Trader’s Corner: Sell the Farm for a Ring

This time of year we are seeing lots of “win now” trades in which contending teams in tight races are desperate enough to unload top prospects for older veterans to make a strong push for this year’s championship. In other trades we are seeing some teams sell the farm to get one big stud like Bryce Harper or Kris Bryant. I think there are more superstar-level players changing hands than we have seen in prior Trader’s Corner columns. If you want to acquire a player like that you better be ready to give up some elite young players.

By the way, use the form just above the comments section at the bottom of the page to submit your trades for us to vote on next week. Send in any interesting trades from your leagues so we can judge them! Now it is time to put some real fantasy trades to the test to find out if the trades were good or bad.

Time to Vote: (As always, vote for the players you would rather have…)

A reader named Doug submitted this trade for our review. It came in a 12 team dynasty league: Continue reading

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Digging for Diamonds: Finding Value in Last Year’s Draft Class, Part Three

We as discussed in the introduction post to this series, more and more dynasty leagues are rostering upwards of 150-200 minor leaguers these days. Often times performances from the previous draft class go largely unnoticed before the end of the calendar year when various prospect lists come out and some prospects that should be owned in deeper leagues end up in the same player pool as the year’s most recent draftees during offseason dynasty drafts. If you’re able to beat your competitors to the punch and pick up these types of prospects before the end of the season, you’re essentially getting free draft picks, and that’s always a nice feeling.

Let’s take a look at a few prospects from the 2014 draft class that have seen their value rise this season and might not be owned in your league:

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Scouting The Stat Line: 2015 Draftees, Part Three

Because I’m a man of the people, I began a series speculating on 2015 draftees two weeks ago. The guessing is tolerable on first rounders with solid scouting reports to back up statistical performance, it tends towards irresponsibility when discussing 2nd-4th rounders, and reaches full-on dart throw mode today, as I discuss a few more Day Two selections before moving on to lottery tickets.

Paul DeJong, 3B, St. Louis Cardinals (4th Round, 131st Overall) 

DeJong was a standout at Illinois State and he garnered first-team all-conference honors for the second straight year, in large part because of his MVC-leading 15 home runs. In case you’re not familiar, the Missouri Valley is a solid conference, with Dallas Baptist and Bradley both making the NCAA tournament while Missouri State made the Super Regionals. After ten games in the Appalachian League, where DeJong hit an absurd .486/.578/.973, the Cardinals moved him up to the Midwest League and he’s continued to flourish. DeJong is slashing .308/.400/.462 in Peoria and though his 180 plate appearances aren’t enough to qualify, his 154 wRC+ would rank fourth in the league. DeJong has played exclusively at third base as a professional but was a utility guy in college, taking a turn at second, third, short, catcher, and outfield. The Cardinals, man.

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The Best Bats in the Central League

The quarter pole of the 2015 season is in the rearview mirror. Time flies. This year, we’ve seen more than a few NPB young stars turning into legitimate dudes. In my opinion, the two guys I’ll talk about in this piece can be MLB regulars at the moment. Let’s take a look.

Tetsuto Yamada, 2B, Yakult Swallows

Coming off a breakout 2014 campaign, where he hit a solid .324/.529/.403 in his first full season, the 23-year old has take another step forward. After Sunday, Yamada is spotting an outstanding .333/.414/.618 slash line, leading the league in each category, with 33 doubles and 31 long balls, has drawn 58 walks and struck out 84 times in 515 plate appearances while swiping 26 bases in 30 attempts.

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Three Breakout Prospects to Target: Mateo, Martes, Robles

Let’s take a look at some prospects who have emerged from obscurity this season. Depending on the depth of your league, these guys might still be available right now but not for long. None of these players appeared on pre-season prospect lists last offseason, but they are all likely to be entrenched on all the Top 100 Prospects list this winter. If you want them this will be your last chance to grab them before your leaguemates are aware of them. Continue reading

Scouting The Stat Line: 2015 Draftees, Part Two

I started this series last week by covering several first round selections from June’s draft. You might have noticed that piece didn’t include any pitchers and this one will be the same. Scouting the stat line is dubious in any case but especially so for new professionals with a small handful of innings. Even more so than for hitters – from whom this is also an important truth – you should seek out the opinions of scouts on these guys instead of relying primarily on their statistical achievements.

I should also mention that my colleague and Dora the Explorer jersey enthusiast J.J. Jansons is currently running a series on 2014 draftees. You should check that out, not only because Jansons is good, but because it’s ultimately more useful than this series of my own since it relies on a full year of pro ball scouting and performance instead of a couple months’ worth.

Here are a few players taken in rounds two to four. I have one more of these in me, where I’ll cover some longer shots from the later rounds for you deep leaguers.

