Fantasy Baseball Prospects Report: Brooks Lee replaces an injured Royce Lewis; trade makes way for Shane Baz



My top prospect to stash for the better part of May of June, James Wood, has finally reached the majors, and another fixture in my Five on the Verge, Christian Scott, is back up as well.

To which most of you are probably responding, “great, so who’s next?”

Turns out we don’t have to wait to find out given the significant developments for Shane Baz and Brooks Lee Wednesday.

FIVE ON THE VERGE

(Here are the prospects most worth stashing in redraft leagues.)

Career majors: 4.02 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 40 1/3 IP, 12 BB, 48 K
2024 minors: 4.12 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, 39 1/3 IP, 23 BB, 44 K

Baz was scratched from his start at Triple-A Durham Tuesday night, which generally signifies one of two things: either he’s hurt or he’s on his way. Many feared the worst given that he’s only in the minors because he’s working his way back from Tommy John surgery, but it turns out a call-up is closer to the actual reason. What do I mean by “closer?” Well …

So he’d be a spot-starter in the event of a doubleheader. OK. Maybe it’ll happen. Maybe it won’t. Even if it does, it’s likely a one-and-done. But it’s notable in so much as it’s an acknowledgment by the Rays that Baz is ready to pitch in a major-league game again. His last five starts for Durham have been much stronger than the first five — amounting to a 1.57 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 13.7 K/9 — but as I mentioned a week ago, his pitch selection suggested that his curveball wasn’t up to speed yet. Well, he threw it 18 percent of the time in his latest start, so maybe that’s good enough.

I’ll remind you that going into 2022, Baz was considered the second-best pitching prospect, behind only Grayson Rodriguez, and that through his first eight career starts, he had a 2.61 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and 10.9 K/9. His ninth start was a disaster, but that’s also the one that necessitated his Tommy John surgery.

Update: The Rays have traded Aaron Civale to Brewers, adding fire to this smoke. Looks like it won’t be a one-and-done for Baz after all.

2023 minors: .275 BA (501 AB), 16 HR, 39 2B, .808 OPS, 56 BB, 91 K
2024 minors: .350 BA (123 AB), 7 HR, 8 2B, .997 OPS, 13 BB, 18 K

Turns out Lee is on his way to the majors just like Shane Baz. Royce Lewis, the Twins’ off-injured third baseman, left Tuesday’s game with groin tightness and wound up going on the IL Wednesday, just as he predicted.

“This is out of my control,” Lewis said. “I have no idea. But probably not very optimistic, to be honest with you. I’m praying, but it’s usually always horrible news. So we’ll see.”

It may not be a long-term injury, but it gave the Twins a ready-made excuse to bring up Lee, who’s in the lineup for Wednesday’s game against the Tigers. The eighth overall pick in the 2022 draft arrives on an absolute heater, having homered seven times in his last 20 games at Triple-A. Here was the latest one Tuesday:

It looked about like they all do — i.e., a screaming liner to his pull side. Clearly, Lee knows how to turn on an inside pitch, which is critical because the actual exit velocity readings aren’t much to look at. As I wrote last week, his 85.7 mph average and 104.9 mph max would put him closer to the bottom of all major-leaguers, comparable to a Jeff McNeil. But of course, that’s more a reflection of raw power than actualized power. With the optimal spray angle, home runs are still possible. Regardless, Lee’s hit tool should carry him given his low strikeout rate and penchant for line drives.

He isn’t a must-add across the board with this call-up news, but in formats that go deeper into the middle infield pool, such as standard Rotisserie, the upside is enticing enough to move in on him. I’d prefer to roster Baz, all needs being equal, if only because the difficulty curve is much lower for fledgling pitchers than hitters right now, but Lee has a chance to matter.

