Digging for Diamonds: The Most Interesting 23 Year Old In Single-A

Few fantasy prospects have captivated my imagination in recent memory like Rangers farmhand Ryan Cordell. Granted, I may be the only one, as he’s owned in less than one percent of CBS Leagues. Somebody out there has to own him besides me, so I know it’s not quite to the level of this, but needless to say, he’s available in your league. Cordell checks off a lot of the boxes that you look for in a fantasy prospect, as he’s an athletic 6’4″, 205 lbs, he hits for average (.294 career), has big time power (led all California high schoolers with 14 homers as a senior and hit 13 in 89 games in 2014), steals bases (21 in 2014), and is in an organization with a big league park conducive to offense. So why the hell is he still in Single-A ball, and repeating High-A for that matter, after putting up a .914 OPS in 2014?
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Early Middle Relief Targets

I have spent an inordinate amount of time searching for relief options early this fantasy season. It’s a tedious exercise, predicated on assigning too much value to small samples and guessing about eventual roles. Sound like fun? I didn’t think so, but that’s why I’m here for you.

Yimi Garcia, Los Angeles Dodgers

If you’re just now learning about Yimi, it’s probably too late for a pickup but his performance warrants discussion anyhow. Through 9.2 innings, Garcia has struck out 16 and walked only three, while allowing one unearned run. He picked up his first save of the season on Friday and has quickly ascended to a ninth inning option. Garcia has a minor league track record of gaudy strikeout totals despite lacking overpowering stuff. He throws his fastball in the mid-90s but deception helps it play up. Garcia gets incredibly low and compact and his the ball explodes out of his side-winding arm as his delivery uncoils. He throws the fastball three quarters of the time but keeps hitters off balance with an improved slider that he adds or subtracts velocity to/from, as needed.

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The Kella Instinct

There goes my streak of not making a terrible pun-oriented headline here at TDG. If you are disgusted by the pun, you can leave the rest of this article behind and move on. But if you’re looking for a potential cheap closing option, you may want to continue reading.

Proven closers are perhaps the most expensive and overrated commodities in the fantasy world. Sometimes you’d have to pay a steep price for a mediocre reliever who just lacks up saves. There are only a handful of closers who hold their jobs for more than 3 years. As you may already know, picking up young, unproven relievers with dominant stuff and waiting until they get the chances to close would be a way to get lots of saves for cheap.

Keone Kela is one of those up-and-coming dominant 9th inning guys who are still sleeping. The 6’1″ flamethrower was drafted out of Everett Community College in Washington in the 12th round by the Rangers in 2012. Since then, he’s generated a preponderance of whiffs on his way to the big leagues.

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Breakout or Fakeout: Should You Target These Hot Hitters?

Last week I looked at some hot starting pitchers. This week we examine some unexpectedly hot hitters. One key to success in fantasy leagues is to quickly identify the true breakout players early in the season and separate them from the fakeout players — those whose success is a mirage. All of the players below are currently ranked among the top 40 hitters in 5×5 leagues in the early part of the season. None of them were ranked in the top 100 hitters in preseason lists, most of them way were not in the top 200 either. Let’s find out if these guys are real gold or fool’s gold.

Devon Travis, Blue Jays — .385 AVG, 4 HRs, 11 Runs, 15 RBI, 1 Steal

Obtained from the Tigers over the winter, Travis has taken over as the Blue Jays starting second baseman. He spent all of last season in Double-A and skipped Triple-A entirely. Coming into this season Travis did not make any of the Top 100 prospect lists, but did make some of the “players to watch” lists. Travis  is only five feet nine inches tall, so the power is a surprise. He did hit 18 home runs in the low minors in 2013. Travis is a promising young player but is unlikely to continue hitting anywhere near as well as he has so far this year. Verdict: Breakout. Good solid fantasy-worthy middle infielder, but not a star. Projects for .280 AVG, 15 homers, 80 Runs, 70 RBI, 15 steals.

Lorenzo Cain, Royals — .375 AVG, 2 HRs 13 Runs, 12 RBI, 5 Steals

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Digging for Diamonds: Taylor Sparks

There comes a time in fantasy baseball where many of us decide it’s time to branch out and try a new league.  For many of you who spend time reading this site it is safe to say you are far more than the average fantasy baseball enthusiast.  Here at The Dynasty Guru we cater to dynasty league owners of all formats and roster sizes and recently I decided to branch out into an 85-man roster linear weights league where I found myself having to dig deeper than ever to find value.

The 85-man league that I participate in holds a Rule 5 draft, International draft, and a Rule 4 amateur player draft.  When I took hold of my team the Rule 5 draft had passed so myself and fellow TDG writer George Bissell had begun to prepare for the other two drafts.  The international pool is always much harder to figure out since translating stats from other leagues can by dicey but when preparing for the Rule 4 draft we decided a good place to start was organizational track record.

