MLB.com recently updated their newest top 100 prospect list. I enjoyed reading about it, but felt that their was a lack of these lists for FANTASY purposes. I have taken their list and re-calibrated it for fantasy purposes. I eliminated all fielding and throwing grades for the players, and for pitchers I took their first 3 pitch ratings and control into account. I should also mention that I did not put any emphasis on 2014 contributions. At the bottom of my list I included a handful of international players that may be worth looking at, but I kept them separate from my rankings. Also another name to be familiar with is Carlos Rodon, still pitching in college, he looks to be the obvious choice for the first overall selection in the upcoming draft. Some scouts think he would be immediately placed into the elite group of prospects. Would compare favorably to Appel. If you think these rankings need adjustment or are missing somebody, please leave a comment below. You may be able to talk me into changing my rankings.
|1. Bryon Buxton OF – Buxton was given a 70, 60, 80 for hitting, power, and running tools. For those that don’t know the scale peaks at 80.|
|12. Miguel Sano 3B- Has the highest power rating of the listed prospects. 55, 75, 40. With that power, I don’t need you to have speed.|
|3. Oscar Taveras OF – His path looks blocked to the bigs right now, but profiles at 75, 60, 50. Pure hitter.|
|4. George Springer OF – Almost went 40-40 in his 2013 minors season. Still has some holes in his swing though.|
|5. Xander Bogaerts SS – Don’t expect to find him in a minors draft. He will be drafted in standard drafts this year. 60, 70, 50.|
|6. Javier Baez SS – Big time power, Castro is blocking Baez at short but would still be valuable as a 2b. 60, 70, 50.|
|7. Carlos Correa SS – Still a few years away most likely. Shows elite skills though, 60, 70, 50.|
|8. Jonathan Gray P – First pitching prospect in the rankings. Best fastball in the minors, but is currently in the Rockies system.|
|9. Dylan Bundy P – Injures hurt Bundy’s rankings with mlb.com. I’m not worried about 2014 however, and he is really good.|
|10. Austin Meadows OF – High school phenom at 60, 55, 60.|
|11. Clint Frazier OF – Another high school phenom most scouts group these two together. 55, 65, 60.|
|12. Gregory Polanco OF – Looks to be an all-around OF; 60, 60, 70. I’d prefer higher marks and less balance in my fantasy lottery tickets however.|
|13. Addison Russell SS – Little bit of a shortstop bump, but a well rounded athlete. 60, 60 55.|
|14. Kyle Zimmer P – Highly athletic pitcher. Good fastball and a 60 rating in control, which seems to be high for a lot of pitching prospects.|
|15. Lucas Giolito P – Like Gray he got an 80 on his fastball. Everybody likes upper 90s fastballs.|
|16. Mark Appel P – Pretty seasoned coming out of college. Won’t need long to break in.|
|17. Nick Castellanos 3B – Like Bogaerts he is also entering the season with a job in the bigs, and could be snagged in regular drafts. 70, 60, 40|
|18. Jorge Soler OF – Not as sure of a thing as the higher prospects. Still shows great skills. 55, 65, 50.|
|19. Maikel Franco 3B – A power guy at 3b. 60, 70, 30.|
|20. Kris Bryant 3B – Big bodied corner infielder with power. 55, 70, 40|
|21. Robert Stephenson P – Has 2 top tier pitches so far.|
|22. Noah Syndergaard P – Good 70 fastball and 60 control.|
|23. Billy Hamilton OF – Will be drafted this year in redraft leagues, and may go relatively high in ROTO auctions. He is all about speed. 50, 30, 80.|
|24. Corey Seager SS – Still young and developing. Good hitting middle infielder, but won’t provide much speed. 60, 60, 40.|
|25. Eddie Butler P – High 90s fastball with a 75 ranking, still has work to do though.|
|26. Kohl Stewart P – Similar profile to Butler, still developing secondary pitchers.|
|27. Aaron Sanchez P – Good repertoire of pitches, needs to work on command.|
|28. Albert Almora OF – Projects as a better baseball player, than fantasy player. 65, 55, 50.|
|30. Adalberto Mondesi SS – Sometimes goes by Raul like his dad,and his brother. Don’t draft the wrong one. He’s young and talented. 55, 50, 60.|
|31. Jonathan Singleton 1B – Only 1B on the list. Power guy in the Astros system. 60, 60, 30.|
|32. Andrew Heaney P – Probably better secondary pitches than his fastball at a 60. Good command as well.|
|33. Kevin Gausman P – May break camp with a spot in the Orioles rotation. 70 fastball and good command (60).|
