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This Articles Prospects Tip:
The dumbest thing you can do is trade a true major league fantasy stud in an effort to find a gem in the minor leagues. We will take the old bird-in-the-hand adage and change it to make our point:
A stud in the major leagues is worth 10 in the minors.
Introduction to Prospecting:
For the same reason fantasy baseball players love sleepers, they also love prospects. In many ways, most prospects will qualify on your sleeper list. In this article we will be focusing on minor leaguers- the prospects. Why are they called prospects? Think, the potential for Gold.
Fantasy baseball players hope to see the next Mike Trout around every corner. If he is young and some MLB club has offered him a minor league contract, he has potential. While the thinking process has good reason behind it, fact is, you have to do a lot of panning to find that one nugget of gold. In the rare instance that you find the rare nugget, the stories become personal folklore.
Here is my true story.
I was doing an NL Only Snake Draft in 2001. With my very last pick in the 27th round, I chose a guy on his way back to the minors. I had never heard of the guy, I had never seen him play, but I was all but out of names (hey, it was 12 team NL Only) to draft and he had led spring training in HR’s with eleven. A feat I would rarely consider a huge accomplishment.
A few days later, Bobby Bonilla got hurt and Albert Pujols was named to stay in the majors by the St. Louis Cardinals. That year, he won the Rookie of the Year, came in 4th in the MVP, and thus began a glorious series of 10 straight years of 30 or more HR’s and over 100 RBI’s. He was dominant. It was not a keeper league and the next year, I used my first rounder, the #2 pick in the draft, to get him again. I won the league both years. I loved the guy. For the next four years I played in that league I never got a high enough draft pick to draft Albert Pujols again- who was often gone after the first pick- and I never won that league again either. There is my story of finding gold, I hope the below helps you find yours.
While 2014 is likely NOT going to be a huge year for prospects/rookies, we do see a few potential nuggets.
Will make an impact in 2014:
GEORGE SPRINGER, OF, Houston Astros; DOB: 09/19/1989
2013 AA/AAA Stats: 135 Games, 590 AB’s, 106 Runs, 37 HR’s, 108 RBI’s, 45 SB’s, .303 BA.
If you are looking for a good major leaguer, you need a very good, borderline great, minor leaguer. If you are looking for a great major leaguer, well, you need an awesome minor leaguer. In 2013, for the AA Corpus Christi Hooks and the AAA Oklahoma City Redhawks, Springer put up monster numbers and we think he may be able to carry that into the majors.
As this kid hits 24 years old he has gotten steadily better to the point of a must see in the Astros centerfield position in 2014. He is going to strike out a ton, 161 times last year, and likely start off batting 5th/6th in that lineup. Despite that, he brings the full, 5 category fantasy tool set to the party. Lots of these kids wilt when they see a steady stream of 96 mile fastballs or breaking pitches that start in the strike zone and end in the dirt.
This one will have a learning curve that may have his 27% KO rate of 2013 running at 33% in April/May. But this guy has the talent, the power, the bat speed, the foot speed, and the maturity to overcome. When he hits the ball, he will make things happen.
If you are in an auction league, save money, don’t bring up his name and hope he can be gotten on the cheap late. ESPN does not have him listed in their early season top 150 HITTERS behind such notables as Yonder Alonso and Jonathan Villar- so they are giving him no respect whatsoever. We disagree. If you are in a keeper snake league, reach for him in the middle rounds.
If you are already playing an FSRU 12 team keeper league and 144 players are already off the board (12 teams x 12 keepers), do not be afraid to grab him up with your first round pick. He will likely not make it back to you in the 2nd round.
ARCHIE BRADLEY, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks; DOB: 08/10/1992
2013 Hi A/AA Stats: 14 Wins-5 Losses, 152 IP, 1.84 ERA, 162 K’s.
Bradley makes up half of the best one-two organizational pitching prospect punch in the minors. Bradley is 6’ 4”, 225 pounds, and throws heat. But he cannot throw 69 walks in 152 innings in the majors and survive against that level of batter. That said, he is a top of the rotation arm, rated number two prospect in the Arizona organization and likely to make his dream come true of starting in the majors in 2014.
Could make an impact in 2014:
JAKE BARRETT, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks; DOB: 07/22/1991
2013 Hi A/AA Stats: 3 Wins-2 Losses, 52 IP, 29 SV, 1.21 ERA, 59 K’s
With 12 walks in 52 innings, Barrett is not only armed with a mid 90’s fastball, but also nice control. While he can walk into 2014 as a setup man or closer, the Diamondbacks could also hold him back a bit to make him into a starter. One thing is for sure, Barrett will likely debut in 2014/2015, he will have a prominent role on the Diamondbacks pitching staff, and he is worth a flyer in deeper keeper leagues.
OSCAR TAVERAS, OF, St. Louis Cardinals; DOB: 06/19/1992
2013 AAA Stats: 47 Games, 132 AB’s, 25 Runs, 5 HR’s, 32 RBI’s, 5 SB’s, .310 BA.
Taveras went into 2013 as Cards hitting machine in the minors. Then he had an ankle sprain that finally ended with season ending surgery. Then comes the loss of Beltran opening up a starting spot in the outfield, followed by the Cards trading Freese for Bourgos again leaving them no place to play the talented kid. Taveras will not start with the Cards in 2014. But he is a much more talented player than .251 lifetime BA Bourgos. Whether Taveras finds his way to a 4th OF position, or he wins a platoon in spring training, even at his young age he has the talent to force the issue in 2014.
Already Overhyped for 2014:
BILLY HAMILTON, OF, Cincinnati Reds; DOB: 09/09/1990
2013 AAA Stats: 123 Games, 504 AB’s, 75 Runs, 6 HR’s, 41 RBI’s, 75 SB’s, .256 BA
Hamilton then added 13 SB’s in 19 AB’s and a .368 BA with the big club at the end of the season putting the fantasy community in a tizzy. ESPN preseason rankings has him #72 in hitters and we think the other expert publications will follow suit. But if you look at Billy Hamilton stats you have to feel he is a borderline major leaguer worth a late round flyer- nothing more. Obviously, he has great speed and can make an awesome SB impact. But a lifetime .280 minor league BA with no power will likely struggle to hold down a MLB outfield position. It is hard to have a great pinch runner, one stat spot starter on a fantasy team. Few guys go from the minors to the majors and find themselves. It happens, but projecting it to happen is quite another thing. While he will be a prize in the SB stat, expect Hamilton to be a burden on your other categories in rotisserie and have a minimal or no value in head to head. Telling you to draft him after the 20th round would be late to the dance advice, so all that is left is to tell you to let one of the other guys have him.
Worth Discussion in 2015:
BYRON BUXTON, OF, Minnesota Twins; DOB 12/18/1993- Currently in High Class A Ball.
MIGUEL SANO, 3B, Minnesota Twins; DOB 05/11/1993- Time is all he needs.
JAVIER BAEZ, SS, Chicago Cubs; DOB 12/01/1992- He has lots of bat, but 44 errors in 123 games tells you he needs lots of work with the glove.
If you liked Al OHarra's Prospect analysis, then it is time to read his 2014 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers article.
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