Ray’s Ramblings: July 23rd

Written by: Ray Butler

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  • It’s a real bummer that Fernando Tatis Jr.’s season came to an end prematurely due to a thumb injury that will require surgery, but there’s a couple of things you can take solace in. First, we have clarity on his big league availability down the stretch of the fantasy regular season and playoffs. If you were banking on utilizing him in your active lineup in high-leverage situations, perhaps you now need to turn to the trade market to remedy a flaw within your team. Knowing is half the battle, and while it stinks that Tatis Jr. won’t return until next season, at least the thought of us anticipating a big league promotion a month from now only to be disappointed has vanished. Clarity. Secondly, and I suppose sequentially as well, the Padres now have a fairly clear avenue to promote Tatis Jr. to the big leagues on *their* terms. Fans no longer expect or hope the shortstop prospect gets a cup of coffee at the end of the 2018 regular season. Instead, Tatis Jr. will likely begin next season at Triple-A El Paso. From there, it’s easy to see San Diego handling FTJ similarly to how the Braves handled Ronald Acuna Jr. earlier this season, with a late-April call up perhaps the most likely scenario. But beware: While he could hold his own at the big leagues, with a 27.7 K% this season in Double-A, there’s a chance the Padres insist on further development before pulling the trigger that will be heard around the world. Let’s hope we see Tatis Jr. in San Diego before May of next season. The living legacy is currently my 3rd-ranked prospect.
  • If you’re a new follower or somehow missed out on my #MidseasonTop200 prospect list, make sure you check it out right here. The list features a blurb on each ranked prospect.
  • 18-year-old Luis Garcia, in his first 65 plate appearances since being promoted to High-A Potomac: .311/.344/.377, 4.6 BB%, 12.3 K%. Geez. Here lately, a lot of the questions I’ve been receiving about Garcia are centered around concern that his skillset won’t translate to fantasy value once he reaches the big leagues. If you’ve watched any film on Garcia, it’s quite obvious that his current swing doesn’t exactly permit a ton of power to be generated. Specifically, the infield prospect is a short-strider without much load. It’s certainly a swing meant for high average and little power, but I also think Garcia will eventually tinker it to unlock untapped power. At this point, the Nationals’ player development department has earned our respect and trust, and I have faith they’ll guide Garcia down the path that will utilize his physical gifts. At 6’0 190 pounds, I suspect there’s quite a bit of power potential we haven’t yet seen. If he can maintain his fantastic contact skills and approach following the hypothetical tweak, he’ll obviously be a special prospect. Of course there’s really no way to project how much power Garcia is capable of, but I’m certainly all in on the plate approach with the hope that the power comes with further development. He’ll only be 19 years old next season when he faces Double-A pitching, but if Garcia only has three home runs thru 388 plate appearances in 2019, I’ll certainly be forced to reevaluate. In Teenage Plate Discipline I Trust. I aggressively ranked Garcia 110th in my #MidseasonTop200.
  • Another popular prospect list that’s making its rounds is M-Rod’s midseason top 100 dynasty prospect list. Read it if you haven’t already.
  • So I may or may not have but definitely did under-rank Adonis Medina in my #MidseasonTop200. The right-hander came in at 126th, but it’s fairly hard to dispute his inclusion amongst the top 100 prospects in all of baseball right now. Medina has started 16 games this season; in four of those outings, the 21 year old has allowed five or more runs. In his other 12 games, Medina has totaled 69.1 IP, 48 H, 13 ER, 17 BB and 79 K. That’s a 1.69 ERA. With the bad starts baked in, the right-hander’s ERA skyrockets all the way to 4.48 (the xFIP is a much-more favorable 3.47). To tie it all together, Medina has struck out 26.1% of the batters he’s faced this season while being a little susceptible to the long ball (11.3% HR/FB). The 21 year old is quite refined for a pitching prospect with fewer than 200 IP in full season ball. He elevates his fastball. He sells his changeup well with excellent arm movement. His slider is a borderline plus pitch, and it paired with the changeup forms a formidable duo when facing batters for the third time in a game. At this point, not only is Medina ready to be promoted Double-A Reading, he has the necessary tools to attain immediate success once he gets bumped to a new level. The arrow is certainly pointing north.
  • Staff writer Adam Ehrenreich was busy this past week. First, he dove into several undervalued players who could explode in the second half. Read his list of Second Half Saviors here.