Coby Mayo, 3B, Orioles

2023 minors: .290 BA (504 AB), 29 HR, 45 2B, .973 OPS, 93 BB, 148 K
2024 minors: .321 BA (234 AB), 21 HR, 17 2B, 1.077 OPS, 27 BB, 65 K

Mayo’s dismantling of Triple-A continued Tuesday with him going 3 for 5 with a home run, his fifth in 13 games since recovering from a fractured rib. During that stretch, he’s batting .380 (19 for 50) with more walks (eight) than strikeouts (seven) — a notable ratio given that strikeouts were all too frequent for Mayo earlier in the year. He mashed in spite of them, his exit velocities at Triple-A being on the level of a Marcell Ozuna or Elly De La Cruz in the majors, but the strikeouts gave the Orioles an excuse to keep Mayo down. They’re running out of excuses now.

“He’s at the level of talent and experience where you start figuring out ways to work him in,” GM Mike Elias recently said on a radio broadcast for Triple-A Norfolk, “because I do think he’s ready, very close to ready, for a major-league challenge.”

It’s not a question of fit given that the Orioles are still running one of Jorge Mateo or Ramon Urias out there every day. Jackson Holliday failed to secure their infield opening, leaving Mayo an opportunity to do so instead (albeit at third base instead of second, with Jordan Westburg shifting to accommodate). They’ll take a hit defensively, but it sounds like they’re warming up to the idea.

2024 minors: 5.36 ERA, 1.53 WHIP, 43 2/3 IP, 20 BB, 52 K
2024 majors: 2.12 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 17 IP, 3 BB, 14 K

Four-fifths of the Marlins rotation is currently occupied by no-names like Kyle Tyler, Roddery Munoz, Yonny Chirinos, and Valente Bellozo, so if they care at all about competitiveness, even if just for appearances’ sake, now would be a great time to bring back Max Meyer. And it turns out they might care if only a little. I haven’t seen any reports suggesting so, but I did see signs in Meyer’s latest start Tuesday.

For one thing, it was his longest and most dominant start since returning to Triple-A in late April. For another, he got back to throwing his slider 48 percent of the time, which was how often he used it during his impressive three-start stint in the majors. It seemed to me like a deliberate transition from development mode, where he’s tasked with working in other pitches, to competitive mode, where he’s tasked with recording outs. Seeing as the Marlins promised on the day he was sent down that he’d be back later this year, it’s not crazy to think that later is near, particularly given their pitching needs. Maybe it won’t be the next time through the rotation, but right after the All-Star break? I could see it.

2023 minors: .333 BA (99 AB), 1 HR, 11 2B, .866 OPS, 6 BB, 11 K
2024 minors: .464 BA (153 AB), 5 HR, 22 2B, 1.206 OPS, 10 BB, 13 K

The numbers you see for Wilson above are no typo. He really is batting nearly 100 points higher than any minor-leaguer outside of Rookie ball. It’s in fewer games than some players because of the month he missed with knee tendinitis, but he’s picked up right where he left off, batting .537 (22 for 41) with two homers, seven doubles, and just one strikeout in 11 games back from the injury. Granted, some of those games were in the Arizona Complex League — i.e., Rookie ball –which served as a rehab assignment of sorts before his return to Triple-A, but frankly, it hasn’t mattered where he’s played this year. He’s hit well over .400 at all three stops.

The basic mathematics of baseball say he can’t sustain it, but he’s made his point. Wilson, who was drafted sixth overall last year, has a freakish hit tool. The power may be better than expected, too, judging from his .242 ISO, but I suspect it’ll manifest more as doubles than homers. He’s sort of like Brooks Lee in that his exit velocity readings leave much to be desired, but if you’re going to make a Luis Arraez comp for any prospect, this is the one (and frankly, it might be selling Wilson short).

FIVE ON THE PERIPHERY

(Here are some other prospects doing something of note.)

