This is the third installment of Dynasty Divorces! Every year, fantasy baseball websites release their Top 100 Prospects lists. In this series, Brett Cook (@beautyofgrace32) and Taylor Case (@TCasesLoaded) will both highlight one player who they see dropping on these lists. Keeping a highly coveted prospect too long could lead to you feeling regret for not ending things sooner. With each highlighted player, we will advise on what to do with that prospect. Follow us on Twitter and send us a response if you want to further discuss these guys!
Here are links to our previous pieces:
Forrest Whitley, SP, Houston Astros
Analysis by: Taylor Case
Let’s not beat around the bush (…Forrest?). Mr. Whitley just hasn’t taken great strides in the last year. At least not the significant developmental strides one would expect from a former first-round pick. A 12.21 ERA in Triple-A Round Rock and a 7.99 ERA across four levels in 2019? Those numbers are quite bad, and were enough for most rankings sites to push him out of their top-20 prospects heading into 2020, a range he was firmly planted in the year prior. He did manage to rebound in the Arizona Fall League, compiling a 2.88 ERA with 32 strikeouts in 25 innings. While the latter numbers are easier on the eyes and there was word that he tweaked his mechanics, this is specifically why I don’t like rollercoasters: there’s too much possibility for whiplash.
Now, Whitley has encountered a few setbacks since he was drafted, and I do my best to empathize with minor league players as a rule. Especially those who have dealt with certain “red-flag” injuries (oblique and shoulder fatigue), suspensions, and who are firmly entrenched in a Houston system that almost every fan loves to hate right now. That can take a toll on any young player, and I imagine even more so on a top pitching prospect who knows he has ace potential. So maybe it actually made sense to cut him some slack headed into 2020. Sadly, it was revealed in early August that Whitley was dealing with soreness once again, this time of the “arm” variety. (Such specificity! Thanks, Dusty). As far as I can tell, he has not resumed throwing a baseball, and if you were paying attention when the news first broke, you could tell that he had already lost his shot at a 2020 cup of coffee.
In my opinion, there’s a (fairly) straightforward comp to Tyler Glasnow here, which is why fantasy managers might still be holding on. That’s probably a best-case scenario, but both ballplayers are tall, lanky flamethrowers who have the promise of fantasy upside served with a side of control issues. Here’s the kicker, though. It took years for Glasnow to find his command in the majors. Whitley is struggling and hasn’t even hit the big stage yet. Are you willing to wait that out?
Verdict – Run *From* Forrest, Run!
In true “fantasy baseball advice” form, here’s where I take a minor step back and remind you that if Whitley can really start to harness his five-pitch arsenal, then you undoubtedly have an ace on your hands. However, while there may be an ace hidden deep within that *forrest*, I don’t have that kind of patience anymore. From a strategy standpoint, it makes sense to follow any and all news from Houston’s camp during the offseason, and if that helium-powered hype train starts to come into the station, find a way to trade him. I understand that of all the player reviews I’ve submitted lately, this one could bite me the hardest in a few years. But honestly, I’m more likely to run from the unpredictability than buckle up for the ride.
Seth Beer, 1B/OF, Arizona Diamondbacks
Analysis by: Brett Cook
Seth Beer is another prospect that was drafted by the Houston Astros. The Astros drafted him with the 28th pick, as they believed his bat justified him being a first-round talent. At one point his bat put him in consideration to be the first overall pick. Ultimately, there were too many question marks for that outcome, most notably his liability in fielding. With Seth Beer, you are getting a potentially stellar two-tool prospect, but even two-tool players make the All-Star Game (especially if you are a Yankees fan). Yes, that is a jab at the selection process for the All-Star Game (but that is another topic for another day).
Right out of the gate, Beer picked up where he left off in college. In 67 games he moved across three minor-league levels and racked up 12 home runs. His BB/K ratio was commendable in Short-season and Single-A ball (averaging very close to a walk per every strikeout), but upon promotion to High-A he struck out five times as much in comparison to the other minor-league stints. Overall, Beers’ numbers did drop in High-A, which is to be expected with better pitching, but that drop in production wasn’t drastic enough for prospect evaluators to be concerned.
Going into the 2019 season, Beer appeared on five Top 100 lists and was in the top 50 on one of those! He started off the 2019 season in High-A and his numbers told the world that High-A was his kingdom and that he should be named Seth the King of Beers’. Seth was then promoted to Double-A and continued his onslaught on minor-league pitching. His strikeout rate (20.2% across both levels) increased by only one percent in his promotion from High-A to Double-A, which isn’t alarming. Across those three levels, Beer hit 26 home runs.
At the 2019 trade deadline, the Astros traded Seth Beer and other prospects for Zack Greinke. It was in this new uniform that Seth struggled for the first time as a minor leaguer. This should not be seen as concerning. He changed cities and was adjusting to a new league but he was still in Double-A where he just tore the cover off the ball in Houston’s organization.
When prospect producing websites released their 2020 Top 100 lists, Seth’s name surprisingly didn’t make as many lists. His name was found in three Top 100 lists (half as many) and every list had him after 80. For a 2019 campaign that you could argue was better than 2018, you may ask, “why did he drop?” I don’t even think I need to tell you. He was traded to a NL team. The fear of Seth’s liability wasn’t as much of a concern in Houston because he could be their designated hitter, but in moving to the Diamondbacks this became a real concern. With all this being said, it is time for my fantasy baseball marriage counselor advice.
VERDICT – HOLD YOUR BEER.
Hold your Beer and hold him high. There are two reasons why I say this. The first reason is that he showed no signs of regression from 2018 to 2019. You can even argue that his 2019 play was actually better. This is reason enough but I said I would give you two. The second reason is currently an uncertainty, but hear me out. In 2020 the NL played with a designated hitter for the first time ever. What if this becomes the new normal? If it does then not only can Seth Beer be a designated hitter, but he also gets an upgrade in a hitters ballpark by playing at Chase Field. The Beer home runs could pour in Arizona. Don’t give away a perfectly good Beer.