Panning For Gold: Austin Riley Has No Time For Cold Water

Is the next big potential prospect call up the Braves’ Austin Riley? Since he first made waves as a young prep slugger out the draft, I’ve followed Riley’s career through the ups and downs, the struggles, the injuries, as well the adjustments, improvements, and developments. Unfortunately, I have not seen Riley as of yet; he was injured last year when Gwinnett came to town. Barring any promotions over the next five days, I’ll get my first taste of Riley next weekend. Not a bad time to catch the third baseman either as over his last sixteen games Riley is slashing .426/.507/1.115, with 12 home runs, 20 RBI, and 11 strikeouts to 10 walks. He went 1-for-3, with a homer, and a pair of walks in last night’s contest against Pawtucket. No one is hotter right now than Austin Riley.

Now for the question on the minds of any readers with even a semblance of appreciation for the art of buildup... When is he coming up?!? Likely not that soon, barring injury. Despite hitting the cover off the newly juiced Triple-A glow biscuits, there’s really no place for him to step in and play. They’ve recently give him some run in left field, but a pair of games in the outfield is hardly enough to have competence in the position. The Braves have a solid core of players in their everyday lineup, and Johan Carmargo is one of the better reserves in baseball. At this point in time, outside of their horror show of a bullpen, the biggest areas of need would be upgrading bench bats like Charlie Cluberson or Matt Joyce. Enter Austin Riley, right? Well, not so fast. Riley is not on the 40 man, and they might be able to do that with a player already on like Adam Duvall.

So let’s recap: Riley is hitting the ball like a swole head Barry Bonds. Check. But he’s not on the 40 man, they have a natural outfielder with big league experience who is, and to top it all off he’s only played two games in the outfield in his career. So in conclusion while I’d love to be dropping some TGFBI FAAB on Riley this week, it looks like someone is going to have to break in order for that to become a reality. 

I see you Austin Riley owner, put away your Josh Donaldson voodoo doll, I own that guy in Tout! Sorry for the cold water.

Bobby Bradley, 1B Indians - Before there was Will Benson, there was Bobby Bradley. An early round prep pick with a three true outcome profile. While Benson has not set the lower minors ablaze, Bradley did. Hitting 113 homers dating back to 2015, leading severals leagues in home runs. The strikeouts have always been an issue and this for the most part has deterred owners from jumping in with both feet. So far in 2019 Bradley is enjoying life with the juiced balls, hitting .313/.373/.600 with seven home runs.
Cold water: He’s striking out over 30 percent of the time, he’s walking about seven percent, and his numbers are fueled by a recent hot streak and a .433 BABIP. Here’s another huge red flag. Bradley is a lefty power bat with reverse splits this season. It’s a small sample, and it may actually mean he’s figuring out left handed pitching. It’s been at the expense of his performance against righties, historically a strength. Love the power, hate the strikeouts with a lack of walks.

Luis Urias, 2B/SS - The power was on display again last night as Urias went 3-for-4 with a pair of homers, and a double. That’s three homers in the past two contests and ten in total over 20 Triple-A games. Forget the small sample with Urias, looks like the leg kick he added a year ago plus is finally coming together.
Cold Water: I’m not going to take too much away from such a small sample, but he’s struggled during his time in the bigs. Truthfully, I’m digging a little here. Urias should be up and able to contribute immediately.

Brendan Rodgers, SS Rockies - Welp, so much for that potential Brendan Rodgers call up many were clamoring for this week. Rodgers took a ball off his noggin. Not sure of the extent but my guess is he’ll be out a few days. Too bad, because Rodgers seems to have made some very real adjustments at the plate that have allowed him to unlock the 60 hit tool/60 power profile that’s always lurked beneath. He’s walking a little more, striking out less, and showing his best power production since his days in Lancaster’s Hanger. If he’s healthy he’s a very good stash in redraft leagues.
Cold Water: He’s hitting the ball on the ground a lot for starters, 46% with a sub-30% flyball rate. Which isn’t great if you’re really looking to take full advantage of those juicy balls (phrasing). The other issue I have is the lasting image of Rodgers struggles in Hartford. At times he’d abandon his approach and get long with his swing chasing off the plate. I’d like to think this is an older, wiser Brendan Rodgers, and very likely it is.

