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Breakout Prospects: Betts, Gallo, Harvey, Lively, McMahon and More

Today we will look at some hot prospects who are tearing up the minor leagues. None of these guys were in the top 50 of any of the preseason rankings lists, and only some of them were even in the top 100. But all of them are shooting up the rankings this Spring. You should try to acquire these players ASAP before your leaguemates catch on. I didn’t include prospects like Gregory Polanco and Lucas Giolito even though they are playing phenomenally because they were already considered elite prospects before the season started and presumably were already taken in any dynasty or keeper leagues.

Mookie Betts — 2B Boston Red Sox — Average Preseason Rank: 71 — Current Rank according to me: Top 25

Betts wasn’t drafted until the 5th round of the 2011 draft and put up a poor .658 OPS in rookie ball in 2012, although he did steal 20 bases. He had a breakout year in 2013 in Low A and High A, putting up a .923 OPS with 15 homers and 38 steals (getting caught only 4 times). That was good enough to earn him a slot as a top 100 prospect in baseball this Spring but he was still flying a bit under the radar and most observers were not too excited. The best ranking he got was #59 from FanGraphs and he didn’t make Baseball Prospectus’ Top 101 at all. I think a lot of the reticence to rank him higher was due to his small size — he is only 5 foot 9 and weighs about 160 pounds. There are not too many players that small who become star hitters in the major leagues.

Betts has fantastic bat control and manages to square up the ball routinely, which allows him to hit for a surprising amount of power despite his slight physical stature. He doesn’t strike out much and will happily take a walk. The speed is a  huge bonus in fantasy too. Betts is blocked long term at second base in Boston by Dustin Pedroia but is athletic enough to move to shortstop or more likely the outfield to speed his ascent to the majors. Betts has superstar potential but is more likely to settle in as a 1st-division regular and a stalwart in fantasy lineups. The best scenario for his fantasy value is that he stays at 2nd base, but that would necessitate a trade out of Boston and that is certainly a real possibility given the Red Sox’ excess of good players. The Red Sox don’t have room to keep all of Pedroia, Bogaerts, Middlebrooks, Cecchini and Betts. Someone will have to be moved and it won’t be Pedroia. Most dynasty leaguers are probably already aware of Mookie Betts so his price will likely be high, but try to get him if you can. You won’t regret it. Verdict: Future Top 5 second baseman who provides above-average stats in all 5 fantasy stats.

Joey Gallo — 3B Texas Rangers — Average Preseason Rank: 88 — Current Rank according to me: Top 35

Gallo is known for two things: blasting home runs and striking out. His power has been obvious for a long time, but this is the first extended period where Gallo has shown the ability to improve his strikeout rate. Last year in Low A ball Gallo cranked 40 jacks in 461 plate appearances! But he also whiffed 172 times for a 37% strikeout rate! Gallo is a big dude at 6 foot 5 and 205 pounds with a big, long swing to match. This year he has gotten his strikeout rate down to 25%, which is still bad but a definite sign of progress, especially when combined with his climbing walk rate. He has put up an amazing .345/.451/.791 slash line for an unbelievable 1.242 OPS! He hit 3 home runs last night to raise his season total to 17 already on the young season. In addition to the power, Gallo can swipe some bases too. There is no question that Gallo has the power to be a superstar in the major leagues, but the strikeouts are a big red flag that could ultimately derail his career before he ever reaches the big leagues. He has made major strides in correcting that flaw but he still has a long way to go. He is still in High A ball and will have to prove he can handle the improved offspeed pitches he will face in the upper minors. Keep an eye on his K:BB ratio. If he continues to improve that stat as he climbs the ladder you should go all-in to acquire him. Verdict: Future Top 5 third baseman who hits 40+ homers with 200 Ks per year, basically young Adam Dunn without the walks or maybe a better Pedro Alvarez.

Hunter Harvey — SP Baltimore Orioles — Average Preseason Rank: 75 — Current Rank according to me: Top 50

Harvey was a 1st round pick last year and put up good stats over 8 games in rookie ball but analysts disagreed on him over the winter. Some people really liked him (#38 on ESPN, #58 on Baseball Prospectus) but others were not impressed (unranked by Baseball America and I think his doubters are starting to come around not only due to his great stats (1.38 ERA in 39 innings with 45 Ks) but because it is apparent that he possesses a plus fastball and a plus curveball along with a work-in-progress changeup. His upside is very high but he needs to refine his mechanics to improve his command, develop some professional craftiness and his body has yet to fill out. I don’t think he will be a fast mover to the majors even though he is already 20 in low A ball. His father is Bryan Harvey, who was a 2x All Star closer for the Angels and Marlins last century. Verdict: Potential #2 starter with lots of Ks, long and risky development period to survive.

