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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Dynasty Dynamics: Austin Hedges And Francisco Lindor

As more and more outlets publish regular and fantasy prospect rankings, the timeline for said rankings keeps getting pushed up. Used to be, a feller couldn’t get a Top 100 list until the new calendar year. Used to be you’d have to get by on Baseball America’s Top 10 lists until Keith Law or Kevin Goldstein finally reveled their master lists in January or February.

My, how times have changed.

You can bet that as soon as the World Series is over, you’ll start seeing Top Prospect rankings from all the usual sources. That’s going to provide savvy dynasty league owners to take advantage of post-ranking prospect hype, especially when it comes to players with more MLB value than potential fantasy worth.

With that in mind, let’s review how you should handle two good prospects who are about to see their stocks inflated by rankings.

Austin Hedges, C, San Diego Padres

Hedges is the best defensive catching prospect in baseball. Depending on who you ask or which reports you read, he’s the best defensive backstop in the minors we’ve seen over the past several years. That defense, coupled with what may project to be average offensive production from a catcher, could make Hedges a cornerstone player for the Padres. His upside is reflected in standard prospect rankings, where Hedges has been on the rise all season and where I expect him to crack the Top 50 on several mainstream rankings. Continue reading

Forgotten/Undervalued MiLB Players

In every league, no matter the size, some players just fall by the wayside. Sometimes these are post-hype sleepers, although nowadays it seems even the main stream fantasy writers are talking about those players, other times we forget about bounce back candidates who may be coming off an unlucky or unproductive year and lastly is always a group of players who missed a considerable amount of time do to injury.

Today I want to talk about some of the MiLB prospects who’ve seen their star fade because of injuries and may be forgotten or undervalued in your league.

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Prospect Talk: Eddie Rosario and Delino DeShields, Jr.

Let’s start by saying this is going to be less about the statistics that either of the titular players offer, and more about the concept of them as prospects, and how we perceive them. While statistics are necessary in most cases, I wanted to talk about the value of these players as it pertains to their positions, and the risk involved in investing in them. Both players ranked in the top 300 on the July update of the top 500, but then again both were playing second base at the time.

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Legends of the Arizona Fall League: Salt River

Continuing the Arizona Fall League series at TDG, today I look at the Salt River Rafters, my personal favorite team name of the bunch — it just rolls off the tongue. The Rafters are made up of players from the minor league affiliates of the Blue Jays, Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Rays and Rockies, so we almost have the entire continental United States covered, as well as our friends to the north.

There are no Cubs on this team, as I just told you, so I don’t have a clever intro. And I’m still eating sour grapes over Joe Girardi, so let’s get to the players already.

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Ben’s 11 Bold Predictions: Blind Squirrel Gets Nut Edition

Let’s skip the formalities/well constructed introductions.

In my last post, I covered four of my preseason predictions that stunk. In this post, I will cover the other seven that didn’t stink. In this way, I’m able to abide by two Internet Baseball Writing rules at once: I’ve revisited a preseason column, and I get to stretch this into a two-part series.

And to sweeten the deal, while I won’t copy renowned colleague Craig Goldstein’s ploy and bring you GIFs, I will bring you each prediction headlined as though Scott Miller or someone of that ilk touched on the subject. Enjoy!

You can catch my original 11 Bold Predictions piece from March here.

Prediction No. 1: It’s Miller Time In Busch Stadium

What I wrote then:  Shelby Miller will win 15 games for the Cardinals this season, to go along with an ERA in the mid-3.00s and 190 strikeouts in 180 innings … He’s really good, even if he’s overshadowed by the likes of Oscar Taveras. In related news, I have Miller in all but one of my redraft leagues this season. Happyface.

What happened: 15 wins, an ERA of 3.06 and 169 strikeouts in 173.1 innings. Let’s call a spade a spade, folks. I nailed this one. Continue reading

Digging for Diamonds: Low Minors First Base Ballers

One of the more important positions to fill in your fantasy lineup is, of course, first base. We all know this. It’s an offense-first (and specifically a power-first) position, with 7 of the top 25 hitters in 2013 per ESPN’s player rater holding eligibility. In an era of declining offensive production across the board the ability to compete effectively in the power categories makes for that much more of an advantage in just about all leagues, regardless of format. And it is awfully tough to compete without a staple power hitter holding down the first base spot on your roster. In dynasty leagues, scouring the minor leagues for quality first base prospects is not only an opportunity to secure this most valuable of commodities on the cheap, but it’s also an opportunity to do so by exploiting something of a market inefficiency. See, most prospect evaluators care about things like “defensive potential” and “physical tools,” and they go so far as to include these things in their analysis of a player’s projection. This bizarre obsession leads to a situation where perfectly good yet defensively limited, lumberingly untoolsy first base prospects rarely make their way onto the hallowed grounds of annual Top 100 lists. This, in turn, tends to keep bat-only slugging prospects somewhat inherently under the radar when your league’s minor league draft day comes along and your leaguemates begin pouring over said lists.

The wise dynasty leaguer is undeterred by such discrimination against the unathletic, however. Here now are three first base prospects who are still far enough away from the majors that they have virtually no chance at cracking any of the big prospect lists this offseason, and as such provide outstanding “get in on the ground floor” opportunities for dynasty league owners.

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