Keep calm, and clean up your roster already
Byung-Ho Park, Jesus Montero, Zack Cox, Danny Hultzen. Unless you play in a ridiculously deep -ONLY League…you know what? No, this HAS to stop. Minor league rosters are still littered with these names and more, prospects from years gone by. Perhaps a steep price was paid to acquire their services once upon a time. These are now sunk costs, and their trajectory doesn’t justify using a precious roster slot. High probability, low floor players are absolutely fine to own. That tag does not fit these players whatsoever. Using minor league slots on high ceiling players can payoff tenfold. Here are some high ceiling guys you can replace any low floor, former prospects (read: busts) that may be hanging around the edges of your team.
SP Chris Flexen, New York Mets
Flexen may not exactly be under the radar anymore, but his ceiling is growing by the day. That tends to happen when you combine a 9.29 K/9, a 0.86 BB/9, 52.5% GB rate, and 1.73 ERA in Double-A. Flexen’s developmental rollercoaster could best be described as a slow burn, as 2017 is his 7th year in the Mets system, and it took until May 17th of this year to make his Double-A debut. That said, Flexen is finally settling in as a 50%+ groundballer with strikeout stuff, and is growing closer and closer to reaching the show. His 6’3″ frame is prototypical, and helps him pump fastballs into the mid-90s. That pitch is the crown jewel of his four-pitch mix. The rest of his arsenal is fringy at the moment, but the Warthen slider could allow him to thrive. Apologies in advance to Mets fans, but here’s hoping there are new trainers and decisions makers in place by the time he makes it to the show. Take a look at some clips of a recent Flexen starting here. Finally, his last name compels me to call him The Contortionist because, for some reason, I want to give him a nickname.
OF Jose Siri, Cincinatti Reds
Next in line comes Siri, another athletic Reds outfielder. Mr. Siri has been a machine this year, mashing XBHs and showing off his plus wheels in the stolen base department. His 16 homers are easily a career high, and he’s flanked those dingers with 14 doubles and 5 triples. On the base paths, he’s reached a career-high 26 steals, though his baserunning hasn’t been great with a 70% success rate thus far.. If he can refine his reads and technique, that speed could be the foundation of his skill set at the MLB level. Siri has played centerfield primarily this year, after splitting time between there and right in 2016. The more I see him, the more I am reminded of Aaron Altherr’s developmental path.
OF Pedro Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies
I was early to the P-Gon party…about three years too early. I drafted Pedro while still a shortstop based on tools alone in all my deep leagues. Ok, tools and Coors. Now that I no longer own any shares he decides to hit his stride. That’s fine, there’s no grudges in fantasy baseball. Gonzalez is starting his 3rd straight year in R-ball, but don’t let that deter you. He was billed as a potential five-tool guy down the road, and I mostly agree, though he may never be a big runner. In the early going, Gonzalez is walking once for every punchout, a significantly improved mark over previous years. His .453 SLG is also a career high, even if unimpressive at first glance. The kid is 6’5″, and all arms and legs at this point.With better body control and increased strength his true breakout may not come until next year at Low-A. Buy now for nothing and enjoy the profits next spring.
OF Oscar Gonzalez, Cleveland Indians
When players with a near elite tool match their gifts with production, it’s time to take notice. Oscar Gonzalez, aka The Big O, owns huge raw power that he’s begun getting into games. It started last year in the AZL and Oscar continued his mashing this year. The owner of 70 grade raw is thus far experiencing a huge drop in K% over last year (-17.4%), and his current 19.4% strikeout rate is certainly a manageable rate for a slugger to posses. Speed won’t be part of Gonzo’s game, but he isn’t a base clogger either. His plus arm should is a weapon and will keep him in the OF and away from the dreaded 1B/DH land. Power is the allure here and the chance at a 25 home run outfielder is a distinct possibility.
3B/OF Jordan Luplow, Pittsburgh Pirates
My longtime prospect crush, Jordan Luplow deserves more attention. After hitting for marginal power and nothing else the last two years, Jordan exploded for 16 dingers in 288 Double-A PAs this year. 73 games later that production, and a .287/.368/.535 slash, led to a quick promo to Triple-A. Luplow always boasted a great batting eye and walk rate: this year’s 14.3 BB% is the highest of his career, having never dipped below double digits in his short career. His strikeout rate has also hovered around 15% during his time in the minors. Luplow is splitting time evenly between third and the outfield this year. The frugal Bucs may not add him to the 40 man until after the year, making a cup of coffee unlikely this year, but the void left by Jung-Ho Kang’s suspension needs filling and Luplow makes for a nice low cost in-house option.
- Bonus Player: SP Michel Baez, San Diego Padres
Every year a handful of players utterly dominate their level seemingly out of nowhere. Baez looks to be that player this season. The Pads thought enough of him to blow past their Bonus Pool and into the luxury tax to land him. If his $3 million dollar signing wasn’t enough to make him more highly regarded, his massive 6’8″ frame should have done the trick. Baez is showing off a double plus or better fastball at Low-A after a quick rookie ball stop. A 13+ K/9 and 0.50 ERA (albeit through just three starts) is impressive at any level. Take a look at this video from last May courtesy of JDB BASEBALL RD and notice his smooth, low effort delivery. In spite of a high leg kick, he appears to be under control of his body throughout the process. I am more than intrigued and can’t wait to follow Baez development.