In the near future there will be many prospect list updates. At that time you can expect your league-mates to quickly add players with helium. The players discussed below range from must owns in deep leagues to prospects that could be considered for top-100 lists in the near future.
Of the five players listed here, Ronald Acuna is the only one to appear on a John Sickels’ top-20 organization preseason prospect ranking, coming in at 16th for the Braves. He’s a player that on his own could be a very productive player, but in specialized leagues, he could be a true standout. He’s reached full-season A ball at the tender age of 18, an age where most future major leaguers are attending high school parties or refining their skills in a rookie league and in two years he has a slash line of .280/.383/.421. Most impressively, despite his aggressive placement, Acuna is striking out only 15 percent of the time while walking nearly as often. Scouting reports are largely very complimentary, praising his well rounded skill set, with speed a noted asset. It’s not likely that he’s on a lot of people’s radar at the moment, partly due to the lack of attention from prospect rankers, and partly due to the absence of any single loud tool, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him crack top-100 lists in the near future. If your league rosters more than 100 prospects, I’d consider him a must own.
Dermis Garcia, signed to a massive 3.2 million dollar bonus in 2014 as a 16-year old out of Venezuela, single handedly provided heat relief in the form of a stiff breeze to all of the Gulf Coast League thanks to a ridiculous 32 percent whiff rate. Not only that but he only slugged a putrid .188. His season was basically the story of my college 2AM RBI baseball efforts after a night of adult beverages. However, his 2016 has been more reminiscent of my Madden games against my 5-year old cousin. He has dominated the league, albeit with way too many strikeouts, to the tune of .220/.336/.542. Considering the low batting average the other two ratios are quite impressive thanks to his willingness to take a walk and his immense power. He wasn’t ranked on Sickels’ preseason top-20 for the Yankees and he’s not on MLB’s midseason top-30 either. OK, so he can’t keep striking out nearly 40 percent of the time and he needs to actually learn how to field his position, but the power is legitimate. The former concern can hurt his fantasy value but the latter isn’t really important, assuming he can play somewhere. He’s still only 18 and if you can spare the spot on your minor league roster the payoff could be incredible.
Ronald Guzman debuted in the Arizona Rookie league for the Rangers in 2012 at age 17. He’s steadily progressed up the organizational ladder all while being nearly three years younger than league average. At all levels he’s put up decent if not spectacular numbers, until now. This year he’s slashing .288/.348/.477 and has shown a slight spike in power, he one fantasy relevant above average tool. With the recent trades of the last two years, the apparent logjam in the Texas outfield is a lot less foreboding. If Guzman continues to improve at the Triple-A level, he will be given a chance to produce as soon as next year. He offers the promise of above average power and his relatively low strikeout rate of 21 percent gives hope that he will be able to hold his own with the bat.
Adrian Rondon has followed a similar pathway as Dermis Garcia. His 2015 season was nearly as bad as he slashed .166/.256/.234, striking out around 35 percent of the time without showing any of the advertized power. Just like Garcia, Rondon has broken out with some serious power, slashing .295/.336/.540 while striking out in a more respectable 24 percent of his plate appearances. He didn’t manage to crack either Sickels’ or MLB’s top-20 or top-30 prospect lists but rest assured that will change in the near future. He has the talent to be one of the best prospects in baseball and appears to be tapping into that potential. In fact, I just stopped writing to check my dynasty league’s available player list – he is available, at least for a few more hours – which didn’t surprise me as my league is a bit more reactionary than aggressive in searching for prospects. In case you’re wondering, and I recognize that you’re probably not, I dropped Brandon McCarthy and promoted Andrew Benintendi to make room. Invest now, thank yourself later.
Ramon Laureano was another unheralded prospect coming into the season. He was drafted by the Astros in the 14th round so there is some but not a ton of pedigree. Despite attending college, Laureano is still young for his current level – High-A then Double-A – and he’s experiencing a breakout season. His respective slash lines at the two levels are .317/.426/.519 and .306/.432/.583. Lancaster, his High-A assignment is known to be hitter-friendly, so the move to Double-A will give insight regarding his true development. So far he’s off to an excellent start. He’s not a must own in leagues that only roster top-100 type players but in deeper dynasty leagues he’s a nice speculative play. I’m currently bidding on him in a deep auction league that rosters up to 1000 minor leaguers and I’m willing to go all-in on him.