right now, anybody who has the ability to go 10/10 or 15/15 at the major league level could be an interesting fantasy option in deep leagues or NL-only formats.

 

Jack Suwinski - OF, Pittsburgh Pirates

.353/.421/.686, 3 HR, 13 RBI, 13 Runs, 1 SB in 13 games

The only other Double-A player on the list, Suwinski gets the call because of his early performance and also that he's already on the 40-man roster. I honestly think the fact that he's a bit of an afterthought as a prospect will make Pittsburgh more inclined to call him up because they don't really need to worry about his service time. Suwinski came to Pittsburgh last year from San Diego but had an intriguing 19 HRs and 9 SBs in Double-A across the two organizations. Obviously, he's come out swinging a much hotter bat in 2022.

However, Suwinski has also never posted an average above .269 before and never hit more than those 19 HRs in any season. Yes, he may get a shot on the Pirates, but he'd be maybe a .240 hitter with 15 HR power in a bad lineup. I don't think you really want that unless you're in NL-Only leagues.

UPDATE: After submitting this, Suwinski was called up after Bryan Reynolds and Cole Tucker were placed on the COVID-IL. We don't expect this to be a long big-league stay. 

 

Samad Taylor - 2B/3B/OF, Toronto Blue Jays

.265/.446/.388, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 13 Runs, 10 SB in 17 games

Cavan Biggio is headed to the COVID-IL, but we have no idea how long he'll be out for. In his stead, Santiago Espinal will continue to hold down the fort at 2B, and he's been doing fine to start the year, hitting .226/.388/.415 with two home runs and two stolen bases. However, I'm adding Taylor's name here because I'm just not sold that either Biggio or Espinal are the Jays' long-term answer at 2B. In fact, I'm not sure either will be the best option come summertime.

The team continues to play Orelvis Martinez at SS/3B, and they have Otto Lopez in Triple-A and on the 40-man roster, but Lopez has an oblique injury, so he hasn't played this season. That makes the switch-hitting Taylor an intriguing one to keep in the back of your mind. Last season, the speedster played OF, SS, 3B, and 2B and stole 30 bases in just 87 games in Double-A while also hitting 16 HRs. I'm not sure the power is for real, but the speed absolutely is, which could give Taylor the upside of a 2019 Jon Berti type as a speedy utility player. Only, Taylor would be in a much stronger lineup. He's not a name to take any action on right now, except maybe in deep dynasty leagues, but his speed could be a real difference-maker if he gets a shot this year.



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