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
Moncada is headed to the seven-day DL list because of a sore thumb. As his ETA target for Chicago was always sometime in early June after the Super 2 deadline has passed, the timing of this DL stint shouldn’t alter his promotion trajectory much, and it might actually serve as a well-timed rest stop as he gets set to embark on his MLB career. Moncada is still widely considered the top prospect in baseball, and his work for Triple A Charlotte this season (.905 OPS, 6 HR, 10 SB, 34 G) has done nothing to dissuade that consensus opinion.
2. Amed Rosario, NYM, SS – Triple-A Las Vegas – No. 5 on previous Big Board
Opportunity seemed to knock for Rosario with Asdrubal Cabrera (thumb) landing on the DL this week. But the timing just wasn’t quite right for the Mets, who stated that they have no plans to call up their top prospect. Of course they won’t admit it has everything to do with the Super 2 deadline, but it almost assuredly does. Rosario is hitting .365 and has multiple hits in each of his past five games. He also owns a .926 OPS and has 8 steals in 10 attempts. Rosario can also play third base, a position that is being manned by stop-gap options in New York (Jose Reyes, T.J. Rivera). But Rosario is a slick fielding shortstop, so it wouldn’t be surprising if we see a Cabrera move to third base to open up a spot for Rosario in the next month or two.
3. Lewis Brinson, Mil, OF – currently at Triple-A Colorado Springs – No. 2 on previous Big Board
Last Big Board, we talked about the path to playing time in Milwaukee looking viable in the near future for Brinson. Things changed quickly in that regard, as struggling young Brewers outfielders Keon Broxton and Domingo Santana have turned things around in May, and injured veteran OF Ryan Braun (calf) looks all good for a late May return. And, for his part, Brinson is no longer forcing his parent club to think about him quite as often as he was, as he has just three extra-base hits (all doubles) in his past 10 games, albeit with a solid .294 batting average and 9 runs in that span. At this point, it’s probably going to take a post-Super 2 deadline injury for Brinson to break in with Milwaukee.
4. Franklin Barreto, Oak, SS – Triple-A Nashville – No. 3 on previous Big Board
Barreto has slumped of late, with his average dropping from .360 to .313 over the past nine games (just .205 in that span). With Chad Pinder and Adam Rosales delivering serviceable production up the middle for the A’s, the urgency to consider Barreto for promotion in the wake of Marcus Semien’s wrist injury has surely cooled. That said, I’d still play the odds that Barreto, who can handle either middle infield spot, sees a mid-summer promotion – after all, a Jed Lowrie injury is always lurking just around the corner.
5. Rhys Hoskins, Phi, 1B – Triple-A Lehigh Valley – Unranked on previous Big Board
Hoskins has been one of the top offensive forces in the upper minors this season, mashing 10 HRs with a 1.094 OPS in 39 games. He’s averaged a .907 OPS and 32 HRs per 162 games during his 379-game minor league career. Simply put, he’s ready to take his first crack at MLB pitching. The problem is that Phillies first baseman Tommy Joseph has suddenly taken off at the plate after a disastrous start (.476 OPS in April, 1.304 in May). At age 25, and with 26 home runs now in 140 career MLB games, Joseph still lays a strong claim to the title of Philly’s first baseman of the future (and present). Unfortunately, Hoskins has never played anywhere but at first base so, unless Philly wants to return Joseph to his catching roots (doubtful), a trade or injury is Hoskins’ only hope for regular playing time in Philly.
6. Ozzie Albies, Atl, 2B – currently at Triple-A Gwinnett – No. 8 on previous Big Board
The Braves’ top prospect is leading the International League with 13 steals (in 14 attempts) and is currently on a tear at the dish, hitting .382 in the past nine games for Triple-A Gwinnett. Meanwhile, Braves veteran second baseman Brandon Phillips is floundering after a strong opening month, producing just a .421 OPS through the first 12 games of May. With Atlanta sitting five game under .500 and looking at roughly two months without its top hitter (Freddie Freeman – hand), playing for the future has become much more of a present reality in Atlanta. Albies appears to be right on schedule for a mid-season promotion, taking his place alongside Dansby Swanson up the middle for the Braves, a duo that could be paired together for the decade to come.
