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2021 Fantasy Baseball Week 8 Prospect Report

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Welcome to the 2021 Fantasy Baseball Week 8 Prospect Report

We are now officially one-third of the way through the season. At this point, the majority of teams are starting to take form and we have a better understanding of which teams are contenders and which teams are pretenders.

This could also be a moment of clarity as many front offices may want to take a look at some of their young promising prospects. Which for prospect junkies like myself is a good time of the year for baseball. I am here for all the prospects to get the call-up, obviously, this is just my own pipe dream. However, we may start to see some more top prospects get called up in the very near future.

Until then let’s take a look at some prospects that have been called up or optioned back down. As well as which prospects are performing well in the minor leagues.

Be sure to check out John’s Top Prospect List for where some of the top prospects rank.

2021 Fantasy Baseball Week 8 Prospect Report

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Promoted

Taylor Walls, SS, Tampa Bay Rays

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Oh, look the Rays traded their starting shortstop to the Brewers, which means only one thing. They are going to call up Wander Franco or Vidal Brjuan, right? Wrong. Instead, the Rays promoted their No. 7 prospect Taylor Walls. This is a bit of a surprise to many people as both Brujan and Franco are absolutely raking at Triple-A, but alas here we are.

Walls is a defensive-minded shortstop that has used his glove to escalate quickly through the Rays minor league system. He was a third-round pick in the 2017 MLB Amateur Draft. His glove went on to win him the Rays best defensive player in the organization for both 2018 and 2019.

While the defense is great, his bat is no slouch. Walls is a switch hitter that takes an advanced approach at the plate, displayed by his walk rate never being below 10 percent, and even going back to his time at Florida State University when he drew more walks than he had strikeouts.

Aside from walking a ton, he has a line drive-inducing swing and can drive the ball to all fields. He also brings an above-average OBP skill, evidenced by his .375 OBP across five minor-league levels.

Don’t sleep on Walls’ speed either. At the minor league level, he had 66 total swipes in 276 games, including 31 steals during his 120 games at Single-A. Then he followed that performance up with another 28 swipes across two levels (High-A & Double-A) in 96 games in 2019.

If you are desperate for OBP or SB help, I would add Walls. Even in deeper leagues if you are looking for some upside at the shortstop position I would be adding Walls.

Alek Manoah, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays

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Toronto’s fifth-ranked prospect and their third ranked pitching prospect is getting called to the bigs to make his major league debut. He was recalled from Triple-A on Monday and will start the game against the Yankees tomorrow.

Manoah is a polished Collegiate arm that has above-average stuff. He misses a ton of bats displayed by his 54 punchouts in 35 innings. However, he is still green around the edges, as those 35 innings are his only professional innings. Even though he doesn’t have a ton of experience at the minors, he dominated while at West Virginia University.

The big-framed right-hander has tremendous upside and needs to be added in all leagues. He will be able to go deep into games, limit walks, and has above-average strikeout potential.

Nick Gordon, SS, Minnesota Twins

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Minnesota has decided they are going to continue to play musical chairs with Gordon as he continues to be sent back and forth between Triple-A and MLB. In this week’s episode, Gordon was recalled from Triple-A. Please see the previous week’s articles for more information regarding Gordon. He will remain a bench bat unless an injury were to happen to the Twins middle infield.

Spencer Howard, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies

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Howard was recalled from Triple-A this past Friday. He was called up to make the start for the Phillies on Saturday. Unfortunately for Howard, it was a short start. He finished the day having allowed two runs on one hit and five walks over three innings while striking out five versus the Red Sox. He showed signs of what he is capable of, by fanning five and only allowing one hit. However, he struggled to find the zone as he only threw 39 of his 68 pitches for strikes.

Howard made a brief debut in 2020 when he started six games for the Phillies and found little to no success. Now in 2021, he has been featured solely out of the pen as he made three appearances and continued his struggles. Therefore the Phillies sent him to Triple-A, back at the end of April.

Even after an abbreviated start last week. The Phillies need an extra rotation arm as Matt Moore has landed on the IL. Therefore Howard will receive another start. This time it will be against the Marlins on Thursday.

Howard has the repertoire and ability to compete at the major league level. He uses his high-end velocity to attack hitters. If he can start to trust his secondary offerings and use them to his advantage he should start to see better outcomes.

I would add Howard ahead of his next start and hope that things begin to click for him.

James Kaprielian, RHP, Oakland Athletics

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Kaprielian is Oakland’s tenth-ranked prospect that was recalled from Triple-A back on May 12th. Since being recalled he has made two starts. In both of his starts, he has made a very good impression so far.

He did have a brief moment in 2020 where he came out of the Oakland pen, with middling success. He made two appearances, allowing three earned runs over 3,2 innings pitched while striking out four. All runs came via the long ball.