|34. Allen Webster P – Solid across his three pitches, could improve some with his command.|
|35. Archie Bradley P – Good one two punch, needs to develop his off-speed stuff more.|
|36. Jameson Taillon P – One of the better change-ups in the minors. Pirates don’t move very quickly with their pitching prospects.|
|37. Joc Pederson OF – Buried in the Dodgers OF right now. Good overall talent; 55, 55, 55.|
|38. Gary Sanchez C – Good hitting catchers are always interesting. 55, 65, 30.|
|39. Francisco Lindor SS – Another guy that may be a better baseball player than fantasy asset. 60, 40, 55.|
|40. Jorge Alfaro C – Some power from the catching position. 45, 65, 45.|
|41. Travis d’Arnaud C – The oldest guy on the list, and one with a starting gig to start the 2014 season. 55, 60, 30.|
|42. Alex Meyer P – Two plus pitches, like many other young pitchers still needs to develop better command.|
|43. Yordano Ventura P – He throws hard. 75 rating on his fastball, and has some compliment pitches to go with it.|
|44. Taijuan Walker P – Another guy that may be drafted before any prospect picks are made. Could be in rotation in 2014.|
|45. C.J. Edwards P – Former 48th round pick, and with a skinny build. Throws in the low 90s.|
|46. Henry Owens P – Has 3 solid pitches.|
|47. Kyle Crick P – Better fastball than some of the pitchers above him, but needs more work with his control.|
|48. Max Fried P – May lack a dominant fastball, but good secondary stuff could help compensate.|
|49. Tyler Glasnow P – Similar to Crick, has a good fastball but has room to develop better control.|
|50. Austin Hedges C – Decent with the stick, which is relevant from the catching position. 50, 50, 40.|
|51. Jackie Bradley – Should open with the Red Sox in 2014, a better baseball player than fantasy asset. 60, 45, 50.|
At the top I mentioned some international players to keep an eye out for. Suk-Min Yoon is a Korean pitcher who make look to follow Hyun-jin Ryu’s path to the majors. Kenta Maeda is the best pitcher after Tanaka left in Japan, and his team should be more eager to post him than Tanaka’s club was. Rusney Castillo is a talent out of Cuba. If Chapman, Cespedes, and Puig are any indication I’d keep my eyes out for defecting Cubans. Shohei Ohtani is an 18 year old pitching in Japan. He initially wanted to go straight from high school to America, but was talked into play for Japan. He pitches and starts in the field for his team in Japan. Shintaro Jujinami is another 18 year old Japanese pitcher who has a lot of talent.
The 2013 fantasy baseball season is in the books. There were sleepers who excelled, sleepers who kept on sleeping, breakouts that broke out and breakouts that just broke. This post is going to discuss strategies and other aspects of a fantasy season that went well for my H2H points league.
Strategy going in: With rosters locking weekly, this eliminates streaming pitchers. I wanted to maximize starts for my pitchers, so I targeted starting pitchers with RP eligibility. I drafted Medlen (as my second pitcher, after Kershaw), and got lucky with an week 1 or 2 add of Iwakuma. I rode Iwakuma and Medlen all season long as my RPs. After I established my RP advantage, I focused on two start pitchers. I had a staff of Kershaw, Lester, and Peavy, but frequently was starting fringe guys with two starts. I drafted hitter heavy in my draft, and had a couple huge free agent pickups very early in the season.
Free Agent Pick Ups: I snagged Matt Carpenter in the first few weeks of the season, and I added Jean Segura when Jose Reyes went down. These guys turned out to be huge contributors to my team already rostering, Ortiz, Zimmerman, Bautista, Prado, Butler, Gordon. I also took advantage of early season struggling player who were dropped by their managers. Cespedes, and Ian Desmond.
Summary: I was told that pitching wins these head to head leagues. That may be true, but I still argued that I could find pitching, and that I didn’t have to draft it early. I took Kershaw in the second round (I
Masahiro Tanka has signed with the Yankees. Now that we know where he will be doing his pitching, it is time to look at what we can expect from a fantasy perspective for 2014. There are two major exercises I undertook to project Tanaka. First was to take a look at Dan Haren‘s numbers as a 25, 26, and 27 year old. The reason I pulled up Haren’s numbers is because his pitch arsenal most reflects Tanaka’s.
