Prospect Risers and Fallers by Shelly Verougstraete April 9, 2019 Hey y’all! With minor league baseball back in full swing, I thought it would be fun to give my risers and fallers. Time to plant my flag! I decided to give a riser and faller for each position. Feel free to chime in the comments with your own riser and fallers! Catcher Riser – William Contreras (ATL) – Atlanta dabbled in the Realmuto trade talks this offseason but decided the price was too high but maybe they knew William Contreras is on his way. Contreras is an athletic catcher with an above average arm and he has improved behind the dish. What really stands out for Contreras is his above average hit tool for the position that sprays the ball to all fields. Faller – Keibert Ruiz (LAD) – If you are going to take the risk of investing in a catcher, you want one that will get the majority of the playing time. Ruiz, who is repeating AA to start the 2019 season, is not locked in as the catcher for the Dodgers. Will Smith, who moved up to AAA in 2019, is known more for his glove and Ruiz is known more bat. I think Smith and Ruiz will split time once they make it to the bigs and Smith will see more playing time due to his plus defense. First Base Riser – Matt Thaiss (LAA) – The lack of power for a corner infielder has held Thaiss back in the past. However, he made a swing change in 2018. He now has an more exaggerated leg kick and is getting more loft in the ball. He went from a 1.23 GO/AO in 2017 to 0.83 GO/AO in 2018. He smacked 16 HRs, up from 9 in 2017. Buy now before the other owners catch wind. Faller – Jhailyn Ortiz (PHI) – Ortiz has 70 grade power but you have to make contact with the ball for it to play up. I’m the type of player who needs to see a great hit tool before I buy in. Ortiz is a great athlete but has a long way to go in the hitting department. I would sell before the lack of contact really catches up. Second Base Riser – Nico Hoerner (CHC) – Hoerner was pick #24 in last years draft by the Cubs and I’m sure the other clubs are kicking themselves for passing up on him. Since being drafted, he’s hit for more power which can attributed to a slight mechanical adjustment. Going forward, I see him moving over to the keystone and having a Ian Kinsler-like career. If you can buy now, I would for sure. Faller – Jahmai Jones (LAA) – In 2018, the Angels transitioned from the outfield back to the infield after being overmatched defensively. Jones and the Angels have also tinkered with his swing, changing where he sets up his hands. All the tweaks from both team and player have me concerned. I would sell for sure. Third Base Riser – Ke’Bryan Hayes (PIT) – Hayes is the best defensive third baseman in the minors and an above average hitter. In the second half of 2018, he started to hit for more power. Add the power boost to a guy who hits to all fields. Sign me up! The Pirates usually slow roast their guys but he should make his debut at the end of 2019 or early 2019. Buy now before the hype gets too big! Faller – Austin Riley (ATL) – This might be a hot take but I would be selling Austin Riley. I love the power potential as he has slugged double digits homeruns ever year, but the plate approach has me running for the hills . He has an over 25% in AAA. Add that with being a streaky pull-heavy hitter, sell now while the price is still high. Shortstop Riser – Isaac Paredes (DET) – It is pretty shocking that Paredes has not gotten more love within the fantasy community. Paredes slugged 15 HRs while hitting.278/.359/.456 over two levels. I think the biggest reason is scouts are unsure where he will play. He is 5’11” and 225 lbs, which reminds me a bit of Juan Uribe. Even if he doesn’t stay at short, the above average hit tool will make him useful in all dynasty leagues. Faller – Brendan Rodgers (COL) – I know, I know…I’m saying Rodgers, a Coors hitter, will be a faller this year, but hear me out. Rodgers has great bat speed due to his quick wrists. However, his pull-heavy approach and aggressiveness might be exploited by big league pitchers. Also, the Rockies seem to hate their young players so sell now while the allure of the first round draft pick is still there. Outfield Risers – George Valera (CLE) – If Valera is still on the waiver wire in your league, pick him up now. Valera broke his hamate bone after a couple of games and missed the rest of the season. Scouts have comped his swing to the sweet-sweet swing of Robinson Cano. He is only 18 so there is time for him to grow into more power. I expect Valera to rise very quickly on prospect lists Fallers – Seuly Matias (KC) – You might be sensing a theme here but I’m usually down on the high power, low hit tool players. He hit 31 home runs in the Sally league before hurting his hand that ended his season. If there is someone in your league that loves the Joey Gallo-type, trade him you Matias shares. Otherwise, don’t bother until you see Matias improve his contact and pitch recognition. Pitchers Riser – Deivi Garcia (NYY) – Garcia, at age 18, absolutely killed it last year of three levels. Garcia has great command of his all his pitches and scouts have said the changeup regularly flashed above average last year. The thing scaring most scouts is Garcia’s size, as he is only 5’10” 160 lbs. However, I’m buying all the Garcia shares I can. As much as it pains me as a Red Sox fan, the Yankees know pitching, and this can only help Garcia’s development. Faller – Triston McKenzie (CLE) – I’ve loved McKenzie ever since he was drafted by the Indians in 2015. I was at a game in Lynchburg (High A) in 2017 when he struck out 13 batters in 7 innings. However, I’m selling my McKenzie shares. At 6’5”, 165 lbs, he makes Chris Sale look big. He lost time last year due to a ‘minor’ forearm injury and stated this season on the IL with a back strain. When he came back last year, scouts had him sitting in the low nineties, instead of the upper nineties, and unable to hold his velocity throughout the game.