The long road of providing the post-season Organizational All-Stars has ended and Marc and I extend our appreciation to our followers. We hope you are putting our wares to practical use and wish you luck during your upcoming Fantasy drafts and season. Now it’s time to roll up the sleeves for the 2016 season. As much fun it is to breakdown the prior minor league season, putting together the “Ones to Watch” lists is the ultimate. In our age of instant gratification, the OTW should be seen as a crockpot…..in the slow stewing of young talent that, I believe, could incubate their way up the minor league ladder. I’ve chosen numerous arms over the last six years and just scanning different sites that construct prospect lists…..those pitchers are creeping through their system. I’m hedging that my 7th year could be my best, so let’s get started with the National League.
AtlantaLHP Trevor Belicek 2015 stats: 5-0, 2.53 ERA, 57 IP, 55 H, 16 ER, 12 BB, 41 K, 1.17 WHIP Selected in the 16th round in last June’s draft, the 23 year old Belicek was coming off a successful collegiate career with the Aggies at Texas A&M. He has command of a low 90’s fastball and a decent slider. He started the 2015 season in the Appy Legaue and was promoted to LoA Rome in mid-August. Expect the leftie to be assigned with HiA Carolina. ETA 2018 Just off the Scope: RHP Patrick Weigel, RHP Caleb Beech International Watch: RHP Javier Sanchez (2nd year in a row)
ArizonaRHP Carlos Hernandez 2015 stats: 6-3, 2.32 ERA, 85.1 IP, 58 H, 22 ER, 27 BB, 93 K, 0.99 WHIP The 21 year old native from Dominican Republic was the Northwest League Pitcher of the Year. The D-backs prospect set the Hillsboro Hops single-season strikeout record and had a scoreless streak that extended for 26 innings. The International signee from 2012 throws a four pitch mix including a low 90’s fastball that can touch 94 MPH. His change-up is a work in-progress and its development will determine his ceiling. Full season Kane County (Lo-A) should be Hernandez’s next step. ETA 2019 Just off the Scope: LHP Cameron Smith, LHP Anfernee Benitez, RHP Zac Curtis International Watch: LHP Franklyn Soriano Chicago Cubs RHP Trevor Clifton 2015 stats: 8-10, 3.98 ERA, 102.2 IP, 91 H, 48 ER, 47 BB, 103 K, 1.27 WHIP A 12th round pick in 2013 that received a 4th round contract should tip one off the talent level the 20 year-old processes. Not too shabby coming out of High School. Clifton is a big right-hander (6’4″ 170lbs) thats starting to put it together and the TPS system placed him on my radar. He ranked#4-TPS on my UTR-OAS within the Cubs system in 2015, just ahead of Duane Underwood. He’s working to wrangle his command and control and once that happens, we could see him crack the Top 10 as Cubs Prospect. It just keeps getting better for the Cubbies. Next assignment will be at HiA Myrtle Beach. ETA 2018 Just off the Scope: LHP Jose Paulino, RHP Jesus Camargo International Watch: RHP Andri Rondon Cincinnati RHP Tyler Mahle 2015 stats: 13-8, 3.20 ERA, 152 IP, 145 H, 41 ER, 25 BB, 135 K, 1.27 WHIP As most of my readers know, Im a long-time fantasy team owner who loves to dig into the minors. In my infancy as an owner, I would hear names come off the board during the end-game and after the fact, would kick myself for how I missed researching that player. Thats the crux of creating my own system. Without it, the scenario that I just described would have occurred if Tyler Mahle‘s name was called. The 7th round pick plucked out of Westminster HS (CA) in 2013 actually broke-out in 2015, but nobody seemed to notice. The 6’4″ 200 lbs. righty is listed by some outlets within the lower Top 20 within the Reds system, but he remains under the radar. The TPS/FS