TDG Roundtable: Which prospect will skyrocket up the ranks
Every week on Fridays, our writers here at The Dynasty Guru will be bringing you some quick hit musings about a particular topic so you, the reader, can get a blast of info from a bunch of different writers with some passionate opinions. This week, our staff discusses which prospect will skyrocket up rankings this season.
Jordan Walker, 3B, St. Louis Cardinals
No player helped their dynasty value more with a groundout than Walker. In a May 14 game, he hit a groundball that registered a 116.3 MPH exit velocity. Fangraphs translates that as 70 raw power, and only 13 MLB hitters have hit a ball that hard this season. For a player who just turned 19 and has room to grow, that’s awfully impressive.
Raw power doesn’t mean much without hitting skills, but Walker is showing those too. Already playing full-season ball at his young age for Low-A Palm Beach, he’s slashing .333/.474/.600 through 13 games and has almost as many walks (10) as strikeouts (12). He homered on the first pitch of his minor league career and has regularly topped the 100 MPH mark in exit velocity.
Walker was the 21st pick in the 2020 draft, and may have stayed a bit under the radar in first-year player drafts due to the lack of a minor league season last year. Now that he’s showing what he can do, I expect him to be a big mover on prospect lists.
Hudson Head, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: of all the prospects the Padres traded away this past offseason, I think fans will regret losing Hudson Head the most. The sweet-swinging lefty is off to a rather slow start for the Low-A Bradenton Marauders with a .193/.333/.316 slash, but he does have a pair of steals and is seemingly heating up at the plate, having crushed a couple homers over his last three games. He does also have a rock-solid 14.5% walk rate through his first 16 games. All this to say that now is the time to go after him in trades before he really gets comfortable.
I spent some time watching his recent at-bats in the last week, just to see how he looked. My couch-scouting (Scouching?) takeaways are mixed, and not just because of the grainy minor-league camera: his swing is still quick and beautiful (a future 60-grade tool exemplified especially on a sweet oppo double to beat the shift on Wednesday night), and the recent homers are nice to see. However, he doesn’t appear to have filled out much over the last year and the strikeouts are a problem, as his K-rate has shot up to 33.3% on the season.
Don’t let the small sample size numbers fool you! He’s still a few years away from his cup of coffee, and I’ve yet to see him on any top-100 prospect lists, but I think he has the makings of a solid four-category fantasy producer and is bound to skyrocket up lists soon. Now is the time to speculate before the prospect crush testimonials start flying in.
Luis Medina, SP, New York Yankees
A player who has been rising in the eyes of his own organization while also catching the attention of dynasty fantasy baseball GMs is Luis Medina of the New York Yankees. He is currently pitching at the High-A level where he has posted an impressive 1.57 ERA and 0.87 WHIP over 23 innings pitched with 39 strikeouts. Medina has always had the “stuff” with a plus fastball that can easily touch triple-digits and plus secondary pitches including an impressive hammer curve that looks unhittable at times. Most scouts and people around the Yankees organization agree that he has the best pure stuff in the system, but the question has always been with his control. In 206 career innings pitched he has given up a ridiculous 156 walks. It doesn’t matter how many strikeouts you rack up (256 Ks over those 206 IPs!) with a walk rate like that it’s going to be very difficult to be successful.
But things started to change and improve for Medina towards the end of the 2019 season when coaches and trainers really worked to establish a better plan and mindset for him when he takes the mound. Most agreed his command issues were not physical or delivery-related, but more mental with his approach in preparing before a game and controlling a better pace during the game. Medina finished strong in 2019 and carried that momentum into 2020 despite the lost minor league system as he worked at the Yankees alternate site before going on to dominate in the Puerto Rican Winter League. His dominance on the mound has continued in his first 5 starts of 2021 despite the fact that he is still walking too many batters, 12 in 23 innings pitched. If Medina can continue to make gains on his command and control of his impressive pitching arsenal he will continue to rise up prospect rankings as well. He is also already on the Yankees 40-man roster giving an outside chance for a 2021 callup even if it was just to serve as a bullpen arm down the stretch. The command issues are real for Medina, but so is his potential to be a front-end of the rotation pitcher in the near future.
Hudson Haskin, OF, Baltimore Orioles
The 22-year-old Haskin was the Orioles second round pick from Tulane University in 2020, and as Covid happened, his first professional experience has been this season. He is playing outfield for the Low-A Delmarva Shorebirds in Maryland, close enough so Baltimore can keep an eye on him. Ranked in the teens on most Baltimore Oriole team prospects lists, Haskin is going to move up their board and prospects lists if he continues his hot start in professional baseball. As of this writing, in 82 plate appearances in 2021, Haskin has two home runs, nine stolen bases, 33 combined Runs and RBI, and a slash line of .338/.451/.471 and a 10% walk rate compared to a 22% strikeout rate. Entering the draft Haskin’s calling card was his speed, and while he did not steal a lot of bases in his two seasons at Tulane, in 73 games there he hit 11 home runs, 25 doubles, five steals, and a slash line of .363/.457/.612 to go along with 40 walks to 39 strikeouts. Haskin is a plus defender in the outfield and also has good raw power, and with an improving walk rate and high ceiling hit tool has the makings of the future centerfielder for the Orioles.
As an aside, Haskin also seems to show a joy in playing the game that just makes him more fun to root for. Scouts and analysts mention his funky swing, but of greater note was his short collegiate career (he was a draft eligible sophomore) and coming from the northeast part of the United States goes with a bias of not playing as many games as a high schooler. Haskin would have greatly benefited from a full 2021 season to showcase his talent to the nation. If he continues his hot start to 2021 Haskin will be one to add to your Dynasty roster, if he was not already drafted in your leagues last year.
Roansy Contreras, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates
Let’s just start off with the obvious: projecting major league success for a minor league pitcher is not easy. This applies to hitters as well but pitching is even harder to project. With that being said, let’s just take into account what Contreras is doing in Double-A. In his first two starts, Contreras racked up 11 strikeouts in each outing. The next two outings he struck out 6 batters in each game. Roansy has completed 21.2 innings of work so far (65 outs) and 34 of those outs were by strikeout, which is just over 50%. His first loss of the season was on Tuesday night when he gave up five runs in four innings of work. The good news in the midst of that bad outing is that those five runs are the only runs that Contreras has given up this season. You read that correctly. In three outings, Roansy did not give up a run.
In one of my dynasty leagues, I once had Jesus Luzardo, Sixto Sanchez, and Nate Pearson. All three of those guys skyrocketed rankings. Those three guys jumped from the bottom of top 100 lists (or not even on lists), and ultimately landed in the top 20. If Roansy keeps up this success, he can do the same thing. The top 20 might be a little over zealous but I stand by my words that Roansy can crack the top 50. I am okay with eating my words if it comes down to it, but I don’t believe I will.