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“Alluhring Strategy” MiLB Watch – Pitchers: Double A Southern League Report

We are officially one month into the 2017 baseball season. Some of the trends can be taken a little more seriously than in the past few weeks. Aaron Judge is still a beast, the Blue Jays still suck and the 10 Day DL is still being used excessively.

The same thought process goes into evaluating players at the minor league level. Pitchers with one or two good starts could be considered lucky, but after 5 of 6 starts, we begin to see if guys should are truly developing and whether or not they should be taken seriously.

This week we continue looking at pitchers that are beginning to press their organizations for promotion and could be on the cusp of fantasy impact. We stay in AA this week but move to the Southern League.

 

Tyler Mahle (RHP), Austin Ross (RHP) & Luis Castillo (RHP), Pensacola Blue Wahoos (CIN)

 

We begin with the Southern League South Division leading Pensacola Blue Wahoos. The Cincinnati Reds’ affiliate leads the league in numerous pitching categories such as ERA (2.31), Saves (13), fewest Earned Runs (63), Strikeouts (247) and WHIP (1.07). The club is led by Southern League Player of the Month, Tyler Mahle who was 4-0 in April over five starts with an ERA of 0.55, WHIP of 0.52 with 34 Ks to only 6 walks.

Tyler Mahle

DATE OPP W L ERA CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO NP-S AVG WHIP
APR 06 TNS 1 0 1.59 0 0 5.2 3 1 1 0 1 6 86-55 .158 0.71
APR 12 @BLX 1 0 0.71 0 0 7.0 1 0 0 0 2 6 86-55 .098 0.55
APR 17 JAX 1 0 1.02 0 0 5.0 3 1 1 0 2 7 88-55 .121 0.68
APR 22 @MOB 1 0 0.68 1 1 9.0 0 0 0 0 0 8 88-68 .082 0.45
APR 27 BLX 0 0 0.55 0 0 6.0 4 0 0 0 1 7 94-64 .104 0.52
MAY 03 @CHA 0 0 1.19 0 0 5.0 7 3 3 1 2 7 102-66 .142 0.69

As you can see from his Game Logs, that he had a pretty good outing on April 22. In fact, he pitched a perfect game on that day throwing 68 of his 88 pitches for strikes as he disposed of all 27 batters he faced. He came back to earth a little in his first start in May, but overall, he made a name for himself throughout the baseball world with his incredible April. The 22-year-old didn’t exactly come out of nowhere as he also pitched a No-hitter in 2016 in High A and was immediately promoted to AA for his next start. His breakout last season got him up to #10 on the Reds’ prospect pipeline at MLB.com. His only plus pitch is his fastball, which sits in the low 90s and can reach the mid 90s. What makes this pitch a plus offering is his insane control and command of it. He does have three off-speed/breaking balls but they all project as MLB average and mixed in to keep hitters from sitting on the fastball. This is his 4th season of pro ball and projects to make his debut in 2018. Keep an eye on him as the season progresses. He has an advanced approach and plus command which could land him in AAA within the next two months. The Reds rotation has been once again decimated by injuries and when Scott Feldman is your #1 Starter and you are still only one game out of first place in the NL Central, you have to keep your options open.

Not to be outdone, Austin Ross actually leads the team in ERA with a 0.79 after five starts giving up only three ERs. While he has had a nice season so far, he has 25 Ks and 11 BBs in his 34.1 innings. Ross is in his 7th season of pro ball and is 28-years-old and is not considered anything more than organizational depth. Perhaps he gets a chance in the Bigs in the near future, but he is not even on the radar of dynasty owners and I wouldn’t expect him to have much if any success at the Major League level.

The last guys we need to check in on in Pensacola is the Reds’ #7 prospect (Marlins former #2) Luis Castillo. He slots in as the 3rd best Blue Wahoos’ pitcher in 2017, but realistically has the higher ceiling of any of them and could develop into a top of the rotation starter. The 24-year-old has had a unique path as he started out in pro ball as a reliever for the Giants organization. Traded to the Marlins and converted into a Starter. Miami traded him to San Diego in the Cashner deal, returned for Colin Rea due to some shady medical records. Miami then traded him to the Reds who were thrilled to get him.