system zeroed in on Mahle as he made both lists in the Top 5. His fastball tops out at 96 MPH and he is capable of changing velo with ease. The tools are there and the Reds can be very patience in molding the 21 year-old into a #2-#3 starter. He will start 2016 at HiA Daytona. ETA 2018 Just off the Scope: RHP Ian Kahaloa, RHP Jose Lopez International Watch: RHP Moises Nova Colorado RHP Jesus Tinoco 2015 stats: 7-6, 2.97 ERA, 121.1 IP, 124 H, 40 ER, 30 BB, 105 K, 1.26 WHIP Tinoco came over to the Rox when Troy Tulowitzki was sent to the Toronto Blue Jays. Signed as 16 year-old out of Venezuela back in 2011, the Blue Jays tried to push the teenage right-hander through the GCL (2012-13) and Appy League (2013) after only one year in the DSL. He was out-matched, but a closer look at his peripherals indicated he held his own. Up goes the UTR flag. Tinoco posted a near 5.00 ERA and WHIP of 1.50 in 2014, but scored a .117 TPS which placed him as a UTR Tier B pitcher. The Blue Jays were on the right track when they assigned him to LoA Lansing to start 2015 and a subtle breakout began. A switch from the Midwest League to the SAL, after the trade, was like tipping over the apex during the start of a rollercoaster ride. Tinoco excelled over his seven starts with the Asheville Tourist (5-0, 1.80 ERA) in striking out 37 over 40 innings, with 8 free passes. His pitches will play at Coors Field, as he throws a mid-90’s fastball with sink that produces groundballs. It should be interesting to watch Tinoco in the CAL with HiA Modesto in 2016. ETA 2018 Just off the Scope: LHP Helmis Rodriguez, LHP Carlos Polanco, RHP Zach Jemiola International Watch: LHP Breiling Eusebio Los Angeles Dodgers RHP Tommy Bergjans 2015 stats: 3-3, 3.35 ERA, 53.2 IP, 52 H, 20 ER, 15 BB, 53 K, 1.24 WHIP This selection is a stretch as Bergjans is coming out of a Divison III school (Haverford, PA) after being drafted in the 8th round last year. The 6’1″ right-hander is a California kid who went east for higher education and finds himself back home pursuing his career. The Dodgers found Bergjans after he stayed on the east coast to play in the Cape Cod League during the Summer of 2014. Bergjans was a 3-time All-American and a NCAA leader in strikeouts and K9 (14.8) while at Haverford. He blossomed during his stints at Ogden (Pioneer League) and Lo-A Great Lakes in 2015. I mentioned that he is a long-shot, but my decision as the Dodgers “OTW” was based on his #4 TPS ranking. Here are those who were ranked ahead of him, in order: Grant Holmes, Jharel Cotton (Past OTW), and Jose De Leon (Past UTR). Thats awesome company, but in no way, am I endorsing that Bergjans will reach those type of ceilings. Reaching as a back-end starter could be attainable with his “swing & miss” curve and low- 90’s FB that should see more velo as he fill outs his thin frame. I believe he will repeat LoA Great Lakes in 2016. ETA ?? Just off the Scope: LHP Michael Boyle, RHP Andrew Sopko, RHP Trevor Oaks International Watch: LHP Leonardo Crawford Miami RHP Chris Paddack 2015 stats: 4-3, 2.18 ERA, 45.1 IP, 37 H, 11 ER, 7 BB, 39 K, 0.97 WHIP The Marlins took Paddock in the 8th round during the 2014 draft and those who scouted the 6’4″ 195 lbs righty felt he has the talent of a 1st rounder. During his senior season at Cedar Park HS (TX), Paddock went 11-0 with a 0.46 ERA in 12 appearances. The Marlins pulled him from a commitment with Texas A&M and sent the raw talent to the Gulf Coast League where his pitchability stood out. He has a low 90’s fastball with some cut and sink, a developing curve, and an above-average change-up. Fishstripes.com gave him a ceiling comp to John Lackey. The Marlins know the 19 year-old is for real and could