WATCHLIST: Prospects with promise this spring

The WatchList offers a weekly quick-hit look at position players and pitchers with potential to impact fantasy rosters throughout the 2019 regular season, whether that be due to injury on the big-league roster or outstanding performance. The WatchList aims to illuminate prospects who are not regularly featured in "top prospect" columns, but rather those prospects either on the fringe of the HQ100 or lower. Callups are often difficult to predict, but these are players to keep in mind if your league rules allow minor-league pickups.

*All stats current through April 22, 2019

Hitters

Will Craig (1B/3B, PIT)
MLBA19 Prospect Grade: 6C
5x5 Impact Category: HR

Pittsburgh's first-round pick from 2016, Craig entered pro ball with a track record for power, contact, and a keen eye at the plate against tough ACC competition, as his senior season at Wake Forest produced a none-too-shabby .379/.520/.731 line with 16 HR and 19% walk rate in 55 games. The narrative remained mostly static for Craig in the lower minors, but his first season above High-A featured a spike in whiffs and an on-base rate around only league average (.321). What hasn't changed is the power—and Craig brings a lot of it. At 6'3", 212 pounds, Craig possesses plus raw power, especially to his pull side, via a strong lower half and a muscular torso. His swing is simple and employs a slight uppercut that produced one of the highest fly-ball rates (53.7%) of any hitter at the Double-A level last season. Craig's bat speed is viewed as average and he is not a particularly nimble athlete, which makes him susceptible to quality breaking balls down and away, so the BA burden here could be substantial, potentially hovering around .200-.220 at the next level. However, given a track record in the past of quality OBP and solid raw power, this could be a name worth watching in 15-team or NL-only formats with 1B/3B eligibility.


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Jorge Mateo (2B/SS, OAK)
MLBA19 Prospect Grade: 8E
5x5 Impact Category: SB

Previously viewed as one of the most dynamic prospects at any level of the minors—he stole 82 bases in 117 games back in 2015—Mateo's stock has withstood a major hit over the last two years, as the now 24-year-old posted a .230/.280/.353 line with 25 SB in 131 games last season in the hitter-friendly PCL. There's no question Mateo still has the raw speed to make significant SB impact this season with Oakland; it's just a matter if, like so many others before him (Billy Hamilton, Dee Gordon, etc.), he'll get on base enough to put it to use. While it's still quite early, Mateo's 2019 campaign has given reason to believe he will be promoted in the near future, slashing .386/.414/.566 with a 58% x/h% through his first 17 games with Las Vegas. A lot of that has to do with a very high 44.9% h% that likely won't stand for long, but it should be noted that his swinging strike percentage stands at only 12.9% thus far in 2019, down from 24.7% last year (PCL average over the last two years is roughly 16.5%). If the jump in contact is here to stay, Mateo has the speed to make dynamic SB impact if he gets his shot at a regular role. He will also likely have positional eligibility at 2B and SS, which helps his rosterability in deeper formats.

Nicky Lopez (2B/SS, KC)
MLBA19 Prospect Grade: 8B
5x5 Impact Category: AVG

While the bulk of the fixation on the Royals' system this spring has revolved around Bubba Starling, Lopez has quietly put together one of the best all-around starts of any prospect in the PCL. Through 15 games, Lopez is slashing .306/.368/.484 with a 33% x/h%, 3 SB and an admirable 5/2 BB:K ratio. All of that is really just more of the same from the 24-year-old, who hit .308 with 9 HR and 15 SB in the upper minors last season. Lopez arguably might have the best combination of BA skills of any prospect not included in this year's HQ100. From the left side, he employs a level bat path and quick wrists through the zone that are conducive to low line-drive contact, and he utilizes the entire field on a consistent basis. He possesses an exceptional feel for and knowledge of the strike zone, and has posted a 152/136 BB:K ratio as a pro, and combines that with plus bat-to-ball skills that manifested in a 86% contact rate last season in Triple-A (93% thus far in 2019). He even mustered almost identical splits against lefties in 2018 (.796 OPS) as he did against right-handed pitching (.800). This isn't a bat that will provide a lot of "thump" for your roster (21% x/h% as a pro), but if you're looking for AVG/SB/OBP ability, you've come to the right place.

