Prospect Talk

Prospects Traded at the Deadline (National League Teams Edition)

What a flurry of deals last week at the trade deadline! TDG team is here to introduce you to some of the prospects moved, and in some cases talk a bit about how their value is affected. Prospects traded to American League teams was published earlier this week – We hope you enjoy them both!

 

Johan Oviedo, RHP Pirates Ryan Felix Fernandes – One of the prospects the Pirates acquired in the, “I can’t believe Jose Quintana was an All-Star and good enough to be worth trading for…. Again! Damn it… sorry,  I’m a Cubs fan and watch Quintana become an elite pitcher for the Cardinals to lead them to a playoff run. Why did you have to give up Dylan Cease Theo!? Ok sorry I have worked out a deal with TDG that I can have one Cubs rant per editorial I contribute to.  Now back to Oviedo. He does come to the Pirates with major league experience as both a starter and reliever during his Cardinals career after signing out of Cuba in 2016. He debuted in the majors back in 2020 as a starter with an 0-3 record in 5 appearances. He started 2021 in Triple-A and even with pretty bad numbers during that stint the Cardinals brought him back up to the majors where he went 0-5 with a 4.91 ERA in 13 starts. The Cardinals had him go back to Triple-A again at the beginning of 2022 even though he continued to be used as a starter the Cardinals said fool us once shame on you, fool us twice shame on us… So this time take your ass to the bullpen. As a reliever, he did produce better results with a 3.12 ERA in 8 ⅔ innings and 11 strikeouts. With a four-pitch mix that consists of a four-seamer that hits 95 mph, a change, curve, and a newfound confidence in his slider which he used more this season. After the trade, the Pirates assigned him to Triple-A but should make an appearance on the Pirates’ major league roster later this season. The Pirates might try him again as a starter since that is what he has been his entire career till this season and the Pirates need help in the rotation. Do I think he will be a fantasy asset this season? No. Do I wish I can travel in time to stop Theo from making that Quintana deal back in 2017? Yes. Don’t do it Theo! Cease will grow a glorious ‘stache which will give him superpowers!! 

Malcolm Nunez, 3B PiratesRyan Felix Fernandes – Nunez is the prospect that the Pirates are probably banking on to make an impact from the Quintana trade. Signed out of Cuba in 2019 as an 18-year-old the Cardinals did have lofty expectations with his pedigree. As a 16-year-old he won a gold medal on the Cuban national team in the Olympics in which he had the best batting average during that run. In 2018 while in the Dominican Summer League, he won the triple crown with a slash line of .415/.497/.774 in 164 at-bats with 13 home runs. Unfortunately, those skills didn’t translate at A Ball the next year with the Cardinals and first year in the states. What I’m sure was just a huge adjustment for a 19-year-old he couldn’t hit above the Mendoza Line without a home run in 130 at-bats. After the cancellation of the 2020 minor league season, he was able to rebound pretty well in 2021 which led to a promotion to Double-A. Showing good contact and patience at the plate his above-average raw power started to show as well. This season before getting traded he had a slash line of .255/.360/.463 with 17 home runs and a 23.8% strikeout rate. With not much speed, but a great arm he was tabbed a 3B, but when the Cardinals drafted Jordan Walker they moved Nunez to 1B which will probably be his likely position with the Pirates. Nunez has a good chance of being a good offensive player for the Pirates with his ability to adjust the last two years against tougher competition, especially the progress he has had in the last two months. I wouldn’t be surprised if Nunez is in the starting lineup for the Pirates in two years. He is worth watching to see how he progresses in the minor league system this season so put him on your watch list. Also, don’t be surprised if you see his name pop up on numerous sites as an under-the-radar prospect to pick up next season. Also, don’t be surprised if I’m wrong.

