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>> Read even MORE of RotoBaller's original 2013 fantasy baseball articles and analysis Fantasy Analysis

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Is It Legit? Adalberto Mondesi's Breakout Season

Welcome to the first edition of our new weekly column "Is It Legit?" that will discuss breakout performers from the 2018 MLB season and how they should be valued heading into 2019. First up will be Royals shortstop Adalberto Mondesi, son of former Major League player Raul Mondesi. Mondesi Jr. burst onto the scene in 2018. After taking over as Kansas City's starting shortstop in mid-June, he went ahead and hit .276/.306/.498 with 14 home runs and 32 stolen bases. Averaged out over 162 games, Mondesi would have posted 30 home runs and 70 stolen bases. Let's get this out of the way right off the bat: Even the most optimistic 2019 projections don't have Mondesi posting the first 30/70 season in major league history. That would be absurd. However, 14 and 32 in 75 games will grab anyone's attention. Indeed, some very early 2019 preseason mock drafts have Mondesi as high as the second round. But does the 23-year-old infielder, who was a career .181 hitter in 72 games prior to 2018, really possess enough skill to be worth that kind of value next season?  

Speed Yes, Power Not So Much

Coming up through the minors, Mondesi was highly-touted as a speedy middle infielder with an excellent glove and the ability to steal upwards of 30 bases in the show. He posted 15+ stolen bases every season in the minor leagues, so that projection is legit. Is Mondesi a 70-steals kind of guy? Probably not. However, Kansas City has long shown a willingness to run and I wouldn't be surprised to see a healthy Mondesi challenge for 50 bags next season. That alone makes him extremely valuable, as steals have become more and more of a commodity worth chasing early in drafts - unless, of course, you plan to punt the category. Mondesi never hit more than 14 home runs in a full season on the farm, so seeing him hit 14 in just 75 big league games is worth a closer look. Mondesi's 36.6% hard-hit rate (according to Baseball Savant) was way, way higher than what he had posted in his first two partial seasons, where he topped out at 28.6%. That helped fuel his 19.7% HR/FB rate, a big jump from his previous two partial seasons. My biggest concern with Mondesi is his exit velocity. Mondesi posted an EV of 87.4 miles per hour. While that's a big step forward from his previous stints, it ranks just 201st in the league - behind guys like Mikie Mahtook, James McCann, Brock Holt, and Jordy Mercer. Not exactly big power threats there. He barreled the ball up very well, posting a similar rate to Francisco Lindor and Rhys Hoskins. Plus, his launch angle of 11.8 certainly helped him lift more balls in the air - which obviously leads to more home runs. Ultimately, a player with limited power in the minor leagues, a league-average exit velocity and launch angle, and playing in a big park like Kauffman stadium is probably not someone you want to gamble on reaching the 30, or even the 25, home run mark. I think Mondesi is more of a 15/30 guy - which is still an outstanding fantasy value in those two categories. The problem is that while 15/40 is great, it comes with a .270 average at best and virtually no walks. In OBP leagues, Mondesi's value is even lower thanks to his 3.8% walk rate. Mondesi will struggle to post an OBP over .320, and probably will be at or under .300. He hit .276 last season thanks to an elevated .335 BABIP. While his speed does mean his BABIP will probably be above the .300 league average, I suspect he's more of a .265 hitter, which means his OBP will be around .290 unless he learns to take more walks, a skill he has yet to show at any level. It's way too early to make concrete predictions, as Kansas City's lineup and other factors will determine how Mondesi performs. I think 12-15 home runs, 40-50 stolen bases and a .265/.290 BA/OBP seems about right - which gives Mondesi solid value in the 5-7 round area. [jiffyNews tags_include='20760' headline=’More 2018 MLB Year In Review Articles’]

Updated Catcher Rankings (May) - 2018 Fantasy Baseball

We are a quarter of the way through the regular season for Major League Baseball, so our staff at RotoBaller has updated our rest-of-season fantasy baseball rankings. We are taking a look at catchers in this article. There is a clear divide at this position, which guys who can contribute a lot in the first couple of tiers, followed by players you must patch together the rest of the way. If you have been struggling to maximize your production from this position all year, it may be time to make a move. Our rest of season tiered rankings will give you an idea of who you should target. Don't forget to bookmark our famous Rankings Wizard where you can see all of our rankings for mixed leagues, points leagues, AL/NL only leagues, dynasty leagues, top 2018 prospects, dynasty prospects and more. You will also find our tiers, auction values, player news, stats, projections and more. You can easily download everything and it's all free!  

