Scouring The Lower Minors
A few weeks ago, my deep dynasty league had their monthly minor league auction which is the only time that true minor leaguers may be added to our rosters. Considering that there are 20 teams with up to 50 roster spots dedicated to minor leaguers, this is an important time. Since the team I took over hadn’t had any minor league transactions to date, I had the full $100 to work with. I quickly proposed about 20 one-dollar bids after a quick look at high performers at the Rookie and Low-A levels. One of the names I identified was Samir Duenez. When another owner bid $2, I let him go and laughed to myself at his effort to raise the price on a player I didn’t really care much about. A month later, I’m wondering if the other owner was in fact laughing at me. Duenez has seen a significant rise in value after a season in which he has seen him earn promotions from full season A ball to Double-A. It’s too soon to draw conclusions from his Double-A performance, but his other two stops were rousing successes. Leading up to 2015, Duenez, while young for his placement, did not show much success with the bat. He hit a total of two home runs in his first three seasons and generally had an OPS in the .650 range. This year has been a different story. For the season, he has posted a triple-slash line of .288/.348/.451. He’s probably not going to be a future star, but players with his profile – low strikeouts, decent walk-rate, a little speed – tend to have a high floor. He’s not a must-add in regular formated dynasty leagues, but in my league that rosters 1000 prospects, he was a great find.
Meibrys Viloria is another part of the next wave of Royals prospects. He’s only of interest in very deep dynasty leagues as he’s likely half a decade away, but in those leagues like the one I described in the previous paragraph, he’s a quality speculative play. He’s still very much under the radar – the last entry from a major publication regarding Viloria seems to be a fangraphs.com post from 2014 – but Royals centric publications are very bullish on him. His 2015 season in Burlington was rather uninspiring, but as a 17-year old he posted a wRC+ of 139 in 2014. This year appears to be a breakout season as he’s posted a triple-slash line of .391/.447/.658. It’s a fairly small sample – just half of one season – but in deeper leagues, especially those that roster two catchers, these are the type of players you need to find before others do.
The next name, Desmond Lindsay, is of more interest to the typical dynasty league owner. He held his own in 2015, entering pro-ball directly out of high school, by posting a triple slash line of .263/.364/.386 despite being two years younger than the competition. Thus far in 2016, he has improved upon his freshman performance by cutting his strikeout rate from 30 percent to 20 percent while posting a triple slash of .314/.468/.500 with an elite walk rate of 18 percent. His wRC+ indicates that he’s been 91 percent better than the average Low-A player so I would expect a promotion in his near future, though that’s likely to be the start of the 2017 season. In his most recent chat, Keith Law described him as an expected major league regular with all-star potential given his physical gifts which include speed and athleticism. Like the two players above, Lindsay isn’t really on national prospect radar but that could change next year. He’s worth an add in dynasty leagues that roster around 100 players.
The final name, Isan Diaz, is likely a bit better known than the previous two. He’s most famous for being the return that the Brewers received for Jean Segura, but now he’s becoming known for above average power from a middle infield position. In 2015, he dominated the Pioneer league as a 19-year old, posting a triple slash of .360/.436/.640. He did this with a manageable strikeout rate of 20 percent, wOBA of .465, and wRC+ of 169. His production has fallen slightly this season after a promotion to Low-A but he’s still 49 percent better than league average and only Eloy Jimenez has posted better results at a younger age in that league. His rising strikeout rate – 25 percent – is a concern, but he walks a decent amount – 12 percent – and he plays a premium position. Although there are concerns about his ability to stick at shortstop, several other prospects with defensive questions marks – Corey Seager, Carlos Correa, and Xander Bogaerts come to mind – have made it work. Besides, if he can’t play shortstop, second base is his likely destination, and that’s just as good and sometimes better.