Patrick Murphy, RHP Blue Jays - I caught Murphy on the opening night of the season at a chilly Delta Dental Park. He sat 93-95 that night with an above-average curveball, and feel for a change. Murphy has overcome a variety of speed bumps since being selected in the third round of the 2013 draft. It’s been a long road for the right-hander, but the potential for a major league debut before season’s end is a real possibility.
Cold Water: Likely a backend starter, so there’s limited upside, but by the same token he’s free in dynasty leagues.

Nate Pearson, RHP Blue Jays - Looking like I might get my first look at Nate Pearson Monday night. If it’s anything like his Double-A debut on Tuesday night I’m in for a treat. Pearson went five scoreless allowing only two hits while striking out eight. Mixing a double plus fastball, a plus slider, and two additional secondaries, Pearson gets the most out of his 6’6 frame, defining the power pitcher profile.
Cold Water: I don’t want to think about anything negative right now. Happy thoughts. If I were to pick nits I guess it would be health, but Pearson’s injury in 2018 was a freak incident.

Hunter Harvey, RHP Orioles - Let this be a reminder to you that pitching prospects, even the really special ones, can see their future disappear with one pitch. After another horrendous start to the season, Harvey tossed his best outing in a few years last week, going six scoreless innings allowing two hits and a walk, striking out five in the process.
Cold Water: It almost feels unfair to toss any chill at Harvey, but prior to Monday he was allowing home runs at an astronomical rate. The former first rounder allowed three in his start on May 1 and is rocking a walk-rate-like 2.39 HR/9.

Brendan McKay, LHP/1B Rays - The Rays two-way savant is marching his way to Tampa start by start in 2019. He’s made six starts for Double-A Montgomery and it’s reasonable to argue he’s been the top performing pitcher in the minors thus far. He really hasn’t hit much at the current level, and I’m starting to wonder if it’s becoming more novelty than anything else. There’s a reason the Rays moved McKay out of the field permanently. They’re not dumb, they know McKay’s greatest value is as a starter. Through six starts McKay sits at 2-0, with a 1.82 ERA, 1.80 FIP, 41.6 K%, 7.1 BB%, and leads the Southern League with an 18 SwStr% mark.
Cold Water: He’s never gone more than six innings in any one start, and he’s only done that in 4-of-29 starts dating back to July of 2017. Obviously his path has been unusual and that’s one of the reasons behind the prudent approach to his innings.

Brusdar Graterol, RHP Twins - In January 2018, Eddy introduced the world to Graterol, and the burly righty repaid him by taking off. In 2019, Graterol has been particularly lucky, riding a .213 BABIP, and an 86 LOB% to a 1.91 ERA. The peripherals put him more in line with a mid-3s mark based on performance. He is still doing two things that make him an attractive fantasy asset; missing bats and driving lots of worm killers. At the moment Graterol’s SwStr% sits at 13.3% with a groundball rate north of 50 percent. Not many starters at any level can pair those two skills so nicely.
Cold Water: Despite the swinging strikes he’s only producing a pedestrian strikeout rate of 24 percent. The control has backed up too, leading to a few more walks, and to top it all off, Graterol was pulled from his last start for “precautionary reasons”. A player with a violent delivery and a long track record of injuries, health will remain a concern going forward.

Alex Kirilloff, 1B Twins - The Twins prodigious bat returned to the lineup a little under two weeks ago and made his Double-A debut for Pensacola. No real fireworks of yet, but he’s split time between first base and right field. 
Cold Water: Too early, not throwing any cold water on my boy.

Gavin Lux, SS Dodgers - The progress Lux made entering the 2018 season has only continued to tick up in 2019. On the young season Lux stands at .283/.349/.549 with eight home runs through 28 games. A swing change prior to last season has led to a change in profile and future outcome. Lux shows the ability to pair patience, power, and good intangibles.
Cold Water: Not much to take issue with in regards to the bat, but the strikeouts have risen a little of late, and his once glove-first profile has almost completely flipped, with many under the belief he eventually slides to second base.

MacKenzie Gore, LHP Padres - Through seven starts Gore has been absolutely tremendous. Yesterday the Padres top prospect tossed 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball, striking out seven in the process. Through 37 innings with Lake Elsinore Gore has punched out 52 batters to just 11 walks, while a 1.22 ERA is supported by a 1.90 FIP.
Cold Water: He’s a pitching prospect in A ball?!? At this point I got nuthin’ else.