agressively assign him to LoA Greensboro for 2016. ETA 2019 Just off the Scope: LHP Dillon Peters, LHP Justin Jacome International Watch: RHP Humberto Mejia Milwaukee RHP Angel Ventura 2015 stats: 7-6, 3.09 ERA, 122.1 IP, 110 H, 42 ER, 46 BB, 126 K, 1.27 WHIP An International signee in 2011, Ventura will begin his 6th season within the Brewers system. He languished in the DSL for 3 season before coming stateside and has shown improvement each year, especially since the conversion to a starter. Ventura is a groundball specialists with decent control. His fastball ranges in the mid-90’s and can tend to straighten out at times. The righty will be 23 years-old for the 2016 season, so the Brewers will probably assign him to HiA Brevard County. ETA ?? Just off the Scope: RHP Freddy Peralta, RHP Daniel Missaki, RHP David Burkhalter International Watch: RHP Carlos Luna ** Peralta and Missaki came to the Brewers via trade with Seattle (Adam Lind deal). Missaki was the Mariners “One To Watch” last season and will continue to be watched with his new team in 2016. New York Mets RHP Joel Huertas 2015 stats: 3-4, 4.65 ERA, 50.1 IP, 48 H, 26 ER, 22 BB, 60 K, 1.39 WHIP Drafted in the 16th round out of Puerto Rico in 2014, Huertas spent his pro debut in the bullpen with the GCL Mets. Over 8 appearances, the 19 year-old struggled with his control by issuing 14 walks in 11.1 innings. A bright spot during that small sample was the 14 strikeouts, which carried over into the 2015 season when he repeated the GCL as a starter. Huertas throws a 88-92 mph fastball and secondary offerings that are a work-in-progress. 2016 should see an assignment in the Big Apple with the Short-season NYPL Brooklyn Cyclones. ETA 2019 Just off the Scope: RHP Chris Flexen, RHP Nabil Crismatt International Watch: LHP Aneury Olivo Philadelphia LHP Tyler Gilbert 2015 stats: 4-3, 2.79 ERA, 42.0 IP, 42 H, 13 ER, 6 BB, 44 K, 1.39 WHIP The Phillies are in full rebuild mode and they raked in some decent arms during the 2015 draft. One of those was Tyler Gilbert (6th round) a junior college transfer out of the University of Southern California. Gilbert has the goods, but is a very raw talent. Though he wasn’t a full-time starter at USC, it didn’t show during his stint within the rotation at NYPL Williamsport. The 6’3″ 195 lbs lefty displayed excellent control by posting 9.4 K9 and 1.3 BB9 rates. There’s a lot of work to be done, as he needs to clean up his delivery and work on his secondary pitches. Knowing these weaknesses, its further impressive of the year that he had at short-season ball. One would expect those stats could have been more from a polished collegiate pitcher. Gilbert should start the season at Lo-A Lakewood. ETA 2018 Just off the Scope: RHP Franklyn Kilome, RHP Tyler Viza International Watch: RHP Mauricio Llovera Pittsburgh RHP Yeudy Garcia 2015 stats: 12-5, 2.10 ERA, 124.1.0 IP, 92 H, 29 ER, 41 BB, 112 K, 1.07 WHIP As the Phillies are re-building, the Pirates aren’t re-tooling to re-loading…they are just loading. Their farm system is busting at the seams with prospects, as they can boast having 7 players ranked within the Positional Top 10 at MLBPipline.com. If you were to look at Yeudy Garcia‘s career track, one would think the Pirates are in a hurry to get him the Burgh. He was signed in 2013 but didn’t make his debut until the next year in the DSL. His stats were pedestrian, but the organization threw him in full season Lo-A West Virginia in 2015. He toiled through a 124.2 inning workload and never batted an eye. He ranked in the top 3 on both of my TPS/FS lists. Still considered a raw talent, Garcia already throw heat in a fastball that reaches 98-99 mph and hard slider. The 21 year-old could