Pitchers

Enyel De Los Santos (RHP, PHI)
MLBA19 Prospect Grade: 7B
2019 aPQS Score (3GS): 2.67

Philadelphia's starting rotation looked quite solid at the beginning of the season, but with the recent demotion of Nick Pivetta to the minors and staff ace Aaron Nola sporting a 6.84 ERA through his first five starts, things now look a bit shakier than they once did. Enter De Los Santos [Ed.—Who actually got the callup between the deadline and publish date for this piece]. The 23-year-old sports a 2.81 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and 13.5 Dom through his first three starts in Triple-A this spring after a tepid cup of coffee with the big league staff last September (4.71 ERA, 15 K, 8 BB across 19 IP mostly in relief). De Los Santos has a strong, durable build and a track record for raking up innings as a pro, eclipsing 120+ IP in three consecutive seasons, with a plus fastball that will sit around 92-96 mph (it maxed-out at 98.6 mph in 2018 according to Brooks Baseball). He's still more control than command at this point, and he struggles with locating his slider consistently, but he possesses a solid-average change-up that induces weak contact regularly at its best and gives him a second out-pitch with which to work. This isn't the highest-ceiling arm you'll find, but he has a high floor and doesn't come with a glaring weakness and should provide average Dom and rack up innings.

Mike Shawaryn (RHP, BOS)
MLBA19 Prospect Grade: 7C
2019 aPQS Score (4 GS): 3.50

A fifth-round pick back in 2016, Shawaryn (pictured above) climbed the minor-league ladder relatively quickly and reached Triple-A before the end of last season, a level at which he went 3-2, posted a 3.93 ERA, and notched a complete game shutout to cap off 2019. The University of Maryland product has done so on the back of a healthy ability to miss bats (9.7 Dom across 322 IP) while also filling the strike zone at an efficient rate (2.8 Ctl). Shawaryn's ceiling isn't sky-high, but he projects to have a good chance to be an average back-end starter with his repertoire. Working from a low 3/4 slot, the 24-year-old righty sits 89-92 mph with his fastball, reaching 94 mph on occasion, upon which he manipulates the action quite often. His mid-80s slider will flash plus late action and he shows quality feel for it against left-handed batters. His mid-80s change-up can feature hard fading action at times, which helps him further limit opposite-handed batters (.617 OPSa vL in 2018). Shawaryn has posted SwK% marks slightly above league-average in the IL, so expect him to miss bats at a near league-average mark once he's recalled, but temper your expectations, as he has been an extreme fly-ball pitcher and that could bring some risk with the profile playing half his games in Boston.

Beau Burrows (RHP, DET)
MLBA19 Prospect Grade: 8C
2019 aPQS Score (4 GS): 2.50

The Tigers have been a pleasant surprise to this juncture, going 12-10 through April 23 with the assistance of their starting rotation, which owns a 3.13 ERA (second-lowest among AL teams). There's a likely chance that level of production will slip considering the personnel of the rotation, and when it does, the team will need to utilize its minor league depth for innings. Enter Burrows. The 22-year-old righty has started 2019 with 20 strikeouts in his first 19.1 innings across four starts, pitching to a 2.84 ERA at the same time. He's always had a natural ability to miss bats, but the upper minors have given him some fits and that has resulted in walk rates around 11% in Double-A (league average is roughly 8.7%). So far this season, though, he's chipped away at the walks (9.0% bb%) while maintaining a similar rate of whiffs. His arsenal is headlined by a plus fastball that he will run up to 97 mph and sit 92-95 with on a consistent basis. His curveball is his best secondary pitch and will flash above average depth, but will more of an average offering at the next level. Burrows' change-up has had moments of brilliance, but overall, still requires more consistency for success at the next level. Add up everything, and Burrows has the chance to be a solid-average mid-to-back-end starter with average Dom ability.


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.