Luis Castillo

DATE OPP W L ERA G CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO NP-S AVG WHIP
APR 07 TNS 0 0 1.50 1 0 0 6.0 3 1 1 1 1 5 80-50 .150 0.67
APR 13 @BLX 1 0 1.38 1 0 0 7.0 3 1 1 1 0 6 93-70 .140 0.54
APR 18 JAX 0 0 1.96 1 0 0 5.1 5 3 2 1 2 6 92-59 .172 0.76
APR 23 @MOB 0 0 2.22 1 0 0 6.0 5 2 2 0 0 4 84-58 .186 0.78
APR 28 BLX 0 1 2.08 1 0 0 6.0 7 1 1 0 1 4 98-61 .213 0.89

Castillo has a plus-plus fastball that rates as a 70 in the 20-80 scale and it can hit triple digits. He also throws a slurve and changeup that project as MLB average. If he can develop those off-speed pitches to above average and one of them to plus, he could be a future Ace. He shows better command than one would think with his velocity. My gut is that the Reds would like to take it slow with Castillo and save him for a 2018 debut after time of developing his secondary pitches. However, you never know what they do if they continue to remain competitive this season. I recommend targeting him in dynasty leagues if you can still get him. No need to stash in basic keeper or redraft leagues, but keep an idea on his progression. If he does get called up, he can make an immediate impact.

 

Mike Franco (RHP), Montgomery Biscuits (TB)

Ladies and Gentlemen, your league leader in ERA is Mike Franco (0.74). The 25-year-old is not on any prospect list I can find and started his first game in pro ball this year while entering his 4th season. The converted reliever is enjoying an uncanny amount of success which he attributes to being able to relax and setting up the strike zone. As reliever, he had to fire strikes and had no room for mistakes. Now he can work each batter the way he wants and trusts his defense to make plays. He doesn’t have a true plus pitch but projects at least MLB average with his fastball, slider and changeup.

Mike Franco

DATE OPP W L ERA G CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO NP-S AVG WHIP
APR 10 BLX 0 0 1.93 1 0 0 4.2 5 2 1 0 2 6 90-61 .278 1.50
APR 17 @JXN 1 0 0.87 1 0 0 5.2 5 0 0 0 2 3 95-61 .250 1.35
APR 23 MIS 0 0 0.52 1 0 0 7.0 2 0 0 0 1 7 101-66 .190 0.98
APR 28 BIR 1 0 0.74 1 0 0 7.0 2 1 1 0 2 5 85-54 .167 0.86

Franco has shown good command and may develop into a Major League starter. I wouldn’t count on him for any more than an innings eater at that level and really shouldn’t be rostered on any teams save for extremely deep dynasty leagues. There are at least a half dozen pitchers in the Rays’ organization ahead of him in terms of fantasy impact.

Michael Kopech (RHP), Spencer Adams (RHP), Jordan Guerrero (LHP) & Matt Cooper (RHP), Birmingham Barons (CHW)

One of the main purposes of these MiLB Pitcher Reports is to evaluate on whether some of the better performances in the early going are worth paying attention to or not.  The Pale Hose have a few guys that we need to cover and I had to get at least one Lefty in the article today. I maybe reaching a bit, but here it goes.

Jordan Guerrero

Jordan likely won’t be found on any top prospect lists out there. He doesn’t make the White Sox Top 30 on MLB.com’s prospect pipeline. The 23-year-old had a decent few years in the lower levels but frankly was not good last year in AA. Guerrero was the highest drafted player ever out of Moorpark High School in Moorpark CA and is working hard to be the best pro ever from that school (the bar is not high). So why do I bring him up in this article? He was born just a few miles from where I sit writing this piece and he currently sits at #5 in strikeouts (33) so far this season in the Southern League. Sure his ERA and WHIP are career worst right now, but the encouraging sign is the 4.71 K/BB ratio despite only one quality outing.

Matt Cooper

Matt leads the team in Ks so far this year with 35 and has proven to be a decent starting pitcher at every level he’s pitched. So far in 2017 he supports a 3.33 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in five starts. Where I took notice was his 35:6 K to BB ratio which is excellent as his four pitch mix has kept hitters off-balance despite no plus pitches. His best pitch is an above average curveball, but his best trait is his command with all his pitches that he can throw for a strike in any count. He could be a back of the rotation guy in the future, but the White Sox are loaded in the upper minors with top pitching prospects. I can’t see either Cooper or Guerrero getting much of a shot in the Majors.

