Written by: Andrew Lowe (@ALowe710)
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“Going to the well” – a saying that describes the act of drawing water/energy/focus from deep within; “digging deep”
This stuff – fantasy baseball, writing, research, using five burner accounts to vehemently defend you online, work, life – they all take time and energy. I’ve been busy. But not much has happened in my dynasty leagues – just a few call ups, like Ronald Acuna (!). Mainly, I’ve been trying to stay competitive for a playoff spot. I’ve spent a lot of time finding ways to cobble together a competitive roster from my former tanking operation. Maybe you’re not weird like me, but my mood changes somewhat depending on how my fantasy teams are doing throughout a given period. It takes a lot of energy just rooting for several random people to do what you want them to do. That is the first aspect of “going to the well.” Just rooting for my team to win again is a lot more draining than purposefully losing.
Another aspect is the amount of work and time I have exerted to improve my current team. Simply put, it’s a lot. However, more can still be done – I can stream pitchers daily for the best matchups, I can ramp up trade negotiations, I can scout my opponents to see how many starts they have in the coming week, I can plan my transactions – but it’s still more effort than I have put in for my team in almost a year. But here’s the thing: CAN YOU KEEP THIS UP ALL SEASON? There’s burn out. It’s nearly impossible to “go to the well” that often. Save it for the playoffs. Save for it a key matchup. Make sure you and your team peak at the right time. Now that I have updated you on those efforts, I wanted to focus on another way of digging deep: prospects and the draft. The end of this piece features a deep league prospect you may want to look into as well.
As teams prepare and finalize their plans for the MLB Amateur Draft, I too have dug into many of the top amateurs in preparation of future prospect drafts in my dynasty leagues. I try not to go too deep because others will sort out the amateurs for me, but I know about Mize, Madrigal, Bart, Bohm, Liberatore, etc. However, I also take the time to comb through other prospect lists for any unowned prospects in my league that may be of interest.
This requires me to dig deep a couple times a year. I read prospect rankings from 5-10 websites for any interesting names – and Ray’s Ramblings is great for that too. I have a few dozen prospects tracked on MLB.com’s prospect tracker to stay up to date on their performance. As I’ve said in previous articles, for my deepest league that I reference in each of my articles, I have a list of about 100 prospects that have drawn my interest. This is for a league that rosters over 300 prospects already. So that Tirso Ornelas recommendation staff writer Marc Rodriguez wrote about a few weeks ago? He was picked in our draft in February (and Ornelas is going to be a dude). Ever heard of Raimfer Salinas? He was picked in February as well. The guys in this league were on Ronald Acuña in 2016 and on Estevan Florial and Cristian Pache in 2017, before they all broke out. Shane Bieber, Luis Garcia, Yasel Antuna, Gabriel Arias, Jairo Solis, William Contreras, Ronaldo Hernandez, Francisco Morales, Freudis Nova, Bryan Mata, George Valera – all gone, albeit mostly by one owner (and it’s not me). I’m not trying to brag or say this league is full of experts – we’re most certainly not. We’ve had a lot of flops and a lot of the league is lazy and just looks at the most recent amateur draft, a top 100 list, or the recent international signings. This is just to point out the depth that I often have to go to in order to secure my picks.
This year’s list has some real deep names on it. Not all will be drafted, but I have them registered. There’s the lithe Cardinals catcher Ivan Herrera. There’s athletic Red Sox infielder Jecorrah Arnold. There’s the powerful Brewers first baseman Ernesto Martinez Jr. (Ernesto Wilson Martinez on FanGraphs). There’s some guy named Pablo Lopez who Ray has tweeted about and I had never heard of, but has a 0.24 ERA as a 22-year old in AA. There’s Tobias Myers, Aaron Civale, Daniel Brito, Jhon Torres, Marcos Brito, TJ Friedl, Miguel Hiraldo, Jean Carmona, and Yefri Del Rosario. There’s the truck-pulling Cedric Mullins in the Orioles system. Some of these guys are real targets for me and others are not. I have to maintain some level of secrecy from my league mates, who I know read these articles (wink emoji).
Finally, here is my recommendation for a deep sleeper – Oneil Cruz. Cruz is a teenager playing at an advanced level for his age. Like Ornelas, Cruz played in A-ball as an 18 year old (and is currently repeating the level at 19). He signed with the Dodgers as a projectable 6’3 shortstop, though it was always said he would likely grow out of shortstop and eventually move to third base. Well, um…he’s definitely grown. Cruz now stands at a gigantic 6’7! He was traded to the Pirates for Tony Watson last year. It seems the Pirates think quite highly of Cruz, coveting him as “their man” and continuing to play him at shortstop this year despite 19 errors in 52 games. At his height, Cruz may not even be able to man third base. A move to first or right would drastically increase the pressure on his bat. “Not a problem,” says Cruz’s bat.
Cruz’s tools start with the current plus raw power that could increase to plus-plus because he’s still just a teenager who has incredibly lanky arms. He’s patient (career 9% walk rate) and currently hits for power (career .144 ISO with a career high .209 ISO in 2018). With his height and length, there are going to be holes in the swing. Sure enough, Cruz strikes out a lot (career 27% K rate, with a career-best 25.0% currently). Now, understand that I have never watched him play with my own eyes. I am an Internet scout and an amateur one at that, so I do not know just how selective he is. I do not know the exact holes in his swing or his approach. But Cruz has shown several indicators of success already – playing at an advanced level for his age, showing patience, making more contact, hitting for power, with an athletic body that has room to add on strength to boot. Yes, he is repeating the level this year. But so what? Not every player has an exponential or even linear rise to stardom. He’s still so young that he could be in the majors in three years and still be looked at as a future superstar. The ceiling for Oneil is high – and it almost has to be just to fit him in the building.
Not deep enough for you? If you’ve read this far, then you’re probably already doing the deep research required and know those I have already mentioned. But I’ve dug deep enough for now and I need to conserve my energy. You’re well on your way to Trusting The Process.
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Featured image courtesy of Bucco Nation