Hey y’ all! Another week, another round of interesting prospects making their major league debuts. The calls up are really getting fun. I was disappointed to see the Nationals demote Carter Kieboom to AAA but not overly surprised. Kieboom is not the best defender, which was on full display during his time in Washington, but he can really hit. I’m sure he’ll get the call again later this year and will be the Nationals opening day second baseman next year. But enough with the sadness, I have another four prospects having great seasons that you might want to keep your eye or stash on your minor league roster.
James Karinchak – CLE RHP ETA 2019
There are not too many relief prospects you should carry in your minor league roster as they are typically a dime a dozen and come out of nowhere. However, you might want to make an exception for James Karinchak. The Indians picked Karinchak up in the 9th round of the 2017 draft. He was a starter at Bryant University and in his first taste of pro ball but is now exclusively pitching out of the bullpen. He moved up three levels in 2018, A to AA, with SwStk% of 13.4%, 15.4%, and 10.2% at each level.
This year, Karinchak has been even more dominant. The fastball has been sitting mid-90s, topping out at 97 with a wicked slider. In 10 innings in AA this year, Karinchak racked up 24 strikeouts and only 2 walks. You read that right. 24 punchies to 2 walks in 10 innings. Also, add a 24.11% SwStr% to the mix as well. He was promoted to AAA this past week, where he kept dominating. In 3 innings, he has 8 strikeouts to 1 walk. With the state of Cleveland’s bullpen, we should see Karinchak very soon.
Zach Plesac – CLE RHP ETA 2020
Zach Plesac was a 12th round pick of the Cleveland Indians in 2016 but did not pitch until late in 2017 due to having Tommy John surgery soon after being drafted. Once he came back, Plesac quickly moved from low A to A ball. During his short 26 innings in low A, he had 31 strikeouts to only 8 walks. When he moved to A ball, he sat down another 19 batters in 25 innings. The Indians were very aggressive with Plesac’s assignment and started him in High A. While there, he racked up 111 strikeouts in 122 innings with only 33 walks given up. He ended up 2018 in AA.
His BB% has decreased every season since returning from TJS and control was one of the areas scouts believed Plesac would struggle. Plesac has been on an absolute to begin the season. His velocity is now sitting 94 and up to 97 at times on the fastball and his changeup is plus. In 37 innings in AA, struck out 34 and only walked 6 batters. He had a .96 ERA and .78 WHIP before being promoted to AAA this month. In his first start in AAA, he went 6 innings with 7 punchouts and 1 walk. With what Cleveland has done with fastball/changeup pitchers in the recent past, Plesac is one to watch for later this year.
Bobby Dalbec – BOS 3B ETA 2020
The Red Sox picked up Bobby Dalbec in the fourth round of the 2016 draft from Arizona University. After joining the Sox, he changed his swing back to the swing that brought him success in the Cape Cod League in 2015. He has above-average bat speed and a slightly uphill plane. He also has 70-grade power, when he is able to make contact. Prior to this year, he had trouble recognizing and laying off the breaking pitches. I saw him at a couple of AFL games where I saw him swing and miss quite a bit at the plate.
I also saw his above-average defense and cannon for an arm. Dalbec is having an amazing start at AA this season. What has impressed me is he is walking more at 18%, which is a career high and more importantly striking out 25.8%, which is a career low. If everything comes together, Dalbec could contribute 30-40 home runs for your fantasy roster. If not, he might be a platoon player but still contribute in the power and RBI categories. It’s risky profile but sometimes you have to take a risk to get those lights out players for your roster.
Ben Ruta – NYY OF ETA 2020
Usually, 30th round draft picks do not amount to much but Ben Ruta is having a great season so far in AA for the Trenton Thunder. Ruta has a .372 AVG (leads the Eastern League), a .467 OBP (leads the Eastern League), 42 hits, (tied for the lead in the Eastern League), and has 9 stolen bases (which is tied for second on the Eastern League). He has a 21:20 BB:K ratio to go along with a career high.195 ISO.
He also has a .86 GO/AO, which is a career low, indicating Ruta is hitting the ball in the air more. Elevate and celebrate. Most scouts had Ruta pegged as a reserve outfield type but if he keeps hitting he might just hit into an everyday role. For some reason, I’m getting Brett Gardner vibes but with more power and bit less speed For fantasy, I would not add Ruta quite yet but would definitely keep an eye on him.