Prospect Talk

Trade Deadline: Who’s Who of Prospects – AL Edition

What a trade deadline! You never know how much activity you’ll see year to year at the deadline, but 2021 didn’t disappoint, with former MVPs, Cy Young winners, and multiple All-Stars changing teams. Jared and Ken give you a short introduction to the prospects who changed teams. There were so many we had to split it into two articles, this one highlighting prospects joining AL teams, with the NL edition available here.

Joey Gallo & Joely Rodriguez to the Yankees

Glenn Otto, RHP, 25, AAA

Glenn Otto’s stock has continued to rise all year long. He started the year as a bit of an afterthought in the deep Yankees farm system, despite showing good strikeout potential after being drafted out of Rice University in 2017. In 2021 he started hot in AA, with a 3.17 ERA through 65.1 innings, with 103 k’s against only 14 walks. That garnered a promotion to the high-powered AAA level in mid-July, where he let up a few more runs (4.35 ERA) but the command was still strong, (12 K’s and 3 BB in 10.1 IP prior to the trade). Otto uses a mid-90’s fastball and a curve that has improved in the last year or so. Otto also has a changeup that still needs work, though he has not given up on the change and continues to try to develop it.  A move to the Rangers could end up being a good thing for Otto, as the Rangers park plays much more favorably to pitchers than Yankee stadium. There’s a good chance someone has already grabbed Otto in leagues rostering 300 prospects, but if you get a chance to have him thrown into a trade consider it. He’s developed into a very nice prospect and is more than just a hot name that got moved at the deadline. (Ken Balderston)

Ezequiel Duran, 2B, 22, A+

A key part of the blockbuster trade, Duran was having a nice season from a roto perspective. In 259 at-bats, Ezequiel had 12 homers and 12 steals. There are some strikeout issues (24.7%) but he can take a walk, and he adjusts his swing to prevent striking out more. Similar to Bo Bichette, Duran’s normal swing has a noticeable front leg kick, which he doesn’t do with two strikes trading it in for a front toe tap. He can still take an aggressive swing with the toe tap, so it shouldn’t prevent any two-strike homers. Duran will use the entire field, but most of the time pulls the ball. He does make a lot of hard contact, which helps him keep regularly high BABIPs (career .331 mark). Ezequiel’s power-speed profile is intriguing to roto players, and he should be rostered in leagues rostering 300 prospects. (Ken Balderston)

Josh Smith, SS, 23, AA

The Yankees 2nd round pick in 2019, Josh H. Smith can really put the bat-head on the ball. He uses a clean, quick swing from the left side of the plate, and has a knack for putting the good part of the bat on the ball. He’s a career .330 hitter, including .333 in 2021, partially thanks to a 19.4% strikeout rate, and .384 BABIP. Guys who barrel a lot of balls as Smith does can maintain high BABIPs like this, Josh also had a .355 BABIP in 2019. The hard contact is also evident in Smith’s ISO, which is currently sitting at an impressive .308! On the bases, Josh can run well, already swiping 17 bases in 2021 and only being caught 3 times. Smith is probably the best prospect the Rangers got in the Gallo deal, and should be rostered in leagues going 200 deep. (Ken Balderston)

Trevor Hauver, 2B, 22, A+

A 2020 third-round pick out of Arizona State, Hauver made waves with his scorching hot start to the 2021 minor league season. He has cooled off since but has put up numbers that still make you think he’s got the chance to be a decent big league hitter. He comes over to Texas with an insane 21.4% walk rate. He has good strength that produces solid raw power and creates pretty high exit velocities. He has a somewhat elevated strikeout rate which may limit him to 15-20 home runs a year. He will be tested once he moves up to higher levels in the minors and that is when we should get a better sense of the talent.  It is worth waiting until he is tested at the higher levels before rostering him in your dynasty leagues (Jared Perkins)

Nelson Cruz to the Rays with

Calvin Faucher, RHP, 25, AAA

Faucher is a career minor league reliever with an ERA over well over 4.00, and only moderate strike-out potential (9.86 through 167.1 career minor league innings). He’s also struggled with control, walking 4.68/9 career as well. While it’s always worth being aware of relievers the Rays are interested in, Faucher shouldn’t be added in most dynasty leagues. (Ken Balderston)