2018 Fantasy Baseball Tiered Rankings: Catcher (May)

Ranking Tier Player
1 1 Gary Sanchez
2 2 Willson Contreras
3 2 Buster Posey
4 2 Yasmani Grandal
5 2 Salvador Perez
6 3 J.T. Realmuto
7 3 Wilson Ramos
8 3 Mike Zunino
9 3 Evan Gattis
10 3 Yadier Molina
11 4 Welington Castillo
12 4 Chris Iannetta
13 4 Austin Hedges
14 4 Brian McCann
15 5 Robinson Chirinos
16 5 Matt Wieters
17 5 Jorge Alfaro
18 5 Francisco Cervelli
19 5 Yan Gomes
20 5 Kurt Suzuki
21 5 Jonathan Lucroy
22 6 Francisco Mejia
23 6 Austin Barnes
24 6 Tyler Flowers
25 6 Carson Kelly
26 6 James McCann
27 6 Alex Avila
28 6 Tom Murphy
29 7 Russell Martin
Tier 1 One man stands alone, and that’s Gary Sanchez. Even after a slow start to the season, Sanchez manages to find himself as the only player in the first tier. If you spent a very early pick on Sanchez, you have probably been mildly disappointed so far. Sanchez is dead last in batting average among qualifying catchers and fifth in strikeouts among all catchers. The good news is that his power is still there as Sanchez ranks first in home runs and RBIs among all catchers. The key for me is at-bats though. I will only spend a high pick on a catcher if I know he will be playing 5-6 times a week, especially in leagues that lock weekly lineups. Sanchez has the second most at-bats for catchers right now, behind only Willson Contreras. There was some worry that Sanchez may not get as many at-bats now that Giancarlo Stanton would be taking some at designated hitter. Last year Sanchez would spend off days as the DH. Even without those opportunities, Sanchez continues to be an essential cog. Tier 2 Before the season started, I wrote about a strategy that consisted of taking two catchers from the same team to offer the production of one elite catcher. While Austin Barnes hasn’t been as good this season as he was in 2018, Yasmani Grandal has been better than advertised. He is getting consistent at-bats right now with over 160 on the season. The strikeouts will always be there, but Grandal is currently posting his highest OBP and OPS since his rookie season. The Dodgers have been everything short of a mess this season, but Grandal has been a steady contributor. If he continues this throughout the season, he could finish top five at the position. Tier 3 One of my bounce back candidates for the 2018 season continues to stay healthy and play well. Wilson Ramos has been one of the bright spots for the surprising Rays. With several players performing much better than anticipated, including Ramos, the Rays find themselves flirting with the .500 mark. Ramos took some time last season to shake the rust off after recovering from an injury that cut his 2016 season short and ruined his free agency. I expect Ramos to be a prime trade candidate for the Rays come July. He has been playing very well and there are a few teams in the league that could use help at catcher. For fantasy owners, you don’t have many catchers hitting over .300 with the type of at-bats Ramos is getting. In fact, Ramos is the only qualifying catcher to be hitting over .300 right now. Tier 4 Austin Hedges sits in tier three right now, but for how much longer? A late round candidate that could provide some cheap home runs has been awful so far, this season. With only two home runs and a batting average that doesn’t even touch .200, he’s probably better suited for waivers right now. Keep an eye on him in case he heats up in the second half though. Chris Iannetta has been a popular waiver wire addition recently. In the last 14 days, he has hit .286 in 21 at-bats. He is appealing while playing in Colorado. If you play in a league that counts OBP, then Iannetta has some true value on the days he plays. If he had enough at-bats to qualify, he would be fifth in OBP. Tier 5 Francisco Cervelli has been one of my favorite surprises this season. A guy that was probably not drafted to start the season, he was an early season addition for those dealing with injuries. The hot start for Cervelli has lasted and he continues to reward fantasy owners with a .282 average, eight home runs and 43 RBIs. He doesn’t play as much as some of the top options in the game right now, but if you have a decent backup, he provides more than enough production. Kurt Suzuki is the same value as Cervelli. He’s not going to play as much as the top options at the position, but he’s offering some great value on the days he does play. If you play in a league that counts strikeouts, Suzuki will offer a little bit of punch with the bat without the negative side effects. His 14 strikeouts are the lowest for any catcher with more than 100 at bats this season. Suzuki is one of the least risky plays at the position this year. Tier 6 I have been waiting for Carson Kelly to get his shot, and he just hasn’t taken advantage of it. Yadier Molina has been out since the beginning of May and Kelly was unable to jump in at show the Cardinals why he is the catcher of the future. In limited at-bats this season, he is only hitting .083 and has struck out six times in 24 at-bats with no extra-base hits. Luckily, Molina continues to be an ageless wonder. Francisco Mejia has not gotten off to a good start at Triple A. Hitting under .200 has cut into any opportunity that he may have had in Cleveland soon. That is a shame though because the Indians have a huge hole at catcher and could use his bat. At this point, it will take an injury to force the Indians hand to bring him up and even then, he would need to get hot real soon. It is interesting to note that the Indians have started playing Mejia in the outfield more in hopes of accelerating his bat, but it would have been nice to see him grow behind the plate.  

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Outfield Prospect Rankings (June) - 2018 Impact Rookies

Welcome back, RotoBallers. I'll be breaking down impact prospects by position. Today I'm bringing you my updated top 10 outfielders - MLB prospect rankings for the 2018 fantasy baseball season. Outfield is typically one of the deepest list of impact prospects, but list of the top guys to own in redraft leagues took some hits to its depth with some pretty notable graduations. The top 10 at the beginning of the year consisted of players like Ronald Acuna, Shohei Ohtani, Dustin Fowler, Lewis Brinson, Austin Meadows, Jesse Winker, Harrison Bader and Tyler O’Neill, all of whom are currently up in the majors. Despite that, there are still several top guys to add. Prospects like Kyle Tucker, Willie Calhoun and Alex Verdugo all figure to have some value for the rest of this fantasy season and should have value. The depth starts to trail off after those guys, but there are still a couple players who could be useful to fantasy owners this season.  

Top 10 Outfield Prospects for 2018 Fantasy Baseball (June)