Esteury Ruiz, OF BrewersRyan Felix FernandesRuiz got a lot of buzz earlier this year with eye-popping numbers that catapulted him from AA to the majors on the Padres roster in 78 games this year. After a horrid showing in the Dominican Winter League before the 2022 season in which he hit .163/.196/.209 in 20 games. Ruiz went to the lab and changed his batting stance along with his posture to help him identify pitches better. It sure looks to me like he cloned Alfonso Soriano’s stance at the plate and when Ruiz makes barrel contact it sure flies off the bat just like Soriano used to. This change led to a breakthrough 2022 season with an eye-popping slash of .333/.467/.560 with 60 stolen bases, 13 home runs, and 1.028 OPS. He also was able to lower his strikeout rate to 17.4% while walking 13.9% which are both career bests. With multiple injuries in the Padres outfield, Ruiz was brought up to the major league roster where he played a platoon role in 14 games and batted .222/.222/.333 and only one stolen base before getting traded to the Brewers. With only a small sample size of time in the majors and not a huge need to have Ruiz on the major league roster the Brewers decided to have him start in Triple-A. With the Brewers giving up an elite closer in Josh Hader in what had to be a salary dump move getting two average major league pitchers and Robert Gasser who has a good offering, but nothing elite. Ruiz is in all likelihood the player the Brewers are hoping to help ease the pain of losing Hader. At the age of 23 stands 6 feet even and weighs only 169 lbs so he can add some weight to his frame to maybe add some power. He has experience at 2B and all OF positions so he fits the super utility player with speed off the bench. If he can continue hitting and add to his frame to help him develop his raw power I wouldn’t be surprised if he becomes a poor man’s Alfonso Soriano who will be at the very least a stolen base champ for multiple years if he gets regular playing time in the majors.

Robert Gasser, LHP BrewersChris Knock – A college lefty with a potential plus slider? Interesting… and he’s traded to the Brewers? Very Interesting. Gasser was posting a K-BB% of 23.1% (which is excellent) while a member of the Padres org.  Now with the Brewers, it’ll be fun to watch him progress through their system.  He’s a name to add to my watch list if I’m rostering less than 200 players and be ready to claim if he starts dominating with the new team. 

Hayden Wesneski, RHP CubsRyan Felix Fernandes When I saw Wesneski on the mound during spring training I instantly thought of Mike Mussina with his personality and demeanor on the mound. Standing 6’3 with the classic metronome style delivery in which he uses his lower back and hips to lean back to gain more velocity. A deceptive delivery with a ¾ slot has led to hitters having a very hard time squaring up against him and he doesn’t have any fear of pounding the strike zone. Equipped with a five-pitch mix that consists of a two-seamer which is his go-to pitch that clocks in between 92-94 mph, a four-seamer that has gone up in velocity since being drafted that touches 98 mph, a cutter that ranges between 86-90 mph, a nasty changeup that has a biting movement, and what many love about him is a frisbee looking slider that breaks 20 inches that ranges between 79-82 mph with a beautiful sweep to batters on either side of the plate. His ability to throw glove-side with his breaking stuff is what makes him stand apart and can make him a staple in the Cubs rotation for many years. He will start in Triple-A but he will be in the majors no later than next spring training. He looks like a mid-rotation starter that will bring emotion and a competitive demeanor that hasn’t been in the Cub’s rotation since Jon Lester left. 

German Tapia, OF DodgersKen Balderston – If you’re looking for a young under-the-radar lottery ticket tye bat to add, you’ve found one in Tapia. A projectable 6’2” 170 lbs frame, Tapia has a quick bat and plus raw power, it will be very interesting to see the Dodgers work with the young man. Prior to the trade, he slashed .329/.500/.452 in the DSL, with a 23% walk rate and only 17% strikeout rate. He’s currently trying to steal bases, but getting caught more than he succeeds, but the bat is what we’re looking at here. If you have the space to take a chance on a prospect, German Tapia fits the bill. 

Trey Harris, OF NationalsKen Balderston – I’ll quote the great movie Moneyball here… 

Steve Phillps (on phone): “Who am I getting fleeced for? 

Billy Bean: “Hang on a sec. (phone muted)

Peter Brand: “Bennett, maybe…” 

Bean: “How old?” 

Brand: “26” 

Bean: “26, Double A? Forget it”

Nothing to see here folks, move along.

Ford Proctor, C GiantsKen Balderston – Formerly an interesting name based on his ability to get on base and even swipe a few bags as a catcher, Proctor has not hit for much power, failed to improve on his strikeout rate, and could be forced off the catcher position due to an inability to throw out runners. This profile screams super utility player.