2024 minors: .298 BA (188 AB), 9 HR, .891 OPS, 15 BB, 34 K
2024 majors: .218 BA (87 AB), 1 HR, .545 OPS, 4 BB, 23 K

Mead always earned such high marks for his bat, projecting as a fixture in the Rays lineup even if they never found a true defensive home for him, but his chances in the majors so far have offered little reason for optimism. He’s hit the ball often enough, hard enough, and at the proper angles, but it just hasn’t translated to production. The same was true for his first couple months back at Triple-A Durham, but since June 8, he’s gotten back on track, batting .344 (31 for 90) with five homers and an OPS around 1.000 in 22 games. His swing is looking healthy enough for another big-league trial, though it’ll come with little fanfare and the usual fits and starts.

2023 minors: .357 BA (157 AB), 8 HR, 15 SB, 1.018 OPS, 9 BB, 25 K
2024 minors: .251 BA (243 AB), 10 HR, 19 SB, .789 OPS, 40 BB, 59 K

Though he was the 13th pick in last year’s draft, Shaw came into this season with nearly as much hype as the top five, having made a strong first impression by climbing all the way to Double-A in his debut season. But his return to that level hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows, with his batting sitting at .221 as recently as June 11. Since then, he’s hit .375 (18 for 48) with four homers and four steals in 13 games, bringing his numbers back to a respectable level, and the scouting reports have remained optimistic throughout. He’s maintained a decent strikeout rate and good opposite-field tendencies but may not have been squaring up the ball well given his elevated ground-ball and infield-fly-ball rates. We’ll see where this latest surge takes him.

2023 minors: 4.54 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 111 IP, 51 BB, 128 K
2024 minors: 4.17 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 54 IP, 22 BB, 68 K

The former two-way player has been quite the project for the Pirates. He seemed to settle in last year with a 1.66 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, and 9.4 K/9 in his final nine starts, mainly at High-A, but then stumbled out of the gate in his first extended look at Double-A this year, most notably struggling to throw strikes. Once again, though, Chandler appears to have righted himself, issuing a combined three walks over his past five appearances for a 2.49 ERA, 0.87 WHIP and 12.4 K/9.

Two turns ago, he had his first-ever double-digit strikeout game. Last time out, he had his second. Between Paul Skenes and Jared Jones, the Pirates have already laid the foundation for a juggernaut rotation, and Chandler’s stuff puts him in a similar category, his fastball, slider, and changeup all rating as plus pitches.

2023 minors: .242 BA (289 AB), 5 HR, 8 SB, .678 OPS, 19 BB, 89 K
2024 minors: .294 BA (221 AB), 15 HR, 14 SB, .992 OPS, 27 BB, 59 K

A couple weeks ago, when I wrote about the 12 hitting prospects who’ve improved their stock the most, Matthew Lugo was the final cut. I wouldn’t say that I regret it now that he’s advanced to Triple-A and encountered some difficulties (the low zone-contact rate in particular stands out), but the production is still worth commenting on. And besides, the sample at Triple-A is still rather small (20 games total). An adjustment was to be expected, and he’s showing signs of finding his footing with a .393 (11 for 28) batting average, two home runs, and one stolen base in his past seven games. For however unappealing that zone-contact rate may be, it’s an improvement from last year, as are all the plate discipline and exit velocity readings. Lugo remains a low-probability prospect, but anyone producing these numbers this far up the ladder has a chance.

2023 minors: 4.52 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 61 2/3 IP, 33 BB, 84 K
2024 minors: 1.87 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 62 2/3 IP, 32 BB, 82 K

Now in his fifth year in the Rangers organization, Teodo always earned high marks for stuff, but he’s taken a big step forward this year with the help of a two-seamer that presents a better movement profile than his four-seamer. He regularly pushes 100 mph, but as you can see the whiffs largely come from his nasty curveball:

Control remains an issue, but a 1.87 ERA and 11.8 K/9 at Double-A are nothing to sneeze out. Count the 23-year-old among your biggest pitching prospect risers this year.





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