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:
Corbin Burnes – Milwaukee Brewers – Right-Handed Pitcher
Burnes is a highly regarded prospect who could soon get his first taste of the Majors with Wade Miley hitting the DL. It’s not a guarantee, with Brandon Woodruff potentially first in line and Burnes not yet being on the 40-man roster. That said, despite a rather uninspiring 4.55 ERA and 1.33 WHIP over his first 6 starts (31.2 IP) at Triple-A there is no question that he’s got the most upside for a team with championship aspirations.
Prior to the season we gave him an “A-“ grade, citing his ability to contribute in all three categories we focus on. That’s continued at Triple-A so far:
- Strikeouts – 9.66 K/9
- Control – 2.84 BB/9
- Groundballs – 53.5%
With a 14.2% SwStr% there’s obviously a lot to like. While others may get distracted by the underwhelming surface numbers, a .341 BABIP and 67.8% strand rate are easy reasons to point to (and one horrific start, allowing 8 ER over 3.1 IP, help to skew the numbers). It will be interesting to see if the Brewers opt to give him an opportunity right now, or if they instead give the 23-year old a little bit more time to develop at Triple-A. Regardless it would be surprising if he didn’t get an opportunity in 2018 (he should be able to throw around 180 innings total).
David Hess – Baltimore Orioles – Right-Handed Pitcher
The Orioles are consistently looking for help in the rotation, though they continue to reach for underwhelming MLB castoffs helping the team to the second worst starters ERA (5.67, just ahead of the White Sox’ 5.69). While Alex Cobb has shown signs of turning things around (despite a 7.61 ERA) and they still have a pair of developing youngsters (Kevin Gausman & Dylan Bundy), do these options deserve to stick:
- Andrew Cashner – 4.89
- Chris Tillman – 9.24
Enter Hess, a 2014 fifth round selection who is coming off a dominant outing on Tuesday. Over 7.0 shutout innings he allowed 1 H and 1 BB, striking out 10, to improve to a 2.12 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 29 K and 12 BB over 29.2 IP. He’s had just one poor outing, allowing 1 ER or fewer in five of his six starts (5 ER over 5.0 IP in his other).
Of course that doesn’t mean that there aren’t risks involved:
- Strikeouts – While he’s striking out nearly a batter per inning, Hess entered Tuesday’s start with a modest 10.6% SwStr% and last year carried a 7.17 K/9 at Double-A (154.1 IP)
- Home Runs – He’s allowed 2 HR over 29.1 IP this season, but a 32.3% groundball rate, pitching in the AL East and calling Baltimore home all leads to fears that he could struggle mightily
Coming off Tuesday’s start there is going to be a lot of hype, but don’t be surprised if Hess struggles when he ultimately gets the call.
Sources – MILB.com, Fangraphs, MLB.com
Missed our Top 100 prospect rankings? Make sure to check it out by clicking here. Also don’t miss all of our 2018 Preseason Positional Prospect Lists: