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:
Aramis Garcia, C, San Francisco Giants (Drafted: Second Round, 52nd overall)
Minor league catchers are risky propositions, as has been discussed plenty around here, but Garcia deserves more love than he’s getting in deeper leagues. The 22-year old Florida International product plowed through the Sally League, posting a .273/.350/.467 line that included fifteen home runs in 363 plate appearances, good for an .194 isolated power mark that put him tenth overall in the league (min. 200 plate appearances) and second among catchers. The power was his calling card in college, as the 6-foot-2 inch 220 lb. right-handed hitting Garcia slugged .626 as a senior and walked (25) more than he struck out (23).
Video courtesy of Fangraphs
Garcia’s strong performance with Augusta earned him a promotion to High-A San Jose of the California League, where he’s struggled in his first thirteen games, but he should firmly be a top-ten prospect (maybe even top five) in the Giants system over the winter, and despite the presence of Buster Posey and Andrew Susac, that has value.
Austin Gomber, LHP, St. Louis Cardinals (Drafted: Fourth Round, 135th overall)
Gomber hasn’t received the attention of fellow the Cardinal hurlers selected ahead of him in his draft class — Luke Weaver, selected 27th overall and Jack Flaherty, selected 34th overall — but he’s been very effective in his own right since being plucked from Florida Atlantic. Gomber was assigned to the New York-Penn League last season, where he pitched to a 2.30 ERA in eleven starts, striking out 36 in 47 innings and only allowing three home runs in a league that’s predominately made up of college graduates. He was moved up to St. Louis’ Midwest League affiliate in Peoria this season, where he’s been arguably their most effective starter on a staff that’s included Flaherty and Daniel Poncedeleon, an impressive ninth-rounder from last year’s draft who has already been promoted to High-A Palm Beach.
Video courtesy of Jeff Moore, Baseball Prospectus Prospect Team
The 21-year old Gomber has made 21 starts this season, posting a sparkling 2.79 ERA (3.11 FIP) mark and has struck out 132 batters in 129 innings while only allowing 95 hits, holding hitters to a .200 batting average against and issuing just 31 free passes. His FIP mark puts him seventh in the Midwest League (min. 100 IP) and his 19.6 K-BB% is first overall.
There’s a lot to like with Gomber, but despite his over a strikeout-per-inning rate this season, there’s not a ton of upside — but you may be aware that the Cardinals know what they’re doing with developing pitchers. I wouldn’t expect the lefty’s numbers to drop off as he moves up the ladder to the pitcher-friendly Florida State League next season, making for a nice beach-flip opportunity down the line.
Ryan McBroom, 1B, Toronto Blue Jays (Drafted: Fifteenth Round, 444th overall)
Let’s get this out of the way upfront — I’m not advocating running out and grabbing McBroom unless you play in a really, really deep format (300-500+ minor leaguers), but I know that these leagues exist and this is a guy that’s most likely not owned even in leagues that fit that description. Let’s also get the caveat out of the way that McBroom was playing this season as a 23-year old in a league (Midwest) where the average age is almost two years younger than the former West Virginia Mountaineer.
Now that we’ve got those disclaimers out of the way, let’s talk about what McBroom is, which is a guy that’s improved with age and just hits wherever he’s been. As a senior at West Virginia, McBroom hit .341/.404/.512 with eight home runs in 54 games in the Big 12. After being drafted, Toronto sent him to short-season Vancouver of the Northwest League, where he posted a .841 OPS mark with eleven home runs in 70 games. He was then assigned to Lansing of the Midwest League this season, where he’s put up a .320/.391/.492 line with eleven home runs and five steals in 117 games, whacking 38 doubles along the way. Add it all up and you’ve got a 152 wRC+ mark, which is third among MWL hitters with more than 200 plate appearances, only behind more notable prospects, “The Sheriff” Jacob Nottingham (wRC+ 170 – nod to Greg Wellemeyer) and Casey Gillaspie (wRC+ 155).
Video courtesy of MiLB.com
McBroom doesn’t possess the huge power that’s required from a first baseman and that’s why he’s worked some in left field this season with Lansing, where he was just named Midwest League MVP. McBroom strikes me as a late bloomer and as I said earlier, don’t run out and grab him immediately, but I think he’s a potential late-bloomer than warrants monitoring over the next few seasons.
J.J. Jansons is a contributor to The Dynasty Guru. Be one of the first to follow him (literally) on Twitter, where you can request future topics to be covered here at TDG. Follow @jansons_jj