1. Kyle Tucker (HOU, AAA) Stats: 222 PA, .276/.355/.438, 5 HR, 6 SB, 11.3% BB%, 20.3% K% ETA: Mid-June The Houston Astros have few holes on their roster, but left field is currently one of them. With an injured Derek Fisher — who had been underperforming — a demoted Jake Marisnick, a disappointing Marwin Gonzalez and a serviceable Tony Kemp, the position lacks the star power of some of Houston’s other positions. However, Tucker has really hit well in his first taste of Triple-A and appears ready to start playing in the majors. His hit tool has improved with now a higher walk rate than he had at Double-A last year and a manageable strikeout rate. He is also hitting for some power with a little bit of speed. Tucker figures to be a Super Two deadline call up, at which point he will be worth owning in most redraft leagues. 2. Willie Calhoun (TEX, AAA) Stats: 211 PA, .270/.322/.393, 4 HR, 0 SB, 6.2% BB%, 13.3% K% ETA: Late June Calhoun was supposed to enter the season as the starter in left field for Texas, but the Rangers opted to keep him in the minors to add an extra year of control over him. Now, he’s being kept in the minors because he just hasn’t hit well. His slugging percentage is the lowest it has ever been in professional baseball and he’s not hitting for the same average he was hitting for last season. Calhoun is known for his bat and scouts are confident he’ll eventually snap out of this funk and start hitting again though, so fantasy owners should not yet be too concerned. He is still only 23 after all. If he can get it going and earn a promotion to the majors, he would be worth owning in most leagues for his promising middle-of-the-order bat. 3. Alex Verdugo (LAD, AAA) Stats: 114 PA, .308/.342/.458, 4 HR, 0 SB, 5.3% BB%, 15.8% K% ETA: Early July Verdugo has never been the most explosive player in the minors, but there is still plenty to like from a fantasy standpoint. He is a consistent hitter who makes plenty of contact and has a good understanding of the strike zone. Though he is not a slugger, he makes enough hard contact to possibly be able to receive a home run boost in the majors where it seems power is easier to find. He also is not a burner, but he could swipe a bag or two in the majors. Without Corey Seager, the Los Angeles Dodgers have moved Chris Taylor from center field to shortstop, leaving an opening in the outfield for Verdugo to claim. Right now, Los Angeles is using Cody Bellinger to fill in the gap, but Verdugo could eventually work his way back up and take the spot where spots believe he would be an adequate defender. His consistent bat would help make him a steady presence in 12-plus-team leagues. 4. Jake Bauers (TB, AAA) Stats: 196 PA, .293/.369/.454, 5 HR, 8 SB, 10.2% BB%, 21.4% K% ETA: Late June There is little left for Bauers to prove in the minors and there’s really no great reason why he’s not in the majors right now other than service time consideration. Bauers has been performing well above expectations in his second trip to Triple-A Durham, flashing both a plus hit tool with surprising speed and some power to go along with it all. The Tampa Bay Rays are a rebuilding club currently with a struggling Carlos Gomez in right field. It could be a Super Two thing for keeping Bauers down, so it will be interesting to see if he is called up around June 15 or if the Rays keep him down much longer. If he is able to reach the majors and see regular playing time, he would bring enough fantasy appeal to warrant ownership consideration in plenty of 12-plus-team leagues. 5. Christin Stewart (DET, AAA) Stats: 203 PA, .290/.374/.585, 13 HR, 0 SB, 11.3% BB%, 19.2% K% ETA: Late July Stewart has always had well above-average power, but just hasn’t made enough contact to be viewed as anything more than a future Quad-A player. Now he’s starting to put it all together at Triple-A, striking out less than he has since his 26-plate appearance sample size in Rookie League in 2015. He also is continuing to walk at a high rate and is hitting for his highest average since that 2015 sampling. Like with the Rays, the Detroit Tigers have little reason to keep Stewart in the minors, especially since he would be an improvement over JaCoby Jones who has cooled down after a hot start. It remains to be seen if Stewart can carry over his low strikeout rate and high batting average to the majors, but if he does get the promotion, he at least would represent a cheap source of power for owners in need of some home runs. 6. Austin Hays (BAL, AA) Stats: 185 PA, .224/.259/.374, 6 HR, 6 SB, 4.9% BB%, 23.2% K% ETA: Early August It has really been a season to forget for Hays after he had a season for the ages in 2017. Hays has not been able to string together any consistent production in his second trip to Double-A Bowie, and now has landed on the DL with an ankle injury. Scouts are not selling out on him just yet, though the concern with Hays has always been that he lacked patience and had to rely on a contact-heavy approach to succeed. Hays could easily take over in right field if he gets healthy and starts to produce, but those are pretty big ‘ifs’ right now. Keep him on your radar, but don’t go buying him in redraft leagues just yet. 7. Steven Duggar (SF, AAA) Stats: 212 PA, .255/.340/.356, 2 HR, 7 SB, 10.8% BB%, 29.7% K% ETA: Late June The San Francisco Giants need any outfielders who can hit anything. Hunter Pence and Austin Jackson have been abysmal for San Francisco, and Andrew McCutchen has not quite been himself this season either. Duggar is not exactly setting the world on fire at Triple-A, but at this point, the Giants would probably take anything. Duggar also would be a left-handed bat that could help what is a more right-handed heavy lineup. He is a reliable defender and has plenty of speed to also be able to help shore up their defense. His speed could translate into some stolen bases and scouts believe that eventually he will be able to hit for a solid batting average, but that last part sort of awaits to be seen. If nothing else, Duggar could be a solid piece in some deeper leagues if he is promoted. 8. Eloy Jimenez (CWS, AA) Stats: 165 PA, .333/.376/.613, 9 HR, 0 SB, 7.3% BB%, 17.0% K% ETA: September There’s no hitter on this list who really compares to Jimenez’s powerful bat. The right-handed slugger is viewed as one of the top prospects in the minors and he continues to prove he deserves to be treated as such. He has crushed Double-A pitching this season and could be in line for a midseason promotion to Triple-A. That still seems like somewhat of a long way off from the majors, but he if he continues to rake at Triple-A, he could earn a promotion to the majors for a cup of coffee in September so the White Sox can gauge if he’s ready for a bigger role in 2019. Even in a small sample size of at-bats, Jimenez would have the potential to impact fantasy playoff races in plenty of leagues for his power and overall hitting ability. It is very far from a certain thing that he will even receive that September promotion, but he is worth monitoring just in case. 9. Anthony Alford (TOR, AAA) Stats: 86 PA, .152/.221/.165, 0 HR, 3 SB, 7.0% BB%, 33.7% K% ETA: Early July A much less exciting prospect than Jimenez, Alford is someone with the tools to be a real solid fantasy contributor. Scouts have praised his hit tool in the past and his speed, while also adding that he at least might have 10-plus homer power. However, injuries have really hampered the toolsy outfielder and he now is sitting in the minors, trying to find a way to get his bat going again and earn a trip back to the big leagues. In theory, he would be an excellent platoon bat with Curtis Granderson and could even be a better option as the starter given the rebuilding direction the Blue Jays are headed in. But he needs to earn it. If everything clicks, he has the upside to be a real impact bat for the Jays and for fantasy owners. 10. Victor Robles (WAS, AAA) Stats: 15 PA, .385/.467/.385, 0 HR, 2 SB, 13.3% BB%, 6.7% K% ETA: September Robles has a very similar skillset to Alford with the only difference being that Robles has been able to put it together and sustain his success much better than Alford. He also had been able to stay healthier, at least until he injured his elbow earlier this season in Triple-A. Had he not, it is likely he would’ve been promoted to the big-league club and not fellow top prospect Juan Soto. Still, there’s a chance Robles is healthy again this season and could reach the majors. He might even be able to return before that September ETA. However, little is known about his status right now, so owners probably need to exercise caution before adding him in any redraft format.  

More 2018 MLB Prospects Analysis

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Updated Shortstop Rankings (May) - 2018 Fantasy Baseball

We are a quarter of the way through the regular season for Major League Baseball, so our crack staff at RotoBaller has updated our rest-of-season fantasy baseball rankings. We round things out with a look at where MLB's shortstops fall. A position that was once a fantasy wasteland now boasts some of the game's brightest stars, and owning a premier shortstop (or adding the right waiver wire guy) can make a huge difference over the course of the season. Don't forget to bookmark our famous Rankings Wizard where you can see all of our rankings for mixed leagues, points leagues, AL/NL only leagues, dynasty leagues, top 2018 prospects, dynasty prospects and more. You will also find our tiers, auction values, player news, stats, projections and more. You can easily download everything and it's all free!  

