Today we continue highlighting prospects making the biggest jumps on the upcoming updated Top 100, soft-scheduled to hit newsstands on Sunday June 5.
Cubs 2B SS 3B OF Christopher Morel has looked great so far, like a mushroom blooming in the damp darkness of North Chicago, reaching base in all seven games he’s played, playing all the positions listed here and batting leadoff on Tuesday night. He’s got two home runs and a stolen base along with his .304/.407/.565 slash line. What initially seemed like some injury cover as Morel came up from AA has become a long-term appointment, as far as I can tell. He’s not quite the dynamo Royce Lewis can be, but it’s not totally insane to mention them in the same sentence, or at least I hope it’s not because I just did. I offered Tanner Houck for Morel in the Razz30, and Baseball America’s Geoff Pontes, a razor-sharp baseball mind and a Red Sox fan, rejected it, which offers some idea of how people might be feeling about Morel today.
Toronto RHP Yosver Zulueta (A+) is a little old for his level at 24, but we should be looking beyond that in his case. He signed with Toronto in June of 2019, and they liked him so much they gave him a big bonus knowing he’d need Tommy John surgery, a strategy they’ve continued with RHP Gunnar Hoglund in the 2021 draft. Zululeta got back from TJ just in time to tear his ACL and miss 2021, so this is really his first chance to pitch stateside. He throws so hard (99 mph on the regular), it’s hard to imagine he’ll face much resistance in the lower minors. He started three games at Low-A and produced a 39.2% K-BB rate then tallied a 35% K-BB rate in five shutout innings in his High-A debut. Won’t be at that level long if he keeps rolling like this.
Detroit RHP Wilmer Flores (AA) is the next-best thing for those who missed out on Eury Perez. My apologies if I’m already late on this one for your most dedicated leagues. The 21-year-old tore through 19.1 innings at A+ with a 0.80 WHIP and 42.9% K-BB rate then spun five shutout innings with seven strikeouts and a 0.40 WHIP in his first outing at AA. Flores is 6’4” 225 lbs and features a fastball, curveball combination that might both be double plus already. I’ve been mentioning in the stash lists how the Tigers’ struggles might be delaying Riley Greene’s timeline, but it’s not out of the question they go the opposite direction and push toward respectability by the end of 2022. If that’s the case, Flores could debut by September, given the injuries to Mize and Manning. I don’t think that will happen, but I don’t think it matters. In the last FAAB run for the 15-team Ditka Dynasty on May 23, Flores went for $103 of $1000. Zulueta went for $42 to the same team. Good Monday for that squad.
Pittsburgh OF Cal Mitchell debuted Tuesday after putting in a great stretch for AAA Indianapolis. He’s a little thicker this year, to my eyes, and it’s good weight. He’s still fast through the zone and patient with a good eye from the left side. Pittsburgh has always needed to collect left-handed hitters given the build of their home park, but they have rarely done so, surprising nobody. With Mitchell, Jack Suwinski, Dan Vogelbach, Oneil Cruz, Ji-Hwan Bae, Endy Rodriguez, Mason Martin and more, this front office has the first chance to stack a home lineup with mostly homegrown lefties in recent memory, perhaps in that ballpark’s history . Will they do it? Would it matter? Their lineups this season have been all over the place. No consistency at all. I understand that it’s hard to have consistency when you don’t have consistent players, but they just haven’t given their young players much of a chance to settle in.
Oakland 3B Jordan Diaz (AA) has his flaws in that he’s not real fleet-a-foot, and he swings a lot, but he’s slashing .392/.431/.745 with four strikeouts, four walks and three home runs over his last 14 games. He’s a 21-year-old displaying plate skills and power against competitors that are 3.3 years older than him on average. He’d be a proximity play if he makes the hundred.
While Diaz has always limited strikeouts, Cubs 1B Bryce Ball (AA) is pretty new to the tactic, dropping his High-A rate of 27.6 percent last year to 19.2 percent at AA this year. He’s slashing .315 / .389/ .523 with six home runs in 38 games. He’s unlikely to make the top 100, but he’s certainly on an upward trajectory in a good spot to earn some near-term playing time.
25-year-old San Francisco 3B David Villar (AAA) made the cut for Stash List Volume 3: Wink if You’re Reading or What’s the Rush, Man? On Tuesday night, Villar played his first career game at second base. He’s got 14 home runs in 38 games along with a .302/.427/.682 slash line, so if he can handle the keystone, he might be a Giant for San Fran and our fantasy teams.
Cubs RHP Caleb Kilian (AAA) and Boston RHP Brian Bello (AAA) continue to add velocity and hold it deep into their starts as they climb the ladder. Kilian is doing his best work limiting home runs (0.26 HR/9 in 34.1 innings), while Bello is minimizing baserunners with the best of them (0.83 WHIP in 33.2 innings at AA).
Lotta Cubs already in this article, but I haven’t mentioned OF Pete Crow-Armstrong much in this space, so I need to squeeze him in here while he goes nuclear on Low-A pitching, slashing .362/.455/.567 with six home runs and ten stolen bases in 34 games. He’s a double-plus defender displaying plus plate skills as a 20-year-old and should climb as quickly as the Cubs are game to push him.
Tampa LHPs Patrick Wicklander and John Doxakis aren’t likely to make any top 100 lists, but both look like high-probability major leaguers in High-A. Back-end starters or long relievers, but Tampa does wonders with exactly that profile. Wicklander, an 8th round pick in 2019, is a little more interesting to me at the moment than Doxakis because I think his fastball has a little more giddy-up that gives him a better chance at starting. I’m not sure where they fit in dynasty leagues at the moment. Probably on the wave wire in leagues where 400 minor leaguers are rostered. Doxakis has a 0.83 WHIP in 33.2 innings at High-A and should be on the move before long. It’s guys like the ones on this list that keep me from trading for prospects pitchers, for what it’s worth. You can always find your own if you just keep looking.
San Diego OFs Esteury Ruiz (AA) James Wood (A) are both dominating their leagues. Ruiz is generating unreal outcomes as a 23-year-old against players who are 1.3 years his senior on average, stealing 29 bases in 39 games while slashing .340/.484/.569 with a 15.5 percent walk rate and 17.1 percent strikeout rate . Wood didn’t really have much ground to gain given how big a fan I was already, but the 6’7” 240 lb center fielder brought everyone else aboard the hypo train by walking 21.5 percent of the time while slashing .300/.462 /.560 with three home runs and four stolen bases in 14 games. He’s been on the IL since early May, so you might have a buying window yet, but he’s so far away I probably wouldn’t want to pay the asking price.
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