Raynel Espinal, RHP CubsRyan Felix Fernandes – The Cubs acquired Espinal for INF Dixon Machado when the Giants were in a pickle and didn’t have a SS when Thairo Estrada was diagnosed with a concussion the day before. Espinal hasn’t shown much this year in Triple-A to make anyone think the Cubs have any intention to have him pitch in the majors. At 30 years old with control issues and a 5.29 ERA in Triple-A this year I don’t think the Cubs found anything more than a capable arm for organizational depth in the minor league system. As a Cubs fan I am ecstatic that the Cubs are trading for guys like this while I pay $10 each month for their Marquee channel to see him pitch in the minors! 

Christian Cerda, C DiamondbacksKen Balderston – The D’backs dealt David Peralta to the Rays for Cerda, a young catching prospect with a low offensive ceiling, no speed and defensive questions. Maybe we look back at this trade as an absolute steal for Arizona someday, but it certainly looks unlikely right now.

Zach McKinstry, UTL CubsChris Knock – Hitless in his first 4 at-bats with the Cubs, McKinstry should get plenty of playing time with the new club.  He had solid offensive success as a utility man in the minors but never could grasp a consistent role with the Dodgers. I would not rush out to pick him up but another to watch.  It shouldn’t be difficult for him to carve out consistent time all over the infield on the North Side. 

Jojo Romero, LHP CardinalsRyan Felix Fernandes – When you try to Google JoJo Romero the word Red Bull will be the next word that pops up in the algorithm. He became known as the Phillie who chugged a Red Bull before going into the game and smashed the can against his non-pitching forearm. Of course, I had to try it and now I can only type with one hand so I’m going to cut this short. Romero, who looks like a left-handed Kenny Powers, came back from Tommy John earlier this year and pitched a couple of games with the Phillies out of their bullpen. Has a four-pitch mix after adding a cutter this year. His fastball hovers around 95 mph with a slider and curve. He was sent to Triple-A after the trade to the Cardinals. He should be a bullpen depth arm for the Cardinals’ stretch run this season. He won’t be worth picking up in fantasy, but if you are questioning who Kenny Powers is. Then you should put Eastbound & Down on your HBO watchlist. Thank me later….

Noelvi Marte, SS RedsKen Balderston – A power speed prospect finding the upper echelon of ranks for several years now. Marte is having somewhat of a breakout season at A+ ball, with 17HR, 14SB, and a triple slash of .272/.356/.464. Also showing good plate discipline (21.3% K – 10.2% BB) alongside his power/seed numbers could suggest a move to AA is imminent, but at least where Marte will start the 2024 season. I’ve gotten the sense fantasy owners might have some prospect fatigue with Marte, though he’s likely gained value heading to a better hitters park and is only a skip and a jump from a big league shot. 

Edwin Arroyo, SS Reds Ken Balderston – I was impressed the Reds were able to net both Marte & Arroyo in the deal for Luis Castillo. Arroyo, an 18-year-old switch-hitting shortstop in A ball has shown great promise in his young career. A wiry 6’0” 170lb, his setup at the plate is similar to Francisco Lindor’s, he uses above-average bat speed and good plate control to make good contact from both sides of the plate, though he is slightly more successful from the left side. He’s showing good plate discipline but also the ability to hit the ball in the air with regularity. A 2nd round pick in 2021, Arroyo is a power speed prospect all fantasy managers should be trying to get onto their squad, and with his future home being GAB, there’s now even more incentive to do so. 

Levi Stoudt, RHP Reds – Stoudt was a bit buried in a deep Mariners system and could be buried in a revamped and now powerful Reds system. Armed with a mid-90s fastball and at least league-average slider, Stoudt’s best ability is his command. He also features a change that is a work in progress, and while it’s possible he develops into a mid-rotation starter, there’s also some risk of becoming a long man. Having just been promoted to AAA after spending most of the year at AA with a 5.28 ERA, the latter projection is likely more realistic at this point.