2018 Fantasy Baseball Tiered Rankings: Shortstop (May)

Rank Overall Rank Tier Player
1 8 1 Manny Machado
2 9 1 Carlos Correa
3 13 1 Trea Turner
4 16 1 Francisco Lindor
5 54 2 Xander Bogaerts
6 57 2 Alex Bregman
7 58 2 Jean Segura
8 66 2 Javier Baez
9 71 2 Didi Gregorius
10 90 2 Trevor Story
11 135 2 Tim Anderson
12 156 2 Chris Taylor
13 173 2 Asdrubal Cabrera
14 162 2 Andrelton Simmons
15 165 3 Elvis Andrus
16 168 3 Marcus Semien
17 197 3 Gleyber Torres
18 212 3 Yangervis Solarte
19 238 3 Jose Peraza
20 214 3 Zack Cozart
21 224 3 Addison Russell
22 227 3 Dansby Swanson
23 251 4 Paul DeJong
24 266 4 Eduardo Escobar
25 272 4 Orlando Arcia
26 320 4 Marwin Gonzalez
27 337 4 Tim Beckham
28 342 4 Amed Rosario
29 345 4 Daniel Robertson
30 364 4 Aledmys Diaz
31 398 4 Chad Pinder
32 372 4 Brandon Crawford
33 384 4 Freddy Galvis
34 403 4 Chris Owings
35 417 5 Eduardo Nunez
36 408 5 Jorge Polanco
37 418 5 Ketel Marte
38 426 5 Dixon Machado
39 431 5 Jose Iglesias
40 434 5 Nick Ahmed
41 436 6 Willy Adames
42 437 6 Alcides Escobar
43 443 6 Brendan Rodgers
44 478 6 J.P. Crawford
Tier 1 Still the usual suspects up to the usual tricks. Manny Machado is going to duke it out all season with Mookie Betts and Mike Trout for AL MVP honors, and we are all better for it as baseball fans. If anything, Trea Turner might be slightly disappointing fantasy owners with a .267 batting average and "only" six homers and 22 RBI, but he's still on pace for 30-40 steals. I fully admit I didn't buy into Frankie Lindor's power surge last year, but here we are on June 1st and the dude's got 12 jacks. He's a legit five-tool player and I am sorry for having ever doubted his greatness in any way. Carlos Correa hasn't even really heated up yet, and I fear for the rest of the American League when that does happen. With the warmer months upon us, I'm willing to bet we see him round into All-World form any day now. Tier 2 There are a ton of pleasant surprises in this tier, and I admit some are downright shocking to me. For example, if I told you in March that Asdrubal Cabrera would have the fourth-most total bases of any shortstop on June 1st, how quickly would they have stripped me of my logins? Or if I claimed it would not be Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo or Kyle Schwarber leading the Cubs in RBI, but Javier Baez? Baez has shaved 6.3% of his strikeout percentage, and is now whiffing at just a 22% clip, while somehow also cutting his walk rate in half (2.9% vs. 2017's 5.9%). This ultra-aggressive approach is yielding very positive results, particularly his career-high .291 ISO and the aforementioned RBI totals. Perhaps the most criminally underrated player in all of fantasy baseball (yeah, yeah, light up the comments with who I'm forgetting) though is Andrelton Simmons. The former defensive specialist has quietly--nay, SILENTLY--evolved into one of the best contact hitters at the position, if not the entire league. Simmons had a career year in 2017, posting a rock-solid .291 batting average while also setting career highs in RBI (69), runs (77) and stolen bases (19). In 2018 he's hitting an absurd .333 with a surprising .873 OPS, and he may very well match those aforementioned career highs in counting stats. I am here to let my Andrelton freak flag fly. Tier 3 This is probably too low for Gleyber Torres. Sure he's only been up for a month or so, but he's the GOAT AND I WILL FIGHT ANYBODY WHO SAYS OTHERWISE. For real though, Torres has been outstanding since being called up and would likely be fighting for AL ROTY if Shohei Ohtani wasn't excelling both at the plate and on the mound. Not to be the "tape guy", but watching Torres' at-bats you can see what made him such a highly sought-after prospect, and why he's legitimately MLB-ready right now. I imagine it's only a matter of time before we find him in the second tier of shortstops (let's say middle infielders, we know he plays second base). Yangervis Solarte came over to Toronto to be a utility player, but injuries (*cough*TULO*cough*) have allowed him regular playing time, and he has thrived in the friendly north. Solarte has displayed impressive power in 2018, and whether you want to blame it on the hitter-friendly Rogers Centre is irrelevant--he's got 11 homers already, and at the SS position that's hard to come by. His .257 batting average likely has some positive regression coming as well--his BABIP is an unsightly (and likely unsustainable) .255. Tier 4 and Beyond Brandon Crawford is known for his glove, sports fans, but usually not for his bat. The 31-year-old veteran has quietly surprised this season, hitting .307 with six homers and a handful of runs and RBI. There is almost definitely some regression coming (see: BABIP of .371) in the batting average, but Crawford is proving that you don't need to have one of the top guys to get an edge at the shortstop position. He's one of those value adds that can be great for a team dealing with an injury or an underperforming star, and should not be overlooked. He should be in the middle of Tier 3 IMO, ahead of guys like Addison Russell and Dansby Swanson. Eduardo Escobar deserves more love than he gets. He's just inside Tier 4, but like Crawford he should at least be in Tier 3, considered ahead of guys who are more name than production. Another seven-year veteran, Escobar enjoyed a career year in 2017, slugging 21 homers and setting career highs in RBI (73) and runs (62). While he may not reach those marks in 2018, he's pacing pretty darn close. He's another one of those guys you can stick in a lineup and get some middling production from while you wait for a guy like Paul DeJong to heal--or if you're still dealing with the heartbreak of losing Corey Seager.  

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Updated Outfielder Rankings (May) - 2018 Fantasy Baseball

We have made it to the end of May in fantasy baseball. Now is the time everyone starts to take a hard look at their roster to make improvements and changes. At Rotoballer we are going to help you out by reshuffling the deck and updating the outfield rankings as a tool in reshaping your squad. There have been several standouts in the early going who have made a steep climb up the rankings, as well as those who have had a similar fall. Rookies, injuries, and bounce backs have changed the preseason rankings in many ways. I am here to show you who the risers and fallers are, and why. These rankings were made before recent rookies (such as Austin Meadows and Juan Soto) were called up to the majors, so please keep that in mind as you peruse the article. Notes about injuries and missing prospects can be found in the player notes. You can find player analysis for each tier following the rankings chart, That being said, read on! * Rankings/Tiers made by Pierre Camus while Player Analysis was written by Matt Williams. Don't forget to bookmark our famous Rankings Wizard where you can see all of our rankings for mixed leagues, points leagues, AL/NL only leagues, dynasty leagues, top 2018 prospects, dynasty prospects and more. You will also find our tiers, auction values, player news, stats, projections and more. You can easily download everything - oh, and in case you’re curious, it's all free!  

