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.
Jorge Mateo, SS, Yankees
Mateo is a Dee Gordon / Billy Hamilton sort of player. Blinding speed with lots of stolen bases, but very little to no power. He has stolen 78 bases so far this year. He has a .278/.343/.397 slash line for a .740 OPS across Low A and High A (only 15 games in A+ so far). Those are not stellar stats but he just turned 20 years old last month, so when you factor in his age it looks pretty darn good. A guy who can single-handedly swing the needle in your league’s stolen base category while also being a slight positive in batting average and on-base percentage at the shortstop position is a very enticing package for fantasy owners. I don’t think he is ever going to hit for much power even though he is six feet tall and weighs 188 pounds. That is not that small but his swing and approach are not conducive to power. He has hit only 2 home runs in 475 plate appearances this year. He is looking at another couple of full years in the minors before he can start helping your team. I think he will remain at shortstop but if not is still going to remain at an up the middle defensive position. This guy will be a valuable fantasy player based purely on his speed, if he can develop at the plate he is a potential fantasy star. I have him ranked #72 on my overall top 100 prospects.
Francis Martes, RHP, Astros
Came to the Astros from the Marlins in the Jarred Cosart trade last year. An afterthought prior to this season, the 19 year old has seen a huge boost to his prospect stock and gotten the scouts raving. Only 6’0″ and 170 pounds when signed, he was projected as a reliever, but now grown to 6’1″ and 225 pounds he has become one of the Astros most elite prospects. Sporting an electric fastball and a double-plus curveball, Martes is going to strike out a metric ton of batters. This pitcher is garnering a lot of buzz lately so you should pounce if he is not taken in your league. His mechanics are still raw so he will need at least a couple more years of seasoning but the arm is very promising. I have him ranked #55 on my top 100 prospects, and he is rising quickly. Could be top 50 soon.
Victor Robles, OF, Nationals
This is a guy you might already be familiar with due to all the attention he has gotten in prospect circles this year. He broke out a bit last year in the Dominican Summer League, so some scouts were already on him. Now playing stateside, he started the season in the rookie Gulf Coast League and quickly got promoted to the New York – Penn League. He has a potent .353/.439/.532 slash for a .971 OPS in 173 combined ABs, which is a small sample size. He is not a home run hitter and might never be unless he bulks up a bit. He has hit only four home runs this year and hit just three last year. He has great bat control and projects as a consistent line drive hitter with the strong potential to hit .300 in the majors. He will also be a productive base stealer, but not anything like Mateo above. Robles is only 18 years and 3 months old, having started this season at age 17. While Robles is a very good prospect I wanted to let our readers know that much of his prospect helium is due to his defensive prowess. Robles is an excellent centerfielder. If your league breaks outfielders down into LF, CF and RF starting slots then Robles is an elite prospect. If your league is like most leagues and considers all outfielders in one lump group, then Robles has to be marked down just a bit from the elite rankings he is going to get in the offseason lists. The bat is legit but he is not going to be a plus for your team in the power and RBI categories. He will be a three-category player (Runs, Steals, AVG). Being very good in three categories and sub-par in two categories is not a recipe for fantasy stardom. I really like this guy as a “real baseball” prospect, but I mark him down a bit for fantasy. Robles is very young and is looking at another three or even four years in the minor leagues, so he is a long term project for your fantasy team, but one that could pay off in huge fashion. I have him ranked #47 in my top 100 prospects right now, but if he fills out and develops power he could be a monster some day.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Are there any other players you would like some advice on? Got any potential breakout prospects we should discuss?