Shuffling the Deck: Post-Prospect Sleepers – NL West

The NL West doesn’t offer a great group of post-prospects to choose from, but with any luck everyone is tired of this idea. Let’s bring up the rear with a total lack of style!

Arizona Diamondbacks: Didi Gregorius – SS

Billed as the next coming of Derek Jeter by Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers, Gregorius had unrealistic expectations placed upon him entering the 2013 season. Known to prospect fans as a glove-first shortstop with a short swing and a chance to be an empty batting average type, Gregorius proved to be mostly that. He’s still very good with the glove, but was significantly less than Towers was hoping for, and likely not even as good as those with more moderate expectations anticipated.

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Shuffling the Deck: Ex-Diamondbacks

After trading away a potential superstar entering his prime last offseason (Justin Upton), Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers released his sequel to Winning the Offseason: The Totally Bonkers’ Way, with a couple of winter trades that make you go, “Hmm.”

And, as a fantasy baseball enthusiast, it’s a pair of moves I can really appreciate.

Towers plays the role of real-life GM like an off-the-cuff fantasy owner, proposing trades and trades and trades and hoping for a bite. It resulted in two more questionable transactions this offseason, the first of which sent Tyler Skaggs to the Angels and Adam Eaton to the White Sox for Mark Trumbo (and prospects). Then he forgot to hit the cancel button and jettisoned prospect Matt Davidson to Chicago for closer Addison Reed.

Kidding aside, Towers is a smarter man than I, and even if the majority disagrees with what he does, we can all agree that it makes for fantastic Twitter banter. This week, I take a look at the dynasty value of three former D-backs:

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Shuffling the Deck: Post-Prospects in the NL Central

While Ben wrapped up the AL side on Tuesday, I’m lagging behind thanks to a scheduling quirk. Here’s the NL Central:

Chicago Cubs: Junior Lake, OF

I’ve written about Lake before over at Baseball Prospectus, but he’s the guy for this post. He’s going to get a ton of at-bats in an outfield that currently consists of him, Nate Schierholtz (trade candidate) and Ryan Sweeney. I spent the majority of the aforementioned article arguing against Lake being what his surface stats portend him to be, and I don’t plan to argue against myself.

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Shuffling the Deck: Post-Prospects in the AL West

And so our tour of the Junior Circuit comes to an end with the AL West. In this edition, I don’t have to write about David Lough. Life is good.

Houston Astros: Robbie Grossman, OF

I think Jonathan Villar is the best post-prospect candidate on Houston’s roster, but I’ve written about him many times before. In the interest of diversity, I’ll cover Grossman, who was long one of my favorite “sleeper” fantasy prospects both when he was in Pittsburgh and once he was traded to the Astros.

Grossman’s been unsteady in his ability to hit for average throughout his minor league career, but one thing he’s always done is get on base. Grossman’s .332 OBP in 288 MLB PA last season was far and away the lowest he’s posted at any level since he was in High-A in 2010, and I believe in Grossman’s ability to work walks and hit enough to consistently post OBPs in the mid-.300s. Continue reading

Shuffling the Deck: Post-Prospects in the NL East

As Ben has so graciously introduced this series, I’ll dispense with the lengthy introduction and move right to the good stuff:

Atlanta Braves: Evan Gattis, C

We’re in a weird place with Gattis in the fantasy/online community. He was so hyped early on, and then became overrated and then stunk for a bit and I’m not sure he’s underrated as a player right now, but he’s… something.  As of now he’s Atlanta’s starting catcher and while they had the ability to protect him given his super-sub role last season, he actually faced RHP a majority of the time, and only did nominally worse against them (757 OPS vs 808 against LHP). On top of this, he’s got the one thing that every fantasy owner is craving: power.

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Shuffling the Deck: Post-Prospects in the AL Central

Last week on TDG, I kicked off this series with a look at five post-prospects in the AL East. I’ll continue my tour of the junior circuit below with a look at the AL Central, which contains an interesting mix of rebuilding teams, teams with a legitimate shot in 2014 and the Royals, who sit somewhere in between.

