Pairing Up With Brett Lawrie

At this point Brett Lawrie has a near permanent spot on both the post-hype prospect lists and on the “if-only-he-could-stay-healthy” lists.  After playing only 70 games last year, in a third straight year of declining batting average and on base percentage, it is easy to write off Lawrie.  But he is back, now with a fresh start in Oakland, at the ripe old age of 25 years old.  This “new look” Lawrie comes with new ability courtesy of last year, second base eligibility.  Now he is unlikely to keep it going forward given that Oakland employs Marcus Simien and Ben Zobrist, but lets enjoy it while it lasts.

Right off the bat you know that you aren’t getting Lawrie for 162 games without a minor miracle.  So the idea is where to value Lawrie based on what he is going to give you over a this games and what a Lawrie+partner will give you.  Lets start with where Lawrie’s 2014 numbers ended up among second baseman as well as where his career average would end up.

Lawrie (70 G) 27 38 12 0 .247
Rank 40 26 7 UR 27
Average (86 G) 42 39 11 7 .265
Rank 22 24 10 20 17

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Stocking Your Scout Team: Starting Pitcher

I love evaluating pitchers and could find a reason to write about any number of prospects but I’m limiting myself to a pair.  Let’s get right down to business so we can all get back to our last couple drafts in the run up to Opening Day.

Clayton Blackburn, San Francisco Giants

If I told you there was a prospect with nearly 400 innings of age-appropriate track record that included a career 9.20 strikeouts per nine innings, 1.73 walks per nine, a 2.98 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and an eventual home in a pitcher’s park with an organization known for developing pitching, you’d probably assume that prospect is highly coveted.  Yet, here we are with Clayton Blackburn, who finds himself universally behind Kyle Crick, Keury Mella, and Tyler Beede on San Francisco’s prospect rankings and also trailing Adalberto Mejia, Ty Blach, Steven Okert, and/or Luis Ysla, depending on which scout you ask.

To be fair, Blackburn’s positive attributes are mundane: he pounds the zone with above-average command and control, has clean mechanics, repeats his delivery, knows how to sequence his four-pitch mix, and has the build to profile as mid-rotation innings eater. Excited yet?

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2015 NPB Prospect Rankings, Nos. 6-15

Here I continue counting up my rankings further more. If you missed last week, here are top 5.

6) Yoshio Itoi, OF, Orix Buffaloes (Age 33)

I have no doubt that he has all the tools that would play well at the MLB level: raw power that stands out among Japanese hitters, bat-to-ball skill (he’s never had an average below .300 in 6 full seasons), speed that makes him a threat on the basepaths (has stolen at least 22 bases in each of the past 6 years) and gives him a wide range in right field ,and a cannon for an arm. He also has an advanced approach at the plate, as his career BB% stands at 10.8. With that skill set, he could be a 10-20 outfielder with a 270-280 average in MLB. The problem is that the sands of time for him are running low.

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Trader’s Corner: A Frenzy of Deals

Spring training is coming to an end soon. Major league teams are busy finalizing their rosters and so are fantasy league owners. The preseason is one of the biggest trading periods of the year. It is a great time to fix any holes in your starting lineup or snare your favorite sleepers before their values skyrocket.

Use the form below to submit your trades for next week’s edition of Trader’s Corner.

Let’s see what our fellow team owners are doing and make our opinions known. Vote for the group of players you would rather have…

The first trade happened in a standard 12 team dynasty points league:

This one came in a 12 team 5×5 league with only 10 keepers: Continue reading

A Mechanical Exploration of Raisel Iglesias

Little is known about the Cuban born pitcher Iglesias who was signed by the Cincinnati Reds this past June.  Iglesias was signed to a 7-year-27 million dollar deal with a five million dollar signing bonus, which is quite a lot of money and trust to give to a 24-year-old reliever who had yet to be tested at the highest levels.  After a brief seven inning stint in the Arizona Fall League and a strong start to spring training the Reds have decided to use him as their fifth starter for 2015.

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Going Deep: Recap of a 20 Team Dynasty MiLB Draft (Picks 21-30)

If you missed our last two endeavors, we are recapping an offseason MiLB draft of the man who generates the most thought provoking tweets when putting together power rankings, Craig Goldstein. This league has had some interesting picks over the years and this week we’ll be looking at the first half of the second round, picks 21-30. After seeing newly signed Dodger Hector Olivera taken in front of them with the 20th overall pick, the team with the 21st pick selected a future San Diego Padre Washington National:
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The Brent Honeywell Buzz

There isn’t a more intriguing pitching prospect in fantasy baseball than Brent Honeywell. Undrafted out of high school, he attended Walters State Community College in Tennessee, where his fastball velocity skyrocketed into the mid-90’s. As a result, so did his draft stock.

Armed with a fastball that sits in the 91-94 mph range, Honeywell can crank it up to 97 at times. What separates him from every other pitching prospect in baseball is that his best off-speed pitch is a screwball. Yes, you read that right, a screwball. We didn’t know it at the time, but the Tampa Bay Rays may have gotten the biggest steal of the entire 2014 MLB Draft when they selected Honeywell with the 72nd overall pick.

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Cheap Speed with Odubel Herrera

My general rule towards the end of a dynasty roster is that talent rules all, but as I talked about last week having a job can be just as important.  So once again we return to the bottom of the barrel and the Phillies.  This offseason the Phillies took a middle infielder from the Rangers in the Rule 5 draft, and then threw him in the outfield.  That player, Odubel Herrera, now appears to have a full time job all locked up.

The Player:

Herrera is unlikely to be a long term asset, but his value is all in the here and now.  This spring he is hitting .357/.400/.381, coming off a winter in which he led the Venezuela Winter League with a .372/.432/.556 line and a 2014 where he lead the Texas league with a .321/.373/.402 line.  He can really hit, and it is a skill that looks like it should translate well to the majors.  The power does not appear to be there, and while he had 23 extra base hits in 58 games this winter, his past two year in the minors have seen him with 25 and 26 extra base hits in 130 and 125 games respectively.  At best you are only going to get 2 or maybe 3 home runs out of him, and he is unlikely to be driving in a ton of runners either. Continue reading

Stocking Your Scout Team: Outfield

Shortstop might be the most coveted position among prospectors but outfield is a close second, with plenty of youngsters at the lower levels flashing tools that make dynasty leaguers salivate. I’m up to my neck in drafts and hope you are too, so let’s get right to it. Here are a few young outfielders that I wouldn’t draft outside of very deep leagues but who are worth monitoring early in the season. Not included are a couple of my favorites, Magneuris Sierra, who JJ Jansons profiled here and Anthony Alford, who I wrote up here. The former is a popular breakout candidate in the scouting community, reportedly garnering some consideration for Baseball America’s top 100 while the latter is miles away but possesses a raw power/speed combination that is unrivaled.

Aristides Aquino, Cincinnati Reds Continue reading

2015 NPB Prospect Rankings, Nos. 1-5

Congratulations on surviving another off-season. We’re just over a couple of weeks away from the new season. And better yet, NPB opening day is a mere 5 days away.

Here at TDG, I ranked 30 NPB players to watch for for the coming season. The rankings are based on 1) their potential MLB upsides and age, and 2) how far away from/ how likely to be producing at the MLB level. Generally, NPB pitchers have better shots at being significant contributors than batters. In fact, there have been only 2 Japanese position players with a career bWAR of 10.0 or better, compared to 8 pitches cleared that threshold. Consequently, the list is loaded with pitchers.

Without further ado, I’m kicking off the rankings with five right-handed hurlers.

1) Kenta Maeda, RHP, Hiroshima Carp (Age 26)

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