7. Rafael Devers, Bos, 3B – currently at Double-A Portland – No. 9 on previous Big Board
With a .990 OPS and 7 HRs in 32 games at Double-A Portland, you’d think a promotion to at least Triple A should be coming soon for Devers, especially with Boston currently lacking a long-term (or short-term) answer at the hot corner on its roster – offensively, the Red Sox have had the least productive third base position among all AL teams this season. And the 20-year-old Devers is in the right organization to be advanced quickly, as we’ve seen the BoSox promote Moncada and Xander Bogaerts at age 20 in recent years. So, yes, I’m saying there’s a chance.
8. Willie Calhoun, LAD, 2B – currently at Triple-A Oklahoma City – Unranked on previous Big Board
Calhoun’s bat is ready for the majors, unfortunately the same can’t be said for his defense. With five home runs in his past 10 games, Calhoun has now hit 34 home runs (and has whiffed just 82 times) in his past 167 minor league games. His ability to hit for power while making consistent contact is rare. But, though he plays second base for Triple-A Oklahoma City, his MLB future is likely in the outfield. And, frankly, the Dodgers don’t have room for Calhoun at second base or the outfield. With the Dodgers expected to make a postseason push, Calhoun makes for a nice trade chip as LA looks to plug holes in advance of October.
9. Austin Meadows, Pit, OF – Triple-A Indianapolis – No. 7 on previous Big Board
A consensus top 10 prospect heading into the ’17 season, Meadows has struggled for most of the current campaign (.595 OPS through 35 games), though things have taken a positive turn at the plate in his past 9 games (.319 BA). But even as he’s finally starting to hit, the power has remained off – just 1 HR and a .305 SLG%. Touted for his sweet swing and tantalizing blend of power and speed, only Meadows’ ability on the base paths (5 SBs) has come to light this season. Pittsburgh outfield has had its issues this season (Starling Marte suspension, disappointing production from Andrew McCutchen and Gregory Polanco), so there’s a plausible promotion path should Meadows eventually tap into his immense talents.
10. Gleyber Torres, NYY, SS – Double-A Trenton – No. 10 on previous Big Board
Widely considered MLB’s next best prospect after Yoan Moncada, the 20-year-old Torres has launched three home runs in his past four games at Double-A Trenton, leaving him with a rock solid .854 OPS through 29 games. Many believe he could be MLB ready sometime in the season’s second half, but the Yankees are getting inspired production seemingly across its entire roster, and especially in Torres’ positional domain up the middle (Starlin Castro and Didi Gregorious). If the Yankees continue their winning ways and remain healthy at middle infield, Torres will likely see no more than a September promotion when MLB rosters expand.
Promoted: Bradley Zimmer, Cle, OF (No. 4 on previous Big Board); Jose Berrios, Min, SP (No. 6 on previous Big Board); Ian Happ, ChC, 2/O (On the bubble of previous Big Board); Raimel Tapia, Col, OF (on the bubble of previous Big Board)
Bubble Watch: Mauricio Dubon, Mil, 2/S (AA Biloxi); Dominic Smith, NYM, 1B (AAA Las Vegas); Jose De Leon, TB, SP (AAA Durham – DL); J.P. Crawford, Phi, SS (AAA Lehigh Valley); Brent Honeywell, TB, SP; Jorge Alfaro, Phi, C; Ronald Guzman, Tex, 1B; Jeimer Candelario, ChC, 3B (AAA Iowa); Sean Newcombe, Atl, SP (AAA Gwinnett); Sam Travis, Bos, 1B (AAA Pawtucket); Oswaldo Arcia, Ari, OF; Lucas Sims, Atl SP (AAA Gwinnett); Christin Stewart, Det, OF (AA Erie);