Under the Radar Prospect to Target: Matt Olson

Everybody who plays in a dynasty league loves prospects. Even if you didn’t care about minor leaguers before joining a dynasty league you quickly learned how critically important young players are. There is a good chance it opened up your mind to the wonderful world of prospecting. That’s what got me started. We all crave those elite prospects for our minor league rosters, so much so that their trade values soar into the stratosphere. The key to success is to spot those future superstars before your leaguemates do. If you wait for the annual top prospects lists from Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America to be published it will be too late. That might have worked 5 years ago but the volume of prospect information available to fantasy leaguers has exploded. So unless you grab them early you will be scrambling for the next Mike Trout and Matt Harvey at the same time as everyone else in your league. What you really need to do is identify those studs before they hit the big lists that everyone sees. You need to dig early and dig deep so you can snare these guys cheaply before their values skyrocket. That is the Holy Grail of dynasty league dominance. Here at The Dynasty Guru we will keep you up to date on the future stars you need to know about.

Many of the top 10 most elite prospects in baseball spent time in the low minors as relatively unheralded nobodies before shooting to the top of the lists. Many guys who become elite prospects were not 1st round draft picks nor celebrated amateur players. Some of the best players in the major leagues were never considered elite prospects. Guys like Paul Goldschmidt, Michael Brantley, Jose Altuve, Max Scherzer, Corey Kluber, and many more elite fantasy players never made it anywhere near the top of a prospect list. That means we could have obtained those guys for free if we had been smart enough to predict how good they would become. Let’s take a shot at doing that now. Continue reading

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Digging For Diamonds: Hitting Prospects To Target

As dynasty leagues continue to rise in popularity, many leagues are now rostering more and more prospects that fall outside of the standard top 100 rankings from various publications. In deeper leagues, being proactive and finding prospects that will ascend to these rankings in the near future is essential to maintaining a profitable roster from top to bottom on a year to year basis. I use the term profitable, because not all of the prospects that will be discussed should be viewed as long term pieces, but players that can be acquired inexpensively now and see their value increase over the next few seasons. As experienced dynasty league players know, non-elite prospects can make for nice additions to a trade proposal to help close a deal. In deeper leagues this time last year, prospects like Nomar Mazara, Rafael Devers, and Luis Severino were available for a fraction of what they would cost now, and all should comfortably be in everybody’s top 100 lists this offseason.

Let’s take a look at 5 prospects who could see their value rise in the near future:

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Steve Pearce: Fantasy Bargain Bin

In just one week the ALCS runner-up Baltimore Orioles lost baseball’s top HR hitter of 2014 and steady, long-time outfielder Nick Markakis. That’s a considerable amount of outfield production and with no free agent signings yet, it seems as if their replacements will come from within the organization.

As it stands right now, the Orioles’ outfield on opening day will be Alejandro De Aza in LF, Adam Jones in CF, and Steve Pearce in RF.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Steve Pearce will be the Orioles starting RF and if you play in deep enough fantasy leagues this may not come as a shock to you, but those in more standard-sized leagues may be thinking, who is this Pearce guy?

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Believe in Drew Hutchison

When Russell Martin signed a five year, $82 million contract to catch for the Blue Jays, nearly every article reporting the deal referenced Martin’s excellent receiving ability.  Indeed, Martin represents an enormous defensive improvement over Dioner Navarro, the Jays’ 2013 regular.  According to Baseball Prospectus data, Navarro was the third worst pitch framer in the game and cost Toronto nearly 14 runs in 2014.  Meanwhile, Martin saved the Pirates 19 runs.

Gaining 33 runs back would make the Jays roughly league average in runs against.  That’s not bad for a team that played a majority of its games in a positive offensive environment with a starting rotation that was a mix of old vets (Dickey, Buehrle), failed injury comebacks (Morrow, McGowan), J.A. Happ (Happ), and youngsters logging their first significant chunk of MLB innings (Hutchison, Stroman).

Hutchison and Stroman both had impressive 2014 campaigns and are strong dynasty options given their youth and success at the MLB level but I think Hutchison makes an especially good target with the addition of Russell Martin.

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The Most Interesting Man In Fantasy Baseball

He took Corey Kluber deep just because he felt like it one day…He gave Trevor Bauer nightmares after a mammoth moonshot in September…One time he brought a bat to the outfield to shag fly balls during batting practice…His first month exploits caused Twins beat writers to compare his numbers to Joe DiMaggio’s (seriously)…He added an extra “s” to his name because Kenny wasn’t flashy enough on Ron Gardenhire’s lineup card …Kennys Vargas is “The Most Interesting Man in Fantasy Baseball”…

The 24-year old was never considered an impact fantasy prospect prior to last season, but was able to leap straight from Double A, making his Major League debut for the offense starved Minnesota Twins on August 1. His potent bat ended up having a major impact down the stretch for many fantasy owners in deeper formats locked in tight playoff races. The 6-foot-5, 275-pound behemoth generated a rock solid .274/.316/.456 line with nine home runs, 38 RBI and 26 runs scored in just 234 plate appearances over the final two months of the 2014 season.

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Searching For Value with Latin American Pitchers: NL Central

Unlike the NL East where there are many interesting Latin pitching prospects, the NL Central is a little light on pitching (though if Latin hitting is your thing, the Pirates churn out unknown hitting sleepers fairly regularly.  The Cardinals and Cubs have been high on the market of big money Latin pitching, and I would expect to see the fruits of a larger Latin presence begin to show from the Cubs system.  This week I have 4 super deep league sleepers and 1 stud pitcher that you need to make sure you have not underrated.  Next week we will finish up the NL with the NL West.

If You Have Keepers You Should have Him:

Alexander Reyes – RHP – St. Louis Cardinals
2014 Stats: 109.1 IP 3.62 ERA 82 H 61 BB 137 K (MWL)
There is a section of people looking at that walk rate and the distance from the majors who are slowly walking away from Reyes to let everyone else fight over him.  However, Reyes over the second half went 54.1 IP 2.48 ERA 41 H 24 BB 73 K, and was overall just dominating.  It wasn’t just the numbers that jumped forward, the fastball was at plus to plus plus and the curveball started to be a consistently plus pitch.  I am a big believer that once stuff clicks for a pitcher the path to the majors is much shorter, especially if the profile demands a challenge.  Throughout his career every time Carlos Martinez dominated a level the Cardinals promoted him, and given Reyes’ strong second half he may be spring boarding himself for a similar quick jump forward.  His ultimate development depends on the development of his changeup, which he has started to gain better feel of, but it may take to AA or AAA before the fastball and curveball don’t just dominate on their own.  With Reyes at best you have a front end starter, but the likely outcome is that a year from now you have one of the hottest pitching prospects in baseball who is currently in AA.  If Reyes had been an American prospect with a similar risk/reward profile like a Tyler Kolek or Kohl Stewart, we might not be asking all the same questions.  My advice right now is if your league has prospect spots without escalating cost Reyes needs to be owned and if anyone is valuing him outside the top 50 fantasy prospects in a shallower league (in a super deep league his value does drop some due to his risk) now is the time to make your move. Continue reading

Looking for a Cheap Ace Pitcher? Go to Cleveland.

The Cleveland Indians have not been known for producing a lot of good fantasy pitchers down through the years. But things are changing on the shores of Lake Erie. Pitching coach Mickey Callaway has turned things around in amazing fashion since taking over in 2013, culminating with the 2014 Cy Young Award won by 28 year old former nobody Corey Kluber. Obviously it is way too late for you to get a bargain on Kluber, but you can still buy low on several other high-upside starting pitchers on the Indians’ staff. Continue reading