NL Central: 13 Rising Prospect Stocks

The Prospect Stock Watch is taking a tour around the minor leagues while highlighting rising prospect values around baseball. These are prospects that likely won’t be on your fantasy rosters or radars just yet but they will likely become targets in dynasty leagues over the next year or two. Last week, we started off by looking at the National League East. Today, we tackle the prospects in the Central Division.

Chicago Cubs

Brennen Davis, OF (A): The second-round pick of the Cubs in 2018 is coming on even quicker than expected. When selected, there was thought that Davis’ hit tool was one of his least developed tools but he hit .298 in his debut and is hitting .302 this season through 36 A-ball games. He’s making an excellent amount of contact for his experience level (18.5 K%) and he’s also showing outstanding patience (11 BB%). Once he adds some more good weight/muscle to his 6-4 frame, he should have above-average power. Davis also has the speed to steal 20+ bases. ETA: 2022

Oscar De La Cruz, RHP (AA): Signed out of the Dominican way back in 2012, De La Cruz has shown flashes of potential but has struggled with injuries and inconsistencies. He also spent parts of four seasons in short-season ball but is finally holding his own in Double-A. De La Cruz has been a starter in the minors but looks like someone that might really take off if shifted to the bullpen. He has an average fastball but the curveball shows plus potential. Those two pitches — especially if he sees a little more fastball velo with the move — could make him a solid seventh- or eighth-inning reliever. ETA: 2020

Riley Thompson, RHP (A): Injuries and inconsistencies hampered Thompson has an amateur but he’s starting to realize his potential as a pro. The right-hander is getting some much-needed innings of experience in as a starter but his future may lie in the bullpen as a high-leverage reliever. Already 22, he’s performing well against the younger competition in Low-A ball but he could be downright dominant as a reliever with a fastball that touches triple digits and a potentially-plus breaking ball. ETA: 2021

Cincinnati Reds

Scott Moss, LHP (AA): The Reds system has major depth issues once you get past the big three or four prospects at the top. Moss is one player who is trending up in the system after a solid first half of the year in Double-A. The Reds have taken a slow-and-steady development approach with Moss, who is striking out more batters this year (7.64 in ’18 to 11.09 K/9 in ’19) but also walking hitters at a significantly higher rate (2.8 to 5.5 BB/9). The increased walk rate hasn’t been quite so bad because he’s also allowing fewer hits. He’s not a power pitcher but if he continues to miss bats by mixing his pitches and also continues to be durable, he could be a solid No. 4 starter. ETA: 2020

Milwaukee Brewers

Brice Turang, SS (A): Turang has always been a good baseball player as witnessed by the fact he was selected 21st overall in the 2018 amateur draft. But I definitely didn’t expect him to be this good this soon. He has an advanced approach for a 19-year-old hitter and currently has an impressive BB-K of 48-54 in 80 games. Power isn’t a big part of his game right now but he has the frame to develop more as he matures. Turang has above-average speed and instincts; He’s 21-for-25 in steals this season. ETA: 2021

Drew Rasmussen, RHP (AA): Rasmussen was a promising amateur pitcher but his college career was derailed by two Tommy John surgeries. He’s back and healthy now as witnessed by his ability to blow through two A-ball levels en route to a stint in Double-A. Given his health woes in the past, it makes sense for the Brewers to try and expedite things, and get as much value out of him before/if he breaks down again. Currently mostly working as a starter, it might be easier to keep him healthy as a high-leverage reliever capable of developing into a closer with upper-90s heat and an excellent slider. ETA: 2020

Aaron Ashby, LHP (A+): Ashby has been exceeding expectations since turning pro and looks like a steal as a fourth-round pick from the 2018 draft. He has an average fastball but a plus curveball that generates a lot of swings and misses. He’s athletic, repeats his delivery well and creates deception which helps his stuff play up. I see his floor as a No. 4 starter with the potential for more. ETA: 2021

Pittsburgh Pirates

Ji-Hwan Bae, SS (A): Bae’s early career has been marred by controversy on more than one occasion but with that now seemingly behind him, he’s performing well on the field. He doesn’t have one really loud tool but instead does a little bit of everything well. He’s also showing an excellent approach at the plate his year and features a BB-K of 20-37 through 37 games. Bae has solid speed but needs to work on his instincts. He doesn’t possess much power right now and hits a lot of balls on the ground but he’s shown some gap pop. Just 19, Bae is an interest shortstop prospect to monitor. ETA: 2022

Lolo Sanchez, OF (A+): Sanchez is a toolsy prospect that has shown flashes of brilliance but has also failed to put it together for an extended period of time – at least before 2019. He was excellent in the first half of the year as a 20-year-old in Low-A ball which earned him a recent promotion to High-A. Sanchez is an aggressive hitter but he’s done a better job with pitch recognition this year and struck out just 20 times in 61 Low-A games. His body is still maturing and he doesn’t have a lot of home run power now but his gap power is trending upward. ETA: 2021

Blake Cederlind, RHP (AA): Now in his fourth pro season, it’s taken Cederlind some time to figure things out but he’s settling in nicely to a relief role. His fastball hits triple digits but he lacks a reliable second offering, which is why his strikeout rate is just modest right now. He still struggles with control issues but has been more consistent at Double-A. Cederlind, 23, has the ceiling of a seventh-inning reliever without an above-average second offering but, if something clicks, there is more potential in the tank. ETA: 2020

St. Louis Cardinals

Dylan Carlson, OF (AA): Selected 33rd overall in the 2016 draft, Carlson was rushed a little bit early on in his career and is finally enjoying a breakout season four years later in Double-A. He’s getting the ball into the air more consistently this year and has been a line-drive machine. He’s seen his home runs increase each of the last three years from seven (115 games) to 11 (112) to 13 (78). Carlson now looks like an easy projection of 20+ home runs as a big leaguer. He hasn’t seen his strikeout rate change much with the increased power, which is a great sign, and he’s more than willing to take a walk. ETA: 2020

Ivan Herrera, C (A): A .340 hitter over two rookie ball seasons, Herrera made a big jump to full-season ball in 2019 and is still hitting well for a 19-year-old catcher with a .755 OPS. He handles the strike zone very well with 25 walks in 53 games. He still has room to get stronger but he’s shown flashes of man-power by going deep six times this year. Herrera projects as an offensive-minded catcher and his defense needs work but he shows the potential to stick behind the plate. ETA: 2022

Junior Fernandez, RHP (AAA): Fernandez is finally where he belongs after spending his first four seasons pitching as a starter. He started relieving in 2018 and has really gotten comfortable in the role this year while producing excellent numbers at three levels. He has an upper-90s fastball and above-average changeup, both of which have combined to help him strike out 61 batters in 48.2 innings. If he can figure out a consistent breaking pitch, watch out. As it stands, Fernandez has high-leverage potential if he can put the past injury issues behind him. ETA: 2019

Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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Blue Shoes
Blue Shoes

I thought for sure Brewers outfielder Trent Grisham would be on this list. After middling results since being drafted, he tapped into something at AA this season en route to a 151 wRC+ and a promotion to AAA, where he has held his own in 16 games (118 wRC+). Still just 22 years old and a former first round pick.

Uncle Spike
Uncle Spike

Good call on Grisham. He’s got excellent plate discipline and he’s started hitting for more power and better average. I think his ceiling is somewhat low but if the power is for real, he could definitely be an MLB regular.