Andrew Moore, RHP Reds – Having never started a game in pro ball, it’s safe to say Moore will be a reliever, though he has the weapons to be a high leverage one. He features an above-average fastball, a developing slider, and a curve that has some real potential. So far in A ball, he’s punched out 59 batters in only 32 ⅓ innings. As is so common with minor league relievers, the command needs to improve but Moore has the stuff to be effectively wild. Another nice piece added by the Reds though a profile that is difficult to roster in fantasy leagues.

Jose Acuna, RHP RedsKen Balderston – A bit of a swingman with the Mets this year, Acuna has shown the ability to strike batters out but also a tendency to walk some. His best pitch is probably his changeup, and his fastball and slider both project to be average. He’s still young at 19 so I’ll be interested to see what the Reds do with him, but I’m not rushing out to add Acuna to my dynasty rosters right yet.

Hector Rodriguez, 2B RedsKen Balderston – At 5’8” & 186lbs, Rodriguez is currently a speed-first player but has also shown the ability to put the bat on the ball and has at least gap power currently. In the Mets complex league, his triple slash of .355/.396/.573 are eye-opening, but keep in mind it’s the complex league and a long way from major league competition. That said it’s always better to see a prospect succeed than fail, and Rodriguez carries enough upside to be rostered in deep leagues if you have an open spot.

Phillip Diehl, LHP MetsKen Balderston – A lefty reliever, something the Mets depth chart needs, has had on-again-off-again success through the minors. A 4.15 ERA this year in 28 appearances, but a 2.47 ERA in 2021. A 5.22 ERA in 2019, but 2.51 in 2018… One thing that’s always been there for Diehl, is the strikeout, with 11.22 K/9 throughout his minor league career spanning 333+ innings. Again, this was likely a nice addition to the Mets bullpen as they push for a playoff spot and hoping for more, but Diehl does not offer a ton of long-term fantasy appeal.

Colin Holderman, RHP PiratesKen Balderston – It feels funny profiling a 26-year-old reliever as a prospect, but technically Holderman is still a rookie. He’s not without potential, as Colin has put up a 2.60 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and about a K/inning at AAA this season. The previous two years were also useful, with a mid-3’s ERA and half-decent WHIP totals as well. At 6’7” and 240 lbs, and armed with a big-time fastball and a slider that is plus at times, the Pirates did well to add a potential future high leverage reliever here.

Jordan Groshans, 3B MarlinsChris Knock  – Drafted as a teenager with a future 30+ homer bat, Groshans hit just one home run thus far in 2022 (his fifth pro season). He’s shown to be a more patient batter than originally credited but the lack of home run pop is confusing. He’s never hit double digits in a season, but there’s still hope that he has low-20 power in his bat. At this point, I’m seeing a lot of similarities with his teammate, Brian Anderson, on likely outcomes. Great depth piece but nothing to jump on now. The road to MLB playing time has few roadblocks, so he could get a cup of coffee as early as this season but likely nothing significant until ‘23.

Saul Gonzalez, RHP Cubs Ryan Felix Fernandes – To be honest I have never heard about Gonzalez till I saw his name on this list. I pretty much chose to write about him because Mr. Cub Chris Knock hogged all the Cubs prospects on this prospect list so I picked Gonzalez just to mess with him. Acquired from the Mets for Mychal Givens. Gonzalez was drafted in the 23rd round back in 2018 and has been pitching primarily as a reliever in A ball this season as a reliever in which he has been having his best season with a 3.16 ERA with 29 strikeouts and only seven walks in 14 appearances. His numbers aren’t great, but the dude is enormous. If anything, just have him in the dugout whenever the opposing team wants to start a fight over one of those unspoken rules of baseball. The Cubs can just send Gonzalez out there by himself and that should make the other team think twice and get back into their dugout. Standing 6’7 and at 288 pounds he can generate some torque on his fastball topping out around 96 mph and is only 23 so he has room to grow which yes sounds scary. He has pretty good command but has a long way till he gets called up to the majors. Hey Chris! Who is Mr. “I know everything about the Cubs” now buddy? 

Tristan Peters, OF GiantsKen BalderstonA sneaky good move by the Giants, adding a mature OFer who hits both lefties and righties well, with moderate power and some in-game speed. He’s flown under some fantasy industry radars but put up some decent stats in 2022 with a triple slash of .299/.380/.468 mostly at A+ Wisconsin, but now getting a shot at AA Richmond. This is a profile that could develop some quite a fantasy value if he can continue to produce further up the ladder and into the bigs.

