The Top 500 In Review: Just Missed
Bret unveiled his midseason update to the top 500 dynasty league players last week and while it may seem like an exhaustive list, there are always good players who are on the outside looking in. Major leaguers who were left out include Chris Heston, Carter Capps, and J.T. Realmuto and you could make a case for any of them in the 450-500 range, in my opinion. Thee are also several prospects who were considered for inclusion but just missed. Here are a few:
Jake Bauers, 1B, Tampa Bay Rays
First base prospects typically need one loud tool in order to force themselves on to dynasty league rankings, as it’s just hard to get excited about them unless they have, say, A.J. Reed’s power. Bauers’ appeal is all about floor and confidence in his eventual ability to hit at the major league level. He was the second youngest player in the Florida State League and hit .267/.357/.433 before being promoted to Double-A. The six home runs Bauers hit as part of that line were surprising given the league context and the fact that most evaluators didn’t see home run pop in Bauer’s bat. He is now the youngest regular in the Southern League and Double-A will be a great test for him in the second half of the year.
Wuilmer Becerra, OF, New York Mets
Becerra is the kind of toolsy prospect that usually creates a loud buzz in the prospect community when the tools begin to convert to production but the industry has been curiously quiet on him. Becerra is just 20 years old and his 127 wRC+ is a top-15 mark in the South Atlantic League. From a fantasy perspective Becerra offers a little bit of everything, as he’s hit for a .283 average while swatting eight homers and swiping seven bags. His approach is aggressive enough that there are questions about how much he’ll be able to hit when he advances to face more advanced competition but Becerra brings a well-rounded skill set to the table.
Phil Ervin, OF, Cincinnati Reds
Ervin had a rough first full season but has bounced back with a strong performance thus far in 2015. The 30 steals were the only positive to extract from a 2014 in which he hit .237/.305/.376 with only seven home runs in Low-A. Despite the struggles, the Reds graduated Ervin to High-A and he’s come back to life, showing off his above-average raw power with 11 home runs as part of a .258/.344/.428 slash line. He’s still flashing speed too, with 14 steals in 69 games. The key has been an improved approach, as he’s being more selective at the plate and making more contact, which allows him to get to more of that raw power in games. Ervin may be a batting average drain but he offers a nice power/speed combination.
Brian Johnson, LHP, Boston Red Sox
Johnson is both the only pitcher in this group and the closest to the major leagues. The 24-year-old owns a stellar minor league track record and has a 2.57 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in 14 Triple-A starts this year. Johnson is a command over stuff pitcher and therefore his strikeout upside is limited. Joe Kelly was demoted to Triple-A recently and Justin Masterson took his spot in the rotation. There’s really no reason for Masterson to hold that spot and the Sox will likely see what they have in Johnson sooner rather than later.
Wes Rogers, OF, Colorado Rockies
While Jorge Mateo receives most of the stolen base attention for what he’s doing in the Sally (he has 51 steals, most in the minors), Rogers isn’t far behind. He’s stolen 41 bases while being thrown out only four times. Rogers’ solid approach has resulted in a nine percent walk rate, offering him ample opportunity to take second base against batteries that stand little chance of preventing him from doing so. A .269/.350/.376 triple-slash indicates that he’s hitting some, but you’d like to see more in the power department given that his home park in Asheville is one of the most favorable in the minor leagues. Rogers was a 2014 draftee out of junior college and is 21 years old, so the Rockies are likely to continue letting him develop at the low-A level for the remainder of 2015.
Mallex Smith, OF, Atlanta Braves
Smith is another speedster but unlike Rogers, he’s performed at the high levels of the minors and is getting closer to a major league trial, having just been promoted to Triple-A. Smith came to the Braves organization as part of the return for Justin Upton and has improved his strikeout rate while making the jump to Double-A, where he hit .340/.418/.413 prior to his promotion. He has top-of-the-scale speed and stole 23 bases in 57 Double-A games, one year after swiping 88 across two Class-A levels. Smith bring little power to the table but exhibits enough patience to be an eventual leadoff hitter if he continues making gains with the bat.
Richard Urena, SS, Toronto Blue Jays
The 19-year-old Blue Jays shortstop is having a huge year in the Midwest League. His twelve homers are second most in the league and place him in the company of boppers like Casey Gillaspie, Bobby Bradley, and Stryker Trahan. It’s hard to fake power in the MWL and needless to say, a shortstop with this kind of thump could be a huge fantasy asset. He’ll probably need to be capable of 15-20 to become a starter in standard depth leagues because he doesn’t run and his aggressive approach at the plate could make him a batting average liability. It will be exciting to see how rest of the year shakes out for the teenager. He could shoot up the top 500 with a second half like his first.