Last week in Dynasty Dugout, we finished looking at trending players in dynasty fantasy baseball. This week we switch gears and take a look at some overvalued top prospects.
Everyone loves prospects. This statement holds true for major league teams, fans, and fantasy owners, as well. Top prospects are gold, and nobody wants to give them up. But not all prospects turn out to be great, or even good. Take Byron Buxton, for example. I hate to keep picking on him, but he’s a perfect example. He was the unanimous No. 1 pick for a couple years but has floundered at the major league level. The below trio of top prospects all have enough skill to be productive major leaguers, but there are some reasons to drop their value a little bit in dynasty leagues.
J.P Crawford, Shortstop, Philadelphia Phillies (Triple-A)
For the last few years, J.P Crawford has been considered an elite prospect. He’s been firmly in the top-10 of most industry prospect lists. Being a top prospect doesn’t always translate into fantasy success. Crawford is ranked so highly because he’s an elite defender from the shortstop position. That’s great and all, but that doesn’t help us in the fantasy baseball world.
There’s been some promise surrounding his potential as an offensive player, but that hasn’t translated into results yet. His hit tool has been graded as a 60 by MLB.com on the 20-80 scouting scale. Having a 60-grade hit tool usually means the player has potential to hit close to .300. Over the course of his minor league career, Crawford has been a respectable .270 hitter. However, the only reason his average is even at .270 is because of the higher averages he had in the low minors. In 737 at-bats below Double-A, his batting average sat at a solid .303. In Double- and Triple-A, that average has plummeted to .246.
As a young player progresses through the minors, it’s not uncommon to struggle some at the higher levels. When you look at his advanced statistics, Crawford is trending in the wrong way. He’s also starting to develop tendencies that don’t support the type of hitter that he really is. To start, Crawford has very little power. Over his minor league career, he has averaged one home run for every 64 at-bats. He could very well add some power as he matures, but right now that’s not his game.
Crawford’s average was high in the minor leagues because he was hitting more groundballs and utilizing his speed to get base hits. As he’s advanced through the Philadelphia farm system, his groundball rate continues to drop as his flyball rate rises. Hitting a lot of flyballs isn’t highly recommend when you have minimal power.
Best-case scenario for Crawford as a fantasy player seems to be in the vicinity of Elvis Andrus but with less speed. This isn’t someone I would recommend counting on as a starting dynasty league shortstop.
Lucas Giolito, Starting Pitcher, Chicago White Sox (Triple-A)
On the strength of his electric arsenal, Lucas Giolito established himself as arguably the best pitching prospect in the game. The Nationals brought him up to the big club last year, but the results were disappointing, to say the least. He made six appearances (four starts) and posted a 6.75 ERA with more walks (12) than strikeouts (11). That’s not exactly what Washington was expecting from their prized prospect.
The Nationals shipped Giolito to the Windy City during the offseason as part of a package to acquire outfielder Adam Eaton. The move puzzled many, including myself. Eaton is a solid player but parting with Giolito, plus other good prospects, seemed like too much to give up.
Giolito’s 2017 production at Triple-A is making the Nationals’ decision look a little better. Through 10 starts, Giolito has a 5.36 ERA and a 1.49 WHIP. That high WHIP is a product of his mediocre 4.5 BB/9 rate. His walk rate has continued to rise as he has matured. His BB/9 rate was 3.4 last year and only 2.8 in 2015. Not an encouraging sign for a young hurler.
The ace-potential is definitely still there, though. His seven-inning no-hitter back on May 25th is evidence of that.
.@LGio27 tossed a no-hitter tonight, the first for the Knights since 7/25/13 against Indianapolis!
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) May 26, 2017
Giolito combines a mid-to-high 90’s heater with a plus hammer curveball. Both of those pitches have been graded as plus (65 grade) by MLB.com. It all circles back to his deteriorating control. Many pitchers similar to Giolito have ended up in the bullpen because of their lack of control. You can get by in the bullpen with subpar control when you have a blazing fastball and nasty breaking ball.
There’s still plenty of time for Giolito to correct his issues and turn into an ace-caliber pitcher, but for now, it’s time to pump the brakes on him in Dynasty leagues.
Francis Martes, Starting Pitcher, Houston Astros (Triple-A)
A lot of what I wrote about Giolito can be applied here. Francis Martes has great stuff but shoddy control. Like Giolito, his control has gotten worse over the last couple of seasons. His BB/9 rate in 2015 was 2.5, which is a decent number for a young pitcher. Over the last two seasons, however, that rate has risen to 3.4 in 2016 and 7.8 so far this season. Walk rates this high aren’t going to get you called up to the majors.
After being considered a solid prospect for a few years, last season was the season Martes emerged as a prospect to be reckoned with. In 22 starts at Double-A, he amassed a stellar 9.41 K/9 to go along with a crisp 3.30 ERA. Hitters had a tough time making consistent contact and an even tougher time hitting home runs off of Martes. In 125 1/3 innings, opposing batters only tallied 104 hits and a mere four long balls.
That dominant 2016 season earned him a promotion to Houston’s Triple-A affiliate in Fresno where the results have been less than satisfactory. Remember how Martes only allowed four home runs is just over 125 innings last year? Well, in 32 1/3 innings this season he’s already beat that total by one. Giving up walks and home runs like Martes has this year is a surefire way to wind up with a 5.29 ERA and 2.10 WHIP.
These early struggles are surely going to delay Martes’ arrival in Houston. A strong start to the season might have even had him with the big club already, but until he fixes his control problems, don’t expect him with the Astros anytime soon.
It’s far from time to give up on them but this trio is starting to lose some of that elite prospect shine. If you can still get close to top dollar for them in dynasty leagues, it might be worth it to move on.
That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading and check back next week for another Dynasty Dugout.