Minor League Big Board: Brinson bucking for a promotion

Lewis Brinson
Lewis Brinson’s impressive power/speed blend could be coming soon to Milwaukee. (Getty)

The Minor League Big Board will keep tabs on the players down on the farm that have the highest potential to make a positive fantasy impact for their MLB parent clubs if/when they receive a promotion in ’17. This top 10 ranking is based upon statistical upside for the traditional 5×5 roto categories, while also heavily factoring in the player’s expected time frame for reaching the majors.

1. Yoan Moncada, ChW, 2/3 – Triple-A Charlotte – No. 1 on previous Big Board

  • Strikeouts have been a problem for Moncada at Triple-A Charlotte (31 Ks in 93 ABs), but that’s about the only thing you can shake a stick at in his offensive game. In 23 contests, he’s hit five home runs, stolen six bases, a healthy 12 walks has lead to a robust .406 OBP and a current nine-game hitting streak put to rest a mid-April slump, raising his batting average to .330. There remains a strong chance that he’ll be called up to Chicago within a month’s time, especially with White Sox second baseman Tyler Saladino currently flirting with the Mendoza Line.

2. Lewis Brinson, Mil, OF – currently at Triple-A Colorado Springs – No. 5 on previous Big Board

  • Brinson has been on a holy tear since the previous Big Board update, having collected a hit in 16 of his first 17 games at Triple-A Colorado Springs. A player that some pundits have pegged for future 30/30 runs in the majors has posted a .965 OPS along with four home runs and three steals through his first 71 ABs. The Brewers’ 22-year-old prospect has what is looking to be a less and less difficult path to Milwaukee’s outfield as both Keon Broxton and Domingo Santana are slumming it near the Mendoza Line, and the oft-injured Ryan Braun is dealing with a tweak of his trapezious muscle. Don’t be surprised if Brinson’s minor league push comes to shove (promotion) in the next few weeks.

3. Franklin Barreto, Oak, SS – Triple-A Nashville – No. 9 on previous Big Board

  • With Marcus Semien likely out for another month, you’d think Barreto, who is making a mockery of the PCL with a 1.010 OPS, 4 HRs and 3 SBs (through 24 games), would have a strong case for promotion. But count on the budget-minded A’s to hold him back until he clears the Super 2 deadline hurdle in early June. For now they’ll talk about how Barreto’s defense isn’t quite ready while they suffer with Adam Rosales and Chad Pinder manning the shortstop position.

4. Bradley Zimmer, Cle, OF – Triple-A Columbus – No. 2 on previous Big Board

  • After opening the season with just four whiffs in his first 27 ABs, Zimmer’s contact issues have re-surfaced (31 Ks in 91 ABs). But like Moncada (who is sitting on a similar K rate), Zimmer has been very productive with the balls he has put in play (13 extra-base hits through 24 games). Zimmer has also swiped five bases, showing the speed component of what is one of the better power/speed prospect profiles in baseball. While left fielder Michael Brantley appears to have returned to his All-Star caliber ways, Cleveland has only stop-gap answers currently at the other two outfield spots. A strong May that shows an improvement in contact rate could have the Indians looking Zimmer’s way come summer time.

5. Amed Rosario, NYM, SS – Triple-A Las Vegas – No. 10 on previous Big Board

  • A batting average north of .400 over 97 ABs is an impressive feat, even if the extremely hitter friendly environment of Las Vegas is offering a significant home-field advantage. Rosario is the owner of this notable accomplishment (.402), and his seven stolen bases also ranks among the top 5 in the PCL. Rosario hasn’t produced much power (1 HR, 1 3B, 7 2B) , but that’s a part of his game that is expected to grow to serviceable levels in time. With a strong glove and ability to make contact and work the count, Rosario looks MLB-ready. Unfortunately, the Mets have capable veterans manning the shortstop position at the moment in Asdrubal Cabrera and Jose Reyes (who has caught fire the past couple weeks), so it’s likely to take an injury to open things up for Rosario at the big-league level.

