Shuffling the Deck: Post-Prospects in the AL East
Over the next few months, both here and on various other Internet Web Sites around the Internet, you’re going to read a lot about prospects.
Prospects are sexy. It’s easy to gloss over their flaws, because those flaws are just projections. Sure, Bubba Starling might strike out 30% of the time, but he could go for 30/30. Yes, Carlos Martinez is short, but what if he can stay on the mound. It’s the “can” that we fall in l0ve with, and that’s perhaps especially true when evaluating prospects for fantasy purposes.
What tends to get lost in all of the annual prospect hype is the “post-prospects” who’ve lost that shiny rookie eligibility but can still help or hurt your team. No one wants to talk about these players anymore because our preconceived notions of what they could be are already tarnished or affirmed.
That gives fantasy owners plenty of possibilities. You can often buy low on post-prospects who struggled in year one, sell high on those who overachieved and find many a diamond in the rough late in drafts.
With that in mind, noted pie enthusiast Creg Goldstein and I will be tackling one post-prospect per team over the next few weeks, telling you who to avoid and who to target once your 2014 drafts begin. Ideally, these players will have lost rookie eligibility last season, but we’re occasionally going to need to make an exception if there’s really no one compelling to write about.
With that in mind, I predictably lead things off with the AL East.
Baltimore Orioles: Kevin Gausman, SP
Gausman threw just 47.2 innings in the majors last season, leading many to believe that he’s rookie eligible in 2014, but that’s not the case thanks to his service time. So while Gausman is still a prospect for all intents and purposes, he technically fits the criteria for this column, which is a good thing when you see the other options on Baltimore’s roster.
Odds are you’re pretty familiar with what Gausman did in 2013. He was lit up in a few of his starts at the MLB level but was better as a reliever, striking out over a batter per inning and ultimately ending up with a 3.99 FIP. Of course Gausman won’t be in the bullpen long-term, and if he doesn’t manage to win a rotation spot out of Spring Training, I’d expect him to only spend another few months in Triple-A until he proves himself worthy.
Nothing has changed with Gausman in terms of his No. 2 starter ceiling. The elevated HR rate would make me sit Gausman in some unfavorable matchups next season, but eventually this will be a player you start all the time, no matter what. Let’s hope we see some glimpses of that dream in 2014.
One more to remember: N/A. Seriously
Boston Red Sox: Brandon Workman, P
Matt Barnes. Henry Owens. Allen Webster. Rubby de la Rosa. Anthony Ranaudo.
Workman has been overshadowed by a plethora of solid pitching prospects in the Red Sox organization over the past few seasons. Boston’s second round pick in the 2010 draft, Workman was consistently above average at just about every stop in the minors, putting up lastnamelike performances with decent strikeout rates, low walk rates and FIP marks generally right around 3.00.
Once he was summoned to Boston late in the season, Workman was used as a swingman, making three starts and 17 relief appearances and racking up 41.2 innings in the process. His 4.97 ERA left plenty to be desired, but the FIP was over a run-and-a-half lower, and his xFIP sits at 3.18.
Workman is likely to start the year in Boston’s bullpen, and while he won’t be their primary setup option it’s not difficult to see him nabbing 10-15 holds over the course of a season. He could grab 8-12 starts as well, and would be worthy of using in favorable matchups in very deep or AL-only leagues. It’s not a sexy profile, but it’s useful.
One more to remember: Rubby de la Rosa, P (yes, this is cheating)
New York Yankees: Austin Romine, C
Once billed as the Yankees’ backstop of the future, Romine has seen his stock decline steadily over the past several seasons. With Gary Sanchez behind him and Russell Martin ahead of him, things looked pretty bleak before for Romine in 2012.
Yet after Martin surprised many by leaving New York for Pittsburgh, Romine was suddenly left with one more chance at becoming a meaningful piece on a Yankees team. Only Chris Stewart and Francisco Cervelli sat before him, which is about the softest competition one could possibly hope for.
Martin responded by hitting just .207/.255/.296 in 148 PA, suffering through yet another injury plagued and ineffective campaign. With New York’s signing of Brian McCann and the ascension of J.R. Murphy, there’s no reason to think Romine will see much playing time down the line. Add him to the pile of catching prospects who’ve haunted many a fantasy player’s dreams.
One more to remember: Adam Warren, RP
Tampa Bay Rays: Wil Myers, OF
Sometimes collective baseball wisdom fails and preseason award predictions look silly. Other times, players like Myers make us all look smart. Many picked Myers as their preseason AL Roy, and he hit .293/.354/.478 line with 13 homers and 5 steals in 373 PA en-route to fulfilling our prophecies.
Myers .362 BABIP may give you reason to pause, but his above average LD% demonstrates that he’s a good hitter, as do his high MiLB BABIP marks. Myers is going to strike out a lot, but this is still a player who can hit north of .270, and the 25-homer and 10-steal potential is real.
Myers finished as the 62nd-best fantasy outfielder in 2013 despite playing just two-thirds of the season. I think he’s a shoe-in as a Top 35 outfielder in 2014, and that may be a touch conservative.
And not only do I love Myers as a fantasy player moving forward, I love him for his playoff assistance in Boston!
One more to remember: Chris Archer, SP
Toronto Blue Jays: Anthony Gose, OF
Ok, so I’m cheating a bit again here. Gose lost his rookie eligibility after a disappointing 2012 campaign in which he recorded 189 PA. Thanks in part to his futility, the Jays went out and signed Melky Cabrera prior to the 2013 season, effectively ending any chance Gose had at regular playing time.
Gose needed to rebound significantly last season in order to feature prominently in Toronto’s 2014 plans. But unfortunately for Jays fans and fantasy players alike, Gose regressed further in 2013, posting a wRC+ of 85 in 443 Triple-A PA and an identical mark in 153 PA at the MLB level.
Gose is still fast and an excellent defender, so odds are he’ll stick around the Jays roster for parts of next season. But with a regressing approach, fading power and poor stolen base rate, there’s not a ton to get excited about. Maybe Gose can post something similar to Jarrod Dyson’s 2013 campaign, but that’s a far cry from what fantasy owners could once dream upon.
One more to remember: Drew Hutchison, SP (more cheating but I don’t want to mention Ryan Goins)