Four Prospects I’d Like to See Traded at the Deadline

“Who are some prospects we might see traded for Giancarlo Stanton?”

“What do you think it would take to land David Price?”

“Can you believe what Kevin Towers did?”

Such are the questions we’re most accustomed to seeing when it comes to trade deadline analysis. Engaging in hypothetical trade discussions is fun, allows for midseason rosterbation and also gives us plenty of Twitter fodder. I don’t want these questions to go away.

That being said, they’re not entirely useful from a fantasy POV. Speculating on players who could change teams before they in fact change teams is a fool’s errand, and, unless you’re playing in AL- or NL-only leagues, is unnecessary to boot. When it comes to MLB trades, it’s better to read and react than try to predict.

What’s perhaps more useful than trying to ping down who might be dealt at the deadline is who we’d like to see dealt, from a fantasy POV. And while MLB players may come to mind more readily, it’s a useful exercise for prospects, too.

With this timely notion in mind, here are four prospects I’d like to see moved at the deadline thanks to contextual factors, organizational depth and what we know about each team’s player development. Continue reading

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Breakout Prospects: Berrios, Nimmo, Williams and Renfroe

Time for another look at some fresh names that are thriving in the minor leagues. This week we will examine several players who made it onto the Midseason Top 50 lists published by Baseball Prospectus and/or Baseball America this week despite not being considered consensus Top 100 prospects prior to the season. There were several other players who met the same criteria but I have already written about them in prior columns (links below).

Jose Berrios — Starting Pitcher, Minnesota Twins

The 2012 1st round pick from Puerto Rico put up a solid season in Low A ball last year with a 3.99 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 103 innings along with 40 walks, although in the second half he lost a lot of steam that degraded his stuff and depressed his overall season stats compared to his stellar first half rates. But it was good enough to get him ranked this Spring at #75 on the Baseball Prospectus Top 101 Prospects, #93 by FanGraphs, #90 by MLB.com and #102 by The Dynasty Guru, but he wasn’t ranked by Baseball America or ESPN. He kicked his game up a notch here this year in the High A Florida State League where he put up a 1.96 ERA with a fantastic 109:23 K:BB ratio in 96 innings. He was promoted to Double A last week and managed to give up 5 runs in 5 innings in his first start, although he only gave up 3 hits. That bump from High A to AA is considered the biggest jump in baseball, so we could find out really quickly just how good the 22 year old Berrios really is. He gets a lot of velocity from his smallish frame. His fastball averages about 94 mph. He also sports a plus slider, a good curveball and a solid changeup.  About a month ago I traded Berrios to ESPN’s Chris Crawford for Michael Lorenzen in the #TDGX experts’ league, so of course Berrios has been on an epic hot streak ever since. Yikes. My trade doesn’t look quite as good as it did at the time, although Lorenzen also made the BP top 50 list just a few slots behind Berrios so I am still happy with the deal. Verdict: Top 40 Prospect. Potential #3 starter. Continue reading

Breakout Prospects: Binford, Thompson, Ramsey, Taylor, Severino and Vargas

Identifying breakout prospects early is an absolutely vital key to success in dynasty leagues. The best way to build up an elite minor league roster is to acquire the best prospects cheaply before any of your leaguemates realize the youngsters are future stars. You can’t wait for the famous Top 100 Prospects lists to be published in the Spring. Don’t wait until your next draft to grab these players. You need to snare these guys before someone else picks them up from the free agent pool. Today we will take a look at a group of unheralded minor leaguers who are still available in many leagues.

I have written a couple of columns about breakout prospects this season twice previously (Here and Here). Today’s edition will feature players who will be participating in the 2014 Futures Game. Many of the players in that game are bigtime prospects and are already taken in your league, but some of them are guys who were not really on the prospect radar prior to this season and are likely still available in your league. I will focus here on some players who have exploded onto the scene recently. Their exposure in the upcoming Futures Game will give their fantasy trade value a big boost, so get them now before the game is played… Continue reading

Prospect Watch: Deep Diving

Last year I introduced the Deep Diving series to highlight some names that were a bit below the surface when it came to prospects. These weren’t necessarily guys you’d want to run out and grab, so much as they were players to keep tabs on, so you would know what they’re about when other people are still learning how to say their names. In that very first installment, I wrote about Jesse Hahn — then a High-A starter for the Rays who was starting to put things together. He’s in the majors now and producing quite well, and while that’s not guarantee for anyone else on the list, it was a chance for yours truly to brag.

