TDG 2022 PLAYERS TO TARGET: THIRD BASEMEN
Yoán Moncada, Chicago White Sox, Age: 26, Rank: 7th
Moncada had a tough season in 2021, with injuries including hand, wrist, illness, and general overall soreness (someone should tell him, wait 10 years, and then you’ll see some real soreness, amirite?). In 2021, a lack of home runs (14), only three steals and 135 Runs + RBI in 144 games made many a fantasy manager pull their hair out. At least those in On-Base Percentage leagues were able to capitalize on his .375 OBP. Moncada always hits the ball hard, as a .359 career BABIP can attest and he also hit 33 doubles and has hit at least 32 in each of his first, full, big league seasons.
My Favorite Stat(s): 13.6% Walk Rate; 25.5% Strikeout Rate in 2021
Both career bests, over 616 plate appearances, walk rate Up, K-rate Down, is what I like to see as a player ages. Does it stand to reason that a guy who was dealing with nagging injuries zapped his power, but his elite batting eye remained great? Does a full season of health give Moncada a good chance to improve on his breakout 2019 season? I think it does.
Moncada was a top five prospect back in 2015 and 2016, so, seven years later, he has become somewhat old news. Key to the White Sox return for ace Chris Sale, Moncada is still only 26 years old with his best baseball most likely ahead of him. Currently being drafted in NFBC leagues as the 11th third baseman off the board (pick 145) there is a lot of value to be had by making him your third baseman. In Dynasty leagues he is a guy I am trying to add to my teams.
Mark Vientos, New York Mets, Age: 22, Rank: 21st
The 6’4″ 70-grade raw power Vientos was chosen by the Mets with the 59th overall draft choice in 2017. The fresh out of high school, 17-years-old Vientos played in his first professional season that same year. After a productive 2021, he finally cracked many top-100 prospect lists this off-season.
Vientos spent all of 2019 in Single-A, and then the 2020 minor league season was cancelled, so he worked out at the Mets complex. 2021 saw the Mets aggressively start him at Double-A Binghamton. Vientos was up to the challenge, hitting 22 home runs with 16 doubles and 102 Runs + RBI in only 306 plate appearances, and that earned him a promotion to Triple-A Syracuse for 11 games. A total slash line for 2021 of .281/.352/.581 shows that the batting average may not be the albatross that they appeared to be. While the strikeout rate was still too high (29%), the batting average (and a walk rate of 10%) give hope for improvement there.
My favorite stat: 33 walks 349 plate appearances (between Double-A and Single-A) in 2021
For comparison, in 2019 at Single-A, Vientos walked 22 total times in 454 plate appearances. Vientos’ bugaboo has been a low-grade hit tool, but this reputation/prospect grade of having a below average hit tool may be incorrect in the long run; the hard part of projecting a 17-year-old prospect who is not done growing and maturing as a hitter.
Vientos made the majority of his appearances at third base, but he also saw time in left field and at first base. As he is a below average defender at the hot corner, and Pete Alonso is the Mets first baseman, left field is where Vientos currently slots into the field when he reaches New York. Vientos will return to Triple-A in 2022 to work on his left field defense and prove the batting average improvements in 2021 are not a mirage. It is possible that his current dynasty manager still sees him as just a power bat with high strikeouts, and if that is the case, now is the time to make the effort to add him to your team. You can thank me later.