6. Jose Berrios, Min, SP – currently at Triple-A Rochester – Unranked on previous Big Board

  • A Berrios promotion seems imminent. He’s cutting through International League hitters like a hot knife through butter (33 IP, 35 K, 8 BB, 1.09 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, .157 BAA). As it so happens, the Twins need a fifth starter for the upcoming weekend (May 6), but have already stated that they don’t plan to call-up Berrios just yet. They want to make sure that once he’s promoted, he’ll be ready to settle in for the long haul. After all, Berrios flamed out in his 14-start audition for the Twins last year (8.07 ERA), thanks to a complete lack of command (35 walks in 58 IP). But Berrios owns a 2.78 ERA in 585 career minor-league innings, and it’s abundantly clear that the only challenge he has left to conquer is at the major-league level. Berrios won’t get the call this weekend, but it won’t be long for the 22-year-old with an arsenal that includes a mid-90s fastball and impressive change-up.

7. Austin Meadows, Pit, OF – Triple-A Indianapolis – No. 4 on previous Big Board

  • Starling Marte’s 80-game PED suspension opened up a major opportunity in the Pirates outfield a few weeks back, but Meadows didn’t exactly seize the day, as he sits on a sub-Mendoza Line batting average (.198), with just 1 HR and 3 SB, through 23 games at Triple-A Indy. In terms of pure talent, Meadows is considered one of the premier prospects in MLB, and he’s coming off a ’16 minor league campaign in which his immense pop/speed talents were on full display (12 HR, 17 SB in 88 games). If Meadows can get it together in the next month, he has a chance to finally break in with the Pirates once the Super 2 deadline has passed.

8. Ozzie Albies, Atl, 2B – currently at Triple-A Gwinnett – No. 3 on previous Big Board

  • With eight steals (in 25 games), Albies ranks second in the International League stolen bases. But his offense is currently in a nose dive, as he’s just 3-for-24 (.125) with 10 Ks and 0 BBs in his past six games. Albies owns a .305 career batting average mark in the minors and has shown good plate discipline, so this current slump is likely just a minor pothole on the road to Atlanta. But with Brandon Phillips manning second base for the Braves like he’s been dipped in the fountain of youth, Albies’ promotion to the majors no longer appears to be on the fast track.

9. Rafael Devers, Bos, 3B – currently at Double-A Portland – Unranked on previous Big Board

  • Devers is only 20 years old, so he’s not likely to be considered for promotion in the first half of the season, but he’s one of the top left-handed hitting prospects in baseball and if Boston continues to struggle offensively (currently 27th in runs scored) and is unable to plug the hot corner hole (Pablo Sandoval is out with a knee sprain and owned just a .646 OPS before the injury), it wouldn’t be unlike the Red Sox to pluck Devers from their minor league ranks. As it stands, Devers has 5 HRs and a .954 OPS through 19 games with Double-A Portland and probably will be moving on to Triple-A before too long if he continues to rake.

10. Gleyber Torres, NYY, SS – Double-A Trenton – No. 8 on previous Big Board

  • One of the top prospects in all of baseball, Torres is showing well in his first taste of Double-A pitching (.863 OPS through 16 games). His athleticism and advanced plate approach has conjured projections of future 20/20 campaigns at the MLB level. But the Yankees are covered up the middle at the moment with Starlin Castro and Did Gregorius, and both have played well enough to keep the Yankees’ brass from even contemplating the idea of a Torres call-up. Torres is going to need to keep up the solid farm work through at least the first half of the season and then hope that an injury opens something up for him post-break

Promoted: Cody Bellinger, LAD, 1/O (No. 7 on previous Big Board)

Dropped Out: Clint Frazier (No. 6 on the previous Big Board)

Bubble Watch: Rhys Hoskins, Phi, 1B (AAA Lehigh Valley); Dominic Smith, NYM, 1B (AAA Las Vegas); Ian Happ, ChC, 2/O (AAA Iowa – DL); Jose De Leon, TB, SP (AAA Durham – DL); Tyler O’Neill, Sea, OF (AAA Tacoma); Raimel Tapia, Col, OF (AAA Albuquerque); J.P. Crawford, Phi, SS (AAA Lehigh Valley); Brent Honeywell, TB, SP; Willie Calhoun, LAD, 2/O; Jorge Alfaro, Phi, C; A.J. Reed, Hou, 1B; Ronald Guzman, Tex, 1B; Jeimer Candelario, ChC, 3B (AAA Iowa); Sean Newcombe, Atl, SP