It was an exciting time as baseball GM’s scrambled to make trades to improve their big league rosters before the July 31 trade deadline. Some of the moves had big impacts on Fantasy Baseball players. If you play in an NL- only league, you probably have, or will dump your remaining FAAB budget on Yu Darvish. Prospects that we’ve talked about in this column like Jorge Mateo and Willie Calhoun were involved in trades, and we’re less than a month away from the day when rosters expand and teams start calling up their better prospects to get a taste of big league action. As we anxiously await for roster expansions, I’ve identified another five prospects who could be making their big league debuts soon and should be on your watch list. All statistics are accurate as of the morning of 8/3/17. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @joegallina.
Jeimer Candelario, 1B, 3B, Detroit Tigers
The Tigers traded for Cubs top prospect Candelario in the deal in which they sent Alex Avila and Justin Wilson to the defending world champs. Some feel that if he played for any other team than the Cubs, Candelario might have already had a permanent spot on a big league roster. Candelario struggled in two brief appearances in the major leagues, but with the Tigers increasingly becoming unhappy with the defensive play of current third baseman Nicholas Castellanos, he may have another shot at a long term role playing the hot corner for Detroit. Candelario can also play some first base, and if called up he’d be able to give the struggling Miguel Cabrera a few days off. Candelario is a switch hitter who hits the ball hard and has demonstrated good OBP skills. Overall, he has developed into a solid home run hitter. In Candelario’s last two seasons of Triple-A ball, he has a combined ISO of .227 (.140 is considered average). He demonstrates good patience at the plate, regularly posting double-digit walk rates, and strikeout rates that have regularly ranged in the high teen to the lower 20 percent range.
Austin Hays, OF, Baltimore Orioles
Austin Hays, the Orioles 21 year old outfield prospect has quickly moved up the ranks of “the Oreos’ minor league system. In just two seasons, he has been promoted from the O’s low A to their Double-A minor league affiliate, and has enjoyed success at every level he’s played in. He has posted a career minor league .333/.370/.585 triple slash, and should be owned in dynasty Fantasy Baseball leagues. Hays has a compact, quick swing and has shown that he can hit for power. He’s lowered his strikeout rate since last season, but he still needs to show a bit more patience at the plate. He’s struck out just 97 times in 136 games, but opposing pitchers may end up taking advantage of his reluctance to take a walk (4.8 career walk rate). There might be a slight chance that he gets called up this September, but it’s more likely that he may be given a realistic shot to make the Orioles roster next spring.
Jimmy Herget, RP, Cincinnati Reds
With 60 career minor league saves, Herget is being groomed as the Reds’ closer of the future. Herget is currently pitching for the Reds Triple-A affiliate, and his career numbers are outstanding. He has a 2.42 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and a 168/49 strikeout to walk ratio. He has a deceptive delivery which he sometimes changes slightly, depending on how many times he’s faced a particular batter. Sometimes he’ll add a little hesitation to his delivery, other times he’ll throw side arm, and still other times his release point makes it seem like his pitches are coming off of the top. Each slight variation helps him get different movement on his pitches. Here is an example of his pitching style:
Herget features a changeup as part of his arsenal, but his two best out pitches are his mid to upper 90 mph fastball, and a slider that he can throw from different arm angles. Herget has historically done a good job of getting ahead of hitters, and that is a quality that can help him become an effective big league closer.
Ryan Yarbrough, SP, Tampa Bay Rays
It seems that all I do is write about Rays pitching prospects who have a good chance at making the big leagues. You have to hand it to them, they do seem to know how to scout for pitching talent. Although Yarbrough has excellent career strikeout to walk ratios (370/94), he is not regarded as a strikeout pitcher. Instead, the downward motion of his pitches has helped make Yarbrough a solid groundball pitcher who can induce weak contact. Yarbrough’s two best pitches are his fastball and his above average change up. He also features a curveball, but he needs to work on further developing this pitch. He is particularly tough against left-handed batters, which might make him suited for a bullpen role, but his control and ability to keep the ball on the ground give him a chance to develop into a mid to back end of the rotation big league starter. He has a fair chance of making his big league debut before the end of the 2017 season.
Mauricio Dubon, SS/2B, Milwaukee Brewers
Other than the 20 bases he has stolen, Jonathan Villar’s season has been a major bust, and Hernan Perez and Eric Sogard have understandably been given recent starts at second base. Although he may be blocked at shortstop by Orlando Arcia, Mauricio Dubon, featured in MLB’s All-Star Futures game in July, can play second base, and has even made a few starts in centerfield. Dubon’s career numbers have been impressive. He has a career .300/.351/.404 triple slash, and he has stolen 37 bases so far this season. Scouts have noted that he has a quick bat, and excellent hand-eye coordination. He doesn’t strike out much, and his plate discipline and speed make him a natural top of the order type hitter. However, he will have to work on raising his walk rate and taking a free pass more consistently. He is batting .292 with the Brewers’ Triple-A team this season, and although there’s a chance that he’ll get called up this September, it’s more likely that he’ll be given a chance to fight for a roster spot this coming spring.