The Farmhands of the Week are back for a third season! A great resource for dynasty/keeper league players to find some under the radar prospects or breakouts before they happen. These ‘Farm Freebies’ can help rebuild your minor league system in no time!
Here are the Farmhands of the Week for April 22 thru April 28, 2019:
As many people have noted, the AAA level is now using the same baseball as the major leagues, with the attendant run-scoring results. The materials and design of the MLB ball produce less drag on the baseball, which allow the balls to travel both faster and farther due to the decreased air resistance. I think Ben Lindbergh’s piece for The Ringer is the best explainer I’ve read on the new MLB baseball and its effect on run scoring.
My point here is that, when I look at the overall MiLB hitting leaderboards so far this season, they’ve been dominated by AAA hitters. This week, we had several impressive performances but none as impressive as the display that Luis Urias put on. Urias, 21, was called up to the MLB club earlier in the season by GM AJ Preller, but it seems like manager Andy Green preferred the idea of running out Ian Kinsler as his everyday 2B. Well, Urias went down to AAA and banged. And Fernando Tatis Jr. did his best Jean-Claude Van Damme impression yesterday, so he might miss some time (but hopefully not too much):
The latest, I am hearing, about Fernando Tatis, Jr. is that it is indeed the hamstring that was stressed during his split. So far he is not on the 10 day IL and is listed “day to day”. #FriarFaithful pic.twitter.com/ZHK2x5jF4L
— Friar Phil® (@friarphilSD) April 29, 2019
Feels like Urias is the next man up (again) in SD.
Wilson homered in 3 straight games to start the week (1 combo meal), and he’s now slugging .560 so far in 2019. He’s a good-sized athlete (6’3″, 215) with plus raw power. He also sports a career .275 batting average in the minors. The Brewers are pretty jammed up at 1B at the moment, but Wilson has shown a ton of positional versatility in his professional career. He’s mostly played 3B for Biloxi this season, but he’s also played 1B, 2B, SS, LF, and RF when needed since being drafted by the Brewers in the 17th round in 2016. He’s a good claim in deeper leagues because of his performance and advanced level.
Policelli’s stat line first jumped out at me because he’s a catcher, but he stole 2 bags this week. Then I looked back at his 2018 line and the dude stole 19 bags last year! Love it. He was the Tigers’ 13th round selection out of Towson (lacrosse school) in 2016. He was a slightly above-average offensive performer in the Midwest League last year, and it looks like he keeps making small improvements. So far in 2019, his K% is down to 18.6%, and his ISO is up over the magic .200 level at .210.
Despite being drafted as a catcher, Policelli has played all over the diamond in his professional career. He’s seen time at C (6 games), 3B (2), LF (4), CF (1), and RF (5) thus far in 2019. This versatility gives him a path to playing time as he keeps climbing the ranks. And if he can keep flashing this patience and power profile with a little speed on top, he’s going to start popping up on dynasty league radars too.
There are some big-time prospects on this list (Franco, Kelenic, Bohm) but Hickory Crawdad’s Sam Huff takes the cake as our A-Full Farmhand of the Week this week. Huff now has 11 HR in 22 games in 2019. Here’s a video courtesy of Dan Victor (South Side Sox, Notes from the Sally) of Huff making some loud contact in yesterday’s game:
More loud contact and a base hit for Sam Huff. pic.twitter.com/tZW6XRaD08
— Dan Victor (@slydanno70) April 28, 2019
While Dan describes Huff as a ‘big bodied’ catcher, he did manage to steal a couple of bags this week too, bringing his season SB total up to 3. He went 9-for-10 in stolen base attempts last year, so there’s sneaky speed here. Huff is now slugging a vigorous .805 in the Sally League and is likely due for a promotion.
Gallen added 2 more wins to what’s been a dominant 2019 performance for the New Orleans Baby Cakes. I wrote a little more on him earlier in the week as his sitting near the top of our Strawberry Start Ratio leaderboard too. Everything seems to be clicking for him right now, and he’s in a great organization for him to get an MLB shot this season. And my dumb ass doesn’t own him in any leagues.
This is a good pile of arms who all had really strong weeks this week. But Tanner Houck gets the nod as FOTW as he just cruised through his 2 starts for AA Portland. Houck was a first-round selection out of Missouri in the 2017 draft, and the Red Sox picked him with the idea that he’d be a fast moving arm for them. His 2018 was bumpy, but he did manage to make 23 starts and pitched 119 innings, all in A+ ball. His 2019 is off to a better start, as he’s now 3-1 with a 3.60 ERA. His WHIP, currently at 1.40, is still concerning. But he’s still only 22 and is right on track with being an MLB contributor for the Red Sox relatively soon.
Eli’s been on the radar at the Farm for a good while now. He’s relied on excellent control thus far in his professional career, and this season he’s posted a minuscule 4.1% BB-rate in 28 innings (1.29 ERA). Arsenal-wise, Eli’s changeup is plus to double plus, giving him an out-pitch that’s very successful against minor league batters (38.1% K-rate in 2019). However his fastball, despite his excellent control, is probably a below-average offering. It was clocked as low as the mid-80s last season. Keep your eye out for velocity readings on Eli’s scouting reports this season. People will be tempted to draw a Shane Bieber comp (same org, same infinitesimal walk rate), but Bieber’s fastball sits 94-95. Eli can have success in the low-90s with his current arsenal, but anything outside of MLB spot starter is going to be tough.
Man I can’t help but feel like I whiffed on Bubic for my First-Year Player Draft Guide, where I had him ranked as the #27 overall pitcher in last year’s class. Instead, Bubic has been one of minor league baseball’s breakout performers thus far in 2019. After another dominant week, the lefty out of Stanford now boasts a 3-0 line on the season with a 1.86 ERA and 0.79 WHIP. His K-rate (41.7%) and BB-rate (6.5%) are both spectacular. He’s got a funky, deceptive delivery with a sinking fastball that touches 93 and a deadly changeup that is a plus pitch in my book. Look for him to get promoted when one of his fellow draft mates (Singer, Kowar, Lynch) is ready to move up from A+ Wilmington.
This video is from an earlier start this season, but you can see how difficult the ball is to pick up out of his hand:
Lastnight @KrisBubic had 12 K’s w/ 0 BB’s in 6 innings as he picked up the win & @criceole8 had 3 hits including a homerun to help lead the @LexingtonLegend to another victory. #AlwaysRoyal #DonutsandPunchies pic.twitter.com/i03kaaA7rk
— Kansas City Royals Player Development (@RoyalsPD) April 13, 2019