Stocking Your Scout Team: Outfield

Shortstop might be the most coveted position among prospectors but outfield is a close second, with plenty of youngsters at the lower levels flashing tools that make dynasty leaguers salivate.

I’m up to my neck in drafts and hope you are too, so let’s get right to it. Here are a few young outfielders that I wouldn’t draft outside of very deep leagues but who are worth monitoring early in the season.

Not included are a couple of my favorites, Magneuris Sierra, who JJ Jansons profiled here and Anthony Alford, who I wrote up here. The former is a popular breakout candidate in the scouting community, reportedly garnering some consideration for Baseball America’s top 100 while the latter is miles away but possesses a raw power/speed combination that is unrivaled.

Aristides Aquino, Cincinnati Reds

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2015 NPB Prospect Rankings, Nos. 1-5

Congratulations on surviving another off-season. We’re just over a couple of weeks away from the new season. And better yet, NPB opening day is a mere 5 days away.

Here at TDG, I ranked 30 NPB players to watch for for the coming season. The rankings are based on 1) their potential MLB upsides and age, and 2) how far away from/ how likely to be producing at the MLB level. Generally, NPB pitchers have better shots at being significant contributors than batters. In fact, there have been only 2 Japanese position players with a career bWAR of 10.0 or better, compared to 8 pitches cleared that threshold. Consequently, the list is loaded with pitchers.

Without further ado, I’m kicking off the rankings with five right-handed hurlers.

1) Kenta Maeda, RHP, Hiroshima Carp (Age 26)

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Kyle Schwarber and the Value of Catching Prospects

Much has been made about the fact that Chicago Cubs 2014 first round draft pick Kyle Schwarber might not stick behind the plate and could ultimately be moved to outfield full time. How is this going to affect the slugger’s fantasy value? Should we move him down the rankings if he is not a catcher? Is it better for us as fantasy team owners for Schwarber to remain a catcher or move to the outfield? Let’s keep in mind that there have been a lot of players who were catchers as amateurs who “failed” to remain at catcher through their minor league years. Bryce Harper, Pablo Sandoval, Joey Votto, Dale Murphy, Craig Biggio and many others began their careers as catchers and went on to stardom at other positions. The bottom line is that if a guy can hit it doesn’t matter too much what position he plays. Positional scarcity should not be a major issue when ranking prospects.

We have all heard the case for positional scarcity and how it affects a player’s fantasy value. If you have two players who both have the exact same statistics, the one who plays the rarer position is a lot more valuable. Clearly, catcher is a scarce position and there are only a small handful of legitimate hitters who wear the mask. If you are starting Buster Posey or Jonathan Lucroy at catcher then you will have a large advantage over teams starting Jason Castro or Miguel Montero.

Just How Scarce are They?

That is all true without question, but in terms of fantasy baseball that is often overblown. Continue reading

Digging for Diamonds Profile: Jose De Leon, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers

As we’ve touched on before, an important aspect of maintaining a profitable dynasty league roster is utilizing your last few minor league roster spots on prospects that have a good chance to rise up the various prospect rankings in the near future. Not all prospects should necessarily be viewed as long term pieces when often times they can be picked up inexpensively and then traded to fill a more pressing need on your roster, or serve as the final piece to be added on to close a deal. Most of the time, you have to turn to the lower minors to find such prospects and that’s where we find RHP Jose De Leon of the Los Angeles Dodgers:
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Going Deep: Recap of a 20 Team Dynasty MiLB Draft (Picks 11-20)

Last week, we recapped the debacle that was taking Roberto Baldoquin over such talents as Nomar Mazara and Craig Goldstein’s adopted son, Jake Thompson. This week we will take a look at picks 11-20, also known as the back half of the first round.  Picks 1-10 and a brief rundown of the league rules are here in case you missed last week’s post. An interesting feature of this league’s draft is that MiLBers that have not appeared in a major league game are not able to be added in-season, so that leads to a larger than normal pool of available talent:

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Is Arquimedes Caminero Next?

One of the most fascinating under-the-radar spring training story-lines has been the evolution of Arquimedes Caminero with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Not only does the 27-year-old reliever share a name with the legendary Greek mathematician, but he possesses some of the most electric stuff of any reliever in baseball. The problem, which ultimately led the Miami Marlins to deal the flame-throwing right-hander in early February, after he was designated for assignment, was that he more trouble locating his pitches than a replacement-level stormtrooper.

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Rotational Opportunity: Three Rotations with a High Chance of Turnover

Having a job is half the battle in fantasy.  In the real world a manager ideally gets the opportunity to play the most talented player every day, but a fantasy manager exists only at the whims of the real life manager decisions.  This can make opportunity an opportunity to acquire players who are undervalued on talent who may get a job sooner than their more talented counterparts.  Three major league rotations offer that opportunity both due to their current situations based on injury or depth, or based on what they could do later in the year.

Reds:

This offseason the Reds traded Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon to the Marlins and Tigers respectively.  This leaves their tentative opening day rotation as Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey (who is questionable to start the year healthy), Mike Leake, Anthony DeSclafani, and Rasiel Iglesias all backed up by Paul Maholm, Tony Cingrani, David Holmberg, and Jason Marquis.  First off, if you haven’t already realized that you should own DeSclafani, now is the time to remedy that situation.  Of the remaining rotation members, Leake and Cueto have a non-zero chance of being traded, Cingrani and Iglesias might just be relievers, Maholm, Holmberg, and Marquis are just bad.   Continue reading