For Whom The Bell(inger) Tolls

With rankings season rapidly approaching, I decided to take a stroll down memory lane. As part of last year’s Top 500 coverage, I wrote this about Dodgers prospect Cody Bellinger, who checked in as the #49 ranked first baseman on the list:

“Bellinger spent all of 2015 in the hitter-friendly California League at the High-A level, putting up video game numbers in the process, hitting .264/.336/.538 with 30 home runs, 97 runs, 103 RBI and throwing in ten stolen bases for good measure. He also struck out a ton in posting a 27.6 percent strikeout rate. With a little more discipline, Bellinger could turn into a very, very interesting deeper league sleeper. If you’re digging this deep at first base in a dynasty league, this is the type of prospect you want to gamble on.”

I remember writing this, but I also remember not really being sold. Sure, I looked at Bellinger’s numbers before starting on the entry and I was impressed. That said, I wasn’t sure that he was too much more than a nice, young player that was feasting on lower level pitching. Or for a more generous interpretation, “a very, very interesting deeper league sleeper”.

Oh boy was I wrong.

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Digging for Diamonds: Breakout Middle-Infield Prospects

Here are the previous parts to the series:

Jan. 1: Sleeper Middle Infield Prospects
Dec. 23: Post-Hype Middle Infielders
Dec. 12: Breakout Catcher Prospects
Dec. 5: Sleeper Catcher Prospects
Nov. 28: Post-Hype Catchers

If you are new here, be sure to check those out first for a more proper introduction. I am here to discuss some middle-infield prospects who I think have a chance to breakout next year and shoot up prospect lists, reach the Majors, and even help your fantasy teams, and soon. Continue reading

Small Sample Size or Foreshadowing?

This week, we will be taking an in-depth look at a rookie pitcher who turned some heads in his organization, earning him a showcase as a starter.  This happened partially out of necessity as his major league club dealt with both injuries and mediocre performance from their pitchers.  This player made only a single start across 4 minor league seasons before he was awarded with a handful of rotation turns down the stretch.  Many have pegged him as a bullpen piece, but that may be his new floor.  The one-time late round pick out of college is now poised to enter the spring as a legitimate rotation contender after his stuff has seemingly taken a step forward.  This player is one of my MLB sleeper picks for 2017. Continue reading

The Hunt For 2017’s 2012-Matt Carpenter, Joey Wendle Edition

It seems like every year, without fail, a middle infielder (or two) vaults into dynasty must-own territory from relative obscurity. 2012 gave us Matt Carpenter, 2013 gave us Brad Miller and 2014 gave us Joe Panik. They weren’t listed on top 100 lists, they weren’t guaranteed starting jobs, and by the time you realized they needed to be rostered, it was too late. Getting in front of these types before they become household names is an extremely profitable, but almost impossible strategy. Continue reading

Fantasy Flamethrowers

The MLB Statcast leaderboard for fastest pitches has a whole lot of Aroldis Chapman on it – so much so that there is a handy-dandy ‘Chapman Filter’ right on the page. The thing is, turning on that filter doesn’t really help. When you filter out Aroldis Chapman, you get a whole bunch of Mauricio Cabrera. Right away, there’s a name that’s not talked about nearly as much. That got me wondering, what do the hardest throwers in the Majors offer from a fantasy perspective? For that, let’s look at the leaders in average pitch velocity. Continue reading

Digging for Diamonds: 2016-17 Sleepers Middle Infield Prospects

Here are the previous parts to the series:

Dec. 23: Post-Hype Middle Infielders
Dec. 12: Breakout Catcher Prospects
Dec. 5: Sleeper Catcher Prospects
Nov. 28: Post-Hype Catchers

I do not want to spend too much time on a long intro since there are several sleeper middle infield prospects to discuss, so let’s get to it!

Jorge Polanco, 23, Twins: I wrestled with where to place Polanco, as I am not sure he was ever really ‘hyped’ enough to be considered post-hype, but he is also much older than everyone else on my ‘breakout’ list. He has already been named the leading candidate to open Spring Training as the Twins’ starting shortstop, and if he can start hitting less fly balls, he could end up being the next surprise shortstop to help your fantasy team, similar to a “poor man’s Lindor” or “a version of Elvis Andrus who has traded off some steals for batting average points,” and the writer even goes on to suggest he could have a surprise 20-homer season some year similar to Didi Gregorius’s 2016. Polanco doesn’t have the name-value that other young shortstops around the league carry, but he may end up out-producing many shortstops drafted ahead of him. All he needs to do is to realize he isn’t Alex Rodriguez and will never be a 40-homer hitter. If he can level out his swing and start smacking line drives, look out. Continue reading

The Unheralded Scott Schebler

This week, let’s take a look at a 2016 rookie whose climbed the minor league ladder from a late round draft pick to a starting outfielder on a major league team. While, like many, the player in question has some warts, he also possesses a number of key pluses, including an unusual part of his profile that is not often discussed in fantasy circles.
The 802nd player taken in the 2010 draft, Scott Schebler was an unheralded member of the great 2016 rookie class.  A multi-sport athlete in high school, Schebler is blessed with above average power and speed.  As many players before him, the former Dodger caught the eye of fantasy owners after a 2013 breakout season in the hitters paradise that is the California League (High-A) by slashing a powerful .296/.360/.581.  For good measure, he also chipped in 16 stolen bases and showed a knack for reaching base by any means necessary, as he was plunked 15 times.
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