Austin Riley, 3B, Atlanta Braves (Competitive Balance Round A, 41st Overall)

The Mississippi prep prospect was a two-way player whose eventual role was unclear heading in to draft evaluation season but after Riley’s fastball velocity reportedly backed up this spring, third base became his most likely landing spot. Indeed, the Braves installed Riley at the hot corner during a brief but successful stay in the Appalachian League (.314/.417/.529 in 60 plate appearances). Riley has been arguably more impressive in 30 Gulf Coast League games, hitting .255/.331/.500 with seven home runs, good enough to tie him for the league lead. Riley was considered by some to be a reach this early but he’s a big kid with above-average raw power and the fact that he’s getting to it already, having just turned 18 years old, is an encouraging sign for the Braves.

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Digging for Diamonds: Finding Value in Last Year’s Draft Class, Part Two

If you missed last week’s introduction post, shame on you, but I’ll be nice and summarize what we’re trying to touch upon with this series of posts. There is a lot of value to be found this time of the year in reviewing the previous draft class as more data becomes available to peruse and explicate. If you can beat your fellow owners to the punch and identify some prospects that might generate buzz over the rest of the season and into the winter, you might be able to use a few roster spots to turn a profit as soon this offseason if you need to include a few prospects as tack on pieces to help close trades for bigger fish, or even find a few long-term pieces, if that’s what you’re aiming to accomplish.

Let’s take a look at a few prospects from the 2014 draft class that have seen their value rise this season and might not be owned in your league:

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Scouting The Stat Line: 2015 First Rounders

It seems the people want breakout prospect speculation. Well, ask and ye shall receive. How about some words about players with barely more than 100 professional plate appearances and little to go on other than amateur scouting reports? That’s about as speculative as it gets.

You’ve probably heard of most or all of these guys since they were just taken in the first round but this will be the first in a series where I take a quick look at how some 2015 draftees are performing in rookie and short-season leagues. I hope it goes without saying that any recent draftee’s stat line should be taken with a mountain of salt. I’ll do my best to incorporate some scouting information but seeing as how most pro scouts are still getting their first looks at these players, public information is still a little sparse. The most prudent thing to do, of course, is to wait until the offseason when the sample sizes are somewhat bigger and more robust scouting reports are available, but time seems to be of the essence for some.

So here you are. I’ll follow this post with some less familiar names next week.

Cornelius Randolph, OF, Philadelphia Phillies (1st round, 10th overall)

The Phillies took some flack for this pick but it’s important to remember that much of the criticism was because of the way his real-life profile adds up. Randolph played shortstop in high school but scouts unanimously believed he’d have to move out of the six hole and, indeed, the Phillies immediately started him in left field when they assigned him to the Gulf Coast League. The shift to the outfield field puts pressure on his bat to carry him but the stick grades highly enough to deliver. In his first 34 professional games, Randolph is showing off the approach and plate coverage he was praised for prior to the draft, walking 21 times while only striking out 24 and making plenty of hard contact. Like almost any prep player, you’ll have to wait to see the power in games but most think Randolph has the bat speed to get there and his 10 doubles to date indicate he possesses present gap pop. The early reports on Randolph are very positive and you should discount most of the immediate post-draft criticism of one of the draft’s youngest and best hitters. We’d always rather have a shortstop in our game but Randolph’s bat will play just fine in the outfield.

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Trader’s Corner: Do You Have the Guts to Win?

Many fantasy leagues share a July 31st trade deadline with MLB. Most of those leagues saw a flurry of trades in those last few days. I prefer leagues with later trade deadlines or no deadline at all. Trading is a big part of the fun of fantasy baseball so I think we should let it ride as long as possible.

This week we are seeing a lot of elite prospects change hands. Some teams are even letting go of Kris Bryant and Xander Bogaerts. Presumably those are teams with a strong chance to win their league this year who feel like they need to sell the future to bolster their chances for glory this year. If you play in a tough, strong league you need to capitalize on your chances to win a championship while you can. It doesn’t happen every year. Who knows how injuries will affect you in the future? Who knows how good your roster will be in two, three or five years from now? You don’t want to look back three years from now when your team is not winning even though you kept Kris Bryant and kick yourself for not grabbing that championship in 2015 when you had the chance but chickened out.

The veteran players you can obtain for prospects can be traded next year too. So if you have to trade elite prospect Corey Seager for old man Nelson Cruz Continue reading

Digging for Diamonds: Finding Value In Last Year’s Draft Class, Part One

Now that the short-season leagues are in full swing, we are able to get a much better look at the 2014 draft class as a whole. This time of the year is a great time to try and find some undervalued players who might not be owned even in 16 or 20 team leagues that roster over 150-200 minor leaguers. Some players that are currently unowned might even be able to sneak their way onto the back-end of various top-100 prospect lists by the end of the season, establishing value that requires very little investment.

There are basically two types of prospects that fit this profile, high school draftees exceeding expectations in short-season action and players with college experience who are mashing their way through the lower minors in their first taste of full-season action:

Let’s take a look at three prospects from the 2014 draft class that have had their value rise this year and might not be owned in your league:

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