Jeremy Beasley, RHP PiratesKen Balderston – Technically a rookie, but already designated to the pen with poor results in the big leagues. Given he was dealt for cash considerations hints at the level of talent. Maybe the Pirates can unlock some results here but Beasley is very much on the outskirts of fantasy relevance. 

Nick Frasso, RHP DodgersKen Balderston – Returning from 2021 Tommy John surgery, Frasso is now firing the ball in at 100 mph with some regularity. He’s dominated the lower levels this season with impressive strikeout rates but also impressive control, with a K-BB% around 34% across two levels and 36+ innings pitched. Certainly, a name to keep an eye on and possibly add if you have an open roster spot.

Moises Brito, LHP DodgersKen Balderston – A young projectable pitcher standing 6’5” and 215 lbs at the ripe old age of 20. Brito doesn’t have the kind of stuff you’d suspect out of a large frame, with a fastball settling in around 90 mph, it’s his command which is bringing him current success, walking only one batter in 29 innings in the DSL. The Jays only allowed Brito to start two games of 12 appearances, so we’ll have to see how the Dodgers plan to use him before we decide if he’s fantasy relevant. Just keep in mind not to underestimate the Dodgers’ development system.

Michael Stryffeler, RHP GiantsKen Balderston – A reliever throughout his professional career, Stryffeler has shown the ability to strike batters out, never falling below 37% in three minor league seasons. Walks can be an issue, but home runs are not allowing only 6 over 93+ career minor league innings. At 26 and getting a shot at AAA with the Giants organization, it’s very possible Stryffeler becomes a high leverage big league reliever sooner rather than later. Stash him if you like, but I’ll share a quote from fantasy baseball icon Corey Schwartz of MLB.com – “The road to fifth place is littered with closers of the future.” 

Victor Acosta, SS RedsKen Balderston – The Reds added a ton of talent this trade deadline, and one of the rawest but most intriguing players they added was Victor Acosta. Armed with good bat-to-ball skills and a solid approach, Acosta gets the most out of his undersized frame and contributes to the game on the bases as well. While not likely a SS long-term, the bat is developing but also hints at great things. He’s a player who could really benefit from the change in park if he ever makes the big leagues in Cincinnati.

Christian Encarnacion-Strand, 3B Reds – Ryan Felix Fernandes – One of three prospects that the Reds received in the Tyler Mahle trade. Encarnacion-Strand can hit and hit and hit for power as well as contact. He can play both corner infield spots, but with Elly De La Cruz looking more likely at 3B with the other key additions of Noelvi Marte and Edwin Arroyo who both play SS it makes sense that some Reds insiders referred to Encarnacion-Strand as the heir apparent to Joey Votto. By the way, this whole heir apparent analogy always seems to be the kiss of death for prospects. Whenever I read someone is the heir apparent to a great player it usually doesn’t happen. Or better yet if that player does become the heir apparent of a great player they should have a huge ceremony like they do when they crown a king or queen who takes power. They can have Mr. and Mrs. Red dance around while Votto is on a throne at first base and Encarnacion-Strand walks up and kneels in front of Votto who takes his cap or batting helmet and puts it on Encarnacion-Strand’s head to signify he is “the heir apparent.” Don’t tell me you wouldn’t watch that!  Anyway, back to the analysis Encarnacion- Strand has a pretty textbook swing (and that is a good thing) and from the tape, I’ve seen he uses both a one and two hands follow-throughs with a slight leg kick now which is a lot cleaner than he used in college… He has quick hands and can pull the ball with great opposite field power. He was just promoted to Double-A before the trade, but that still hasn’t stopped him from hitting. This season in A+ Ball league he hit .296/.370/.599 with an OPS of .969 with 20 home runs in 294 at-bats with seven stolen bases. Like every prospect EVER he does strike out a lot at a slightly below 30% clip. He should be someone you put on your watch list or if you need a 1B prospect and the top 10 guys are already taken in your league he is someone you definitely want to keep your eye on. 

