Digging For Diamonds: Low Minors Hot Corner Options To Watch
Self-evaluation is of monumental importance to improving as a dynasty league owner. You should always be evaluating your process and making sure that you’re making quality decisions that balance the short and long-term health of your team. Recently, one area that I’ve been trying to improve upon is my overvaluation of non-elite prospects that are far away from contributing at the big league level that I ‘like’ and have on my team. It’s hard for many dynasty league owners to part with prospects that they ‘like’ or ‘have a good feeling about’ but in reality, most non-elite prospects should be viewed strictly as trade chips to help improve your big league roster. The other important part of understanding how to make deals involving these non-elite prospects is that you must have a proper understanding of replacement level in your league. In other words, if I trade ‘3B prospect X’ in a 2-for-1 or 3-for-1 trade to improve my big league squad, what 3B prospect is available for me to add to replace him, if I need to replenish the third base prospect inventory on my team.
An example that I want to use is a player that I own on many teams, Rockies third baseman prospect Ryan McMahon, currently at High-A Modesto. I happen to think that Ryan McMahon is going to be a good major league hitter, but he is far from a sure thing, and should be treated accordingly.
McMahon gets a bump in value because he may one day call Coors Field home, but there are certainly a wide range of outcomes that can happen with him. If Nolan Arenado is still calling Denver home by the time McMahon is ready (in most likely three or four years), one of the best fielders in baseball certainly isn’t moving off of third base to make room for him, forcing added pressure on his bat to produce at first or a corner outfield spot. There is also the chance that McMahon is traded for pitching (and loses fantasy value in the process) that will inevitably fail at Coors or the possibility that he struggles with lefties as he goes up the ladder, lots of things are in play with a prospect like McMahon. He is owned in four percent of CBS Leagues currently, so let’s take a look at three third baseman that if you were to trade McMahon for other help, you should be able to replace him for free in many cases, and not experience a huge drop in value or likely future production:
Miguel Andujar, 3B, New York Yankees (Level: Low-A, owned in zero percent of CBS Leagues)
McMahon was ranked as a B+ prospect by John Sickels of Minor League Ball prior to the year and Andujar checked in at a B- grade, and ninth overall among Yankees prospects. The 20-year old Andujar has struggled adjusting to the tough hitting environment of the Florida State League in the early going, but his .261/.292/.408 line is still good for a wRC+ of 112. Andujar also struggled out of the gate last year in the Sally League, posting a .601 OPS in the first half, before turning it on for a .822 OPS to go with five steals in the second half as one of the youngest regulars in the league. If Andujar makes the necessary adjustments to succeed in the Florida State League in the second half, he could cement himself as a top-10 Yankees prospect for 2016, and that has plenty of value in itself.
Trey Michalczewski, 3B, Chicago White Sox (Level: Low-A, owned in zero percent of CBS Leagues)
The White Sox took the switch-hitting Michalczewski in the seventh round in 2013 from an Oklahoma high school and signed him for $500,000 to keep him away from the local university in Norman. Michalczewski checks in at 6’3″ and 210 pounds, but in his first full season of pro ball he wasn’t able to translate his power into games all that often, slugging at a .403 mark during the 2014 season.
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The 20-year old Michalczewski has bumped his ISO up to a .194 clip and slugged at a .475 rate in his first 156 plate appearances of the season at Low-A Winston-Salem in 2015, playing for a team with one of the worst names in all of minor league baseball, ‘The Dash.’ If the power continues to develop, Michalczewski may find himself with the ‘White Sox Third Baseman of the Future’ tag in short order, and calling US Cellular home certainly wouldn’t hurt his power numbers at the big league level.
J.D. Davis, 3B, Houston Astros (Level: Low-A, owned in one percent of CBS Leagues)
The 22-year old Davis was a third rounder from Cal State Fullerton in the 2014 draft, and isn’t currently being challenged all that much in the California League, compiling a .303/.362/.492 mark in his first 149 plate appearances of 2015. He should be in for a big test with the bat when he is promoted to Double-A, possibly later in the year. Davis hit 13 home runs in 73 games across two levels after being drafted, good for a .508 slugging percentage.
The former college closer has more than enough arm strength to stick at third, but will need to work on his footwork and range to remain at third long-term. If he sticks at third, he could turn into one of the best sleeper fantasy options from the 2014 draft class, and a steal for the Astros, nabbing him at 75th overall.
J.J. Jansons is a contributor to The Dynasty Guru, be one of the first to follow him on Twitter, where you can request future topics to be covered here at TDG Follow @jansons_jj