Nick Madrigal, SS White Sox - No homers yet this season, or in his career, but Madrigal is putting the ball in the air more this season by a significant amount, while still nearly never striking out. With his slash-line looking pretty meh, it might be a decent time to buy in on Madrigal at a discount. If he can unlock even 12-homer power there’s a chance he can be a sum of his parts fantasy asset. 
Cold Water: No homers, just under 300 plate appearances.

Lazaro Armenteros, OF Athletics - Lazarito remains a divisive prospect, striking out over 40 percent of the time while hitting for power and walking at a 16 percent clip. Good to see the power and approach but that strikeout rate is …Woof!
Cold Water: He’s as three true outcomes as you can get. There’s serious contact issues, simple to pick up for even the most novice eye, but his raw potential to be a OPS monster will keep the fire burning deep in the hearts of believers. I mean, it’s a 40 percent strikeout rate.

Jazz Chisholm, SS Diamondbacks - I suppose this is the three true outcome section of this post. Much like Lazarito, Jazz is hitting for power, getting on base at a high clip, and swinging and missing even more. His sub-Mendoza line batting average certainly is a concern but despite that he’s managed an .812 OPS. Jazz is as flashy as his name, when he arrives he’s be one of the more exciting players, and one that will set off all the “old white guys” twitter hardos love to scream about.
Cold Water: Jazz is inconsistent, sometimes you get The Birth Of Cool, other times you get avant-garde noise.

Cristian Pache, OF Braves - This is sure to generate some comment from Eddy, but Pache is certainly taking a step forward with power. His combination of tools has long made scouts and couch scouts drool for a longtime. Now it seems the breakout is finally taking shape. That’s not to say last season’s steps forward weren’t encouraging but we’re seeing an even better version in 2019.
Cold Water: I’d be remiss to ignore the .413 BABIP, and 0.26 BB/K. Not too much to worry me long term, the walks have taken a jump this year, and while a .400+ BABIP is unsustainable, a .330+ mark would be fitting of a player with Pache’s speed and power. 

Drew Waters, OF Braves - Pache’s partner in crime. Neither can legally order a bourbon, but each are setting the South ablaze. The 2017 second rounder is slashing .345/.377/.532 with three homers and four steals. The flyball rate and line drive rate are at or above their highest levels since rookie ball, and there’s reason to believe his power profile is taking a big step forward.
Cold Water: Striking out far too much with a completely unsustainable BABIP. That said, at 20 all season he’s very young for the level, and he’s making real adjustments.

Luis Robert, OF White Sox - Through nine Double-A games Robert isn’t showing much power as of yet, but his plate approach looks excellent. Damn the Southern League has all the exciting names this year. Robert is putting the ball in the air a ton this year and if he can get on another run in Birmingham the way he did in Winston-Salem we might see Robert in the Southside come September. 
Cold Water: Prior to this season the power output in games was non-existent, hopefully it wasn’t just an A-ball mirage. Don’t think it is, but I won’t ignore his history.

Bobby Dalbec, 3B Red Sox - BOBBY D IS EN FUEGO! After a slow start to the season, Dalbec has started one of his trademark hot streaks. Over the last three games Dalbec has connected for four homers including three last night in Trenton. When Bobby gets hot, he’s as dangerous as they come. Unfortunately he’s a player with flaws.
Cold Water: Tons of walks, tons of power, and lots of strikeouts. Dalbec is another three true outcome magnate, walking an absurd 17 percent this season, while striking out around 25 percent. The strikeouts are very reasonable, but he’s still prone to missing on balls in the zone and that will be a problem. The rest of his profile projects nicely at the MLB level, and a future as the everyday third baseman in Boston is a real possibility.

Adam Hall, SS Orioles - One of the more intriguing storylines on the player development side this season is the Orioles improvements under the new administration. Hall has been a noisemaker early, starting the season off with a .302/.393/.405 with a pair of home runs, and 11 steals on 14 attempts.
Cold Water: To get a better understanding of Hall, I reached out to my go-to for all Orioles related topics Luke Siler from Orioles Hangout. Here’s what Luke has to say:

“Adam Hall is just a guy with above-average bat speed and a compact swing who lashes GB/LDs to all fields. He did it last year too. He is a 6+ runner and has decent raw power, but he doesn’t lift the ball at all yet and is such a late count hitter that he strikes out too much for a low game power type. He’s a prospect but until he puts the ball in the air more he won’t profile as a regular.”

Follow Luke on Twitter @The_Luke_Siler and read his work on