Hey y’all! Happy Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Carter Kieboom Day! In celebration of some fun call ups, I thought I write up some guys who are having a great start to the MiLB season. Some of the guys success can be attributed to a swing adjustment while others are building on a already great minor league career. All these guys deserve to be on your watch list and some deserve to be rostered on your minor league roster. Alrighty, let’s go!
Oscar Mercado OF (CLE) – Oscar Mercado was a second round draft pick of the Cardinals in 2012 out of a Florida high school. He was traded to the Indians last season for outfield prospects Conner Capel and Jhon Torres. I liked the trade for both sides at the time. The Indians needed an outfielder closer to the Show and the Cardinals were able to get a bit younger while moving depth. When he came over, Mercado underperformed, especially in the power arena. His ISO dipped to a career low 0.068. As reported by Jim Ingraham of Baseball America, Mercado went to work in the offseason on his swing. The swing adjustment appears to be working as well.
Prior to the season beginning, I thought Mercado had a chance to get significant playing time in Cleveland’s putrid outfield. He had a great spring but, in the end, the Indians decided he needed more time at AAA. So what is Mercado doing in AAA? Well, as of this post, his ISO is up to .200, which is a career high. While the increase in power has not translated into home runs, he only has one, he power is showing up as doubles, with 8 on the season. Mercado is not just bringing more power into his game. He is also walking at a career high 10.5% and he is continuing to run. He currently has 7 swipes, which is second in all of AAA. With an outfield of Leonys Martin, Carlos Gonzalez, and Tyler Naquin, I’m pretty sure we will see Mercado in Cleveland soon Run, don’t walk to the waiver wire and pick up Oscar Mercado
Pavin Smith 1B (ARI) – I’ll admit, I’ve had a soft spot for Pavin Smith ever since he was drafted from the University of Virginia in the first round of the 2017 draft. While in college, his average never dipped below .307 and OBP dropped below .373. He helped the Cavaliers win the College Championship during his freshman year in 2015. However, scouts were a bit split if Smith could produce enough power to stick as a first baseman. 2018 was a year Smith would probably want to forget, he struggled in his first taste a A+, where his slash line was .255/.343/.392.
I saw him play in a couple of Arizona Fall League games and he look completely overmatched. However, just like Mercado, Smith tweaked his swing in the offseason, as reported by Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. So far this season, the change seemed to do the trick. As of this post, Smith’s slash line is .268/.364/.554 with 4 home runs. His FB% is up from 34% to 51%! While this might be small sample size noise, I would add Pavin Smith to my watch list. If you add power to his already great eye at the plate, he would be a great addition to your minor league roster.
Anderson Tejada SS (TEX) – As fantasy players, we are always looking for those guys with power plus speed. It also helps if he plays short, for the time being, but could be moved to center field. Well, if all of that piques your interest, Anderson Tejada is the guy for you. The Rangers signed Tejada out of the Dominican Republic in 2014. Tejada has super loud tools and scouts are torn if he can put it all together.
So far this season, Tejada is showing off all of those sexy tools. As of this post, he is slashing .386/.440/.636 with 2 home runs and 5 stolen bases. He is also sporting a 10 BB% and 22 K% which are career bests. I could see the Rangers moving Tejada up to AA soon, which is where the big test will be. If Tejada makes it to Arlington, I would give him the Tim Anderson comp. I would be adding Tejada to my watch list in all dynasty leagues.
Jarren Duran OF (BOS) The Red Sox got one of the steals of the draft when they picked up Duran in the seventh round of the 2018 June draft. After being draft, Duran played in 37 games in low A and slashed .348/.393/.548 with 2 home runs and 12 stolen bases. He was then promoted to A ball and kept up the great start. In A ball he slashed .367/.396/.477 with a home run and, again, 12 stolen bases. These stolen bases are not cheapies some minor league players usually post.
Duran is crazy fast and those stolen bags will always be a part of his game. Duran is still lighting up MiLB this year. As of this post he is slashing .370/.418/.507 with a home run and 5 stolen bases, keep in mind that is in 18 games. I expect the Red Sox to promote Duran to AA by June which, like Tejada above, will be a huge test. However, unlike Tejada, I would pick him up if he is on your dynasty waiver wire.