Digging for DiamondsDynasty Baseball

Digging for Diamonds: Round 6

The name of the game is getting in early. Right? Is there a better feeling than finding a player you believe in, and watching him succeed? I know it’s the part of playing dynasty baseball I enjoy most, and I’d wager that most of you enjoy it as well. So, welcome back to Digging for Diamonds. An article series based entirely on finding prospects outside the TDG’s top 100 prospects that we present for your satisfaction. We think they’re worthy of your hearts and minds, and spill ours to share about their potential. However, we do need something in return.

Here’s the deal. We’re looking for this season’s best under-the-radar prospect, but we want your help. Each week a few writers will present you with a case as to why a particular player needs your attention. Your job is to vote on which prospect has piqued your interest the most.

You get a bunch of prospect info, we get some bragging rights. Deal? Make sure to vote in the poll at the end of the article. We’ll announce who moves on in the next article.

Now, let’s dig in.

Previous Diamonds

Round 1: Victor Acosta, SS, San Diego Padres

Round 2: Ezequiel Tovar, SS, Colorado Rockies

Round 3: Felix Valerio, 2B, Milwaukee Brewers

Round 4: Alex Ramirez, OF, New York Mets

Round 5: Jordan Diaz, DH, Oakland Athletics

Kyle Manzardo, 1B, Tampa Bay Rays

Age: 21 Highest Level: A+

Analysis by Ross Jensen

The Rays’ 2nd round pick last season, Manzardo is primed to be yet another example of the Rays big braintrust turning up underrated talent in the draft. Hailing from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Manzardo finished his college career with Washington State a career .336/.404/.533 hitter.  After a ho-hum freshman season (.699 OPS), Manzardo’s breakout began his sophomore year (1.194 OPS in 73 plate appearances), but unfortunately came to an abrupt end during the shortened 2020 college season. However, he followed the short season up with a stellar campaign as a junior to fix him on draft board radars, slashing .366/.437/.640 overall. In addition to his solid college career, Manzardo demonstrated his skills with wood bats in two summer leagues in 2019 and 2020, posting OPS’ of .883 and .942, respectively.

Manzardo has continued hitting so far in his young professional career, slashing .349/.440/.605 in his debut at the Rookie level. At 21 years old this season, the Rays challenged him with an assignment to high-A. So far, he has risen to the occasion, with a .310/.396/.560 slash, and a manageable 18.8% K rate (13 walks, 19 strikeouts in 101 plate appearances overall). Manzardo’s biggest critique is that he is defensively limited to first base (though for fantasy purposes, at a limited position, this ends up being a potential strength) and that his bat will need to carry him. The bat is so strong that Fangraphs has given him a 70 potential grade on the 20/80 scale.

Manzardo feasts on pitching, spraying the ball all over the park, controlling the zone, and taking walks when needed. He has a penchant for oppo tacos, as shown below:

Every now and then a player comes around that nobody expected to be as talented as he is. Paul Goldschmidt comes to mind. I’m willing to bet that Kyle Manzardo is that type of guy. Don’t miss your opportunity!

Jerar Encarnacion, OF Miami Marlins

Age: 24 Highest Level: AAA

Analysis by: Ken Balderston

I’ll admit it, I’m a sucker for big body hitters with massive power potential. After all, three of the 5 vanilla roto categories are centered around power, and that’s exactly what Encarnacion offers. He stands in at 6’4” and 219 lbs and looks every bit of it at the plate. High-waisted and broad shoulders, he uses excellent core strength and above-average to plus bat speed to power the ball to all fields.

Encarnacion had gained some buzz in the 2019 offseason after powering 16 balls over the fence and his plus raw power was on display at two levels. Then the cancellation of the 2020 season and a lackluster showing in 2021, Jerar faded back into the hedges like a Homer Simpson gif. It’s easy to point to his strikeout rate as a reason for failing that year, reaching nearly 40%, he was clearly not ready for AA and some of the advanced secondaries one sees outside of A+.

Fast-forward to 2022, and in his second go-around in AA Jerar mashed a triple slash of .358/.426/.583 while cutting his k-rate to 25% but backing it up with a walk rate just under 10%. True he’s benefiting from an elevated BABIP but that tends to happen to players who hit the ball hard, especially when they hit line drives over 20% as Jerar was (22.4%). The hot start to the season got Encarnacion promoted to AAA in the middle of May, and he’s kept up the hot pace. In his first 18 games at level, he’s managed 5 bombs and similar plate discipline.

AAA is of course right on the doorstep of a big-league debut and knocking the ball out of the ballpark could force the big club’s hand. The Marlins used to be known to have an incredible OF prior to the sale of the team in 2017, when they had Marcel Ozuna, Christian Yelich, and Giancarlo Stanton roaming the outfield grass. These days the outfield is stable, but not strong enough to block a callup if he continues to mash. Even in leagues rostering 350 prospects it’s entirely possible Jerar is available on waivers, and with as much raw power as anyone in the minors, he’s very much worth taking a shot on.

Bubba Chandler, SP/SS, Pittsburgh Pirates

Age: 19, Highest Level: FCL

Analysis by Andrew Jurewicz

With the Complex Leagues and Dominican Summer League kicking off I wanted to go with a prospect from one of these levels of play for this week’s diamond. Seeing Bubba Chandler on the Pirates FCL roster locked in my choice; a prospect with a tremendous upside and someone I’ll be regularly checking in on! Patience is going to be important with this selection as we’re talking about a prospect in rookie ball a number of years away, however, this is a name you should take notice for. 

Bubba Chandler was the Pittsburgh Pirates third round selection in the 2021 amateur draft (72nd overall) but was considered a first round talent by many in that draft class. The 6’3” 200 lb prep prospect is considered an elite athlete with four above average tools and a multi-sport star that included a commitment to play both baseball and quarterback at Clemson as a four star recruit. His fastball sits in the low to mid 90’s, can touch 97, and has a feel for the curveball with above average spin rates, though, his other secondaries and mechanics would be described as a work in progress. At the plate he’s a switch hitter with solid raw power including lots of contact from a quick swing geared for line drives. Covering a lot of ground defensively at the shortstop position and you know he’s already got the arm for it. At the FCL in 2021 we only saw him debut for a handful of at bats playing shortstop and DH with mixed results. I’m looking for him to more prepared entering his season to put up some more productive numbers. Back in February you can see Chandler getting some time in with the Pirates catcher and #1 overall pick, Henry Davis. 

It took the Pirates paying over slot with a signing bonus that comps to a late first round selection to sign him away from the commitment to Clemson. Why commit so much money into this pick? Chandler has never focused on baseball full-time and even then he’s shown flashes to be a legit two-way player. The Pirates are taking a calculated risk giving him the opportunity to focus on baseball full time hoping he’ll take a leap forward with the help of pro development. Dare we say like…Ohtani? We’ll have to watch and see! 

 

The Author

Ross Jensen

Ross Jensen

Ross has been a passionate fantasy baseball player and League Manager for over a decade. Ross's approach is to build league powers through hunting down talented minor leaguers and targeting players on the verge of breakout based on a variety of metrics, statistical analysis, and assumptions.

Previous post

TDG'S Triple Play: New York Mets!

Next post

TDG'S Triple Play: New York Yankees!