2018 Fantasy Baseball Tiered Rankings: Outfield (May)

Staff rankings/tiers by Bill Dubiel, Nick Mariano, Pierre Camus while player analysis was written by Matt Williams
Ranking Tier Player Position
1 1 Mike Trout OF
2 1 Mookie Betts OF
3 1 Bryce Harper OF
4 1 Charlie Blackmon OF
5 1 Aaron Judge OF
6 1 J.D. Martinez OF
7 2 Kris Bryant 3B/OF
8 2 Giancarlo Stanton OF
9 2 Starling Marte OF
10 2 George Springer OF
11 3 Cody Bellinger 1B/OF
12 3 Dee Gordon 2B/OF
13 3 Justin Upton OF
14 3 Tommy Pham OF
15 3 Rhys Hoskins 1B/OF
16 3 Khris Davis OF
17 3 Nelson Cruz OF
18 3 Christian Yelich OF
19 3 Lorenzo Cain OF
20 4 Andrew Benintendi OF
21 4 Marcell Ozuna OF
22 4 Yoenis Cespedes OF
23 4 Ronald Acuna OF
24 4 Mitch Haniger OF
25 4 Ender Inciarte OF
26 4 Nick Castellanos 3B/OF
27 4 Andrew McCutchen OF
28 4 Shohei Ohtani SP/OF
29 5 Ryan Braun OF
30 5 Michael Brantley OF
31 5 Whit Merrifield 2B/OF
32 5 Eddie Rosario OF
33 5 A.J. Pollock OF
34 5 Joey Gallo 3B/1B/OF
35 6 Nomar Mazara OF
36 6 Nick Markakis OF
37 6 Adam Jones OF
38 6 Gregory Polanco OF
39 6 Matt Olson OF/1B
40 6 Corey Dickerson OF
41 6 Jose Martinez OF/1B
42 6 Odubel Herrera OF
43 6 Michael Conforto OF
44 6 Yasiel Puig OF
45 6 Byron Buxton OF
46 6 Brett Gardner OF
47 6 Billy Hamilton OF
48 6 David Peralta OF
49 6 Delino DeShields OF
50 6 Chris Taylor 2B/SS/OF
51 6 Kyle Schwarber OF
52 7 Jay Bruce OF/1B
53 7 Brandon Belt 1B/OF
54 7 Trey Mancini 1B/OF
55 7 Shin-Soo Choo OF
56 7 Adam Duvall OF
57 7 Matt Kemp OF
58 7 Domingo Santana OF
59 8 Scooter Gennett 2B/3B/OF
60 8 Jorge Soler OF
61 8 Kevin Pillar OF
62 8 Stephen Piscotty OF
63 8 Max Kepler OF
64 8 Adam Eaton OF
65 8 Steven Souza OF
66 8 Mallex Smith OF
67 9 Ian Happ 2B/OF
68 9 Teoscar Hernandez OF
69 9 David Dahl OF
70 9 Dexter Fowler OF
71 9 Avisail Garcia OF
72 9 Franchy Cordero OF
73 9 Josh Reddick OF
74 9 Manuel Margot OF
75 9 Eric Thames 1B/OF
76 9 Ian Desmond OF/1B
77 10 Aaron Hicks OF
78 10 Michael Taylor OF
79 10 Leonys Martin OF
80 10 Carlos Gonzalez OF
81 10 Bradley Zimmer OF
82 10 Travis Jankowski OF
83 10 Jason Kipnis 2B/OF
84 10 Scott Schebler OF
85 10 Lewis Brinson OF
86 10 Dustin Fowler OF
87 10 Aaron Altherr OF
88 11 Brandon Drury 3B/OF
89 11 Randal Grichuk OF
90 11 Jose Pirela OF/2B
91 11 Mark Trumbo OF
92 11 Marwin Gonzalez 1B/2B/3B/SS/OF
93 11 Denard Span OF
94 11 Jackie Bradley OF
95 11 Mac Williamson OF
96 11 Jesse Winker OF
97 11 Howie Kendrick 2B/OF
98 11 Carlos Gomez OF
99 11 Ben Zobrist 2B/OF
100 11 Kevin Kiermaier OF
101 12 Derek Fisher OF
102 12 Chad Pinder SS/2B/OF
103 12 Chris Owings 2B/SS/OF
104 12 Curtis Granderson OF
105 12 Eduardo Nunez SS/3B/2B/OF
106 12 Jose Bautista OF
107 12 Kole Calhoun OF
108 12 Joc Pederson OF
109 12 Kyle Tucker OF
110 12 Alex Gordon OF
111 12 Nick Williams OF
112 12 Cameron Maybin OF
113 12 Hunter Pence OF
114 12 Hunter Renfroe OF
115 12 Harrison Bader OF
116 12 Jarrod Dyson OF
117 12 Gerardo Parra OF
118 13 Clint Frazier OF
119 13 Raimel Tapia OF
120 13 Jason Heyward OF
121 13 Mikie Mahtook OF
122 13 Albert Almora OF
123 13 Austin Hays OF
124 13 Brandon Nimmo OF
125 13 Andrew Toles OF
126 13 Preston Tucker OF
127 13 Ben Gamel OF
128 13 Alex Verdugo OF
129 13 Brian Goodwin OF
130 13 Jon Jay OF
131 13 Steve Pearce 1B/2B/OF
132 13 Lonnie Chisenhall OF
133 13 Jorge Bonifacio OF
134 13 Eloy Jimenez OF
135 13 Tyler Naquin OF
136 13 Enrique Hernandez OF
137 13 Austin Jackson OF
138 13 Nicky Delmonico OF
139 13 Matt Joyce OF
140 13 Melky Cabrera OF
  Tier 1 Mike Trout and Mookie Betts are technically in Tier 1-A, as they are in a class by themselves. Trout is up to his usual tricks in 2018, batting .303/.448/.672 with 18 home runs and 12 stolen bases. The Angels superstar currently has a career high 20.2% BB rate, while maintaining a ridiculous .462 wOBA. The man is amazing and will occupy the top spot in all of fantasy baseball for the foreseeable future. Mookie Betts owners may have something to say about that though. The Red Sox' center fielder is having a breakout after a breakout in 2018, doing his best Mike Trout impersonation. Betts is carrying his own impressive slash line of .359/.437.750 with 17 home runs and 13 stolen bases this season and has been the fantasy MVP so far. Still, it was not enough to dethrone Trout for the top spot in the outfield. That will take a bit more of a track record by Betts, and also a bit of a decline from Trout himself. The rest of tier is rounded out by mainstays Charlie Blackmon and soon to be free agent Bryce Harper. Nothing special to report here, they are both great players and are locked into Tier 1-B. Tier 2 The second the tier is filled with all of the slugging outfielders that can't quite produce enough in all five categories to move into the top tier. Players like Aaron Judge, Kris Bryant, J.D. Martinez, and Giancarlo Stanton settle in to this "next best thing" tier. They are all performing the way we expected, to a degree, and should remain locked in this tier for the season. The surprise of the tier is our first big "climber" so far in the rankings, Starling Marte. The five-tool stud from the Pirates has been working his reputation back from the stigma of a PED suspension last year, and Marte has not disappointed. The Pittsburgh outfielder is hitting .309/.361/.514 with seven home runs and 10 stolen bases. Marte. like Trout, is earning the highest walk rate of his career and is shaping up to be one of the best early round value of fantasy drafts. Tier 3 Tier three is a group filled with a power hitter, a speed threat, and a power/speed hybrid. Headlining the group is Astros' star George Springer, followed by Cody Bellinger and Dee Gordon. The Houston outfielder may be the last true "five-category player" with the talent to hit into the top-10 in fantasy drafts. Springer is just not stealing enough anymore to make that a reality. He has still collected three stolen bases to go with 11 home runs and .284 batting average so far. If Springer can bring his walk rate back to his career norm he should be able to climb back up into tier two. Cody Bellinger has been a bit of a disappointment in 2018. The reigning NL Rookie of the Year is batting just .235/.307/.431 with eight home runs and a 102 wRC+. Fantasy owners are worried about the slugging first baseman, and with his below waiver wire performance it's easy to see why. While he is carrying a career low .278 BABIP, it is hardly enough reason to suspect it will impact a turnaround of noticeable measure. Bellinger's hard contact rate in down 6%, while his ground ball rate is up 7% so far this season. Gains in his chase rate and erased by a small spike in his swinging strike rate. The kid has all of the talent in the world to turn it around this year, which is why he remains so high in the rankings. However, if Bellinger does not find a way to reverse his current approach he will continue to slide down the tiers all year. Dee Gordon is Dee Gordon. He is going to bat .300, steal 60 bases, and score between 90-100 runs. Tier 4 Rhys Hoskins was out on the disabled list with a broken jaw after these rankings were finished and he should be dropped. The Phillies first baseman is not going to require surgery, but he should still be out for a while. No official timetable has been announced. Injuries are never a good thing, but it's possible that the young slugger could use some time off to clear his head. Hoskins was coming off an amazing rookie campaign that saw him put up 18 home runs in just 170 at-bats last year. 2018 has been a horse of a different color with the Hoskins hitting just .233 with a spike in his swinging strike rate and significant dip in hard contact. He did manage to hold onto a modest .182 ISO and decent .340 wOBA during his struggles, so maybe there is light at the end of the tunnel. Fantasy owners can hope that this time off gives Hoskins a chance to adjust and come back fresh and motivated. Tommy Pham was a but of a polarizing player in the offseason when it came to projections and predictions. Could the out of nowhere Cardinal repeat his 2017 season? Or was it just a metric mirage? So far, so good for Pham who is putting up a .271/.372/.476 slah line with nine home runs and eight stolen bases. The St.Louis outfielder is holding a strong .367 wOBA and 134 wRC+ that helps solidify the legitimacy of the effort as well. The main issue for Pham this season has been injuries. He has missed games with a groin injury and almost cut his head open because his helmet was too tight. If he