Arizona Fall League Prospect Update Part 1
By Rocco Minsk For those baseball starved readers already plotting their next move in dynasty baseball leagues, we will be running a multi-part series on players that have stood out in the Arizona Fall League and have increased their dynasty league stock. We will focus on some of the mid-range prospects, or at least prospects below the elite level because it does not take an overwhelming amount of savvy to point out that Ronald Acuna is good (and will be good). I have usually found that success in the AFL is usually a good barometer for breakout prospects. With that in mind, the first two articles will spotlight four offensive players before we move on to pitchers
Austin Riley – this is a name that will be elevating up prospect charts when they are released. The twenty year old had a stellar run after his promotion to Double A slashing .315/.389/.511. His ISO has always indicated well above average power. Riley has served notice in the AFL as he is third in the league with a 1.056 OPS on six HRs. There is not much above him in Atlanta as far as third basemen go so if he keeps improving on his fielding, he could be up in the bigs by early 2019. Expect him t be a name going earlier in dynasty drafts among those in the know.
Monte Harrison – Not far behind Riley in the OPS column is Harrison, a centerfielder in the Brewers’ system. Working against Harrison is that the Brewers have a very loaded farm system, especially in the outfield, but Harrison put together a great season over two levels of A ball this past year. Harrison’s power filled in seemingly out of nowhere last season with 21 HRs and he also has great speed, stealing 27 bases last year. A massive jump in his ISO last season may show that his power may face some regression, but he has continued the power surge in the AFL with 5 HR in 44 AB. All indications are that the Brewers are morphing into win now mode and Harrison could be a sought after prospect at the trade deadline.
Oscar Mercado – We had previously written about Mercado in these pages and the fact that his bat finally came alive after being relieved of the albatross of shortstop play. He developed some mild power and hit for average last year at AA. What has impressed me about his AFL performance is the improving plate discipline, with 13 walks to 16 strikeouts. His .366 OBP in the AFL shows that the progress he made with the bat last season is legitimate. His power has taken a step back in the AFL as Mercado has yet to homer, but if Mercado makes the bigs, it’s not unreasonable to expect 10 HR and 40 SB. The Cardinals are also trying to restock their outfield and Mercado could be a prospect that gets thrown into deals either this offseason or regular season.
Sheldon Neuse – Part of the return for the A’s in the Madson/Doolittle trade, Neuse hit at all three stops in the minors last year. Neuse has above average power and became an OBP machine at the upper levels of the minors after the trade. Now he has 5 HR and 23 RBI in the AFL. Neuse plays 3B and Matt Chapman figures to be the third baseman for a long time to come in Oakland so Neuse will either have to find a new position or a new home to crack the lineup, but the A’s are building a powerhouse lineup and Neuse should fit in well if he can reach the majors.