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Going Deep: Recap of a 20 Team Dynasty MiLB Draft (Picks 51-60)

As hard as it is to believe, we’ve finally reached the conclusion of our look into an offseason MiLB draft of a man whose MLB Power Rankings on FOX elicit comparisons to that of a drunken, dart throwing chimp, Mr. Craig Goldstein. This was certainly an entertaining draft (for the writer at a minimum) to take a look at for the unique rules (no minor league player adds done in-season) and the questionable draft strategies employed by more than a few teams. Hopefully you were able to learn a few things from this draft that can be used in future MiLB drafts:

Part One detailed why taking Roberto Baldoquin over Nomar Mazara (and Jose Peraza) is generally a horrible idea
Part Two featured virtually all top-100 dynasty prospects being snatched off the board, and again, why you don’t take Roberto Baldoquin ahead of even more top-100 dynasty prospects
Part Three discussed how taking highly touted Rockies pitching prospects early in dynasty drafts is a horrible historical proposition but keeps getting repeated on an almost yearly basis
Part Four was highlighted by a underrated SS prospect and underrated CF prospect being taken
Part Five saw multiple future options to replace Didi Gregorius taken, a low bar to clear undoubtedly

With Part Six, we take a look at multiple Astros pitchers and an intriguing young Braves SS:
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Addison Russell’s Long-Term Value

The fantasy landscape is changing dramatically at the shortstop position in dynasty leagues. If you blink, you might miss the changing of the guard. The dramatic overhaul at the top of the position is already underway with Chicago Cubs top prospect Addison Russell completing his meteoric rise to The Show earlier this week. The 21-year-old slashed .318/.326/.477 in 11 games at Triple-A this spring before making his MLB debut in Pittsburgh on Tuesday night, going 0-for-5 at the plate.

In the current run scoring environment, where teams are scoring less, and hitters are striking out at a historic rate, Russell’s short, compact swing, enables him to hit for both average and power. That rare combination, plus the ability to swipe the occasional base, is why Russell profiles as a potential fantasy superstar down the road. It’s only a matter of time before the current crop of young shortstops take over, but is there a chance that they rise to the top sooner than we all anticipated? 

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Scouting The Stat Line: Early MiLB Stolen Base Leaders

Many fantasy owners erroneously believe that home runs are the scarcest of the five traditional fantasy categories. The well-publicized league-wide power outage – the total number of home runs decreased by an astonishing 17 percent in the five seasons since 2009 – only reinforces that false premise.

Stolen bases are down seven percent over that same time frame but they are more rare to begin with. Consider that there were 1,422 more home runs than steals in 2014. Further, the top ten home run totals accounted for 8.5 percent of the league total while the top ten base stealers accounted for 15.6 percent. This concentration is what leads to all manner of interesting discussion and varying opinion about the value of high-volume base stealers like Billy Hamilton, who may offer little else to your box score.

I’m not suggesting that stolen bases are more valuable than homers, of course. A big fly is a positive for your run and RBI totals as well as your batting average while a stolen base is a one-category event (unless you count the increased expectancy of scoring a run). Nevertheless, the relative scarcity of the statistic means you should always be looking for players who can keep you catgeory-competitive on their own. With that in mind, let’s take an early look at the minor league leaders.

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Trader’s Corner: Want to Win? Make Some Deals!

Trades were flying fast and furious this week.  I love it. Trading is the best part of dynasty leagues. I always get a buzz when I make a trade. Do you? Trading is the best way to improve your team in dynasty leagues. If you are not making trades you are probably not going to win.

You know the drill, vote for the best group of players in each trade. Use the form near the bottom of this page to submit your trades to be voted on. Make your opinion known…

This one came in a 16 team league with 28 man rosters and 15 minor league spots. H2H 6×6:

This one came in from a 12 team dynasty H2H league:

Submitted by The Duke — “NL-only 5×5 roto auction league. Can keep each player at price for three years, can buy more years at $5 per year. I sold off a bevy of very good prospects last year chasing the eventual winner. Now trading away expensive assets to restock for next year. One of the prospects I unloaded last year was Kris Bryant. Now I am getting him back at a steep price. I know it is a ton to give up, but does the $88 savings make it a decent trade? I had to hound the Bryan owner to get this done”: Continue reading

Breakout or Fakeout: Should you Target These Hot Starting Pitchers?

Let’s take a look at a few pitchers who may be available in your league who are off to hot starts. One key to success in fantasy leagues is to quickly identify the true breakout players early in the season, and separating them from the fakeout players — those whose success is a mirage. Last season saw unexpected breakouts from Matt Shoemaker, Collin McHugh and Jacob deGrom. The owners who snared them received a very nice boost to their championship hopes, whereas those owners who grabbed Dan Haren, Aaron Harang or Martin Perez after their hot starts ended up getting burned. So what we need to do is determine whether each of these pitchers is likely to continue their success.

Odrisamer Despaigne, Padres — 1 Win, 0.77 ERA, 0.34 WHIP, 4 Ks in 11.2 innings.

The 28 year old Cuban defector started the season in the minors but was promoted after Ian Kennedy went down with an injury. Despaigne pitched 96 innings for the Padres last year and put up a tidy 3.36 ERA. That is the good news. The bad news is his xFIP was 4.01, and xFIP is a much better predictor of future ERA than previous ERA is. Despaigne also exhibits a very low strikeout rate 5.75 K/9 for his career. That is a problem for two reasons. The first is that pitchers with strikeout rates that low are incredibly unlikely to put up good ERAs for long. The second reason is that strikeouts are a key fantasy scoring category and Despaigne is not going to help you there. Despaigne does not have anything close to overpowering stuff. He is a smoke-and-mirrors junkballer similar to Livan Hernandez or Bronson Arroyo. Despaigne plays half his games in a very pitcher-friendly ballpark and the Padres have made huge upgrades to their offense, two factors that will help Despaigne. Verdict: Fakeout. Won’t be terrible but should not be targeted for your team. Decent injury replacement. Can be used as a streamer in two-start weeks at home.

Nick Martinez, Rangers — 2 Wins, 0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 6 Ks in 14 innings. Continue reading