Don’t You Forget About Me: NL Prospect Edition
Last week, I took a look at four prospects in the AL who have regained some measure of relevancy in dynasty leagues. This week, I will use this same exact concept, but apply it to the National League. This is innovation at work.
Taylor Jungmann, RHP, Brewers
I loved Jungmann as a potential fast-moving, mid-rotation starter when the Brewers popped him in the 2011 draft. I thought he was a perfect fit for an organization that lacked much noteworthy pitching in the mid-minors, and I didn’t think he was a reach from a pure talent perspective in the first round either. Jungmann had rewarded that faith with pretty pedestrian seasons in High-A and Double-A in 2012 and 2013. Because of his proximity to the majors he might’ve still made some Top 250 lists before the season, but he wasn’t sniffing anyone’s Top 100.
Fast-forward to today, and Jungmann looks more like the potential workhorse we all saw during his days at Texas. Jungmann posted a 2.77 ERA with a 21 K% and 6.8 BB% in 52 Double-A innings, and the Brewers promptly responded by promoting him to Triple-A recently. It would be great to see Jungmann miss a few more bats, and to be clear, this still isn’t someone who profiles as any sort of elite option. But Jungmann does once again appear to have a future as a MLB starter, which means he’s somewhat relevant in deep dynasty leagues.
Tyler Matzek, LHP, Rockies
Once viewed as one of the lefties with the highest upsides in all of the minor leagues, Matzek’s story is one that many dynasty leaguers are well acquainted with at this point. Despite phenomenal raw stuff, Matzek’s trouble repeating his delivery and unwillingness to make adjustments led to very ugly stat lines from 2010-2012. Matzek missed a ton of bats but also issued an insane number of free passes, leading many to believe his true future may lie in the bullpen.
That very well be the case, but Matzek is at least giving the Rockies something to think about this season, as he’s pitching quite well as a starter in Triple-A. Matzek is still striking out around 20% of the batters he’s facing, but he’s walking just 10%, whereas he’s been as high as 25.8% (yes, seriously) earlier in his career. Pitchers with questionable command profiles who call Coors Field home may sound like dubious fantasy propositions. But Matzek’s stuff is so good that I still think he can approach 200 strikeouts a year if he starts in the majors. He’ll hurt your WHIP, yes, but if you learn to use him in favorable matchups he could be a boon to many deep squads nonetheless.
Brandon Nimmo, OF, Mets
Nimmo is among the handful of prospects who’ve done the most to bolster their value this season. The 13th overall pick in the 2011 draft, Nimmo has failed to inspire much confidence in his skill set up until 2014. Though he reached base frequently and demonstrated an advanced approach, Nimmo had yet to showcase much power or speed, and detractors argued that favorable BABIPs artificially elevated his batting line.
Nimmo still has some work to do if he wants to prove his doubters wrong, but he’s off to a tremendous start in High-A this year. Through 241 PA, Nimmo is hitting .332/.456/.469 with four homers and nine steals, and while he’s currently missing time with an ankle injury and conjunctivitis, he should be back soon. The Mets generally take a conservative approach with their prospects, but it wouldn’t be altogether shocking to see Nimmo make the jump to Double-A later this season. He’s a better MLB prospect than a fantasy one because his best “tool” is his approach, but he’s still a player who could hit .280 with 15-plus homers, 10-plus steals and a ton of runs at the highest level. Nimmo is an easy Top 100 guy for me at this point.
Trevor Story, SS, Rockies
Is Story one of the best middle infield prospects in the game or a flaming pile of garbage who won’t get out of Double-A? Based on the industry’s opinion entering each of the last two seasons, the answer is either A or B and there’s little room in between. Yet after struggling badly in High-A as a 20-year-old last season, Story has proven that, oddly enough, his professional career is not over, as the now-21-year-old has hit well in his second stint in Modesto this year.
Through 188 PA, Story is hitting .323/.410/.543 with three homers and 18 steals this season. The bad news is that he has a .463 BABIP and is still striking out in 28% of his PA, which means that regression is likely right around the corner. That being said, Story is also walking in 12.2% of his PA, he’s hitting for way more power than he did a year ago and his prowess on the bases has impressed, too. Story still doesn’t profile as someone who will hit for a good average because of the swing-and-miss in his game. But if he’s learning to be more patient while hitting for more power, you can’t ask for much more from an athlete who plays a premium position and is in the mid-minors at age-21. Let’s not go crazy and call Story one of the best fantasy prospects in the game again, but let’s also acknowledge that he should be a Top 100 name once more.