by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Do you play in an extremely deep fantasy league? In that type of format you are constantly looking for any under-the-radar help you can get, so let’s take a look at two prospects currently at Triple-A who could at least provide short-term value as a bridge until another option is ready to step in:
Oscar Mercado – St. Louis Cardinals – Outfielder
Primarily a centerfielder since transitioning to the outfield, Mercado has played RF the past two days at Triple-A and that could be a sign of things to come. Dexter Fowler has been a disaster this season, slashing .172/.282/.301, and is currently battling a wrist injury. While the Cardinals have given Harrison Bader and Tyler O’Neill a look in the Majors, it shouldn’t be long before Mercado gets his opportunity. He is already on St. Louis’ 40-man roster, which helps, but there are numerous on the field reasons to give him a look.
For one he offers speed to the top of the lineup, something St. Louis is currently lacking. The Cardinals as a team have 13 SB, placing them in a tie for 16th in baseball. Obviously Mercado may not get thrust into the leadoff spot initially, but it’s a role he could ultimately fill.
He also has shown a tremendous overall skillset at Triple-A, currently hitting .326 with 4 HR and 9 SB. He’s not getting lucky in his production (.338 BABIP), and he also has shown a good command of the strike zone (11.5% strikeout rate vs. 9.4% walk rate). His 7.1% SwStr% is exceptionally strong, and it’s an improvement over last year’s 9.9% (when he hit .287 with 13 HR and 38 SB). He’s still refining his effectiveness on the base paths (he’s 47-for-71 in stolen base attempts over the past two seasons), but the speed is obvious.
Power has never been his game, but he showed last year that he has the potential to hit 10+ in a season. With his approach and speed, you’re looking at a .270/10/30 type player. That’s extremely valuable, especially since the 23-year old can outproduce those numbers. Considering that he’s flying under-the-radar there’s reason to get excited.
Jalen Beeks – Boston Red Sox – Left-Handed Pitcher
Overall Boston’s starters have been among the best in the league, with a 3.26 ERA (second best). That said Eduardo Rodriguez (4.78 ERA) and Drew Pomeranz (7.27 ERA) have struggled and could easily need a replacement at some point. Enter Beeks, who is already on the 40-man roster and posting some impressive strikeout totals at Triple-A:
- April 9 – 8 K in 4.0 IP
- April 14 – 8 K in 4.0 IP
- April 21 – 10 K in 6.0 IP
- April 28 – 11 K in 5.2 IP
You total those up and you get 37 K over 19.2 IP, good for a 16.93 K/9 courtesy of a 17.0% SwStr%. It’s a small sample, but he also posted an 11.3% SwStr% and 9.62 K/9 over 145.0 IP last season. That shows his strikeout potential, though there’s still work to be done. After the 10 K performance Chris Bumbaca of MILB.com (click here for the article) published the following:
“He’s able to throw the fastball up in the zone effectively and get swing and misses up there. He’s developed a nice little cutter to go off the fastball. Tonight, it was a strikeout pitch. It’s more designed to get some early-in-the-count outs [and] change looks to right-handers, getting inside.”
In the future, Walker said he would like to see Beeks use his changeup more often, especially when facing a heavily right-handed lineup.
“That’s going to be a big pitch for him moving forward,” Walker said.
It will be interesting to see how he continues to develop, especially since he’s been showing control (2.75 BB/9) as well. There are going to be home run questions (0.90 GO/AO over his minor league career), but if people can’t touch you does it matter?
Sources – Fangraphs, MILB.com
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