can avoid these types of mishaps he should be in for a strong season. You can't go wrong with Khris Davis, he is about as consistent as they come. What you see is what you get, and what you get is 40 home runs. On the other hand. Justin Upton is a grab bag. Will he be good Justin or bad Justin? In roto leagues you don't have to worry as much through his streaky nature because at the end of the year he is going to put up his typical .260 25-20 home runs 85-95 RBI. In head-to- leagues is where Mr.Upton can cause some headaches. The veteran outfielder can either win you the week or be flat out useless. Still, the Angels power hitter is enough of  a dynamic threat to remain entrenched near the top of the rankings. Tier 5 Marcell Ozuna fell in the rankings after coming out with a disappointing start after his breakout 2017 campaign. Acquired from the Marlins in the off season, Ozuna was poised to pick up where he left off playing for the Cardinals. Instead he stumbled hard out of the gate and never really recovered, batting a disappointing .260/.305/.337 with a .284 wOBA and 78 wRC+. Ozuna's troubles have been compiled by off the field issues that have led to the outfielder being benched on more than on occasion for being late. All is not lost for the St. Louis slugger though, as he holds a solid 44.5% hard contact rate while also improving up his strikeout rate, chase rate, and swinging strike rate this season. Andrew Benintendi joins Ozuna of those who fell down to this tier. However after a disappointing start, the Red Sox outfielder has caught fire and is looking like the guy everyone thought they drafted. Benintendi is batting .340 with six home runs and three stolen bases over the last 30 days, bringing his season slash line to .294/.376/.517 with a .378 wOBA. He is a stud dynasty plaer who should finish the season higher in the rankings as we go further into the summer. Tier 6 Ronald Acuna was just as advertised before going down with an ACL sprain. The 20-year-old rookie was hitting .265/.326/.453 with seven doubles, five homers, 13 RBI, 19 runs and two steals in 29 games this season. The good news is that Acuna will likely be out only weeks instead on the months many feared. If you saw the play he was injured on, you would understand. These rankings were done prior to the DL stint, so downgrade him accordingly. Mitch Haniger and Ender Inciarte are two of the highest climbers in the updated outfield rankings. Haniger should not have been a big surprise to those who followed him last season. The Seattle outfielder proved that he belonged in the major leagues in 2017 hitting .282/.352/.491 with 16 home runs. Haniger also proved to have solid  plate discipline, carrying a 27.9% O-swing% (% of balls chased outside the zone). In 2018 he seems to have gotten even better, slashing .276/.361/.520 with a .373 wOBA, 11 home runs and three stolen bases.  A well earned bump in the rankings. Inciarte is an interesting player. He is consistent, yet always undervalued. Well we see you Ender, and we appreciate your efforts. The Braves' leadoff hitter has stolen 18 bases to lead the majors, hitting on top the one of the better hitting lineups in the National League. He is striking out a bit more than we would like, but he has proven to provide tremendous value in the speed department. Tier 7 In case you did not get the memo, Shohei Ohtani is pretty good. We are just going to zero in on the imports hitting ability for the purposes of this article though. The Angels "rookie" is batting an a solid .291/.376/.533 with a .394 wOBA and six home runs through 103 at-bats. He loses a bit of value due to the fact that he doesn't play everyday, but what he lacks in quantity he makes up for n quality. Ohtani hits the ball hard almost every time, holding a 42.5% hard contact rate to just a 9.5% soft contact rate. The kid is legit, but you know that by now. Michael Brantley has seen a resurrection of sorts in 2018. Everyday is the day we expect him to get injured, but here he stands. Brantley may not be the player he used to be, especially in the speed department, but he has contributed amazing value for an end of draft or possibly waiver wire add for fantasy owners. The Indians outfielder is hitting a fantastic .343/.383/.569 with nine home runs, a .405 wOBA and 156 wRC+. Honestly, he would be a lot higher in these rankings if he were anyone else. The injury bug follows Brantley around like a hungry puppy and it seems like just a matter of time. *This would be the tier Juan Soto would likely fit in today, maybe even tier six. Tier 8 A.J. Pollock fell pretty far in the rankings following a tremendous start due to an unfortunate thumb fracture that sent him to the disabled list. Pollock was one of the hottest hitters in baseball going down, but just like Michael Branltey, he is snake bit when it comes to injuries and setbacks and it's tough to see from such a talented player. He is currently due back from mid-to-late June. Nomar Mazara is a hitting machine and one of the more underrated players in baseball. After a year in which Mazara hit 100 RBI, he came into the 2018 season as an afterthought in fantasy drafts. Even now, hitting .272/.343/.500 with a .360 wOBA and 12 home runs, Mazara remains an underappreciated fantasy asset. The Texas outfielder is just 23 years-old and should continue to hone is craft. Don't sleep on Nomar Mazara, he is a star, you just don't know it yet. Tier 9 Nick Markakis is having a bit of a resurgence this season, batting .332 with seven home runs for the Braves. The veteran is getting all sorts of help in the BABIP department (.344), but is nonetheless worthy of this huge bump in the rankings, Markakis has always been a professional hitter and has cut way down on his strikeout rate in 2018. Corey Dickerson was cut by the Tampa Bay Rays this offseason. Corey Dickerson is batting ..308/.344/.492 with five home runs and three stolen bases for the Pirates. I repeat, Corey Dickerson was CUT by the Tampa Bay Rays this offseason. (insert rolling eyes .gif) Tier 10 plus Byron Buxton. We have seen this movie before. He is awful. We cut him. He comes back, We pick him up. He is awful. We cut him, He gets injured, Someone else picks him up. They cut him. Then he has a monster end to the season. It's just hard to see that happening again considering how lost he looks at the plate. That being said, he would be a good player to target once July rolls around. Until then, he will remain buried in the rankings. Billy Hamilton may finally be on his last life. The speedy outfielder has been permanently planted in the nine hole in the Reds lineup. It looks like only a matter of time before he is seeing the bench or maybe the minor leagues. Jay Bruce singed with the Mets this offseason with both of them knowing he had plantar fasciitis. This has bothered him all season long so far. Could we see a bounce back from Bruce and witness a wild hot streak? Sure. But this foot injury is not going anywhere and makes him a worrisome addition on a fantasy roster in 2018. Matt Kemp was supposed to be released wasn't he? He sure didn't think so. The former MVP is back and looking great in the Dodgers outfield, batting .345/.372/.554 with a .393 wOBA and seven home runs. If he continues this trend going into June we may have to consider giving him a much larger jump in the rankings than we already have. Domingo Santana was playing with fire in 2017, carrying a 30.9% HR/FB ratio. That is roughly double the league average. This season he has that rate down to a more sustainable 10.3%, which should go up actually. The Brewers outfielder has been picking it up lately but aside from his struggles at the plate, the additions of Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich in Milwaukee have put a playing time strain on Santana. He will need something to change to recapture his preseason hype. Adam Eaton was the best hitter is baseball when he went down with an ankle injury in April. The Nationals center fielder was slashing ..343/.424/.655 with a .456 wOBA and 192 wRC+ to start the year. Unfortunately, injuries and Adam Eaton go together like peanut butter and jelly. Jelly being what his bones are made of. I kid,I kid. For what it's worth, Eaton is nearing his return and should be back in action sometime in early June. He could be an amazing asset if healthy and leading off for the Nationals, but how many at-bats will fantasy owners get out of him? We will have to see.  

