Written by: Marc Rodriguez (@MRodProspects)
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I will be happily filling in for Ray this week and offering some thoughts on a few fantasy relevant dynasty prospects. Make sure you are caught up by readings Ray’s Ramblings from last week, which includes thoughts on Andres Gimenez, Colton Welker, Taylor Widener, Drew Waters, Mark Vientos and more!
Michael Kopech, SP, CWS – Let’s lead it off with the most notable prospect to earn a major league promotion this week. Kopech will make his long awaited debut on Tuesday against the Twins and he’s more than ready for this step. Kopech’s control problems have been well documented and he still sits at 11.1 BB% on the season. However, that number has drastically improved after a stretch of starts where Kopech had zero walks in four of five starts and just two total walks over his last 33 IP.
I was able to stream a few of those starts and in some instances, he appeared to be trading some velocity for control, likely because he was well aware of what was giving Rick Hahn an excuse to keep him in AAA. A few times, that resulted in some hard contact on 94-95 mph heaters and hanging sliders in the zone. The majority of the time, he was able to overwhelm hitters with his fastball and flash some nasty, but still inconsistent sliders. He has reportedly been working on a new curveball and the changeup remains a work in progress, but it is absolutely time for this version of Kopech to get tested in the MLB.
I still expect some inconsistency and for the control problems to show themselves again, but he and the White Sox can afford to have him find out exactly how close he is to his ceiling by testing him against major league hitters. I still count myself among those highest on him and you can bet your mortgage I’ve already got tickets for the inaugural #KopechDay.
Stephen Gonsalves, SP, MIN – Another pitching prospect debut comes from someone who it feels like has been on the brink of a promotion for over a year now. With the Twins figuring out how to get back in contention in 2019, that day has finally come for lefty Stephen Gonsalves. Despite the control taking a step back in 2018, Gonsalves has managed a 2.96 ERA in 100.1 IP in AAA this season. Gonsalves will feature an average fastball, plus changeup and two below average breaking pitches, which is enough for a backend SP, assuming he can regain the command he was known for before posting a BB-rate north of 13% this season. He should be owned in your dynasty league, but I’m not overly optimistic that he has the stuff to be a fantasy difference maker now or long term. He didn’t make my midseason top 100 dynasty prospect list, but he slid in at 90th in Ray’s midseason top 200.
Jazz Chisholm, SS, ARI – I was stoked to see multiple people reply to Ray’s tweet asking about the Jazz man. Chisholm has been one of the more intriguing D’backs prospects for a while now and he is beginning to show why. In 24 games since being promoted to High-A, Jazz is slashing .340/.377/.600 in the extremely hitter friendly California League. His aggressive approach at the plate is complemented by plus bat speed and strong wrists, but like most prospects with a so-so hit tool, the K:BB ratio will probably determine just how good he is. He has 21 HR’s on the year now across two levels, so when he hits it, it’s usually hard. I was able to see him hit one out to the opposite field off of Brusdar Graterol earlier this year. Remember to keep the stats in the context of the league he’s in, but Jazz Chisholm is absolutely one to monitor closely. He ranked 162nd in Ray’s #MidseasonTop200 prospect list.
Tony Santillan, SP, CIN – Santillan caught the attention of many while posting a 2.70 ERA coupled with a 20% K-rate and vastly improved 6% BB-rate in A+ this season. That jump in control has changed his outlook from a probable power reliever to a decent bet at becoming a mid-rotation starter or better. Santillan seemed to make a seamless transition to AA until his two most recent outings, where he got lit up for a combined 12 earned runs. He can reach 98 with the heater, but will have to keep building on the command and ability to miss bats with is secondary offerings to reach his ceiling and remain a starting pitcher.
Malcom Nunez, 3B, STL – Nunez was the prize of the Cardinals July 2 signing period and he has made a strong early impression in the DSL. He came over with a reputation of being able to maintain more walks than strikeouts as a youngster in the Cuba League, and he has done just that in the DSL with 25 BB and 23 K. His .755 SLG isn’t so bad either. That is a skillset that will always get my attention, and Nunez sounds like someone to keep close tabs on so far.
Ronaldo Hernandez, C, TB – It makes me physically ill to type this but Ronaldo Hernandez is probably the guy I am most excited about discussing. I generally loathe catching prospects for real-life and fantasy purposes but Hernandez is one with true star potential. He has destroyed A-ball this year with 18 long balls and just a 15.7 K% and easily passes the eye test to back it up. The fantasy relevance of catcher prospects usually hinges on their ability to handle the position well enough to earn a spot in the lineup nearly every day. Because of that, I’ll be keeping a close eye on how he progresses as a receiver behind the dish, while fully expecting him to keep mashing while standing over it.
Feel free to fire off a few tweets to tell me who I missed, or which other prospects warrant a closer look on next week’s Ramblings. Ray and I will continue to do our best to cover anyone you guys are interested in.
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Featured image courtesy of the Associated Press and photographer Ben Margot