To the Twins

Joe Ryan, RHP, 25, AAA

Clearly the big name in this trade and one of the better prospects dealt ahead of the deadline. Joe Ryan uses a high spin 92-96 mph fastball to strike out a high percentage of batters. He led the minor leagues in 2019 in the category and sitting at 11.8/9 in 2021. He also throws a decent slider in the mid-’80s, and from time to time a curve and change that need work. Ryan’s fastball is good enough to live on in the minors, but he’s yet to be really stretched out as a starter. He’s averaging under 5 innings and 72 pitches a start this year, despite essentially dominating the opposition. It will be interesting to see if the Rays were simply being cautious with Ryan, or if he truly is better in short bursts. Regardless the upside is sky high, and his debut should be right around the corner. (Ken Balderston)

Drew Strotman, RHP, 24, AAA

Diego Castillo to Seattle

Austin Shenton, 3B, 23, AA

In a panic move by the Mariners to get a reliever back after trading Kendal Graveman to the Astros, they sent Shenton to Tampa. He is best known for his bat and was absolutely destroying pitching in High-A before being recently promoted to AA where was off to a hot start with a .406 BABIP. He has a smooth swing with the ability to make solid contact. Although he doesn’t have prodigious power, he’s got the ability to drive the ball in the gaps and you might see 15 to 20 home run power. With his hit tool, he should be able to carve out a role in the major leagues. He is worth stashing in deeper dynasty leagues. (Jared Perkins)

*JT Chargois also going to Tampa

Daniel Norris to the Brewers

Reese Olson, RHP, 22, A+

In one of the smaller trades of the day, Olson was traded to the Tigers for Daniel Norris. Olson was throwing in High-A. What stands out about Olson is his 26.9% strikeout rate and the recent increase in his fastball velocity. He has two good off-speed pitches (slider and changeup), as well as a curveball. He has a few mechanical issues that might lead him to be a good, high-leverage bullpen arm. He will start in High-A for the Tigers, but according to reports, he could be promoted to AA soon. There isn’t much fantasy value here. (Jared Perkins)

Andrew Heaney to the Yankees

Janson Junk, RHP, 5, AA

Junk was never considered a great prospect in fantasy circles, but he’s had a bit of a breakout so far in 2021. He’s striking out over a batter per inning (68 K’s in 65.2 IP), keeping his walks (20) and home runs allowed (6) in check, which has equated to a 1.71 ERA and 0.96 WHIP. His fastball sits mid 90’s and touches 94, and he’s said to have improved his slider, which would account for the improved results. I think the Angels did well to get a player like Junk, but you might want to take a wait-and-see approach in relation to your fantasy team. There’s still quite a bit of long reliever risk, and the current upside is probably a back-of-the-rotation starter. (Ken Balderston)

Elvis Peguero, RHP, 24, AA

A big guy at 6’5”, Peguero sits in the upper 90’s and strikes plenty of guys out. He’s still raw, and his secondary offerings are still developing, but the stuff is impressive. Very likely a reliever long-term, but if he can harness his breaking ball, he could close games at the majors someday. (Ken Balderston)

Kyle Gibson, Ian Kennedy, and Hans Crouse to the Phillies

Kevin Gowdy, RHP, 23, A+

A bit of a tweener, starting 32 games in his minor league career, and appearing as a reliever in 11. Gowdy hasn’t shown much strike-out potential but has taken a step forward with his command this year. After walking 51 batters in 77 innings in ’19, he’s whittled that total down to 17 in 66 IP this season. His ratios are still a bit high (4.34 ERA, 1.36 WHIP), so it might be a wait-and-see approach if he can take another step forward with his command before being fantasy relevant. (Ken Balderston)

Josh Gessner, RHP, 21, FCL

Gessner is a little old for rookie ball at 21, but he’s putting up solid strikeout totals (31 in 20.1 career minor league innings), albeit with mediocre command (4.5 BB/9). Gessner’s development might be questioned with so few innings now in 3 years of pro ball, but it’s worth monitoring how quickly he moves once he gets rolling with the Rangers. (Ken Balderston)

*Spencer Howard also heading to the Rangers

Jorge Soler to the Braves

Kasey Kalich, RHP, 23, A+

In a last-minute deal, the Royals sent Jorge Soler to the Braves for pitching prospect Kasey Kalich. He possesses some electric stuff thanks to a solid fastball and slider combo, with his mid-90s fastball coming close to triple digits at times. In the minors, he has only been worked strictly out of the bullpen. Basically a two-pitch pitcher, his ceiling is a good late-inning reliever. (Jared Perkins)

J.A. Happ to the Cardinals

Evan Sisk, LHP, 24, AA

Major league teams are always in the market for left-handed pitchers, so the Twins did well here. Sisk has moderate strikeout ability (12.2/9 in ’21), but also some control issues (5.4 BB:9 & 8 hit batters). It’s likely Sisk will eventually be a major league pitcher, but not really worth monitoring for dynasty leagues. (Ken Balderston)

