Welcome to Fantasy Baseball Prospect Watch! This weekly feature will list and give updates on the best minor-league prospects that are trending up, with a chance to make an impact in the MLB – and for your fantasy baseball teams – sooner rather than later.
Fantasy Baseball Prospect Watch Week 14
2B/SS Ryan Bliss Arizona Diamondbacks
Jordan Lawlar is the future everyday shortstop for the Diamondbacks, and that leaves prospect Ryan Bliss as the future everyday second baseman or super utility player. Fantasy owners should not shy away from the term utility player as recent years have seen the likes of Marwin Gonzalez, Brandan Donovan, and Ben Zobrist post fantastic production for fantasy teams. Arizona used their 2021 2nd round pick to select Bliss out of Auburn University, and the 5’6” 165lb middle infielder is putting together a solid 2023 season at AA Amarillo. After finishing last season slashing .214/.298/.343 with 10 home runs, 37 RBI, and 31 stolen bases at A+ Hillsboro, Bliss is slashing .349/.400/.586 with 12 home runs, 45 RBI, and 26 stolen bases in 278 at-bats. A bright spot has been Bliss’ power, and even if the power does not translate to the MLB level, his above average speed carries great upside. Bliss has seen his K% drop from 27% (2022) to 18% (2023), and this adjustment will only aid in his movement to AAA. Again, Bliss is only ranked 29th in Arizona’s prospect rankings, but there is a lot to like given his speed and surprising power especially if he will be playing his home games in Arizona.
OF Everson Pereira, New York Yankees
Pereira has seen his stock skyrocket up the Yankees prospect rankings, and currently sits fourth after Jasson Dominguez, Austin Wells, and Spencer Jones. The former 2017 international signing is in his fifth minor league season and is putting together his best season yet at AA Somerset. After setting a career-best 20 home run mark in 2021, Pereira finished 2022 slashing .277/.350/.469 with 14 home runs, 56 RBI, and 21 RBI between A+ and AA. Coming off a stellar 2022 season, Pereira has not skipped a beat in 2023 slashing .291/.362/.546 with 10 home runs, 31 RBI, and seven stolen bases in 165 at-bats. When Pereira signed as a 17-year-old he was graded to have more hit than power, but after adding muscle to his frame he has shown an uptick in power. He has decent speed but has seen his stolen base numbers decline in past seasons and this can be correlated to adding mass to his frame. His strong arm and great defense should play a strong role in a corner outfield spot for the Yankees. The Yankees outfield has a bright future with the likes of Dominguez, Jones, and Pereira.
RHP Wikelman Gonzalez, Boston Red Sox
The former 2018 international signing is quickly making a name for himself and should continue seeing his name rise on Boston’s prospect rankings. Gonzalez has yet to pitch above A ball, but he has feasted on batters this season racking up 97 strikeouts in 58 innings. At 21, his fastball reaches the high-90s while sitting in the mid-90s. His fastball, along with his curve and change, are already deemed plus pitches, and he can throw all three in any given count. One knock on Gonzalez is whether he will be a starting pitcher at the Major League level. He does not have a big frame and has issues repeating his delivery at times, but the Red Sox will give him every chance to stick as a starting pitcher. At the very least, he possesses the talent to become a high-leverage late innings relief pitcher.
RHP Orion Kerkering, Philadelphia Phillies
Kerkering is the future closer for the Philadelphia Phillies and should move quickly after being selected in the 5th round of last year’s draft. After being used as a reliever during his first two seasons at South Florida, Kerkering saw himself in the rotation during his final season of collegiate baseball. The Phillies liked what they saw and ultimately drafted him to be a relief pitcher in professional baseball. 2023 is his first full season in the minors and he has pitched extremely well registering a 1.21 ERA, 0.70 WHIP, and 45 strikeouts in 29.2 innings. He has only featured in A ball, but there is no question he will find himself in AA by season’s end. His fastball consistently sits in the mid-90s, and his slider has been graded as one of the best in the minor leagues given it carries great spin. He has an above average changeup, but does not go to it often, but should he learn how to make this an out pitch against lefties he has the chance to be one of the better closers soon.