Written by: Marc Rodriguez (@MRodProspects)
The purpose of this post is to provide early insight on which prospects have either outperformed or failed to meet their expectations on the field this season. I sincerely hope that you can use this piece to get out in front of the trade market or free agency in your dynasty league before your other league members catch up. Please feel free to comment or tweet me @MRodProspects with feedback.
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Rafael Devers, 3B Boston Red Sox
ETA: September 2017
Although Devers has been high on most lists for a few years now, I am still calling him a riser because he is a potential #1 overall prospect for me. After a Jekyll & Hyde 2016 season, Devers entered the year with minor question marks surrounding his consistency at the plate and his defense at the hot corner. He has responded by slashing .297/.365/.564 with 14 homers and 17 doubles as of this writing, all while being one of the youngest players in the Eastern League. In addition, the big man has by all accounts (aside from a phantom “rival scout”) erased any doubt about him staying at third base defensively.
Devers’ combination of hit tool and power to all fields makes him a potential elite fantasy asset once Dave Dombrowski decides he’s ready for the show. When will that be? My guess is September. I do wish he was already in AAA given that he has little left to prove at his current level, but he should be promoted soon. Many will point to Yoan Moncada’s failure in 2016 as reason to take it slow, but Devers doesn’t have the same contact issues Moncada still struggles with. Dombrowski is savvy enough to know the difference between the two and is likely grooming him for a September call up when rosters expand. Here’s to hoping they don’t trade for a veteran so we can see this kid’s bat on the big stage this year.
Brendan Rodgers, SS/2B Colorado Rockies
ETA: Late 2018
Rodgers is another guy I view as a potential #1 overall prospect. He has a legit chance of becoming the best fantasy bat in a draft class that featured the likes of Bregman, Swanson, and Benintendi. He currently sits at .400/.419/.700 in the hitter’s paradise that is Lancaster and will graduate to AA Hartford following his league’s All-Star game. He checks all the boxes as a contact and power hitter who should stay in the middle of the infield as long as the Rockies can carve out a spot for him.
Jack Flaherty, RHP St. Louis Cardinals
ETA: Spring 2018
Possibly a lesser-known commodity in some fantasy circles, Flaherty has quietly burst onto the scene this season by posting a 3.04 ERA and 9.9 K/9 in his first taste of AAA. The 21-year old has finally added the velocity (95-96mph) many projected him to reach while pitching for Harvard-Westlake High School in California. Keith Law recently asserted that Flaherty has #2 starter potential and he could get a cup of coffee this season should the Cardinals feel the need.
Mike Soroka, RHP Atlanta Braves
ETA: Late 2018
Soroka has rewarded Atlanta for his aggressive placement in AA to start the year. The teenager recently strung together a 22-inning scoreless streak and was comfortably named an All-Star in the Southern League. Soroka shows surprising polish at a young age and would still be way ahead of schedule if he challenged for a call-up in 2018. It’s worth noting that many believe recently drafted Kyle Wright might now be the best of the bunch in the world of Braves pitching prospects, as if they weren’t outrageously stacked with arms already.
Scott Kingery, 2B Philadelphia Phillies: Kingery has added surprising power to his profile after already possessing a possibly elite hit tool. Don’t expect his silly HR totals to translate to the bigs, but 12-15 dingers annually seem reachable. At a scarce position in fantasy, Kingery could be an underrated star in the making.
Bo Bichette, SS Toronto Blue Jays: Once hidden by the hype surrounding the awe-inspiring Vlad Guerrero Jr., Bichette is now making a name for himself with the Jays. A recent hot streak had him batting .400 in a league that is not really known to be especially hitter friendly. Ignore what some will say about an unorthodox swing. Bichette has the pedigree, athleticism, and commitment level to become a star in the Blue Birds’ infield, probably at second base.
Cal Quantrill, RHP San Diego Padres
Walker Buehler, RHP Los Angeles Dodgers
Michael Chavis, 3B Boston Red Sox
Anderson Espinoza, RHP San Diego Padres
Espinoza has been one of the toughest guys to track down updates on in all of the minors. What we do know is that he is still yet to throw a pitch in an actual game, which is certainly troubling. What was first labeled as forearm tightness predictably turned into elbow soreness for the electric young prospect. Kyle Glaser of Baseball America informed us via Twitter that Espinoza is currently said to be in a throwing program in Arizona, so there may be some light at the end of the tunnel.
Keep in mind he is still just a teenager with plenty of time to reach his lofty potential. This is why it makes plenty of sense for San Diego to take it slow with Espinoza. However, it is prudent to take some caution when investing given that his development is currently stagnant due to dreaded elbow problems. This can be looked at as a good buy-low opportunity or as a chance to unload him while his name carries more value than it might after the next wave of rankings release.
Max Fried, LHP Atlanta Braves
Max Fried gained some traction as a possible #2 starter after having a very impressive spring for the Braves. Chipper Jones made comparisons to Cole Hamels when watching the lefty flash a plus curveball and touch 97 mph with the heater. Fried has taken a step back during the first half of the regular season as some are reporting decreased velocity and issues pitching from the stretch. It’s now been five years since Fried was taken 7th overall in 2012 MLB Draft, which is why many expected this to be his breakout year. Given his injury history, it’s possible he is still working through the after effects of Tommy John surgery and that velocity may return. One positive is that he is still healthy and pitching. However, his current outlook needs to be tempered based on his cringe-worthy 6.35 ERA and 1.43 WHIP this season.
Braxton Garrett, LHP Miami Marlins
Miami’s #1 prospect heading into the 2017 regular season recently underwent Tommy John surgery on his left elbow. This is a big disappointment for Miami especially as fellow top prospect Tyler Kolek recovers from his own elbow procedure. Garrett is expected to miss 12-14 months, which pushes his ETA beyond what most dynasty players are willing to invest in. Expect newly drafted Trevor Rogers to claim Miami’s #1 prospect spot.
J.P. Crawford, SS Philadelphia Phillies
ETA: September 2017
It feels like Crawford has been a top 10 prospect in baseball for at least 100 years. He’s currently slashing a putrid .194/.308/.255 in AAA as of this writing, which marks another landmark in a string of disappointments for the young shortstop. He has long been assumed to be a better real life player than fantasy asset, but at this point I’m not sure how anyone can be confident in his value on either platform. He is still just 22, so he cannot be completely written off. At this point, though, he is nothing more than a Hail Mary; I’m selling wherever I can find a taker.
Jose De Leon, RHP Tampa Bay Rays
I have long been the low man on JDL since he burst onto the scene as a Los Angeles Dodgers prospect. The Dodgers shipped him to Tampa for Logan Forsythe, and it has been a mixed bag since. This season, De Leon has battled decreased velocity and a recent lat injury that currently has him sidelined with no announced timetable. He can still be a back-end starter when in good health, but if you can find someone who still sees him as more than that, I suggest selling.
Patrick Weigel, RHP Atlanta Braves: Weigel was recently placed on the DL with an elbow injury in his throwing arm and is ominously headed to see Dr. James Andrews.
Adrian Morejon, RHP San Diego Padres: Morejon is recently back from injury but hasn’t pitched enough to take the step forward I expected from him this year. I’m still a big fan long term, but much like like fellow Padres farmhand Anderson Espinoza, I want to him progress on the field.
Up Next: MRod’s Midseason Top 100 Dynasty Prospects
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Credit for featured image goes to MassLive.com.