Three Early Watch List Candidates
The watch list is my favorite feature of dynasty baseball leagues. I prefer sites with virtually unlimited watch list sizes, which allow fools like to me to place any remotely interesting player on watch. My thought process is that I can review player progression at some imaginary point in the future when I have time. Yeah, I repeatedly trick myself into thinking life will somehow get less busy down the road. Of course, this day never comes and my list balloons with each passing year. In my opinion, a watch list exists for raw, athletic players who may turn tools into skills someday. This could take years, or never come to fruition, but certain players should never be too far off radars. When that happens, they slip through the cracks and end up raking for your competition. Here are 3 players from my personal watch list tearing the cover off the ball in the early going.
OF Monte Harrison, Milwaukee Brewers
After all these years, Monte Harrison still remains a favorite of mine. Sure, this ‘favorite’ has managed to hit his way off all of my teams over the years, but who’s keeping track? Through all the struggles, he has maintained a safe perch on my watch list while waiting for a second chance. Well, that chance is here, my friends. Six of his 17 hits on the young season have gone for extra bases. Monte is also hitting fewer balls on the ground as demonstrated by a 0.73 GO/AO rate this year, which is less than half of his career rate of 1.55. Last year at the same level, right-handers held him to a putrid .213/.287/.314 slash. This season that slash checks in at .359/.405/.692. Is he repeating a level? Absolutely, but I’d push back against those that say this is his 3rd go round in the league. While technically true, he has a total of 482 plate appearances during the two previous rodeos combined. Harrison may finally be healthy after all these years. Forget all the nonsensical Cutch comps, we are likely not looking at a hit tool of that level. Instead, readjust your expectations to a pre-breakout Lewis Brinson neighborhood. All that oozing athleticism makes me want to wax poetic and give him a slick nickname. Instead, I’ll settle for adding him and his 84% career SB success rate where I can.
OF Marcus Wilson, Arizona Diamondbacks
Blessed with height similar to Harrison, though that somehow lends itself to more speed than power, Marcus Wilson is a forgotten man in prospect circles. Check out the numbers he has posted so far in 2017. When I stumbled across them, I had to do a double take, then thank the missus for watching reality shows and removing my focus from the TV. On the back of an otherworldly .804 slugging percentage, Wilson has 10 XBH and five home runs this year. Wilson may be showing additional improvement as his walks (nine) nearly equal his strikeout total (10). Those K’s equate to a mere 14.5% strikeout rate. Aside from those stout marks, I am also intrigued by Wilson’s speed and athleticism. Keep in mind that Mr. Wilson is even younger than Monte and will play nearly the entirety of the season at 20 years old. He may be ‘repeating’ a level, but he had just 99 at bats there last year in his first look. Marcus is slashing .370/.473/.739, and showing no signs of slowing down. While Wilson is obviously hitting over his head, this could be a sign of the upside finally manifesting itself in on-field performance.
OF Sam Hilliard, Colorado Rockies
Not quite as athletic as the first two players, Sam Hilliard came roaring out of the proverbial gate as well. After 13 games, he boasts a .409/.490/.636 line and has been kind enough to chip in five steals in six tries to boot. That comes on the heels of a 30-steal campaign last season. Like most minor league stolen base stats, you can take those numbers with a grain of salt, but Sammy runs well for a 6’5″ monster and projects to have double digit big league speed. In fact, analysts much smarter than me have pegged him as a potential 20/20 player in the future. To become an everyday player, Hilliard needs to continue improving against lefties. He hit .253 and slugged .392 vs LHPs in 2015, and .248/.457 at Low-A last year, so he is not a complete black hole there. One of Hilliard’s accomplishments as a pro is that he has maintained at least a 10% BB rate at every minor league stop. This year, he is also sported the lowest K% of his career at 20.8%, while playing at the highest level to date. That combo is exactly what you want to see from a player with swing and miss issues. Both numbers are trending in the right directions.
As the season continues, we will be able to see if any of these gains are sustainable. Continued success will also ensure additional resources in the form of video, interviews and advanced methodology will be more widespread. I presented these players in the order I would select them in fantasy leagues. If you have time, try applying your preferred methods of evaluation to these players. I’d also love to hear about any potential treasures unearthed while going through your own dynasty watch lists