  • We’re not all the way there yet, but Orioles INF prospect Ryan Mountcastle has certainly made some substantial strides this season. The red flag following last season was obvious: Mountcastle finished his 2017 campaign with a 3.5 BB%. This season, Mountcastle’s walk rate currently sits at 6.4%. He’s slashing .312/.358/.526 with 11 home runs in 271 plate appearances. The strikeout rate is a modest 16.6%. The wRC+ is 141. The walk rate still isn’t perfect, but it certainly seems to be headed in the correct direction. Putting that concern on that back-burner, the only other real concern is his future defensive position. Last year, he was thought to be a ‘left side of the infield’ defender. This season, he’s only played third base, and the defensive reports haven’t exactly been overly-glowing. You know what a move to first base would mean for the offensive threshold, so let’s hope the 21 year old remains serviceable at the hot corner.
  • Next, as he always does, Adam outlined the many twists and turns he foresees in bullpens and closer situations as the trade deadline approaches. He’s already nailed Kirby Yates and Robert Gsellman, and I’d be willing to bet he’s got a few more hits up his sleeve. You can read that article here.
  • Keston Hiura can hit. Between stops at High-A and Double-A this season, Hiura is slashing .303/.366/.488 with 10 home runs and 11 stolen bases. Equally as good, Hiura’s elbow has healed to the point that he’s able to play second base regularly for Biloxi. The 21 year old was known as a pure hitter when he was picked in the first round of last season’s draft, and he’s certainly lived up to the billing early in his pro career. If I had to nitpick, Hiura’s 6.0 BB% isn’t overly dreamy, but there’s a lot to love in the offensive profile. If Milwaukee doesn’t make a deadline move to acquire a second baseman, there’s at least a decent shot Hiura finishes the season in a Brewers uniform. Free-swinging profiles often struggle initially in the big leagues, but there currently seems to be very little doubt that Hiura will eventually be a dependable second base option in the fantasy world. The second baseman ranked 14th in my #MidseasonTop200 prospect list.
  • There’s so much solid fantasy baseball reading material at your fingertips, and it seems to grow by the day. However, most of the material is based on personnel decisions on your fantasy team. Advanced analytics that suggests ______________ has performed better than the superficial stats say. Vice versa. A gigantic facet that goes largely untalked about is the psychological aspect of fantasy sports. How to properly communicate with leaguemates in trade negotiations. How to word statements to gain leverage on a potential trade partner. How to conduct yourself to gain the trust of the people in your league. Gaining a mental and psychological advantage can be just as important as gaining a schematic advantage in the fantasy world, yet you can search far and wide throughout industry sites without finding any advice on how to tackle mental warfare in the fantasy realm. Staff writer Andrew Lowe has always done a fantastic job addressing the many nuances of communication with your league mates, and he expounded on that concept in his latest work for the site. If you knew there was an untapped area in which you could gain an advantage over your opposition, why WOULDN’T you take it? Read Andrew’s thoughts on gaining a psychological advantage in your fantasy league right here.
  • It’s easy (and important) to point out that Kevin Smith has enjoyed a successful 2018 season as a college hitter versus Single-A competition, but boy oh boy the numbers are gaudy. In 409 plate appearances between Low-A and High-A, Smith is slashing .320/.377/.572 with 17 home runs and 22 stolen bases. Yowzers. When you peel back a layer, you see that Smith’s strikeout rate has skyrocketed from 16.2% in Low-A to 26.3% in High-A (21.3% for the entire season). That makes me wonder what the numbers will look like against Double-A pitching, but for now I’ll choose to dwell on the .948 OPS and 163 wRC+ this season. Smith ranked 115th in my midseason top 200 prospect list.
  • Make sure you check out last week’s Ramblings. They include thoughts on Wander Samuel Franco, the Futures Game, the future of the Cardinals, Taylor Trammell, Brandon Marsh, Corey Ray, Bobby Dalbec and more! Read it here.
  • Updating this streak on Twitter has been one of my favorite things to keep up with lately, but Nick Madrigal has ZERO strikeouts in his first 40 plate appearances as a professional. The infield prospect was drafted 4th overall in last month’s draft, and he’s slashed .367/.472/.433 with 2 stolen bases between stops at Rookie Ball and Low-A Kannapolis. The question that will follow Madrigal throughout his prospect career will be the power potential, and thus far only two of his hits have gone for extra bases. The White Sox genuinely believe Madrigal will eventually be capable of hitting for power to go along with his elite contact skills and on base ability, but he’ll carry plenty of fantasy value even if he tops out at 10 home runs per season during his prime. A scout recently told me ‘everyone’ has 15-20 HR potential in today’s MLB, and if that holds true for Madrigal, he could be Jose Altuve Lite.
  • You’ll understand this better once it’s published, but my dynasty prospect list that normally comes at the end of each Ramblings will return with the finalization of a project I’ve been steadfastly been working on. Stay tuned!

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Featured image courtesy of The Dynasty Guru

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