Scouting The Stat Line: 2015 First Rounders

It seems the people want breakout prospect speculation. Well, ask and ye shall receive. How about some words about players with barely more than 100 professional plate appearances and little to go on other than amateur scouting reports? That’s about as speculative as it gets.

You’ve probably heard of most or all of these guys since they were just taken in the first round but this will be the first in a series where I take a quick look at how some 2015 draftees are performing in rookie and short-season leagues. I hope it goes without saying that any recent draftee’s stat line should be taken with a mountain of salt. I’ll do my best to incorporate some scouting information but seeing as how most pro scouts are still getting their first looks at these players, public information is still a little sparse. The most prudent thing to do, of course, is to wait until the offseason when the sample sizes are somewhat bigger and more robust scouting reports are available, but time seems to be of the essence for some.

So here you are. I’ll follow this post with some less familiar names next week.

Cornelius Randolph, OF, Philadelphia Phillies (1st round, 10th overall)

The Phillies took some flack for this pick but it’s important to remember that much of the criticism was because of the way his real-life profile adds up. Randolph played shortstop in high school but scouts unanimously believed he’d have to move out of the six hole and, indeed, the Phillies immediately started him in left field when they assigned him to the Gulf Coast League. The shift to the outfield field puts pressure on his bat to carry him but the stick grades highly enough to deliver. In his first 34 professional games, Randolph is showing off the approach and plate coverage he was praised for prior to the draft, walking 21 times while only striking out 24 and making plenty of hard contact. Like almost any prep player, you’ll have to wait to see the power in games but most think Randolph has the bat speed to get there and his 10 doubles to date indicate he possesses present gap pop. The early reports on Randolph are very positive and you should discount most of the immediate post-draft criticism of one of the draft’s youngest and best hitters. We’d always rather have a shortstop in our game but Randolph’s bat will play just fine in the outfield.

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Trader’s Corner: Do You Have the Guts to Win?

Many fantasy leagues share a July 31st trade deadline with MLB. Most of those leagues saw a flurry of trades in those last few days. I prefer leagues with later trade deadlines or no deadline at all. Trading is a big part of the fun of fantasy baseball so I think we should let it ride as long as possible.

This week we are seeing a lot of elite prospects change hands. Some teams are even letting go of Kris Bryant and Xander Bogaerts. Presumably those are teams with a strong chance to win their league this year who feel like they need to sell the future to bolster their chances for glory this year. If you play in a tough, strong league you need to capitalize on your chances to win a championship while you can. It doesn’t happen every year. Who knows how injuries will affect you in the future? Who knows how good your roster will be in two, three or five years from now? You don’t want to look back three years from now when your team is not winning even though you kept Kris Bryant and kick yourself for not grabbing that championship in 2015 when you had the chance but chickened out.

The veteran players you can obtain for prospects can be traded next year too. So if you have to trade elite prospect Corey Seager for old man Nelson Cruz Continue reading

Digging for Diamonds: Finding Value In Last Year’s Draft Class, Part One

Now that the short-season leagues are in full swing, we are able to get a much better look at the 2014 draft class as a whole. This time of the year is a great time to try and find some undervalued players who might not be owned even in 16 or 20 team leagues that roster over 150-200 minor leaguers. Some players that are currently unowned might even be able to sneak their way onto the back-end of various top-100 prospect lists by the end of the season, establishing value that requires very little investment.

There are basically two types of prospects that fit this profile, high school draftees exceeding expectations in short-season action and players with college experience who are mashing their way through the lower minors in their first taste of full-season action:

Let’s take a look at three prospects from the 2014 draft class that have had their value rise this year and might not be owned in your league:

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Prospects Poppin’: Who Is Victor Robles?

