Minor League Barometer: Life After The Deadline

Minor League Barometer: Life After The Deadline

This article is part of our Minor League Barometer series.

The trade deadline has come and gone, and with it a record amount of deals. Prospects switched teams with reckless abandon. The Yankees, acting quite sensibly, became sellers for the first time in decades, acquiring top-flight prospects like Gleyber Torres, Clint Frazier, Justus Sheffield and Dillon Tate in an effort to restock the farm with an eye toward future championships. Meanwhile, the Brewers added to their much-improved system, acquiring Lewis Brinson and Luis Ortiz from the Rangers in the Jonathan Lucroy deal. The acquisition of Phil Bickford from the Giants is also a very underrated move. In an unsurprising trend, the Athletics picked up a triumvirate of arms from the Dodgers in the Rich Hill trade, headlined by hard-throwing righties Frankie Montas and Grant Holmes. Montas has been injury-prone but is virtually MLB-ready, while Holmes has more than held his own in the hitter-friendly confines of the California League.

With the wheeling and dealing subsiding, let's take a look at some prospects making noise as the stretch run approaches.

UPGRADE

Franklin Barreto, SS, OAK – Few hitters have been hotter than Barreto over the second half of the season. After an abysmal start to the year, Barreto has really turned up the heat. The 20-year-old shortstop batted .427 in July while stealing seven bases for Double-A Midland. He's continued streaking into August, hitting .356 with two home runs, eight RBI and one steal over his last 10 games. Due to his youth and the plethora of

The trade deadline has come and gone, and with it a record amount of deals. Prospects switched teams with reckless abandon. The Yankees, acting quite sensibly, became sellers for the first time in decades, acquiring top-flight prospects like Gleyber Torres, Clint Frazier, Justus Sheffield and Dillon Tate in an effort to restock the farm with an eye toward future championships. Meanwhile, the Brewers added to their much-improved system, acquiring Lewis Brinson and Luis Ortiz from the Rangers in the Jonathan Lucroy deal. The acquisition of Phil Bickford from the Giants is also a very underrated move. In an unsurprising trend, the Athletics picked up a triumvirate of arms from the Dodgers in the Rich Hill trade, headlined by hard-throwing righties Frankie Montas and Grant Holmes. Montas has been injury-prone but is virtually MLB-ready, while Holmes has more than held his own in the hitter-friendly confines of the California League.

With the wheeling and dealing subsiding, let's take a look at some prospects making noise as the stretch run approaches.

UPGRADE

Franklin Barreto, SS, OAK – Few hitters have been hotter than Barreto over the second half of the season. After an abysmal start to the year, Barreto has really turned up the heat. The 20-year-old shortstop batted .427 in July while stealing seven bases for Double-A Midland. He's continued streaking into August, hitting .356 with two home runs, eight RBI and one steal over his last 10 games. Due to his youth and the plethora of stellar young shortstops in the minors, Barreto can occasionally get lost in the shuffle. However, he is a threat to hit double-digit home runs, steal 20-plus bases and hit .300 once he arrives in the big leagues. Those numbers for a shortstop should make future fantasy owners salivate.

Rhys Hoskins, 1B, PHI - Double-A Reading boasts its own version of the Bash Brothers this season, as Hoskins and teammate Dylan Cozens have combined for a staggering 66 home runs and 201 RBI. Cozens had five home runs and 12 RBI over a two-game span last week. Not to be outdone, Hoskins has four home runs over his last four contests. The 34 home runs for Hoskins leads the entire minor leagues. Though the home park in Reading is extremely hitter-friendly, it is difficult to ignore the videogame-type numbers put up by these two beasts. With Ryan Howard on the way out, Hoskins could slide right into the starting first base slot as early as next season.

Richard Urena, SS, TOR – All Urena has done over his last 10 games is hit .500. That includes four games at Double-A New Hampshire, where he is 8-for-18 (.444) since being promoted. Urena hit .305 with eight home runs and nine steals in 97 games at High-A prior to the bump. The 20-year-old has pop, blasting 16 home runs last season, mostly at Low-A. If Urena can continue to improve on his plate discipline and make consistent contact, as he has done in 2016, then he could vault up the prospect ladder.

Isan Diaz, SS, MIL – Diaz had a pretty mammoth July in his own right, albeit at a lower level than Barreto. Still, Diaz hit .327 with seven home runs and 23 RBI last month for Low-A Wisconsin. The 20-year-old now has 16 home runs and 11 steals on the season, making him yet another toolsy shortstop to keep on the radar. The combination of speed and power makes him an intriguing fantasy commodity as the Brewers continue to beef up their farm system. Diaz has not stopped hitting even as the calendar has flipped to August; he is hitting a crisp .359 with one home run, five RI and one steal over the last 10 games for the Rattlers.