More MLB Rankings and ADP Analysis

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Relief Pitcher Prospect Rankings (May) - 2018 Impact Rookies

The nature of relief pitchers is such that it is nearly impossible to predict with any certainty who will produce at the major league level. Often times, especially in keeper and dynasty leagues, stashing relief pitching prospects is simply not worth the trouble because they rarely contribute in fantasy in the beginning of their career. Yes, every so often we get an Edwin Diaz or a Roberto Osuna, but my guess is that neither of those guys were being stashed with the hope that they would scoop the closer job immediately upon being recalled. And it is with all of that in mind that I originally refused to write this article. A special shout out must go to my editor, Pierre Camus, for pushing me towards putting this article out. Still, though, I think that this was an extremely difficult article to research and write. A quick note: I excluded all current major leaguers that are still prospect eligible from this list because I felt that it wouldn't be in the spirit of the article. If all goes well for Jimmie Sherfy, Joe Jimenez, and Seranthony Dominguez, none of them will be prospect eligible at the end of the season. Plus, nearly every seasoned fantasy baseball player knows about these three folks, so while I would prioritize scooping them over anybody on this list, I'm not going to rank them because they are pitching for an MLB team.  

Ranking Philosophy

You'll notice that I put two Rays, White Sox, and Padres on this list. That's because this is a fantasy relief pitcher article. The Rays, White Sox, and Padres all have closer situations that are either in flux or relatively likely to be in flux in the near future (assuming the Padres trade Hand at the deadline or during the next offseason). Relievers are a dime a dozen and while guys like Hand don't come along all-too-often, good relievers also sometimes pop up seemingly out of nowhere. So there is more of an emphasis on proximity and potential closing opportunities in these ranks than pure stuff.  