Ben Lively — SP Cincinnati Reds — Average Preseason Rank: Unranked — Current Rank according to me: Top 125

Lively was an unheralded 4th round pick in last year’s draft, but he proceeded to shred the Pioneer League and one start in Low A to the tune of a 0.88 ERA with 56 Ks in 41 innings. He didn’t get much attention for that due to the small sample size in Rookie Ball and because he was an experienced college pitcher without the pedigree of a high draft pick. So far this season in the High A California League, which is a very tough place for pitchers, he has put up a 0.74 ERA  over 48 innings with 61 strikeouts versus only 5 walks! While Lively doesn’t have any plus-plus pitches to wow you with, he does have excellent command of 4 quality pitches (Fastball, curve, slider, change) that are all major league caliber. Lively is a big guy at 6’4″  190 pounds and he has a strong fastball that sits at 92-93 mph and can reach 95 on occasion. He is still in High A ball but he could move quickly through the minors and may reach the majors as early as the 2nd half of 2015. I think he will remain a starter due to his repertoire. Verdict: #3 starter with 8 K/9 and a low WHIP.

Ryan McMahon — 3B Colorado Rockies — Average Preseason Rank: Unranked — Current Rank according to me: Top 125

McMahon was a 2nd round pick last year out of high school and will be only 19 this whole season in Low A ball. He has hit 21 homers in 354 professional at-bats so far. He does swing and miss quite a bit but he projects as a guy who will hit for both power and average. He is a good third baseman defensively and should be able to stay at the position long term. He is blocked in Colorado by Nolan Arenado, but a lot can change in the years it will take for the youngster McMahon to reach the major leagues. Once McMahon reaches Coors Field he could put up some stellar fantasy stats. Verdict: Future stud, but it will be a long time before he pays off in your lineup. Grab him now, hold onto him until his stock rises, then trade him for a prospect closer to the majors.

Gabriel Guerrero — OF Seattle Mariners — Average Preseason Rank: Unranked — Current Rank according to me: Top 175

This is a guy to watch as a potential supernova — a player who might suddenly explode into a huge star. He could also fizzle out very quickly. Classic lottery ticket type of international signee. He has great bat speed, great hand and wrist strength, great bat-to-ball natural talent, terrible pitch recognition and terrible strike zone awareness. His uncle is Vladimir Guerrero and there is a definite physical resemblance at the plate. In 2012 Guerrero put up stellar stats in the Mariners’ Dominican and Arizona camp complexes. But then he took a small step back last year at the age of 18 in Low A ball, striking out a ton but showing good tools and potential in his first exposure to full-season ball in the USA. Moved up aggressively to High A this year, he has shown a lot of growth in terms of walking more and making solid, hard contact despite still striking out a lot. He hasn’t truly broken out yet statistically but his .837 OPS looks promising and I see strong potential for a sustained breakout. Verdict: Buy him now while the price is very low.

Dalton Pompey — OF Toronto Blue Jays — Average Preseason Rank: Unranked — Current Rank according to me: Top 200

Pompey was an extremely raw 16th round pick in 2010 from Ontario, but he has made tremendous strides both offensively and defensively. His best fantasy attribute is stolen bases. He stole 38 bags last year and already has 17 this year while only being caught once. He is rocking a .338/.412/.490 slash line in High A ball and has even added a bit of home run power to his game this year. I am not a huge fan of players whose best quality is speed, but Pompey is starting to get lots of helium in prospect circles and should appear on quite a few mid-season prospect rankings this summer. That means he is going to have some trade value in deeper dynasty leagues very soon. So Pompey is a guy you can pick up for free now and trade him for a prospect you like better in a few months. Verdict: Pick him up now and flip him after the midseason prospect lists come out.

If you have any questions about any other prospects ask them in the comments below. I will reply promptly, some of the other TDG writers may join the discussion as well.

Nick Doran writes all kinds of cool stuff about the game’s ultimate flamethrowers at Blazing Fastball and will answer your baseball questions on Twitter @BlazingFastba11.