The second undertaking was to analyze Tanaka’s stats from Japan. In order to do this I pulled up Yu Darvish‘s last two years in Japan and compared them to his first two yeas with the Rangers. I found that Darvish’s wins, innings pitched, and strike out numbers were fairly similar between leagues. His average ERA was 2.09x higher than his average ERA in Japan, and his average WHIP was 1.27x higher than his average whip in Japan.
|Darvish in Japan||W||ERA||IP||SO||WHIP|
|10 & ’11 AVG||15||1.61||217||249||0.92|
|Darvish in MLB||W||ERA||IP||SO||WHIP|
|12 & ’13 AVG||15||3.37||200||249||1.18|
If we apply these adjustments to Tanaka’s stats over the last 3 years this is what his MLB projection would look like.
|Tanaka in Japan||W||ERA||IP||SO||WHIP|
|11 ’12 ’13 AVG||18||1.47||204||198||0.95|
|Tanaka MLB Projection||W||ERA||IP||SO||WHIP|
“Converting” his stats in Japan to the MLB ends up looking fairly similar to Haren’s numbers as a 25-27 year old. This isn’t an exact science of course, but if Tanaka can get somewhere around these numbers, he should be valuable on any fantasy roster.
Adrian Gonzalez is a safe bet come draft day. He currently is flying a bit under the radar among first basemen, but not every fantasy pick needs to make the room go “ooooh”. Take Gonzalez and pencil into your projected stats, 20 Home runs, 100 RBI, a .290 AVG, and hope for anything more as bonus.
Well that was one of the easier player profiles so far. More to come throughout the off season!
Freddie Freeman has put his name into the conversation among fantasy studs. We have seen a range from .259 to .319. Freeman who enters his year 24 season, still can have some upside. I don’t necessarily expect him to become a 30 home run guy, but I would venture to be optimistic when it comes to his batting average. If we just split the different and call Freeman a .282 hitter like in 2011, I am comfortable with that. Give me my 23 Hrs, my 100 RBI, with a .282 average and I’m content.
Freddie Freeman seems like a pretty safe bet to be among the top 1B producers. He may not be one of the elite 1st round type producers, but perhaps that will make him a fantasy steal for some.
2014 projection for Freddie Freeman:
I have been a big fan and frequent drafter of Troy Tulowitzki. I have ridden his hot streaks right through fantasy playoffs and onto the championship. But he is not without risk, and that risk is primarily is health. It is hard to predict injuries, it is often a fluke injury sliding into home plate, or washing your RV. Tulowitzki has shown however a tendency to get injured enough that it must be a factor in your decision making. If an owner can get 500+ at bats out of Tulowitzki in 2014, that owner is looking at 30 home run, 100 runs batted in guy.
So lets say that he is worth the draft spot, and we take him. Lets say that he does get his 500 at bats, what are we worried about now? Sure he enjoys hitting in Coors field but he is also under contract with the Rockies for some time. Plus Tulowitzki is no slouch on the road. 11 of his 25 home runs last year came on the road, as well as his .281 batting average while on the road.
And his career home and road splits:
Tulowitzki is a risky top pick, but after the first handful or so picks, there are not many players without some sort of risk. Considering the short stop eligibility, why not take the risk on a short stop who could come up big?
Hanley Ramirez appears to be happy in Los Angeles, and a happy Ramirez is a .300 hitter. We don’t have statistics for happiness, but Ramirez seems to enjoy his new city, and seems to enjoy the star power around him. No I am not talking about Hollywood, I am talking about Gonzalez, Kemp, Puig, and the like. Ramirez produced enough in 2013 to be the first shortstop taken in most 2014 drafts.
The at bats were down in 2013 due to injuries. If Ramirez can stay healthy in 2014 it would be fair to expect a healthy increase in runs and runs batted in. The stolen bases I have no doubt are in decline, and a fantasy owner should not bank on his old 50 or even 30 stolen base days. In many draft Ramirez may be a first rounder. This is primarily due to his position being shortstop. An owner is not maximizing their projected statistics by taking Ramirez in the first round compared to many of the other first rounders, who will hit with more power, or run with more speed. But an owner will be drafting a shortstop who can produce significantly more than the second tier of shortstops available.
