Prospect Smackdown: Yordano Ventura vs. Carlos Martinez

Happy New Year’s Eve, everyone!

In last week’s Prospect Smackdown, we saw Francisco Lindor earn a narrow Christmas victory over Chris Owings in a battle of fantasy shortstop prospects. In our inaugural edition of this series, we saw Billy Hamilton crush Adam Eaton when it comes to 2014 steals.

This week, we’ll send 2013 out on a high note by taking a look at two of the more electric young arms poised to make an impact in 2014. We have fastballs. We have #want. We have filth. We just don’t have size.

But, just like I tell myself every night, that doesn’t always matter.

Prospect Smackdown No. 3 – Who will be more valuable in 2014: Yordano Ventura vs. Carlos Martinez Continue reading

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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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Up the Middle: Loading Up on Shortstops

I recently finished reading Joe Morgan’s autobiography A Life in Baseball. I really enjoyed it as he’s one of my favorite players and the book was written in a very honest, straightforward manner. One of my favorite parts of the book was when he discussed the “diamond within the diamond” and how important good defensive play is to building a winning team, especially at the positions of catcher, middle infield, and centerfield. That book was written two decades ago about a player who played four decades ago, and yet that principle still holds true. No matter how solid prospects start out at the shortstop position, there are many factors along the way, including the defensive ability mentioned above, that can determine whether that player will actually end up at shortstop in the major leagues.

Due to the fact that shortstop is still a very defensive position along with second base, the two positions can supply loads of value if you can find a player who is an offensive stud there as well. It’s one of the reasons I wanted to write about middle infield in the first place. But there is also the catch that the guy who you’ve projected as your dynasty league shortstop of the future ends up as a corner infielder. So what do I do as a dynasty owner? I load up on shortstop prospects and play the numbers game. Continue reading

Prospect Smackdown: Francisco Lindor vs. Chris Owings

In our first installment of the series, I asked whether Billy Hamilton or Adam Eaton would steal more bases at the major league level in 2014. You The People leaned heavily in favor of Hamilton, with 83 percent of you voting for the fastest man in organized baseball, despite the questions surrounding his playing time.

The high vote total and great engagement in the comments were exactly what I was looking for with this series, so it’s with some enthusiasm that I march on with the Prospect Smackdown series.

As I wrote the initial entry, the format is simple. We’ll give you two players (or sets of players), ask you a question about those players, lay out information about those players and then ask you to vote. The goal here is less to convince you of something and more to learn how you judge the players we scout, rank and analyze every day.

Feel free to vote anonymously or to explain who you vote for and why in the comments, and feel free to suggest future smackdowns, too. And before we get started, here’s wishing a Merry Christmas to those who celebrate!

Prospect Smackdown No. 2 – Who is the better fantasy prospect: Francisco Lindor or Chris Owings? Continue reading

The Ups and Downs of Playing Time in the Off-Season

Going with your gut and not seeking or using evidence to support your view is a time honoured tradition in baseball, so I’m just going to go ahead and declare this the busiest off-season of transactions ever. If a player’s fantasy value is some product of talent and opportunity then with every move value is increasing and decreasing as potential playing time changes. Figuring out what off-season moves mean for the playing time of the affected players is one of the best ways to find hidden value, but you have to watch out for fool’s gold.

Let’s take a look at a few players whose 2014 value is changing as a result of moves their teams have made this off-season.

Matt Adams, 1B, St. Louis

I had a great exchange on twitter recently with Craig and Bret about Adams, in which I asked if they would take Patrick Corbin for him in a trade. They had differing views, but both emphasized the same thing – Adams role appears to be changing positively, but it is not locked in. The Cards let Carlos Beltran leave for the Yankees, which will allow them to deploy Allen Craig in RF, opening up first base for Adams. We know about his power, Adams hit 17 homers in 296 at-bats in 2013 and with power is increasingly at a premium people are bound to get excited about how many more he would launch with another couple hundred times at the plate.

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Shuffling the Deck: Post-Prospect Sleepers – NL West

The NL West doesn’t offer a great group of post-prospects to choose from, but with any luck everyone is tired of this idea. Let’s bring up the rear with a total lack of style!