Chance Sisco – C – Baltimore Orioles

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Breakout Prospects: Winker, Norris, Bell, Hader, Coulter and Lorenzen

Today we will look at some hot prospects who are tearing up the minor leagues. Now that guys like George Springer, Gregory Polanco, Andrew Heaney, Jonathon Singleton, Eddie Butler, Oscar Taveras and other top prospects have been promoted to the majors there are a lot of fantasy teams that have open slots on their minor league rosters. Here are some guys you should consider to fill those spots. These guys were not on many top 100 prospect lists prior to the season, but all of them are shooting up the rankings this Summer. If you are looking to get the jump on your foes in a deep league now would be a great time to snag these breakout youngsters. I imagine all the elite prospects are already taken in most dynasty leagues, so let’s get a head start on the next batch of future stars…

Jesse Winker: Outfielder, Cincinnati Reds

A supplemental 1st round pick in 2012, Winker has failed to get much love from the prospect industry and I think people have missed the boat on him. He gets dinged because of a perceived lack of athleticism that could limit his utility defensively. He may not be a great fielder, but I don’t see a future first baseman. He can play left field at least as well as a lot of major leaguers I have seen in recent years. But I don’t really care about his fielding because this guy can hit baseballs so well that he would be a nice fantasy commodity even if he were limited to playing as a DH. He is not a true power hitter, but he does have more pop than people have given him credit for. He hit 16 home runs last year and already has 13 this year. He is still only 20 years old, so even more power development is highly likely. He is an OBP machine and draws almost as many walks as strikeouts every year. He does one thing very well: barrel up the baseball with hard contact. The hitter-friendly Cal League has certainly helped boost his stellar 1.006 OPS this year, but he has hit at every level and there is no reason whatsoever to think that Winker is just a Cal League mirage. Winker just got promoted to AA Pensacola and is on track to make his major league debut next year. He is likely to be an above average contributor in all the fantasy baseball statistical categories, even stealing some bases. He will be one of those guys that doesn’t blow you away in any category but somehow ends up ranked in the top 50 hitters in your league every year. He is an easy top 40 fantasy prospect already and could go much higher. Continue reading

Breakout Prospects: Betts, Gallo, Harvey, Lively, McMahon and More

Today we will look at some hot prospects who are tearing up the minor leagues. None of these guys were in the top 50 of any of the preseason rankings lists, and only some of them were even in the top 100. But all of them are shooting up the rankings this Spring. You should try to acquire these players ASAP before your leaguemates catch on. I didn’t include prospects like Gregory Polanco and Lucas Giolito even though they are playing phenomenally because they were already considered elite prospects before the season started and presumably were already taken in any dynasty or keeper leagues. Continue reading

The Prospector’s Nightmare: The Jesus Montero Story

It was Friday the 13th every day for Jesus Montero in 2013:

Has an elite young player ever had a season as awful as Jesus Montero did in 2013? Is it even possible for it to be worse? He was terrible at the plate, he was terrible behind the plate, he got demoted to the minor leagues, the Mariners moved him from the top to the bottom of the defensive spectrum (catcher to 1st base), he then played poorly in the minors, he tore the meniscus in his knee, then he got suspended for performance-enhancing drug usage, then he suffered a hand injury while playing winter ball. Good grief! Montero’s season was an absolute soul-crushing nightmare of epic proportions.

Should we write him off as a total bust? Should we expect him to bounce back and become a useful fantasy baseball player again? Perhaps even a star?

Let’s take a look at his history. What made everyone believe he was a star in the making? Then we can discuss the reasons that he might never be good, then dig up some reasons that may lead us to believe that 2013 was merely a (major) bump on his road to future stardom.

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How to Value MiLB Players in Dynasty Leagues

This article is intended to be a very ‘back of the envelope’ way to calculate values for MiLB players and should be used as a framework  toward better understanding what prospects are worth in dynasty leagues. 

Owning MiLB players in a Dynasty League team can be one of the most rewarding as well as frustrating components of a deep league. These players have the ability to pay off extremely handsomely, i.e. Mike Trout, but more often than not they usually land somewhere on the scale of usable player to completely worthless, i.e. Rocco Baldelli/Brandon Wood. And from these varying extreme possibilities lies the difficulty in valuing MiLB players against MLB guys. So to help in valuing these types of players against each other I’ve put together an easy way to approximate MiLB worth no matter what league you play in.

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Prospect Talk: Jeff Ames

It’s not often that a first round pick can be labeled a sleeper, or fail to receive a ton of attention. Even rarer when that prospect has put up good numbers throughout his career. Yet that’s exactly where we stand with Tampa Bay Rays prospect Jeff Ames. Selected with the 42nd overall pick in 2011, Ames was a supplemental first rounder and has been somewhat lost in the slew of early picks Tampa Bay has made in the last few years. Despite striking out over 26% of batters at each of his first two stops, and posting an ERA under 3.00 in his most recent two stops, Ames has flown under the radar.

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Prospect Talk: Deep Diving

I’ve done this Deep Diving column a few times, generally angling to give you a brief look at four or five names that you might not be aware of, to either snap up or at least keep an eye on as they wind their way through the catacombs of the minor leagues. Instead of the multiple names and relatively shallow analysis, I’m going to hark back to my days Fake Teams and do a bit of what I then called a Prospect Preview; trying to give you a full picture of a prospect that had yet to make a big name for himself. Today’s subject: Christian Binford.

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