As I mentioned earlier I do believe Ramirez is a .300 hitter. In 9 seasons Ramirez has had 3 season under .300, one of which was his rookie season (.292). The other two season below .300 were 2011 and 2012, these were the seasons where Ramirez was not happy with his playing situation in Miami. It is unsettling that a disgruntled Ramirez could mean a 60 point drop in batting average, but we have reason to believe that he is happy and ready to produce.
I would prefer to use my early picks on players that are going to boost my counting numbers, Ramirez can not do this to the degree other top notch players can. But if your goal is to get strength at a weak position Ramirez may be a good choice.
My 2014 projection for Ramirez:
Jacoby Ellsbury got his big contract for the Yankees, and will require an equally high investment in fantasy draft rooms. But what are you investing in exactly? In 2013 Ellsbury put together a fine season:
The stolen bases really stand out in this stat line. He will supply runs and a good batting average as well, but is he a first rounder? I have found that you can typically find stolen bases later in the draft. They may not come from as balanced of a player, but I’d prefer to pick up power in the early rounds. You want to argue that Ellsbury can hit for power? You think he will benefit from the jet stream going to right field at the new Yankee stadium? Lets take a look.
In 2011 Ellsbury was fantasy gold, added power to his speed game.
I quite simply do not buy the power numbers, I think they were some sort of mirage. His home run totals since have been, 4 and 9, and I do not think Yankee stadium will be a big help. In that awesome 2011 season Ellsbury hit 4 home runs at Yankee stadium.
These are his career numbers at the new Yankee Stadium:
Notice the home run numbers are the same. I will prefer to find my stolen bases elsewhere and wait on Ellsbury, unless he falls enough in draft, which I do not expect him too.
My 2014 Projection for Ellsbury:
After Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera the first round picks are open for debate. One player I find interesting in this mix is Carlos Gonzalez. Gonzalez had a strong year in 2013, and did so in only 391 at-bats. He did however strike out over 25% of his at-bats, which is worrisome, but also much higher than his previous seasons. It is as surprising as it is worrisome to note that he still hit over .300 while striking out at this rate.
The two previous years Gonzalez averaged 500 at bats. Had Gonzalez remained at his 500 at-bat average his numbers would have been stronger, potentially as a top 5 fantasy hitter. Gonzalez has experienced some injuries in his career that must be accounted for when deciding to take him in a draft. The other aspect of Cargo’s game is to analyze is his home ballpark. He enjoys hitting at Coors field for half his season, but is no slouch hitting on the road.
Cargo is also under contract with the Rockies until 2017, so the risk of his leaving the mile high stadium are minimal as well.
My 2014 projections for Gonzalez:
The fantasy football season has come to a close. That signals that start of fantasy baseball for me. Here are some important things to look at as your prepare for the 2014 baseball season.
1. 2013 Reflection: What worked well for you last year? What did not work well for you? What worked well for the people that won your leagues? Did your team just get plagued by injuries last year? Did some of your top picks bottom out? Did the guy who drafted only power hitters in your league do well? Maybe this year you draft with less injury risk, or take safer but lower ceiling early picks, or draft for power. If you have statistics available from last year, take a look at them, use those numbers to set goals for your team, which will help with how to construct your roster.
2. Identify draft strategies: Now that you have an idea of how you may want to construct your team, you can start focusing on how. Are you just drafting for the most rounded players? Waiting on pitching? Collecting the power hitters? With these ideas, you can start planning how you should approach your draft.
3. Identify target players: Here is the best place to find hidden values. What players fit well into your strategies? Some of them might be hidden lower/cheaper in your drafts. What players seem to be getting overrated? Look at their stats, and their history, are they worth the hype? Look at players you find yourself coveting, but are still down in the rankings. Why are they lower than you would have them? You may need to change your thinking on that player, or you may have found a value. In keeper leagues you can also evaluate target players to trade for, that may not be as valued by other owners than you.
4. It is still early: This early in the off-season, don’t get too carried away with developing draft strategies or making off-season trades. A lot can still change by the time drafts start. Some free agents don’t even have teams yet! Start planning now, but allow yourself to be flexible during your off-season planning.