The Author

Nick Doran

Nick Doran


  1. Tony
    May 17, 2014 at 8:02 am

    Are we at the point moving a prospect like Archie Bradley for Betts?”

    • May 17, 2014 at 3:43 pm

      I think that would be a fair trade, but I would first try to obtain Betts for a less valuable player than Bradley if you can. Bradley is going through some minor health and performance concerns this year, but he is still an elite prospect if not the #1 pitching prospect in baseball. Personally I greatly prefer to invest in hitting prospects over pitching prospects just because they are so much less likely to get hurt and flame out before becoming a star. Betts is a safer bet (haha) than Bradley but Bradley has more upside. If you have Mark Appel or Taijuan Walker I would offer one of them for Betts before offering up Bradley. If you make a deal let me know!

  2. robbyrobdu
    May 17, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    Awesome article!!

    Except it made me have to go add Guerrero as I’m not sure who reads this and was waiting on him 😛

    Drafted McMahon (and was shocked when the Jake Lamb pick a couple before him was lauded and no one said anything about McMahon…always love that sillyness hahaha) and added Lively very early in the season…peraonally I wouldn’t trade McMahon straight up for Betts as power wins out always and 3B is just as shallow as 2B nowadays.

    A couple other guys I expect to atart getting more love are Aaron Blair SP ARZ, Tyler Goeddel 3B TB, Teoscar Hernandez CF HOU.

    I also expect Raul Mondesi Jr to start getting the Jurickson Profar treatment (very young and hitting very well at advanced level) and start climbing near the tops of lists, definitely top 10 in my book right now.

    Two very intriguing MI to me are Dilson Herrera and Christopher Bostick as both are performing well and have good power/speed combo’s.

    Great article though once again you guys are my go to for great dynasty rankings and reading!


    • May 17, 2014 at 3:56 pm

      Thanks robbyrobdu!

      It looks like you are ahead of the curve on the more obscure prospects, and that can be a huge advantage in deep dynasty leagues.

      I like Aaron Blair too. He doesn’t have tremendous upside but he will be a solid contributor at a minimum. Teoscar Hernandez is starting to get some buzz in prospect circles. I will have to take a deeper look at Tyler Goeddel since you are high on him.

      Some folks have been a little conservative on ranking Mondesi too highly just yet because he is so young, but I agree he could end up being a true stud. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up being a better fantasy player than Profar in the long run, but I was never as enthusiastic about Profar as others were. I think Profar will end up being a better real life player than fantasy player. Don’t get me wrong, I think he will be a good fantasy player, but since he was considered the top prospect in baseball he was so expensive to acquire that he will never live up to the price most people paid to get him.

      If you spot any more young breakouts be sure to post them here so we can help our readers get the jump on their competition.

  3. Jeff
    May 17, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    Would you trade Kevin Gausman for Maikel Franco in a dynasty league based on value alone? These pitching prospects are starting to scare me with all of the elbow issues and TJS, so I’m starting to value them less and less. I just want to make sure I’m not undervaluing them too much here.

    • May 17, 2014 at 6:01 pm

      I am with you 100% regarding the injury risk with pitchers. Franco is the safer bet for that reason, but I would recommend keeping Gausman over Franco. I believe Gausman is going to be a quality starting pitcher despite his early struggles in the majors. Franco got off to a bad start but has played better lately. I like him too but I think he will merely be a good player rather than a star.

  4. […] Prospect News: checks in with breakout prospects Mookie Betts, Joey Gallo, and […]

  5. Martin
    May 18, 2014 at 11:55 pm

    Would you trade Dylan Bundy for Mookie Betts in a dynasty league based on value? Just afraid I’d be selling Bundy at a low here with him making his way back from TJS. How does possibly moving to the OF affect Betts’ value?

    • May 19, 2014 at 1:18 am

      That is a very interesting question. Bundy is a great prospect and he is now a year removed from TJ surgery. We should find out pretty quickly if he will regain the elite prospect status he had before getting hurt. If he returns to his former stature he is a more valuable commodity than Betts, but right now we just don’t know if that will happen. Right now Bundy for Betts is a fair, even trade in my opinion. Betts is being given a trial in center field now. If he does stick in the outfield it helps his value in the short term because it gives him an opportunity to reach the majors faster and start helping your fantasy squad, but long term it would be better if he remained at second base even if it means a trade out of Boston.