Spencer Adams

DATE OPP W L ERA G CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO NP-S AVG WHIP
APR 07 @JXN 0 1 3.86 1 0 0 4.2 4 3 2 1 1 4 75-53 .211 1.07
APR 13 MTG 0 1 3.86 1 0 0 7.0 8 3 3 0 0 4 84-62 .255 1.11
APR 19 @TNS 0 1 3.86 1 0 0 7.0 8 3 3 0 0 2 89-61 .274 1.13
APR 24 JAX 0 1 3.65 1 0 0 6.0 6 3 2 0 2 10 102-61 .268 1.18
APR 29 @MTG 1 0 2.93 1 0 0 6.0 8 1 0 0 1 4 95-65 .276 1.24

At least we get to a prospect that you might have heard of. Adams is a control specialist. He has three MLB serviceable pitches (fastball, slider, changeup) but his plus control is what makes him special. The 21-year-old has a career 1.4 BB/9 as he enteres his 4th season of pro ball. Although he doesn’t strikeout a ton of hitters, when you only walk four in 30.2 innings, you get K:BB ratios of 6.0. The name is not as sexy as Giolito, Fullmer or Lopez, but this ChiSox prospect has a legit chance of making an impact at the Major League level. His ceiling isn’t nearly as high as those guys, but his floor could be. Keep an eye on Adams to debut in 2018 and perhaps snag a back of the rotation gig going forward.

Michael Kopech

DATE OPP W L ERA G CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO NP-S AVG WHIP
APR 08 @JXN 0 0 4.15 1 0 0 4.1 3 2 2 1 2 10 77-45 .200 1.15
APR 14 MTG 0 0 3.38 1 0 0 3.2 1 1 1 0 5 5 75-41 .154 1.38
APR 20 @TNS 0 1 3.75 1 0 0 4.0 4 4 2 0 3 5 79-46 .182 1.50
APR 25 JAX 1 0 2.50 1 0 0 6.0 1 0 0 0 4 8 95-65 .145 1.28

 

Kopech is the name that everyone knows. Perhaps the key to the Sale trade (though Moncada is no slouch). He has a great start to the season, but still struggles with command as has been the bane of his existence. When your fastball grades at an 80, you hit the high 90s regularly and you can hit triple digits in game situations…you are bound to struggle with command. What makes him special is he already has a plus slider to pair with that fastball. He needs to develop a 3rd pitch and limit the off field distractions to truly live up to this potential. He has a history of being injury prone, PED suspension, clubhouse altercation and reality-tv girlfriend potentially holding him back. He’s pretty much untouchable in dynasty leagues, but he is a worthy stash in keeper leagues. I don’t see him getting the call this season, but next season is very possible if he keeps everything together. Kopech is arguably the most feared pitcher at the AA level and could be the future Ace of the White Sox staff.

 


Bryan Luhrs

Major League Fantasy Sports
Writer & Contributor
Real Deal Dynasty Sports
Owner, League Developer & Executive Commissioner

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Major League Fantasy Football 2017 League Openings

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Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join guest host Andrea Lamont, and Kyle Amore live on Sunday April 30th, 2017 from 7-9pm EST for episode #85 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. We will be previewing the coming week’s key matchups and discussing key fantasy information.

Our guest this week is Joe Iannone. Joe is a writer with majorleaguefantasysports.com, a 5 year veteran in MLFB leagues, and a really handsome guy. His articles publish every Sunday. He helps “Pick Your Spots” for the coming week.

You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”

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Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore live on Sunday May 7th, 2017 from 7-9pm EST for episode #86 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. We will be previewing the coming week’s key matchups and discussing key fantasy information.

Our guest this week is Bryan Luhrs. Bryan is a writer with majorleaguefantasysports.com, and the owner of Real Deal Dynasty Sports.

You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”

Faith, Family and Fantasy Sports.These are the three words that best describe me. I am a faithful husband and father of 6 amazing children. I work to earn a living, but I live for every precious moment I can spend with my family and a passion for sports.

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