Arizona Diamondbacks: Didi Gregorius – SS

Billed as the next coming of Derek Jeter by Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers, Gregorius had unrealistic expectations placed upon him entering the 2013 season. Known to prospect fans as a glove-first shortstop with a short swing and a chance to be an empty batting average type, Gregorius proved to be mostly that. He’s still very good with the glove, but was significantly less than Towers was hoping for, and likely not even as good as those with more moderate expectations anticipated.

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Shuffling the Deck: Ex-Diamondbacks

After trading away a potential superstar entering his prime last offseason (Justin Upton), Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers released his sequel to Winning the Offseason: The Totally Bonkers’ Way, with a couple of winter trades that make you go, “Hmm.”

And, as a fantasy baseball enthusiast, it’s a pair of moves I can really appreciate.

Towers plays the role of real-life GM like an off-the-cuff fantasy owner, proposing trades and trades and trades and hoping for a bite. It resulted in two more questionable transactions this offseason, the first of which sent Tyler Skaggs to the Angels and Adam Eaton to the White Sox for Mark Trumbo (and prospects). Then he forgot to hit the cancel button and jettisoned prospect Matt Davidson to Chicago for closer Addison Reed.

Kidding aside, Towers is a smarter man than I, and even if the majority disagrees with what he does, we can all agree that it makes for fantastic Twitter banter. This week, I take a look at the dynasty value of three former D-backs:

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Prospect Smackdown: Billy Hamilton vs. Adam Eaton

Welcome to Prospect Smackdown: a new series we’re starting here at TDG designed to both let you compare similar fantasy players and prospects, as well as challenge some conventional wisdom about players heading into 2014.

The format is simple. We’ll give you two players (or sets of players), ask you a question about those players, lay out information about those players and then ask you to vote. The goal here is less to convince you of something and more to learn how you judge the players we scout, rank and analyze every day.

Feel free to vote anonymously or to explain who you vote for and why in the comments, and feel free to suggest future smackdowns, too. I’m going to be spearheading the series at first, but if this is something we determine our readers have a lot of interest in, I’m sure our other writers will jump in!

Prospect Smackdown No.1 – Who will steal more bases in 2014: Billy Hamilton or Adam Eaton?

The case for Hamilton

The case for Hamilton is pretty straightforward: He’s the fastest player in organized baseball, an 80-grade runner who almost needs a “90” in that regard. He stole 165 – not a typo – bases between Rookie ball, A+ and AA in 2012, and followed that up with a paltry 88 steals between Triple-A and the majors last season. Right now, Hamilton is the odds-on favorite to serve as the Reds lead-off hitter, and if he sees 500 PA 80+ steals is not out of the question. For comparison’s sake, Jacoby Ellsbury lead all of baseball with just 52 steals. Continue reading

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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Up the Middle: Eric Young Jr.

I admit I get wrapped up in the winter meetings. Before they even started, a big time second baseman named Robinson Cano was already spoken for. I could talk about the ramifications there, but I think it’s been covered. Instead, I’m going to go out on a sturdy limb based on some of the rumors I’ve heard floating around this week. Apparently the Mets are pushing Daniel Murphy hard in trade talks. If that is indeed the case and a deal gets done, Eric Young Jr. could be your starting second basemen in New York on Opening Day.

EY2 was really productive for the Mets as a sparkplug leadoff hitter after being traded from the Rockies. Consequently, they seem set on finding a way to work him into the everyday lineup. Everyday at bats are really the key here, as the Mets have already signed both Chris Young and Curtis Granderson in the outfield. I’ve seen two projections already for EY2, and one has him playing a full season while the other has him starting a modest 44 games. There are also rumors that Murphy could get moved to first base with an Ike Davis trade, which opens second base for Young. UPDATE: Davis has been all over the Mets rumors the past day or so. Either way, if EY2 can indeed get a playing time boost through Murphy moving off of the position, there are two main reasons why I absolutely love him for fantasy: Continue reading