Chicago White Sox: Avisail Garcia, OF

The key component returning to Chicago in the Jake Peavy deal, Garcia is exactly what the doctor ordered for a franchise short on young hitters with impact potential. Something of a “pop-up prospect” in 2012, Garcia parlayed a nice 23-game cup of coffee and a playoff roster spot into 256 PA last season, hitting .283/.309/.422 with three steals.

There’s hope that Garcia will refine his approach as he gets old, but right now, his 2013 line is somewhat of a best-case scenario for what he can produce in 2014. Extrapolated over 550-or-so PA, and adjusted for BABIP and BGBOWSLAMRL (Ben’s Gut Based On What Seems Like A More Reasonable Line) that’d look something like a .270 average with 15-18 homers, 70 RBI and 10 steals. Continue reading

Shuffling the Deck: Mike Minor, A Major Transformation

On the surface, Mike Minor’s 4.12 ERA in 2012 is about as bland as it comes. And with Thanksgiving a day away, bland is unacceptable. We want succulent turkey, the sweetest cranberry sauce imaginable and all 21 of Craig Goldstein’s pies.

Seriously. He’s making 21 pies.

But if you were like me and bought into Minor’s 2012 campaign dry turkey and all, you were rewarded with an even better 2013. The 25-year-old registered several career bests, posting a 3.21 ERA and 1.09 WHIP to go along with 181 strikeouts in 204 2/3 innings. Worth 3.4 fWAR, Minor was Atlanta’s most valuable pitcher, topping Kris Medlen (2.5), Julio Teheran (2.4) and Craig Kimbrel (2.2). Overall, he was a top-30 starter.

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Shuffling the Deck: Post-Prospects in the AL East

Over the next few months, both here and on various other Internet Web Sites around the Internet, you’re going to read a lot about prospects.

Prospects are sexy. It’s easy to gloss over their flaws, because those flaws are just projections. Sure, Bubba Starling might strike out 30% of the time, but he could go for 30/30. Yes, Carlos Martinez is short, but what if he can stay on the mound. It’s the “can” that we fall in l0ve with, and that’s perhaps especially true when evaluating prospects for fantasy purposes.

What tends to get lost in all of the annual prospect hype is the “post-prospects” who’ve lost that shiny rookie eligibility but can still help or hurt your team. No one wants to talk about these players anymore because our preconceived notions of what they could  be are already tarnished or affirmed.  Continue reading

Shuffling the Deck: Jeremy Hellickson’s Luck Runs Out

Wil Myers took home the American League Rookie of the Year award in predictable fashion, giving the Tampa Bay Rays three ROYs in the past six years. Evan Longoria won the award in 2008, and Jeremy Hellickson followed suit in 2011.

Hellickson went 13-10 in 29 starts that season, posting a 2.95 ERA and 1.15 WHIP with 117 strikeouts and 72 walks in 189 innings. But since winning the award, Hellickson has been a peanut butter without the jelly sandwich, posting a 4.13 ERA and 1.30 WHIP with 259 strikeouts and 109 walks in 351 innings.

Out of 74 qualified starters since 2012, Hellickson’s 17.5-percent strikeout rate is 18th lowest (so not quite Kevin Correia bad), and he also holds the seventh-highest FIP alongside Joe Saunders, at 4.41, according to FanGraphs. Continue reading

Shuffling The Deck: Mike Olt

Mike Olt has had a really crappy 2013 season.

After crushing Double-A pitching in 2012 and shooting through the minors to earn a cup of MLB coffee, Olt began this year as a victim of the Rangers’ offensive depth. Blocked at his natural position by Adrian Beltre and also behind the likes of Mitch Moreland and Lance Berkman, Olt started the season in Triple-A, where many assumed he was an injury away from seeing regular MLB time.

You likely know the story from here. Olt hit just .213/.317/.422 in 268 PA at Round Rock for the Rangers before being dealt to the Cubs in the Matt Garza deal in July. Since then, Olt hit just .168/.276/.275 in Iowa, finishing with an incredibly ugly final slash line of .197/.302/.368 on the year. He’s performed so poorly that Donnie Murphy and Luis Valbuena continue to see regular playing time at third base for the Cubs, while Olt regroups and tries to recover in 2014.

For dynasty league owners, there’s really just one question that remains: does Olt’s down year provide a good buy-low opportunity for those in pursuit of prospect power, or are Olt’s flaws going to prevent him from seeing MLB success? Continue reading