The former first-round pick of the Yankees back in 2015, features a four-pitch mix of fastball, slider, curveball, and changeup. While his fastball isn’t overpowering he is able to throw it consistently for strikes. Both of his breaking balls are great put-away pitches, while the changeup is still a work in progress.

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Both of his starts so far in 2021 have been impressive as he has gone five or more innings with six or more strikeouts each time. Kaprielian’s last outing was successful, allowing just two runs over 5,2 innings and striking out nine against the Angels. His xERA also suggests that he should be able to maintain this success.

His next start is against Seattle at home and he should be able to come out on top of that matchup as well. If you are desperate for pitching help you should add him ahead of his next start. Otherwise, I would monitor this next start and see how the Athletics handle one of their top pitching prospects.

Demoted

Andres Gimenez, 2B/SS, Cleveland Indians

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When the Indians traded Lindor to the Mets they received Gimenez in return. He is going to be the shortstop of the future for Cleveland. Unfortunately for the Indians and Gimenez, the shortstop is off to a horrid start in 2021.

Before being sent to Triple-A this past Tuesday, Andres was only slashing .179/.226/.308 with two home runs, five RBI, and four steals. It’s not just the counting stats that are worrisome he was also striking out 30 percent of the time.

Clearly, the Indians want to give their shortstop of the future some more time to develop since it appears he is struggling to find his way with his new team. His .183 xBA suggests that his .179 average is not an anomaly. He will work at Triple-A in hopes of getting the starting shortstop position back from Amed Rosario.

For now, Gimenez is droppable in shallow leagues. In deeper leagues, if you have the roster flexibility I would hold due to his upside alone.

Triston McKenzie, RHP, Cleveland Indians

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Another top rookie being demoted by Cleveland this week is their top young arm, Triston McKenzie. While McKenzie is not quite a prospect anymore, I thought it was worth mentioning as he is still young and has just recently graduated from prospect status earlier this season.

So far in 2021 McKenzie has struggled to the tune of a 1-3 record with a 6.89 ERA 1.69 WHIP, and 44:30 K:BB ratio. Clearly, the near seven ERA is far from ideal and the Indians want him to work on his development at Triple-A, versus at the major-league level.

McKenzie is giving up a ton of hard contact and is not missing a lot of bats. Currently, his hard-hit rate ranks in the bottom two percent of the league, and his barrel rate ranks in the bottom one percent of the league. Furthermore, his 21 percent walk rate ranks in the bottom 1% of the league.

McKenzie is droppable in all redraft formats until he can prove he is able to excel at the highest level.

Top Performances

Let’s take a look at the top performances of the top prospects over the past 10 days.

Hitters

Tirso Ornelas, OF, SD (A+): .303/.378/.455 –  5 doubles,  5 RBI, 4 R, 1 SB

Alek Thomas, OF, ARI (AA): .323/.432/.484 – 3 doubles, 1 triple, 8 R, 3 RBI

Drew Waters, OF, ATL (AAA): .297/.409/.622 –  3 HR, 8 R, 6 RBI, 3 SB

Adley Rutschman, C, BAL (AA): .273/.489/.485 – 2 HR, 13 R, 8 RBI

Gunnar Henderson, SS, BAL (A): .324/415/.559 – 2 HR, 8 R, 14 RBI, 1 SB

Jeter Downs, SS, BOS (AAA): .344/.432/.656 – 3 HR, 5 R, 7 RBI, 4 SB

Tyler Freeman, SS, CLE (AA): .412/.487/.618 – 1 HR, 5 R, 8 RBI

Riley Greene, OF, DET (AA): .268/.348/.512 – 3 HR, 5R, 9 RBI, 3 SB

Mason Martin, 1B, PIT (AA): .250/.353/.607 – 3 HR, 4 R, 8 RBI

Noelvi Marte, SS, SEA (A): .395/489/.763 – 4 HR, 12 R, 14 RBI, 1 SB

 

Pitchers

Cole Winn, RHP, TEX (AA): 11 IP, 1 ER, 3 BB, 13 K 0.82 ERA, 0.73 WHIP

Luis Gil, RHP, NYY (AA): 8.2 IP, 0 ER, 1 BB, 17 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.81 WHIP

Jackson Kowar, RHP, KC (AAA): 11.1 IP, 2 ER, 3 BB, 18 K, 1.59 ERA, 0.88 WHIP

Nick Lodolo, LHP, CIN (AA): 7.1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 11 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.27 WHIP




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About Jason Beckner

Jason is based in Chicago. He is a baseball junkie. He eats, sleeps, & breathes baseball. Has a passion for dynasty formatted leagues. All opinions expressed are that of his own. You can follow Jason on twitter at @JRBecks

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