Ben Brown, RHP CubsChris Knock – Brown was dominating High-A with his plus changeup and fastball combo.  As the almost 23-year-old should have been.  The Cubs assigned him to Double-A after the trade, as they should have too because he wasn’t being challenged.  The Cubs already had some interesting upper-level starters and added another with Brown.  If he can come close to matching the impressive 35% K-rate while keeping the walk rate below 10%? Then in the long run Cubs fans may actually think  Hoyer did well yet again at this trade deadline.

Thomas Szapucki, LHP Giants – Chris Knock – I won’t hide this, I’ve had a soft spot for Szapucki for the better part of a decade now.  Injuries are his biggest concern and switching teams doesn’t help that typically (although departing the Mets never hurts). He had ulnar reposition surgery in early July, ending the season for him but should get opportunities to start in 2023.  Let’s see how he looks in spring training, but moving to Oracle Park could be a boon.  If he can stay healthy.  If…  

Nick Zwack, LHP GiantsKen Balderston – The Giants did very well in the Darin Ruff deal in my opinion, netting J.D. Davis and 3 prospects including Zwack. Being 24 and a 17th-round selection by the Mets in the 2021 draft, it makes sense Zwack wasn’t given an aggressive assignment in his first pro season, but in 76 innings he struck out 92 batters and produced a 2.36 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. He throws from a low ¾ arm slot and sits low to mid-90s with his fastball, but the results are there at the lower levels. I’m not sure this arm ever becomes fantasy relevant, but still, feel the Giants did well in this deal.

Carson Seymour, RHP GiantsKen Balderston – A big-bodied (6’6” 260) arm from the 2021 FYPD, Seymour is a bit old for A+ at 23, but in his first full season of pro-ball, he gets a pass due to inexperience and his 30.7% K rate and 25% K-BB rate. He’s already being tested in the pen and with suspect command and heavy usage of a high-velocity fastball, there’s no guarantee he becomes a starter. It would however be wise to keep an eye on what the Giants can do with the talent.

Robert Hassell, OF NationalsChris Knock – Entering this season Hassell’s ceiling was considered to be that of an annual All-Star and a yearly first-round fantasy pick.  The over-the-fence power hasn’t shown consistently and some of that shine has worn off.  Thus far in 2022 Hassell isn’t even showing great gap power. His ISO is an okay .168 and he has only 30 XBH in 75 games. What was once the dream of multiple 30/30 seasons, he is now showing more like a 15/25 peak.  That peak still holds fantasy value but doesn’t have that same allure early in drafts. 

Washington isn’t known as a great development organization but Hassell won’t have the same competition for playing time as he progresses either. Working in his favor, Hassell already has some of the best bat-to-ball skills in the minors. Along with his strike-zone awareness, any adjustments made in the effort of adding power shouldn’t slow him down too much from reaching the majors by the end of 2023.

James Wood, OF Nationals Chris Knock – Okay, so if you’re not familiar with James Wood at this point, know that he’s a very large man who’s skyrocketing up prospect lists. The 6’7” 19-year-old is built like a college power forward with speed. In his 50 games for the Low-Padres affiliate, he rocked a strong .273 ISO and kept his K-rate impressively low at 17.8%. Large humans such as Wood typically have swing plane holes, so be prepared to have that number ebb and flow as he progresses up the ladder. But to start his professional development so successfully is remarkable and emphasizes his ability to adapt. 

I mentioned his speed, he already has 15 steals on the year at Low-A so he is fast. Although I have a hard time anticipating anything beyond the upper teens in the majors. Wood has been caught stealing 5 times this season at a level where many prospects can run wild, so his 75% success rate doesn’t really stand out. Defensively, Wood has shown the instincts to perhaps stick in centerfield but could move to a corner position where his 10+ stolen base potential will be a stronger benefit for fantasy purposes. 

Despite thinking the trade to Washington slows Hassell’s development, I actually feel differently with Wood. He grew up in Maryland and went to IMG Academy – playing alongside the Nationals 2022 #1 pick, Elijah Green. This is as close to a homecoming as many ball players get. The comfort in the setting along with the lack of competition in the system will allow Wood to settle in and focus on hitting. I already considered him my 23rd prospect overall and many lists have him even higher. His dynasty stock knows no bounds and with each at bat moves him closer to top 15, regardless of the development organization.