CHECK STATUS

Michael Kopech, P, BOS – One of the little-mentioned reasons as to why the Red Sox felt comfortable dealing Anderson Espinoza to the Padres in exchange for Drew Pomeranz is the potential of Kopech, who emerges as the top arm in the Boston farm system. Kopech had a couple of off-field incidents over the last calendar year, including a 50-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs, followed by breaking his hand in an altercation with a teammate during spring training. On the mound, though, Kopech has found little resistance. In 2015, he had a 2.63 ERA and 70:27 K:BB in 65 innings prior to the suspension. Now healthy and hurling at High-A, Kopech has a minuscule 1.27 ERA and 42:16 K:BB in 28.1 innings this year. As long as he can keep his head on straight, Kopech has an extremely high upside for the BoSox.

Aristides Aquino, OF, CIN – Aquino has had his share of struggles since being signed as a 17-year-old out of the Dominican Republic in 2011. He has been brought along slowly, in large part due to tremendous difficulty adapting to the game as a teenager. He has pushed through, though, and is finally enjoying a complete year of full-season ball. Now 22 years of age, Aquino has shown both power and speed, hitting 15 home runs while swiping nine bags in 97 games for High-A Daytona. He has been hot of late, batting .421 with two home runs, six RBI and one steal over his last 10 games. Aquino's plate discipline remains a work in progress, and that aspect of his game perhaps deserves the most attention with the most room for improvement. Still, he has more than doubled his walk total from a season ago, so there is hope in that department. Aquino is still raw, but his physical gifts are starting to translate into on-field production.

Ryan McMahon, 3B, COL – It took him more than three months to get going, but McMahon has finally hit his stride at Double-A Hartford. While former teammate David Dahl and current teammate Raimel Tapia dominated this level, McMahon struggled mightily to begin the season. In fact, over the first 75 games of the year, McMahon hit an abysmal .220. Perhaps most disconcerting, though, was the sapping of his power. McMahon clubbed just three home runs over that span. He has flipped the switch since that time, though, batting .313 with seven home runs since then. The recent hot stretch should not completely offset the putrid start to the year, but McMahon remains just 21 years of age and has now hit double-digit home runs in each of his first four
seasons in the minors.

Anthony Alford, OF, TOR – Alford came into the season as an extremely highly rated prospect for the Blue Jays, but could not seem to stay on the field through the first half of the year. A knee injury followed by a concussion has limited the 22-year-old's action at High-A. Even when he was on the field, Alford could not find any sort of groove. Through July 1, he was hitting a putrid .197 through 42 games. Over his last 20 games, though, Alford has been healthy and finally producing. During that span, he is batting .333 with three home runs, six stolen bases and 17 runs. He has tallied just as many walks as strikeouts (16). Alford may not have started the season with a bang, but he certainly appears to be ending the 2016 campaign on a high note.

DOWNGRADE

Lucius Fox, SS, TB – Sharing the name of a character from the Batman series, there is nothing fictional about this Fox, who was dealt to the Rays in the Matt Moore deal. Interestingly, the speedy Fox fouled a ball off his foot about a week before the trade went down, and had been playing through pain at Low-A. The Giants did not disclose the issue to the Rays. As it turns out, Fox will now miss the next 4-6 weeks due to the injury, effectively ending his 2016 campaign. The Rays are expected to keep Fox, as the injury is not considered serious. However, they will seek additional compensation from the Giants due to the lack of transparency and fair dealing.

Tyler Jay, P, MIN – After what seemed like an extremely successful conversation to the starting rotation, Jay was returned to the bullpen recently in order to limit his innings. However, he was just placed on the Disabled List with a mysterious neck/shoulder injury. There had been doubts about Jay's ability to hold up as a starting pitcher at his size, and this ailment may force the Twins to revisit those concerns. In 13 starts at High-A to begin the year, a span of 69.2 innings, Jay had a 2.81 ERA and 68:21 K:BB. Continue to monitor the injury, as Jay had made one of the biggest jumps up the prospect charts in 2016.
Ryan Cordell, OF, TEX – As mentioned in the introduction, the Rangers dealt three of their top five prospects in an effort to make a run at the title in 2016. That bumped players like Cordell up the rankings in the Texas minor league system. However, Cordell crashed into the outfield wall last week at Double-A and injured his right leg. The extent of the injury is unknown at this time. The 24-year-old Cordell had already set a career-high in home runs with 19, though he was batting just .222 in the 10 games prior to the injury. A crowded current outfield along with an injury makes Cordell's immediate future with the club murky.

Max Fried, P, ATL – Fried's development has been slow at best, largely stunted due to Tommy John surgery. Still, he was a first round selection in the 2012 draft, yet is now 22 years of age and has not pitched above Low-A. He was enjoying arguably his best season in the minors until a blister issue landed him on the Disabled List once again. Fried had a 3.50 ERA and 84:39 K:BB in 82.1 innings prior to the injury. A notorious ground ball pitcher, Fried was striking out more batters in 2016 but also allowing more fly balls. His command remains spotty, and walks have also been a concern. Fried has loads of potential, but even the last-place Braves could be losing patience with him.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jesse Siegel
Siegel covers college football, college basketball and minor league baseball for RotoWire. He was named College Sports Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.
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