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 29 thru May 5, 2019:
Riley started the season a little tepid, but he has been raging lately. This week, Riley punished the ball, racking up 5 HR, 29 TBs, and a 1.260 slugging average. Still only 22 years old, Riley is one of the top hitters in the International League this season, hitting 10 HR and posting a .981 OPS. He could probably handle an MLB assignment right now, but he’s 1) blocked at 3B at the moment by Donaldson/Camargo and 2) he’s not on the 40-man currently. So you Riley owners will have to keep being patient until 2020. But you’ve got yourself a gem.
Olivares, a 23 year-old Venezuelan outfielder, came over to San Diego in the deal that saw Yangervis Solarte move to Toronto. This week, Olivares set an Amarillo Sod Poodle record with a 3 HR outburst on May 5:
— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) May 5, 2019
Shortly after the Solarte deal, Jeff Passan noted that many evaluators were bullish on Olivares. So far this season, he’s posted a .954 OPS with 8 HR and 6 SBs in the AA Texas League. He’s currently the #32 overall hitter on our seasonal top hitter’s rankings list. Not sure if you still have the chance to roster him in a deeper format, but given his production and proximity to the majors he should definitely be owned.
Larsen is a 24 year-old OF prospect who is repeating the A+ Cal League to start 2019. A left-handed hitter, Larsen was a minor league free agent signing back in the summer of 2017 who is still pushing to make his big league dream happen. He was a 2018 Midwest League mid-season All-Star last season when he posted 17 2B, 5 3B, and 12 HR in 88 games for the Clinton Lumber Kings.
Larsen posted 4 straight multi-hit games this week, finishing with 26 total bases. His season batting average is now up to .257. While he’s not necessarily an add even in deeper leagues, keep Larsen on your radar as the kid has shown that he’s going to keep battling.
Castro lit up the Sally League with the Greensboro Grasshoppers this week. Castro’s 1.181 slugging average led him to 26 total bases this week. He tortured the West Virginia Power on May 4th, hitting 2 HR and driving in 5 runs during the game. Baseball America’s Josh Norris noted that one of Castro’s HRs that night left the yard with a 104 MPH exit velo.
Castro is a 19-year-old switch hitter out of the Dominican. Although he was signed as a shortstop, Castro has shifted over to 2B at this point in his professional career. Adam McInturff of 2080 Baseball saw Castro this fall at instructs, and noted that he’s a “Strong and athletic infielder with intriguing offensive tools.” He’s now slugging .741 this season. He’s a player to pick-up now in deeper formats.
Agrazal made his first 2 starts of the season for the Indianapolis Indians this week. He went deep (6.2 and 7.0 innings) in each of the starts, limiting his opponents to 2 ER and striking out 13 hitters. He’s now posted a combined 2.79 ERA and 1.03 WHIP in 6 starts in 2019.
Agrazal was a J2 signing out of Panama by the Pirates back in 2012. In his minor league career, Agrazal has posted 3 separate full seasons with an ERA below 3.00. He’s a peripheral/journeyman type of starter at this point in his career. But still, there’s a chance we see Agrazal filling some kind of role with Pittsburgh in the near future.
It’s Baseball Farm contributor Brenden Gorzelski’s wet dream atop the AA leaderboard this week with Tigers farmhands Casey Mize and Matt Manning both dominating. Mize dropped the gauntlet in his AA debut, throwing a no-hitter against the Altoona Curve on Apri 29th. Then, he followed that performance up with a win in a 5 inning performance against Bowie. Mize is on pace to shatter our Strawberry Start leaderboard this season and might be the best pitching prospect in baseball by the end of the calendar year.
The dude trying to chase down Casey Mize in our aforementioned Strawberry Start leaderboard is Twins righty Jordan Balazovic. He’s the ace of the Ft. Myers Miracle, and this week he pitched 7 perfect innings against the Palm Beach Cardinals, striking out 10 batters in the process. He struck out the Cardinals Justin Toerner 3 times in the outing, even though Toerner came into the contest batting .360!
I think a combination of draft round and his Candian prep background really kept him under the radar thus far. But if Balazovic pans out, man that’s a gigantic win for the Twins amateur scouting department.
As an aside, I thank Jordan for having a good enough week to bump MacK Gore off the pedestal. It’s another week of avoiding the inevitable Mack Morrison jokes from me.
Venezuelan righty turned in a stellar performance for the Quad Cities River Bandits this week, allowing just 2 hits and 1 walk while striking out 9 in a 7 inning start against the Lake County Captains. At one point during the start, he struck out 7 consecutive batters. Nivaldo has now made 5 excellent starts in the Midwest League thus far in 2019, posting a 3-1 record with a 1.33 ERA and 0.81 WHIP. He’s put up an absurd 29.1% K-BB ratio on the season thus far. Kenon Carter notes he’s been pounding the zone with strikes to the tune of a 68% rate thus far:
@QCRiverBandits SP Nivaldo Rodriguez has been a strike-throwing machine this year. Through 2 IP today, 25 P, 19 strikes. He’s at 68% strikes on the year. 62% is solid, 65% is excellent. 68% is superb. #Astros
— Kenon Carter (@Kenon_Carter) May 2, 2019
The typical ‘he’s a 22-year-old pitcher in the Midwest League in April’ caveats apply. But you can’t ask more from a guy than what Nivaldo has put up so far this season.