CJ Abrams, SS Nationals – Ryan Felix Fernandes – In this era of MLB I kind of wondered if Abrams would never really get a chance at playing SS and be appreciated for what he brings to the table. A throwback type talent in which he hits for contact, won’t strikeout at a 25% clip, uses his speed that not many major league players can match to help him leg out hits, has good range, decent arm for a SS, works the count but not as much power as this new wave of shortstops like the guy that blocked him in San Diego. Now with the Nationals, he should get a chance to play at short even though they have Luis Garcia who will probably move over to 2nd. The one issue will be that the Nationals don’t have much pop in their lineup after trading away the two players (Juan Soto and Josh Bell.. Did you hear about that trade?) who led them in HRs, RBIs, slugging, OBP, and OPS. Leaving 42-year-old Nelson Cruz the leader in most of these categories. So with Brady House who is projected to be a 25+ home run guy and only plays SS. As they say, the House always wins!!! (if they put that on shirts in Washington when he is on the team then they are missing out) But, it is inevitable that Abrams will move to CF eventually with how the National’s roster is set up now. Just prepare your roster in case you were banking on Abrams of being your SS of the future. Now that doesn’t spell doom for Abrams! He will be a .300 plus hitter, get a bunch of hits each season, and steal at least 25 bases a season, wouldn’t be surprised if he has a couple of seasons that he has double digits in home runs, make an All-Star team or two, and be an asset on your roster. He just won’t be an elite guy or a top 100 fantasy player that maybe you read somewhere else when he was drafted or the last couple of years. If he somehow ends up 2B it does up his value so watch the National’s roster moves before House and most of the guys from the Soto trade join their major league roster.

Jarlin Susana, Nationals – Ryan Felix Fernandes – If you were going to go into a lab and you say to the the science dude, “I want to make the Terminator of pitching prospects!” you will get Susana. He wears sunglasses in most of his pictures too even when he signed his contract with the Padres which makes me think this. I wouldn’t be surprised one day if a reporter asks him how he throws triple digits at the age of 18 that he cuts open his arm to show he has a robotic limb. Seriously, this kid is only 18, he is 6-6 and 235 pounds! What do they eat or drink in the Dominican Republic that these kids are this size? Is it something they put in the Sancocho? Or maybe that Carambola fruit they eat there? I don’t know but if I ever have a son I’m making him only eat that stuff and count that bonus money he is going to make every day till he gets drafted!  In all seriousness, if all goes right in five or six years we will be saying that Susana is the best player that the Nationals got in the Soto trade. He isn’t just size (did I mention he is 6-6) and can throw fast, he already knows how to pitch with three solid offerings to go with his fastball that tops at triple digits. The fastball ranges between 93-97 mph, a slider that runs 84-87 mph, a power change that has a late sink that is in the 86 mph range, and a curve that is a work in progress that runs in the low 80s. He was in rookie ball before the trade where he pitched 29.1 innings with a 2.45 ERA, 44 strikeouts, 11 walks, and a 0.89 WHIP. Of course, a lot can happen between now and his projected ETA of 2025, but if you have a minor league bench that affords you to wait on a prospect who can be a top-tier starter who is still under the radar you should pick up Susana. And WTF Amazon!!! $16.99 for three seeds to grow Carambolas?!? Just the seeds and only three of them? I don’t farm.. Guess my hypothetical son can learn how to farm too… 

