Last week in Dynasty Dugout, we discussed three starting pitchers that should be on your radar when deciding your keepers this fall and winter. This week, we turn our attention to everyone’s favorite topic in dynasty and keeper leagues: prospects. Unfortunately, the prospects below haven’t had an easy go of it this season.
As we all know, not all top prospects pan out. In fact, there are more prospects that flame out than ones that flourish. Baseball is the toughest sport to succeed in. Whether it’s hitting a 95 mile per hour fastball or trying to locate a curveball, it’s tough. A good way to prove this is by looking at your favorite team’s top prospects five years ago. How many of them turned into productive major league players? I bet for the most part it’s three or fewer, and maybe even zero for certain teams.Now, just because a prospect has a bad season, it doesn’t mean they should be written off entirely. Bad seasons can happen to everyone. What we as fantasy owners need to decipher is if it’s simply just a bad season or the start of a trend.
Anderson Espinoza (SP – SD) – Can’t seem to stay on the field and has performed poorly when he has played. He’s going to miss most, if not all, of 2018 recovering from Tommy John surgery, but he should be back in 2019.
Jason Groome (SP – BOS) – For a guy that could’ve gone No. 1 overall back in June, he’s certainly not showing it so far in his pro debut.
Now, onto the bigger disappointments….
Yoan Moncada (2B – CHW)
This has nothing to do with Moncada’s minor league statistics and everything to do with how little he’s accomplished at the major league level so far. Moncada was a beast at every level in the minors, showing why Boston shelled out over $60 million overall to sign him in early 2015. He profiles as a .300 hitter with 25-HR and 40-SB upside from a usually offensively shallow position. So, what has been his problem in the majors?
Through his first 120 major league at-bats, Moncada has struggled to the tune of a .192/.317/.342 line with a horrendous 39.4% strikeout rate. Not trying to be captain obvious here, but a near 40% strikeout rate isn’t going to get it done in the majors. Even strikeout maestros Adam Dunn and Mark Reynolds struck out in only 28.6% and 30.9% of their respective plate appearances.
On top of the contact issues, Moncada has shown barely any power or speed. He has only three home runs and a lone steal (on three attempts) so far in the majors.
During his time in Boston, Yoan Moncada learned how to put on a laser ⚡️show… pic.twitter.com/cCTjWMXgiP
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) August 18, 2017
To say he’s disappointed anxious fantasy owners is a major understatement. Many fantasy owners, myself included, got increasingly angry and anxious toward the White Sox for keeping Moncada in the minors while he continued to dominate. Now he’s beginning to see his ownership percentage drop dramatically as the fantasy season winds down.
Moncada might not be of any help this season in fantasy leagues, but he’s still a uber-talented young star waiting to happen. He’s definitely become droppable in 2017 leagues, but hold firmly in keeper and dynasty leagues and buy low if you can. He’s too talented of a hitter not to figure it out at some point.
The stars aligned for Meadows to become a staple in Pittsburgh’s outfield this season. Plenty of playing time opened via injury or the 80-game suspension of Starling Marte. However, Meadows failed to seize the opportunity and will likely not make his major league debut until sometime in 2018.
There are a few reasons why Meadows is still in Triple-A instead of patrolling the outfield for the Pirates. First and foremost, he can’t seem to shake the injury demons that have haunted him most of his minor league career. A hamstring injury kept him out of action for a month and a half from mid-June to early-August just as he seemed to be making some positive progress.
Outside of the injury, Meadows has struggled mightily at Triple-A this season. A .250 average, five home runs, and 11 steals aren’t what you want to see from a player with above-average tools across the board. Something about the Triple-A level has proven incredibly difficult for Meadows. In 410 at-bats at the level between 2016 and 2017, he has hit only .239 with a pedestrian .697 OPS. That’s a significant drop from his numbers below Triple-A. Here are his Triple-A numbers compared to what he did in the lower minors.
|RK – AA||1,090||.312/.376/.485/.861|
Meadows is still only 22 years old and a phenomenal all-around talent, but he definitely needs to prove more at Triple-A to get a shot in the majors. His struggles open up a nice buy-low opportunity as well in keeper and dynasty leagues. Meadows still has all the makings of a fantasy star, but it appears that it’s going to take a little longer than his owners had hoped.
For a three-year period, Giolito was in the discussion as the top overall prospect in the minors. Now, he’s not even in the top five in his own organization. Yes, the White Sox have a stacked farm system, but to go from top five in all of the minors to sixth in your own organization is remarkable. Not in a good way.
Despite the struggles, all of the tools are still there. Giolito has a mid-90s heater, hammer curve ball, and developing changeup. However, his control has been spotty at best, and he really doesn’t seem to have a good feel for pitching. He’s a great “thrower” but really needs to work on his approach to put those plus tools to good use and become a top-of-the-rotation arm.
7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 10 Ks.
— MLB (@MLB) September 3, 2017
It’s still way too early to give up on Giolito. He’s still only 23 years old and is just getting his feet wet at the major league level. A switch to the American League certainly doesn’t help his long-term value, but if Giolito can figure things out, he still can become a strong SP2 in fantasy.
J.P. Crawford (SS – PHI)
Hey, it’s my old pal J.P. Still not good offensively, I see. Like Giolito above, Crawford was a universal top-10 prospect entering the season. That ranking was 95% because of his defense, though. If you look at his tool grades on MLB.com, you’ll find a 65-grade glove and a 60-grade arm. Those are wonderful tools to have and will certainly help Crawford reach the major league. However, they don’t do any damn good to us fantasy owners.
His fantasy relevant tools, on the other hand, are mediocre at best. His power is below average, he’s an average runner, and was given a 55-grade hit tool. For the record, I think MLB is still a little too enamored with J.P. because that’s too high. Over his minor league career, Crawford is a .270 hitter. Now that’s not too bad. But keep in mind that he hit .292 below Double-A and just .251 in 1,294 combined Double-A and Triple-A at-bats.
We all know the old saying, “If you can’t say anything nice about someone, blah, blah, blah,” so I’m going to try to say something nice about Crawford, even if it kills me. The only positive aspect of his offensive abilities (or lack thereof) that I can find is that he can take a walk and get on base at a decent clip. He has a career .367 OBP in the minors thanks to his strong 13.1 BB%.
That might help him secure a spot near the top of the order for a bad Phillies team next year, but it still won’t help much in fantasy. He’s basically a poor man’s Curtis Granderson, except without the power or speed.
Mickey Moniak (OF – PHI)
This makes two Philadelphia prospects in a row that have disappointed this season. And if you’ve read my Dynasty Dugout articles throughout the season, you’ll know I’m lower on Maikel Franco than basically everyone. Maybe the Phillies just don’t have proper player development people in place. But, hey, I’m not here to point fingers.
The Phillies surprised some by selecting Moniak with the top overall pick last year. It was a very safe pick, but one without a ton of upside. Moniak possesses an above-average hit tool, but only middling power and speed. His five home runs and 11 stolen bases are right on par with expectations, but his average has been very low all season at .236. When you have a 65-grade hit tool, expectations are for you to his close to or over .300, not .236.
One thing to remember is that Moniak still won’t be able to legally consume alcohol for almost two more years. A comparison I keep using for him is Nick Markakis. He should settle in as a top of the lineup hitter in time, but his contributions in the power and speed categories will mostly be minimal year to year.
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.