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.
With a .252/.332/.373 slash line, Gregorius is going to have to do his best to defend his starting spot from prospect Chris Owings, who is coming on strong. His advantage continues to be with his glove, and given the bat first acquisitions that Towers has made this season, it seems that a strong glove up the middle might be preferable, which is good news for Gregorius. Either way, he’s a limited fantasy option; offering mediocre average, mediocre on-base, poor slugging and no speed (zero steals in 357 at-bats last season).
One more to remember: AJ Pollock, CF
Colorado Rockies: Nolan Arenado – 3B
An obvious choice perhaps, Arenado planted his flag in the public consciousness way back in 2010 when he hit .308/.338/.520 at Low-A Asheville, and then exploded onto the scene in 2011 by backing up his breakout season with a .298/.349/.487 slash line at High-A Modesto. Doubters still remained – not regarding his pure hitting ability – but there were questions on his ability to hit for power, despite the 20 home runs he launched in 2011; this because he did so in the funhouse mirror offensive environs of the California League. In addition to his bat, the reports on his glove were that the hands were fine but the lower half was questionable and the footwork needed improvement. The upside? He was a hard worker.
After a “down” 2012 (the stats weren’t so bad, but the reports weren’t so good), Arenado arrived in the majors showing off a plus glove (he (deservedly) won the gold glove) but disappointing with the stick. His .267/.301/.405 slash line might not appear awful but it went for a brutal 82 OPS+. He should be a bit better down the line when it comes to average, and he’ll have Coors field helping him for power. That said he’s a free swinger who won’t draw a lot of walks and won’t be on-base if he isn’t producing a solid average. He does have excellent contact rates, so if he does produce a good batting average, it will go a long way due to the sheer number of hits he’ll total.
One more to remember: Corey Dickerson, OF
Los Angeles Dodgers: Hyun-Jin Ryu – SP
I’ve written about Ryu a few times, most notably advising you to trade him before the trade deadline last season. I’ve also admitted to being wrong on that stance, as Ryu turned in a strong second half despite showing signs that he could be vulnerable a second time through the league.
There’s still a large part of me that believes regression is coming for Ryu. As a Dodgers fan I hope that’s not the case, but it wouldn’t surprise me if last season was his best. That doesn’t mean he won’t hold value, it just means I think people will adjust to his changeup-reliant ways. He should still accrue plenty of wins thanks to a dynamic Dodgers offense, though with defensive stalwart Mark Ellis gone, the defense behind him could be sketchy.
There’s no wrong answer when it comes to Ryu, but I always prefer to trade pitching at its zenith as I find it is easier to replace a pitcher of Ryu’s ilk than it is a position player of the same caliber.
One more to remember: Yasiel Puig, RF
San Diego Padres: Jedd Gyorko – 2B
Gyorko is both the best and only post-prospect on the Padres (not that this is about choosing the best one: see choice above). Always seen as more of a steady option than anything flashy – more high five than six as a player – Gyorko turned in a debut that proved prognosticators right. His .249 batting average won’t have owners banging on your door to trade for him, but his 23 home runs (and .444 slugging) while playing half his games in PETCO should more than delight current fantasy owners.
Power is getting harder and harder come by in fantasy leagues and to find a middle infield player who can produce that type of home run production should not be overlooked. Gyorko’s swing isn’t overly long, and there’s room for him to improve his batting average which would add another dimension to his game. That dimension might be needed since he’s not offering you anything in the speed department.
Gyorko isn’t anything to go crazy over, but he’s the type flawed player that produces enough to allow you to focus on other positions. In dynasty leagues, that’s worth something.
One more to remember: Yeaaaahhhh… about that…
San Francisco Giants: Brandon Belt – 1B
He’s not really a post-prospect as he exhausted his eligibility more than a year ago, but similar to Devin Mesoraco, it seems the Giants can’t or won’t entrust him with the first base job full time. Just this offseason management brought in Mike Morse’s cadaver and while they’re saying it will only spell Belt at first base and will be dumped unceremoniously in left field prior to most games, it’s hard to trust them given their past actions.
Belt has been more than deserving of an extended look at first base, to be sure, but let’s not pretend some of his benchings were without merit. There are times he’s lost himself at the plate, for more than a game or two, and he needed that time to iron things out. That said, he’s on an offense that has struggled to produce runs, even in years in which they won the world series. He’s produced OPS+s of 123 and 142 in his two seasons in the majors, and it’s hard to believe that the Giants can’t find room in their lineup for that kind of bat. Then again, perhaps Morse’s continuing decomposition will force teams to forfeit.
With a .289/.360/.481 slash line, Belt has what it takes to provide second tier first baseman stats, and perhaps that’s selling him short. If he is indeed freed from the Giants continual tinkering (both with his playing time and his mechanics) he should be able to generate considerably better counting stats. While he only swiped five of seven bases in 2013, he pilfered 12 of 14 in 2012, so he also offers the ability to contribute to all categories. He’s not going to offer the monster power that we’ve come to expect from elite first basemen, with 25 home runs seeming like a fair ceiling, and something in the 18-22 range being more probable. He makes up for that with above-average ability in average and on-base percentage and the rest of the stats should follow suit.
One more to remember: Hey look over there! /runs