If you play in dynasty format fantasy baseball leagues here at dynastysportsempire.com or elsewhere, you likely already know the value of having a healthy and deep minor league system. Keeping up on literally thousands of minor league players is darn near impossible for the average fantasy baseball owner. I like to think of myself as your funnel to sift through all the minor league talent and display for you the names you should know about.
Coming this offseason I plan to announce my top 10 dynasty fantasy baseball minor league prospects for each MLB organization. In the meantime, at multiple points during the season, I will be doing a notes article like this on each MLB organization’s minor league system that highlights multiple players that are doing well and that for sure should be on your radar as a dynasty league fantasy baseball owner.
Today we look at some of the Pittsburgh Pirates minor league hitters and pitchers that are having positive seasons and that also have the talent level that is potentially worthy of a dynasty league roster spot (depending on how deep your roster size is). All statistics, unless indicated otherwise, were gathered from fangraphs.com.
Max Moroff: (AAA: Indianapolis Indians):
Mr. Moroff has spent some time in the big leagues (28 plate appearances) this season, however, we will not be looking at that small sample size. We will be looking at his 192 plate appearances in AAA ball this season though.
This season Mr. Moroff really has shown some power. In fact, he has shown enough power at the AAA ball level this season to barely get a grade of beastly power. That’s right, his ISO (Isolated Power) was .300! That helped him to 13 home runs already. He also has a .269 batting average. His 25% strikeout percentage (K%) I can live with if the home runs do not dwindle by much. There is one more thing to look at, and that is walk percentage (BB%). His BB% in AAA ball is 16.1% (excellent). I love seeing this from a power hitter. Lets just hope he remains a power hitter!
Steven Brault: (AAA: Indianapolis Indians):
Mr. Brault has pitched 68.1 innings (12 games started in 13 games pitched) this season and has compiled a 2.11 ERA. It turns out he has been lucky on the mound this season as his FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) is much higher at 3.45. He has an above average strikeout percentage (K%) of 23.7%. Heck, it is only 0.3% short of getting a grade of great. However, as is the issue with many young pitchers, he is walking too many hitters. His BB% this season is 9.3% (beyond awful). Still, I recommend that you keep track of Mr. Brault as the season moves on.
Clay Holmes: (AAA: Indianapolis Indians):
Here we have a starting pitcher (11 games started in 12 games pitched this season) that has a lower FIP (3.15) than ERA (3.73). In his 50.2 innings pitched during his first taste of AAA ball Mr. Holmes has posted his best ever professional baseball K%. The 24.2% K% is great, and an improvement of 6.3% over his previous high of 17.9% in Rookie ball in 2015. This is great news! However, his BB% remains beyond awful (11%), and that is bad news. Mr. Holmes is another guy to keep an eye on.
Kevin Kramer: (AA: Altoona Curve):
Pay attention to the spike in power from Mr. Kramer. His previous minor league career high ISO prior to this season was .101 in 513 A+ ball plate appearances in 2016. That helped him to 4 home runs on the season. This season he already has 6 home runs in 234 plate appearances with a solid power ISO of .203 that accompanies those home runs. Oh sure, his K% has grown from the 12.3% (great) that it was in A+ ball last season to the 21.4% (poor) it is now, but if he can keep hitting for this ISO and maintain a decent batting average then this is a change to his batting profile that helps him in the fantasy baseball game. Speaking of batting average, his batting average is .297…his highest since the .305 he had in A- ball in 2015. Back then his Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP) was .358 and this season a high .362 BABIP accompanies his batting average as well. This is a guy to watch closely.
Jordan Luplow: (AA: Altoona Curve):
Mr. Luplow has demanded to be noticed this season with his 14 home runs (.270 ISO) and .279 batting average in 231 plate appearances. So, we will take notice. The interesting thing is, while this is his highest batting average to date in the minor leagues, a .277 BABIP comes along with it. That .277 BABIP is his lowest in the minor leagues. Thus, we just might be seeing a higher batting average from him going forward.
Another awesome thing to see is his 15.6% K% (average) coupled with a 10.4% BB% (above average). This is especially cool to see from someone that is slugging the ball the way he is currently.
J.T. Brubaker: (AA: Altoona Curve):
Oh sure, the 21% K% (average) doesn’t wow us as prospect hunters. However, lets’ give credit where credit is due and also acknowledge Mr. Brubaker’s 6.1% BB% (above average). In 56.2 innings of work (9 games started in 11 games pitched) Mr. Brubaker has compiled a 3.49 ERA and 3.31 FIP.
Ke’Bryan Hayes: (A+: Bradenton Marauders):
While Mr. Hayes has displayed no real power in his swing this season he has managed a .277 batting average in 228 plate appearances. Of course, this isn’t why he is being mentioned here. His 19 stolen bases in 22 attempts is what gets him on this list. He also has an above average 14% K% and average 9.6% BB%.
Cole Tucker: (A+: Bradenton Marauders):
Speaking of speed on the base paths, well, Mr. Tucker has Mr. Hayes beat currently with 27 stolen bases in 36 attempts. He also has a .271 batting average in 239 plate appearances. This is a guy to keep an eye on.
Mitch Keller: (A+: Bradenton Marauders):
Mr. Keller has put together a solid 40 innings pitched this season with a 2.93 ERA and 3.48 FIP. He has a 25.3% K% (great) and 5.2% BB% (great). This starting pitching prospect should have already been on your radar.