Hansel Robles to the Red Sox

Alex Scherff, RHP, 23, AA

Scherff moved from the rotation to the pen in 2021 and has taken a bit of a step forward in the process. His ERA entering the year was 4.70 in nearly 200 minor league innings, but it’s currently 2.45 since joining the pen. His strikeout rate has risen also, sitting at 14.11/9 from 7.5/9, and he’s tough to hit, showing a 1.19 WHIP, despite walking an average of 4.5/9. It’s yet to be seen if Scherff can one day close major league games, but the improvement is encouraging. He’s one to keep an eye on going forward. (Ken Balderston)

Freddy Galvis to the Phillies

Tyler Burch, RHP, 23, A+

Burch is a bit old for high A ball, but he’s headed in the right direction. After opening the year with a 4.91 ERA in low A, he’s rebounded with a 2.45 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, and 9:1 K:BB ratio across 11 High A innings. I’m not sure I’d hold out for him to be a ‘closer of the future’ but the Orioles did well to add him for a couple of months of a player who’s currently injured in Freddy Galvis. (Ken Balderston)

Miles Straw to the Indians

Yainer Diaz, C, 22, A

Yainer has some very good bat-to-ball skills, resulting in a .327 career minor league batting average, and only 108 strikeouts in 768 at-bats. He doesn’t walk much, only 33 on his minor league career, but he has at least some power with a .150 ISO in 2021, consistent with his career numbers. Diaz is a long way from the majors, and his ultimate upside may not be high, but if you’re in a two-catcher league rostering upwards of 500 prospects, Yainer is worth a stash. (Ken Balderston)

*Phil Maton also heading to the Astros

Jordan Luplow & DJ Johnson to the Rays

Peyton Battenfield, RHP, 23, AA

Before being traded to Cleveland, Battenfield’s stock was already rising. He now lands in the pitcher’s promise land. He was recently promoted to AA where he sported a solid 32.4% strikeout rate. It was an astronomical 42.2% in High-A before that! Battenfield also pounds the strike zone and had a solid 1.73 BB/9 in AA. Originally a three-pitch pitcher, Battenfield added a cutter this year which has really helped him take off and put up the insane numbers he has this year. He couples his solid secondary pitches with a good mid-90s fastball with vertical movement. He is built and has the makeup to have the ability to sustain a long season. He should definitely stick as a starter and he is worth rostering as he continues to take off with his development. (Jared Perkins)

Cesar Hernandez to the White Sox

Konnor Pilkington, LHP, 23, AA

Not a household name before the trade deadline, dynasty owners should make themselves familiar with Konnor Pilkington. He features a low 90’s fastball, a plus change, and an improving slider. Pilkington throws from a three-quarters arm slot making him tough on lefties, especially with his repertoire. The results in 2021 are encouraging, with a 3.47 ERA, but also a 0.92 WHIP, thanks to a .173 BA against, and walking just over three batters per nine innings. He’s also struck out 71 batters or 10.3 K/9, a bit better than his ’19 total of 9.6/9. The White Sox are no slouches at developing prospects, but the Guardians are one of the best organizations in baseball at developing pitchers. They obviously like what they see in Pilkington, and it will be exciting to see him develop in that organization. (Ken Balderston)

Kendall Graveman to the Astros

Abraham Toro, 3B, 24, Majors

In a deal that had Mariners twitter ready to riot, Seattle got a pretty good prospect back. Toro has already hit a home run for the Mariners, softening the blow of dealing a high-end reliever to a division rival, who the team is chasing for a playoff spot. Abraham has good bat-to-ball skills and a solid approach at the plate. He also offers playable power, with a hint of more from time to time. It seems like those who scout the athlete will like this trade, and those who look at stat lines might be disappointed given Toro’s rough go in 2020, and mixed results in the big leagues in a small sample this season. (Ken Balderston)

Rich Hill to the Mets

Matt Dyer, C, 23, AA

Dyer is facing pro pitchers for the first time this year, and showing he has some pop in his bat, with 7 homers and a .220 ISO through 146 at-bats. He strikes out quite a bit (32%) likely in part due to the large zone his 6’4″ body creates. He’s taken 25 walks as well, which is encouraging, and maybe his most appealing stat is the 7 bases he’s stolen. Keep an eye on Dyer, if he can keep hitting home runs and stealing bases in the upper minors, he’ll start getting more attention. (Ken Balderston)

*Tommy Hunter also heading to the Rays


The Author

Ken Balderston

Ken Balderston

20+ years of fantasy baseball experience & currently only playing in dynasty leagues. Christian, proud father of 3, husband to the strongest woman in the world, accountant, golfer, cook.

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