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Minor League Round-Up - Who's Hot and Who's Not? (Week 4)


With so many prospects to keep track of across the multiple levels of the minor leagues, it often becomes very difficult to sift through those levels and get an idea of who is performing well and who is performing not so well.

Don't worry fantasy ballers, RotoBaller has you covered with the weekly "Who's Hot and Who's Not?" of baseball's minor leagues.

As the Super Two Deadline has passed, many fantasy owners are keeping a keen eye on prospects who may be ready to make an impact. Let's see who may be ready to make the leap and who still needs more seasoning.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season MLB Premium Pass for 50% off, with exclusive access to our season-long articles, 15 in-season lineup tools and over 200 days of expert DFS research/tools. Sign Up Now!

 

Who's Hot?

Dane Dunning, RHP, Chicago White Sox

The Chicago White Sox have a collection of high-end minor league talent. Dane Dunning may not get the attention that guys like Eloy Jimenez and Michael Kopech get, but make no mistake about it; Dunning is every bit worth his 2016 first-round selection.

Dunning does not have a fastball that blows hitters away, but he has the polish and poise that help him bare down and put hitters away. Dunning was drafted by the Washington Nationals, and came to Chicago in the Adam Eaton trade. He was initially selected with the hope that he would progress quickly through the minor leagues. Dunning is 23 years old this season and he's still in Single-A. That isn't a result of any issues in performance, but it's the path the team has chosen for him.

Dunning probably won't be at that level for much longer. Coming into Tuesday, he has a 2.59 ERA in 24 1/3 IP, with an impressive 31/3 K/BB ratio. With not a whole lot blocking him in the big leagues, Dunning may be one of a couple of White Sox farmhands that should get an opportunity this year for the rebuilding club. Dunning could wind up being a very reliable big leaguer, with a realistic shot at being a middle-of-the rotation starter for the South siders.

Mike Soroka, RHP, Atlanta

Mike Soroka does not necessarily have the front-end stuff that fellow Atlanta farmhands like Kyle Wright and Ian Anderson possess; however, he may just be the safest bet out of the trio to perform at the MLB level.

Since being selected in the first round of the 2015 Draft, all Soroka has done is perform at every level. The right-hander has a career 2.85 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in 353 1/3 IP. Soroka is still just 20 years old, and he already finds himself in Triple-A Gwinnett. The polished righty has proven that he is right where he belongs, dominating to the tune of a 1.95 ERA and 24/5 K/BB ratio in 22 2/3 IP heading into Tuesday.

Soroka will definitely be up with the Atlanta Braves at some point this season. The only question is when he will get the call, and what his role will be? Soroka should eventually settle into a middle-of-the rotation role with the Braves, and if all things go well for him, that could happen this year. If that's not the case, then you can pencil him in for a rotation spot for 2019.

Daulton Varsho, C, Arizona

Daulton Varsho was selected 68th overall by the Diamondbacks in the 2017 Draft. As a 21-year-old, Varsho hit .311/.368/.534 with 7 HR, 7 SB and a 17/30 BB/K ratio in 50 games played in 2017. This year, Varsho has gotten his first taste of Single-A ball, and he's hit .275/403/.471 heading into Tuesday. The catcher has shown a knack for getting on base, with his ability to control the strikezone.

Varsho's long-term outlook may not necessarily be at the catcher position. If that's the case, his fantasy value will assuredly take a hit. That said, his bat will be his calling card; and even if he shifts to the outfield, he will be able to produce well enough to be serviceable for that position. A move to the outfield isn't necessarily set in stone, and he still has a chance to remain behind the dish.

It will be no surprise if Varsho makes his way quickly through the D'Backs system. He should have a big league opportunity in 2019, and a late-season look in 2018 is not out of the question. His ceiling is a middle of the order bat for a long time in Arizona.

 

Who's Not?

Zack Collins, C, Chicago White Sox

The Chicago White Sox had high expectations for Zack Collins when they drafted him 10th overall in 2016. Collins has shown a decent ability to draw walks, and he hit 19 HR in 2017. That said, he has had struggles that have caused his stock to take a hit.

Collins has struggled immensely in Double-A this season, hitting .054, with just two hits in 37 AB. He still has shown an ability to draw walks, taking 13 free passes. That said, the slash line is nothing to write home about and concerns about his future projection are being brought to light. If the struggles at the plate weren't enough, the mediocrity behind it is a cause for concern in itself. Collins likely won't end up being a catcher in the big leagues, and that has further dented his stock. Collins should not be stashed for the time being, and his likelihood of providing any value is diminishing.

Jeren Kendall, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers

Jeren Kendall's propensity to swing-and-miss was a concern while he was playing at Vanderbilt University, and that has also followed him in his professional career. Kendall was chosen in the first round of the 2017 Draft, and he spent most of last summer at Low-A Great Lakes. While he was there, Kendall hit just .221/.290/.400/.690 with 42 K in 140 AB.

2018 has not been very kind to Kendall either. The outfielder has hit .224/.318/.379 coming into Tuesday, and he hasn't hit  a long ball yet. To make things worse, the  strikeouts have been piling up. He's struck out 26 times in 58 AB. His lack of ability to put the ball in play consistently has impacted his development, and it will likely continue to do so if  he can't fix his approach. Kendall is far away from making a big league impact; if in fact he ever makes any impact at all is in doubt at this point.

Kevin Newman, SS, Pittsburgh Pirates

Kevin Newman was selected 19th overall in the 2015 Draft. When he was taken by the Pirates, they thought they were drafting a hitter that was low on power, but his advanced approach and consistent hard contact was expected to translate into a potential .300 hitter at the big league level.

Newman has shown glimpses of being the player the Bucs thought they were drafting, but he hasn't shown the level of consistency expected of a first-round building block. Newman is hitting a respectable .280 in his minor league career, but he has an OPS of just .714 in 298 games.

This season, Newman is hitting just .226/.302/.543 coming into Tuesday for Triple-A Indianapolis. He has no home runs, and just one walk in 53 official AB. Newman's defence is average at best at shortstop, so he doesn't have that as a fallback to get to the big leagues. Second base may be his future calling card, but even there he has to hit more. For the time being, he still has a shot of getting his call, but he turns 25 years old in August, and he is looking more like a future utility player than a batting champ.

 

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