Jay Groome, LHP Padres – Ryan Felix Fernandes – The lone return to the Eric Hosmer trade from Boston. Groome is a blast from the past for those who follow prospects. I remember back in 2016 many MLB experts who I follow said Groome was the best prospect coming out in that draft or at the very least the best pitching prospect. One went as far as to say Groome was the best prospect to come out since Clayton Kershaw. Ok, that was me who said that, but still I got three likes on Reddit when I posted that…  He fell to the Red Sox at number twelve after some issues with signability. Fast forward to 2022 and Groome has dealt with Red Sox management questioning his desire and conditioning, family issues that made the news, Tommy John surgery, and the 2020 season being canceled which all hampered his development and led to him being moved to San Diego. He did get his career back on track in 2021 by pitching a full season and this season he earned a promotion to Triple-A. He didn’t fare that well in the three starts he had in Triple-A before the trade so he will start his Padres career in Triple-A and probably will stay there for the remainder of the season to get adjusted to higher competition unless he turns it around in a major way or the Padres need arms in the bullpen for their playoff run. Hopefully, a change of scenery will help him get back to maybe what he was projected to be back in 2016. He has a good change and slider, along with an improving changeup that has looked good this season. His fastball has gone down progressively in velocity which is a concern, but many think it is due to his weight change that has caused this along with some athleticism. Welcome to the party buddy! Wait till you hit 40! Groome is someone to watch next spring training especially if he comes in better shape and improves his conditioning. He can push for a spot in the rotation if the Padres choose not to sign a couple of in-house free agents. 

Spencer Steer, 2B Reds – Ryan Felix Fernandes –  Many times scouts and management think they can make a player into something they aren’t or with a tweak or two to their mechanics to untap some potential that they haven’t shown in high school, college, or internationally. Well, with Steer the Twins thought that they could turn a guy who hit 17 home runs in 730 at-bats in college into a power hitter. And to their credit (and Steer’s hard work) he has turned into a power hitter. In 2021, after working on his hitting mechanics (especially the lower part of it) he was able to hit 24 home runs in 417 at-bats in A and Double-A ball, and this season in between Double-A and Triple-A he has 20 home runs in 354 at-bats. He was able to amass a decent stash line of .271/.365/.517 for a slash line while striking out at only a 22% clip which is pretty good for someone who changed their entire hitting approach. It earned him an invite to the Future’s Game and also a one-way ticket to Cincinnati in the Mahle trade. By the way, is Tyler Mahle that good of a pitcher? Was he worth Steer, Encarnacion-Strand, and Hajjar? I don’t know maybe he is and I know I’m just looking at minor league numbers, but it seems like the Reds got a pretty good haul for a guy who was 5-7 with a 4.40 ERA this season before the trade. This is exactly why you guys in your league send out feeler trades or even be that annoying guy who sends five trades a month just to see what you can get if you think you get from players who might not be in your future plans or won’t want to keep. You can see who you can “Twinkie” and find yourself some players who can help you for the next ten seasons. I am soooo going to use that Twinkie term when I screw someone on a trade. Get what I did there? You didn’t? Well, I don’t care. I still think it is gold and will be using it. So Steer will start his Reds’ career in their Triple-A and should get a look in spring training to make the roster with that total revamp they’ve done with their team. He doesn’t do anything elite but will be a good player for the Reds in a super utility-type role. He will probably be on the waiver wire till next year and be a fill-in guy on waivers or a valuable guy on your bench who can play multiple infield positions in your lineup, Someone you want to keep your eye out in Spring Training and throughout 2023. I wonder if they make those twinkies with the strawberry filling still?

Steve Hajjar, LHP Reds – Ryan Felix Fernandes –  The last piece to the Reds’ Twinkie package for Mahle. Hajjar is another guy who is 6’5 and can top out at 93-95 mph. I mean seriously is there a place where these kids are being made? I think this is like the sixth guy that got traded this deadline that is this size and throws this hard. I really got the short stick in this thing called life. I guess I got twinkied.. Wait, that sounds weird. Sh*t I forgot to see if they make those twinkies with strawberry filling. Anyway, Mr. America here has a four-pitch mix with the fastball that hits 95 mph, a very good chance that is in the low 80s, a curve that has a nice bite in the upper 70s, and a work-in-progress slider in the mid to high 80s. A good mix that should keep hitters guessing along with an overhand delivery that just makes it a lot more difficult to get a read for a hitter who is facing this giant on the mound. He is only in high A ball and has only pitched more than five innings twice in 16 appearances in his professional career. He is continuing to add velocity to his fastball so he is in the wait-and-see category. You should be able to pick him up next season if he makes any jumps in his game over the winter. WTF! They only sell those twinkies around Valentine’s? I can’t be 6’5! I can’t throw 95 mph! And now I can’t get one of those twinkies!      

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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