Last week in Dynasty Dugout, we went over some hitting prospects that impressed me this season. This week we take a look at the best players headed to the Arizona Fall League next month. I know I said we’d cover some pitching prospects that impressed, but I wanted to jump into this piece after the rosters were announced for the Arizona Fall League.
For all you baseball junkies out there like myself, the Arizona Fall League is always very intriguing for fantasy purposes. There have been many big-name prospects to play in the league that quickly became stars at the major league level the following year. Take Kris Bryant, for example. He dominated the fall league in 2013 then went on to win the Minor League Player of the Year award in 2014, Rookie of the Year in 2015, and capped it off with an MVP award and World Series ring last season.
This year’s class is certainly star-studded, especially if you like toolsy outfielders that ooze fantasy potential. If you have a chance to watch some of these games, I highly recommend it. Here are the top names to keep an eye on.
Ronald Acuna (OF – ATL)
This year’s Arizona Fall League will be headlined by the 2017 minor league player of the year, Ronald Acuna. What can we say about Acuna that hasn’t already been said? The kid has become an absolute stud prospect and will be terrorizing National League pitchers at some point early next season. He hit a robust .325 with 21 home runs and 44 steals this season across three levels. Go ahead and drool if you want to. I won’t judge. The Braves showed serious control by not bringing him up this September for a cup of coffee, but many believe it was for service time reasons. Instead, he’ll look to continue his domination in the fall league.
— FOX Sports: Braves (@FOXSportsBraves) September 10, 2017
The more I see of Acuna, the more I liken him to a young Mookie Betts. His skills are off the chart across the board, and he truly has a chance to be a fantasy stud in the very near future. His power has blossomed and should add more as his body fills out a little more. Don’t forget, he doesn’t turn 19 until mid-December. Add in his plus hit tool and speed, and you have the complete fantasy package. A strong fall league and spring training could vault him into the Braves’ starting lineup on opening day.
Victor Robles (OF – WAS)
Before the season, most expected an Acuna-type season out of Robles. His final line wasn’t anything to scoff at, but it was a slight letdown for the National’s stud prospect. Robles slashed .300/.382/.493 with 10 home runs and 27 stolen bases over 430 at-bats between high Class-A and Double-A. Due to the injuries Washington has suffered in the outfield, they called up Robles for depth, and it sounds like they could include him on their playoff roster.
You know when you’re creating players on a baseball video game and you try to make the perfect leadoff hitter? I bet the player you come up with is a lot like Robles. His speed alone makes him one of the top prospects in baseball, and the rest of his stat line should look pretty darn good too. A strong showing over the next couple of months would be huge for his chances to start on opening day alongside Bryce Harper and Adam Eaton. That said, his more likely landing spot is in Triple-A to start 2018.
Kyle Tucker (OF – HOU)
You know the fall league is stacked when the No. 7 overall prospect on MLB.com is only the third-best prospect on this list. Up until this season, Tucker hadn’t shown much game power. He had hit only 12 homers in 664 at-bats before slugging 25 this year. His power vastly progressed after rising to Double-A, as he hit 16 home runs in 287 at-bats at the level. The great thing for us fantasy owners is that his speed and contact didn’t suffer as a result.
As good as Tucker was this year, there’s plenty of room for him to improve in the batting average department. Most industry lists have graded his hit tool as a 60 on the 20-80 scale, but all he has is a .272 career minor league batting average to show for it. He likely won’t be a fixture in Houston’s outfield, but he should be one of the bright spots this fall.
Kyle Lewis (OF – SEA)
It’s really hard to show what you can do if you can’t stay on the field, Kyle. I know it’s not necessarily your fault you keep getting injured, but just try to be careful going forward, ok? Thanks. Through his first year and a half in professional baseball, Lewis has only been able to scrounge together 304 at-bats, and the results have been so-so. However, there’s a lot of thunder in this bat, and he should be a quick riser through the Mariners system.
Yusniel Diaz (OF – LAD)
The Dodgers have a recent track record of finding and developing toolsy outfielders, and Diaz is the latest example of that. Certain aspects of Diaz’s game, like his contact and power, made positive strides this year. Not all is well here, though, as Diaz’s best tool hasn’t come along whatsoever. Diaz has attempted 38 steals in his brief minor league career and converted only 16 of them. That’s a mere 42%. No manager, especially a stolen base aficionado like Dave Roberts, is going to give you the green light with a percentage like that. Maybe the extra seasoning will help. He’s an intriguing player to keep an eye on in keeper and dynasty leagues.
Francisco Mejia (C – CLE)
Hey, a catcher that can actually hit! What a pleasant surprise. I’m not saying Mejia hits like Piazza or Pudge, but he’s a lot better than a lot of the crap we currently have to wade through at the catcher position. Mejia is a career .293 hitter in the minors and has cranked 40 home runs in 1,498 at-bats. The power is growing, too. Last year, Mejia hit a home run every 37 at-bats. This year that number dropped to one home run every 24.8 at-bats. He’ll never be a masher, but keep an eye on him, as he should become one of the best offensive catchers in the majors before too long.
Mitch Keller (SP – PIT)
After a stellar 2016 skyrocketed Keller up prospect rankings, Keller followed it up with an almost as good season in 2017. He made 23 starts between high class-A and Double-A and registered a 3.03 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, and 9.0 K/9. Now he finds himself as the top pitching prospect in the Arizona Fall League. Keller has a mid-90’s heater, two solid off-speed offerings, and above average control. There are still some questions on whether he has what it takes to be a top-of-the-rotation arm, but he’s got a chance to prove it against some very good competition.
Others to Watch
Justus Sheffield (SP – NYY)
Luis Urias (2B – SD)
Corey Ray (OF – MIL)
Estevan Florial (OF – NYY)
Thank you for reading another edition of Dynasty Dugout on Fantrax. I hope you can use this article to your advantage and get a leg up on your fellow league members. Got a question about a player not covered here? Ask in the comments below or follow me on Twitter @EricCross04 and ask there. See you all next week.