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 May 13 thru May 19, 2019:
The 26-year-old brother of CJ Cron has still yet to record an MLB AB despite his great track record of hitting in the minors. Kevin Cron is an example of just how hard it can be for defensively limited players to become a feature on your dynasty team. The D’backs have tried Kevin out at 3B in each of the last 2 seasons (57 games in 2018, 11 games thus far in 2019) in an effort to try and get his bat another path to MLB playing time. But Arizona is an organization that is littered with 1B/DH type bats with no DH slot to hit anybody in. So, in order to make the big club, Cron is really going to have to hit.
And he has! His career MiLB slash line is .276/.338/.512. He hit 20+ HR in every season between 2015-2018, and already has 19 HR this year! He’s now slugging .776 with a .454 ISO this season. As soon as some kind of path to ABs opens up at the big league level, he’s poised to grab them.
My goodness has the Cardinals 1st round pick in the 2016 draft impressed us this year. As a 20-year-old in AA ball, he’s posted a .907 OPS despite being almost 4 full years younger than the average age of competition in his league. He’s currently riding an 8-game hitting streak, and he also pounded 3 HR and stole a base this week. In 40 games he’s racked up 9 2B, 5 3B, 7 HR, and 6 SBs. He’s a true stat sheet stuffer.
Lance Brozdowski of Prospects Live gave a complete report on Carlson in his preseason Top-30 list:
Some might consider Carlson’s swing a little bit noisy, but I’m more willing to classify his swing as loose. His swing is rhythmic, rocking his hands back and wrapping his bat over his head as he loads. He mixes in a thigh-high leg kick that increased in a size when comparing 2017 to 2018. I’m comfortable with his swing movement because his bat speed and athleticism gets him out of a lot of situations. Mix that in with a sound approach and high propensity for contact and you’re looking at a legitimate offensive threat.
Lewin easily paced the A+ hitters this week with 24 total bases. He put on a show on May 16, going 4-for-5 with 3 HR, 4 runs scored, and 5 runs driven in during a 13-7 victory over Bradenton. Diaz is now slashing .328/.364/.566 in 2019 with 7 HR and 23 RBI in 33 games. The knock on Diaz is that he’s a bit of a free-swinger, but his K% has hovered around 18% over the last 2 seasons. And with his knack for punishing baseballs, I’m not really looking for the guy to take more walks to be honest.
The other downside with Lewin is that he’s a 1B/DH guy. Similar to Kevin Cron, he just might struggle to find a chance at the MLB level no matter how well he hits in the minors. And Minnesota seems to have a logjam at the corners which is spilling over to even top hitting prospect Alex Kirilloff, who is now seeing time at 1B in an attempt to get his bat into the lineup quicker. In short, Lewin is a buy/hold guy in dynasty leagues at the moment, but you might have to be real patient until he can find a spot on the 25-man roster.
Kid from upstate NY was an 18th round selection out of Niagra in last summer’s draft. Cullen is currently riding an 8-game hitting streak, and he posted 4 different multi-hit efforts this week, including a 4-for-4 performance with a walk and 3 runs scored on May 17th. Cullen led all of D1 baseball in 2018 with a .457 batting average and .549 OBP in his final season at Niagra.
Braves fansite Talking Chop gave this overview of Cullen’s game after he was selected last summer:
The smallish infielder(5’10”, 175 pounds) doesn’t have much home run pop, but his new found gap power to go with his feel for hitting, very advanced approach, and good run tool make him a guy to watch.
The profile has held up for him in professional ball thus far. He hasn’t hit many HR, but has flashed his gap power with 10 2Bs so far this season. And with his hit tool, he’s probably going to maintain a strong batting average in the process. He’s a very deep league flier at this point, but keep him on your radar as the kid knows how to hit.
The AAA pitcher FotW beat can be a tough one to cover. The list this season has been jammed up with MLB castoffs/reclamation projects (I see you Nick Pivetta) early on in 2019. Part of that just might be that MLB pitching has been getting punished this season, and organizational pitching depth is being challenged as a consequence. Either way, it can be tough to separate out the prospects from the past their prime guys when deciding who to watch at the AAA level for dynasty purposes.
Keegan Akin is a crafty lefty who has already appeared as a AAA pitcher of the week so far this season. Another strong start this week has moved his ERA down to 3.60 over 8 starts for Norfolk in 2019. He’s not going to win you your dynasty league, but don’t be surprised if he comes up for a spot start or two at some point in 2019 as Baltimore continues the work of sifting through its pile of guys nearing their mid-20s to try and see if they have anyone that might contribute in the team’s next contention window.
Unlike fellow Baltimore farmhand Keegan Akin, I can really envision Lowther becoming a contributor for both the Orioles and your dynasty squad in the not too distant future. There have been a number of good articles written about Lowther and his unique approach to the game. This article from David Laurila of FanGraphs describing his ‘vexing funk’ always sticks in my mind. Lowther just has the arsenal, mentality, and unique delivery that might allow him to outperform expectations.
He’s been all over the Baseball Farm peripheral stats for the last 2 seasons. I thought AA might be a challenging environment for him off the bat, but Lowther is now 4-3 with a 1.91 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in 8 Eastern League starts in 2019. The dude just knows how to pitch. I don’t think AAA will be much of a test for him either. It’s really “wait and see” what he accomplishes in his MLB debut at this point in his career, although don’t be surprised if that debut doesn’t happen until 2020.
Gilbert, Seattle’s 2018 1st round selection out of Stetson U, has already earned the first promotion of his young career and looks to be settling into the environs of the A+ California League very nicely so far. I’m not surprised that his professional career has started as well as it has. He looked great and I ranked him highly in my 2019 First Year Player Draft Guide. His value got suppressed last summer as he struggled with mono after being drafted and there were some reports about his velocity being down. Turns out it was just related to the illness.
John Calvagno of Notes from the Sally got a look at Gilbert early this season prior to his promotion. Here’s his recap of that live look:
I enjoyed watching Gilbert last night. The fastball, curve combo should have him steamrolling through the low minors pretty quickly. The curve and slider are solid put away pitches but he might need something else vs lefties at the highest level. #3 SP.
I personally gave him a SP2 upside, but I agree with John’s assessment here. Gilbert should be owned in every format, so if you play in a shallow minor league dynasty league where he’s available, see if there’s some dead wood you can cut back to give him a roster spot.
There were tons of great pitching performances in Full Season ball this week, but Zach Matson’s 1 hit, 13 strikeout performance in 2 relief appearances for Delmarva this week really stood out to me. Matson is the 3rd Baltimore lefty to make the Farmhands of the Week this week. He was a 24th round selection out of Crowder CC back in the 2016 draft. He’s got a relief-only profile, and therefore he doesn’t need to be rostered in any dynasty formats. But he’s been outstanding this year, and his dominant performances this week earned him FOTW honors.