  6. […] checks in with breakout prospects Mookie Betts, Joey Gallo, and […]

  7. Dylan-Ernst
    May 19, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    So this is who I have now. Really wish we got more spots, but it is what it is. Seeing as McMahon, Lively, Guerrero and Pompey are still available, are there any obvious add/drops? 12-team 5×5 dynasty with 10 MILB roster spots. I’ll need future pitching, so reluctant to drop those guys unless it’s for Lively, but I do understand that having hitters is more sound than pitchers.

    1. Maikel Franco 2. David Dahl 3. Tyler Glasnow 4. Jorge Alfaro 5. Julio Urias 6. Eddie Butler 7. Clint Frazier 8. Kohl Stewart 9. Raimel Tapia 10. Sean Manaea

    Also, was Joe Munoz close to making this list? Heard a lot about him recently and wondering if he was even on your radar.

    • May 19, 2014 at 4:49 pm

      I would add McMahon and Lively to replace Alfaro and Tapia. You have a nice set of prospects on your MiLB roster. Well done! I like Alfaro and Tapia but I like McMahon and Lively better, especially when you factor into their trade value the buzz they have been generating lately. I downgrade catcher prospects unless it is a two catcher league.

      I didn’t consider Joe Munoz for this article, but he is definitely a guy to keep an eye on. He has been on fire lately.

    • May 19, 2014 at 5:16 pm

      For what it’s worth, I’m as big a McMahon supporter as there is and I would not drop Alfaro/Tapia for those two guys. If you want to make a case for McMahon over Tapia, I’ll listen to that but Lively is a back end starter and given your 10 spot limit and 12 team league, the upside is worth FAR FAR more than a guy like Lively. He’s got great numbers but the stuff isn’t there to be a frontline guy. He’s a guy I’d snag off waivers if at all in a league of your size.

      • Jeff
        May 19, 2014 at 5:26 pm

        Agreed with you Craig. And I’d never really drop a hitting prospect for a pitching prospect generally speaking. Hitting prospects are much more valuable in my eyes. Now obviously, there are some instances I would. I’d drop Kaleb Cowart for Archie Bradley, but Tapia has huge upside as does Alfaro. The HR/SB threat from the C position with Alfaro could be big. The sky is the limit for Tapia in my opinion, and I’d definitely hold onto him in a dynasty.

      • Dylan-Ernst
        May 19, 2014 at 7:18 pm

        I do want McMahon though! He seems like he has some serious helium. I’ll have to sleep on it. Not willing to part with Alfaro, but I picked up Tapia after the draft. I wonder if I can wait until a guy like Franco gets called up.

      • May 19, 2014 at 9:50 pm

        Alfaro is a very good prospect, but catchers are the worst kind of fantasy prospect. They rarely end up being anywhere near as good as hoped. Secondly, catchers just aren’t that valuable in fantasy, mostly because they only play two out of every three games anyway. I would much rather have a good prospect at another position than a catcher, it is just a safer bet that is more likely to pay off in the long run.

        McMahon’s power in Coors Field is much more enticing to me than Alfaro or Tapia.

        Tapia doesn’t impress me at all. Guys like him are a dime a dozen I think. He has a lot of potential but until he actually starts to deliver it is all just potential and he hasn’t realized any of that potential yet like a lot of other prospects have. He has very limited power and he is a terrible base stealer. I would absolutely take McMahon and Lively over him without thinking twice.

        Lively won’t be a top of rotation guy I agree with you there, but he will still be a good fantasy pitcher or at least has a good chance to do that. His awesome first 100 innings of his minor league career have generated a lot of buzz and therefore quite a bit of trade value, and trade value is just as important (if not more so)as his actual value as a prospect. He is much more likely to eventually be a fantasy contributor than Tapia and he has more trade value than Tapia in my opinion.

  8. […] If you missed this column be sure to check it out: Breakout Prospects: Betts, Gallo, Harvey, Lively, McMahon and More […]

  9. […] have written a couple of columns about breakout prospects this season twice previously (Here and Here). Today’s edition will feature players who will be participating in the 2014 Futures Game. […]

  10. […] If you missed these previous breakout prospect articles be sure to check them out: Breakout Prospects: Binford, Thompson, Ramsey, Taylor, Severino and Vargas Breakout Prospects: Winker, Norris, Bell, Hader, Coulter and Lorenzen Breakout Prospects: Betts, Gallo, Harvey, Lively, McMahon and More […]

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