decide his ceiling as a #3 starter to late inning reliever. ETA 2018 Just off the Scope: LHP Steven Tarpley, RHP Austin Coley International Watch: RHP Argenis Romano ** Tarply is catching up with his old Oriole teammate Steven Brault. Both might project to be solid back-end rotation mates in 2017, though Brault could see time in PNC Park sometime this season. Both were traded to Pittsburgh during the hot stove last season. San Diego RHP Dinelson Lamet 2015 stats: 5-8, 2.99 ERA, 105.1 IP, 82 H, 35 ER, 44 BB, 120 K, 1.19 WHIP Lamet is my personal favorite NL pick for 2016, not for ranking high within the TPS/FS last season, but for the story on how he was able to achieve that feat so rapidly. He signed late in 2014 and only got 4 innings of work in the DSL. The Padres brought him stateside for Spring Training and were impressed with the then 22 year-old. He was assigned to LoA Fort Wayne and there he began working on his UTR resume. I will be tracking him closely during this time with HiA Lake Elsinore in 2016, to see how his 92-95 fastball, plus slider, and command will play out against old hitters. ETA 2018 Just off the Scope: RHP Enyel De Los Santos, RHP Emmanuel Ramirez International Watch: RHP Emmanuel Clase San Francisco RHP Jordan Johnson 2015 stats: 2-5, 3.19 ERA, 59.1 IP, 58 H, 21 ER, 11 BB, 71 K, 1.16 WHIP Johnson is another hurler that busted on the scene in 2015 after limited innings the prior season. Drafted in the 23rd round in 2014, Johnson only made 3 appearances in the Arizona League pitching 2.2 innings due to injuries. He repeated the AZL last season and then ended up at HiA San Jose, but only threw 59.1 innings and posting 32/1 K/BB ratio. He misses bats with a fastball in the mid-high 90’s, a tight slider and a slurvy curveball. Some work is needed on his mechanics which could be a trigger to some of his past injuries. Look for the 22 year-old to repeat Hi-A San Jose for all of 2016, in order to build-up his innings. ETA 2018 Just off the Scope: LHP Grant Watson, LHP Deiyerbert Bolivar International Watch: LHP Sandro Cabrera St. Louis LHP David Oca 2015 stats: 10-2, 1.45 ERA, 87.0 IP, 72 H, 14 ER, 18 BB, 83 K, 1.03 WHIP Oca may not profile as a starter at 5’10” 165 lbs, but he attacks the plate in all zones. Signed as an International free agent in 2012, Oca is a crafty left-hander with a low 90 fastball with enough life to missed bats. He also displays outstanding control in posting 1.9 BB9 rate, a mark that is close to his career total over 3 seasons. In 2014, Oca made my International “One to Watch” list and the 20 year-old came through in 2015, ranking at #4 in my Factor Score system and then scored .085 TPS to also rank at #4 and earning the “Legit UTR” tag. Oca should be assigned the Lo-A Peoria this season. ETA 2019 Just off the Scope: RHP Derian Gonzalez, RHP Ryan Helsley International Watch: RHP Franyel Casadilla Washington RHP Pedro Avila 2015 stats: 7-3, 2.12 ERA, 63.2 IP, 47 H, 15 ER, 18 BB, 92 K, 1.02 WHIP We end the National OTW’s with the youngest pitcher to be mentioned. Avila recently turned 19 and is already on U.S. soil after signing as an International free agent in 2014. He was assigned to the Dominican Summer League to started the 2015 season and absolutely plummeted hitters to a tune of a 13.0 K9 rate over 63 innings. The Nationals quickly brought the right-hander to the U.S. at the end of August and he again lit up the GCL in one 4 innings stint. Avila made the National’s UTR-OAS by ranking #4 in Factor Score and #1 TPS and could be on his way to be tagged “Legit UTR”. Avila will pickup where he left off in the GCL for 2016. Just off the Scope: RHP Andrew Lee, RHP Maximo Valerio International Watch: RHP Jeffrey Rosa