Top 10 Relief Pitcher Prospects for 2018 Fantasy Baseball

1. Zack Burdi (CWS, AAA) Stats: Has not played (Recovering from Tommy John surgery) ETA: 2019 Burdi was selected by the White Sox in the first round of the 2016 draft with the hope that he would be fast-tracked to the majors. Burdi pitched with four different minor league levels in 2016 (the year he was drafted!) and made it all the way to AAA. In 2017, he opened the year by throwing 33.1 solid-but-not-great innings with AAA and then tore his UCL. Had he not gotten injured, he likely would have made his major league debut last year, but instead we will need to wait until 2019 to see Burdi in big league action. 2. Koda Glover (WSH, AAA) Stats: Has not played (Recovering from shoulder injury) ETA: August 2018 Glover and Burdi are similar in a lot of ways. Both of them were drafted and then put on the fast track to the majors. The difference between the two of them is that Glover actually made it all the way to the Show before getting injured. In his time as a big leaguer, Glover has a relatively uninspiring 5.08 ERA but that comes with a much more palatable 1.179 WHIP, 7.6 K/9 and 3.72 FIP. Last season, Glover pitched to a 5.12 ERA over 19.1 innings, but his peripherals indicate he got unlucky: 2.69 FIP, 3.86 xFIP, 3.66 SIERA. Plus, Glover had a 7.9 K/9 and a 1.9 BB/9. His strand rate was 57.5%, extremely low and mostly a result of poor luck. Glover will be in the cards to close in Washington soon-ish, but Doolittle is under contract until the end of 2020 if he has all his options picked up, so Glover may have to get traded to get a shot at the ninth. 3. Thyago Vieira (CWS, AAA) Stats: 22.2 IP, 35 K, 21 BB, 5.16 ERA, 1.76 WHIP, 40.8% GB% ETA: August 2018 It's very possible that Vieira does not get the call to the majors this year. There is no need for the White Sox to lose service time on a player that will likely be a stalwart at the back of the team's pen during their contention cycle (it's coming guys, don't worry). With that being said, Vieira has a very problematic 8.3 BB/9 this season. He has not struggled like this since he was back in A-ball in 2015, so I have faith that this is just a blip on the radar. If it's not, however, Vieira might be best remembered for throwing his first ever warm-up pitch as a big leaguer to the backstop instead of a solid relief pitcher who closed out a handful of games during his career. 4. Diego Castillo (TB, AAA) Stats: 24.1 IP, 27 K, 6 BB, 0.74 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, 60.0% GB% ETA: July 2018 Knowing how the Kevin Cash manages the Rays bullpen, Castillo could very well be recalled to the major leagues tomorrow. The slight issue with that is that Castillo isn't on the Rays 40-man roster, but that is an obstacle that can be easily overcome, especially for someone of Castillo's talent level. At his best, Castillo has a lethal fastball-slider combo with a heater that touches triple digits and a slider that completely fools hitters. The slight issue is that he is 24 years old which would put him on the older side for any prospect. We are looking at relief pitching prospects here, though, and if Castillo gets a shot in the Rays bullpen this year he is nearly guaranteed to at least see a few save opportunities. 5. Colin Poche (TB, AAA) AA Stats: 16.0 IP, 32 K, 2 BB, 0.00 ERA, 0.38 WHIP, 15.8% GB% AAA Stats: 11.1 IP, 20 K, 4 BB, 1.59 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 33.3% GB% ETA: July 2018 Poche and his teammate Castillo could both be in the mix for saves later in the season in Tampa Bay. Relief pitching prospects do not get a lot of love, and with good reason, but Poche is on another level of dominance in the minor leagues this year. Through 27 minor league innings across two levels, Poche has struck out well over 50% of the batters he has faced this year. Like Castillo, Poche is not on the forty-man roster, but if he continues to pitch as well has he has he could be the next man up in the event that the Rays need bullpen reinforcements. The best part about Poche, for the Rays, is that he was the PTBNL in the Souza deal. He was not even the main part of the deal and the Rays may have a relief ace on their hands. That's a job well done by the scouting department. 6. Dillon Maples (CHC, AAA) Stats: 15.2 IP, 24 K, 18 BB, 5.17 ERA, 1.91 WHIP, 54.5% GB% ETA: August 2018 The stats aren't encouraging but that is why scouts will tell you nnot to scout the stat line. That may not really apply here, though, as Maples had walk issues whe nhe came to the major leagues in his brief call-up last season. There is a widespread belief that Maples will be back up at some point this season but whether or not he will be an effective late-inning reliever for a Cubs team that will be competing for yet another World Series title or just a mop-up guy remains to be seen. I'm sure the Cubs are hoping for the former, but fantasy owners needn't hope either way; Maples won't be getting a shot at saves any time soon. Yeah, we're at that part of the list. 7. Andres Munoz (SD, A) Stats: Has not played (elbow injury) ETA: late 2019 Munoz, assuming his elbow injury is relatively minor for a two-month injury, and that he can return to pitching soon, is a great example of why we sho9uld sometimes pay attention to relief pitching prospects. As an 18-year-old in A-ball last year, Munoz struck out 38 batters in 26 innings, all against competition mostly older than himself. He did have some control issues but that is what comes along with being a young fireballer. There's no need to go run and grab Munoz at the drop of a hat, but he's someone to keep an eye on for possible saves a year or two down the line. The Padres are bound to deal Hand at some point and that bullpen seems pretty wide open. 8. Trey Wingenter (SD, AAA) Stats: 22.2 IP, 26 K, 12 BB, 3.97 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 50.9% GB% ETA: September 2018 Wingenter, talent wise, is not as good as Munoz. That does not matter because the best ability is availability and Wingenter has actually pitched this year; Munoz has not. It's unlikely that Wingenter closes any games for the Padres this year but, again, Hand is not going to be around forever and Wingenter has gotten good results in the upper minors (12.08 K/9 last year in almost 50 innings at AA). His stats have worsened a bit this year but considering that he is pitching in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, I do not see anything to be particularly worried about. Wingenter should be a September call-up and will have the chance to earn a full-time bullpen role in 2019. 9. Jimmy Herget (CIN, AAA) Stats: 22.0 IP, 23 K, 8 BB, 3.27 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 28.6% GB% ETA: July 2018 Herget is a flyball pitcher that will fit in perfectly with the rest of the staff in the big leagues that is prone to giving up homers. I'm kidding (mostly). Herget is a sidearmer who sits in the low 90s and has a nasty slider that he has used as his out pitch in the minor leagues. The issue with sidearmers is that they tend to have extreme platoon splits. That being said, Steve Cishek is a notable sidearmer who has had success in the late innings, so Herget could follow the Cishek path and end up closing in Cincinnati. It's not as though he has a lot of competition if Raisel Iglesias is traded. 10. Branden Kline (BAL, AA) A Stats: 20.2 IP, 23 K, 3 BB, 1.31 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 35.7% GB% AA Stats: 7.1 IP, 6 SO, 4 BB, 2.45 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 45.0% GB% ETA: Mid 2019 Kline is honestly a huge dart throw. He's on the list because I think he has an outside shot at closing for the Orioles once Britton's contract ends. The Orioles would more likely go with Brach or O'Day than a pitched struggling to adjust in AA, but Kline was once one of the better prospects in the Orioles system so the pedigree is there. He was a high second round draft pick and we have seen crazier things than a second rounder finally figuring it out after seven years in the minor leagues. Plus, Kline is working his way back from injury, so if he's finally healthy for the first time in a long time that could bode well for him. I'm not expecting Kline to give us the world, or even anything of value, but there are really not a whole lot of very interesting relief prospects in the minors so he gets the nod for the ten spot.  

More 2018 MLB Prospects Analysis

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