Trust and value your sources. Doing so is obviously of great importance when delving into the world of prospects, particularly since it’s impossible to keep track of the roughly 9,712 different minor league players currently getting a paycheck to play baseball. Whether it’s John Sickels of Minor League Ball, Keith Law of ESPN Insider, Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs, Ben Badler or JJ Cooper or any other the other fine folks at Baseball America, the great prospect team over at Baseball Prospectus — you get the idea — when a voice you trust tells you to pay attention to prospect you’ve never heard of, you’re best served as a dynasty league owner to take notice. Hopefully we have a few folks here at The Dynasty Guru whose opinions that you trust and value, and one person whose opinion I value greatly is Jeff Moore of Baseball Prospectus. When Jeff left this little nugget in his Spring Training notebook on March 26th, my ears perked up and I filed it away for later:

“Robles has yet to appear stateside in regular season action, so excitement should be quelled for the moment, but keep it in the queue. This is a name you’re going to hear a lot about soon.”
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Should You Pick Up These Struggling Star Hitters?: Werth, LaRoche, Napoli, Rollins and Castellanos

Let’s take a look at some hitters who were owned in every league at the beginning of the season but have since been dropped in many leagues. There have been a surprising number of batters who have been big producers in the past and were expected to be good again this year but simply fell flat on their faces. Some of them got hurt and were dropped by impatient owners. Others were just simply playing like crap and deserved to be dropped.

Sometimes fantasy owners get aggravated and drop a player they should have kept. Sometimes owners were forced to drop a player because they needed the roster spot for another player. That means there are some big names on the waiver wire in a lot of leagues right now. Some of them can help your team win this year, others can help you in the future.

Jayson Werth, Nationals — finished 2014 ranked #49 overall, currently ranked #1252 in 5×5 leagues.

Werth has been both bad and hurt. He was awful in April and May, hitting to a woeful .208/.294/.287 slash line in 119 plate appearances. Then to make matters worse Continue reading

Trader’s Corner: TDGX Expert League Edition

This edition of Trader’s Corner will feature several trades from The Dynasty Guru Experts’ League (#TDGX), which is an industry league with fantasy baseball writers from all over the Internet, including several from this website, Baseball Prospectus, FanGraphs, Rotoworld, Rotowire, Razzball and all the other baseball sites you have ever heard of . It will be neat to vote on some trades made by industry experts. I have a team in that league but I have not made any trades lately.

After the TDGX trades we will have plenty of reader-submitted trades to ponder as well.

By the way, use the form just above the comments section at the bottom of the page to submit your trades for us to vote on next week. Send in any interesting trades from your leagues so we can judge them! Now it is time to put some real fantasy trades to the test to find out if the trades were good or bad.

Time to Vote: (As always, vote for the players you would rather have…)

The league structure for TDGX is a 20 team 5×5 roto league with 30-man major league rosters and 10-man minor league rosters. We keep 35 players each year with no salaries or contracts.

The first trade was between Luke Chatelain of The Dynasty Guru (TDG), who is in 2nd place, and Wilson Karaman of Baseball Prospectus, who is in 7th place: Continue reading

2015’s Most Improved Prospect: Nick Williams

A month or so ago on one of my Baseball Professor Daily Profcasts, fellow TDG writer George Bissell and I had Wilson Karaman of Baseball Prospectus on as our guest for our Friday on the Farm show.  Wilson gets a chance to spend ample time covering the Cal League and with that he sees many top prospects come through.  One thing that he stressed to us in the conversation was just how important it is to see prospects recognize their shortcomings and take steps to correct them.  Here in 2015, no single player in the minor leagues has done this with more vigor than the Frisco RoughRiders Nick Williams.

Williams was drafted by the Texas Rangers with the 93rd overall pick straight out of high school.  At 6’3”, 195 lbs., his athleticism jumped off the page along with his incredible bat speed from the left side.  There is no doubt that even as an 18-year-old Williams felt that he was the best player at the level and as he progressed he continued to feel that way.  It wasn’t until the end of his third year as a professional, in 2014, when he reached AA for the first time that he finally looked overmatched.

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