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Guess who’s back, back again. Dynasty Dugout is back, tell a friend.
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Dynasty Dugout is back in full force, steam-rolling toward the 2018 season. Even the long cold winter couldn’t keep this dynasty column at bay. We’re like the Undertaker at Wrestlemania, rising out of a coffin to chokeslam you through a table while tens of thousands of fans watch in a drunken stupor.
So, what shall we chat about in this inaugural 2018 Dynasty Dugout? Oh, I got it. We can discuss the incredibly exciting 2017/18 MLB off-season! Trust me, I couldn’t even type that last sentence with any level of seriousness.
How about this: The core of any good dynasty league team is its collective group of prospects. So let’s start there. And I’m not just talking about a few prospects here. We need to open up with a bang with something that screams baseball season so much that we forget that the New England has been in the midst of a month-long artic blast and that even the southern states are getting snow. How about a five-article series counting down the top-100 dynasty prospects? Yeah, that sounds like a great place to start.
100. Jesse Winker, OF, Cincinnati Reds, ETA 2018
2017 (AAA): 299 AB, .314/.395/.408/.803, 22 2B, 2 HR, 2 SB, 41 RBI, 33 R, 38/46 BB/K
2017 (MLB): 121 AB, .298/.375/.529/.904, 7 2B, 7 HR, 1 SB, 15 RBI, 21 R, 15/24 BB/K
Does it seem like we’ve been talking about Jesse Winker as a prospect for a decade now? Sure does to me. His time as a prospect will soon come to an end, though, as Winker needs only nine more at-bats to exhaust his prospect status. Winker has a plus-hit tool and is very disciplined at the plate with a career 0.86 BB/K rate over 2,438 minor league plate appearances. There’s not much power or speed to speak of here, but he should be able to hit 15-20 HR and steal 10-15 bags annually. Think Nick Markakis 2.0.
99. J.P. Crawford, SS, Philadelphia Phillies, ETA 2018
2017 (AAA): 474 AB, .243/.351/.405/.756, 20 2B, 15 HR, 5 SB, 63 RBI, 75 R, 79/97 BB/K
2017 (MLB): 70 AB, .214/.356/.3008.656, 4 2B, 0 HR, 1 SB, 6 RBI, 8 R, 16/22 BB/K
I’ve been very vocal of my disdain for Crawford. The fact that he was considered a top-five prospect, and in some rankings, the top overall prospect, was highly laughable to me. Now that his stock has dropped, I don’t dislike him as much. Like Winker above, Crawford displays a solid batting eye and a knack for getting on base. He even displayed some power in 2017, hitting 15 taters in 474 at-bats at Triple-A. He’s going to start the year as the Phillies’ starting shortstop and could hold some late-round value if he can continue that power stroke.
98. Yusniel Diaz, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers, ETA 2019/2020
2017 (A+/AA): 439 AB, .292/.354/.433/.787, 23 2B, 11 HR, 9 SB, 52 RBI, 57 R, 45/102 BB/K
The 11 home runs were nice, but power is never going to be a big part of Diaz’s game. A plus hit tool and plus-speed are going to be the reasons for his fantasy relevance. He just needs to figure how to use his plus-speed in games. He’s converted on only 42.1% of his 38 stolen base attempts so far in the minors. Once he matures as a base stealer, there’s 30+ steal upside in these legs to go along with a near .300 batting average.
97. Tyler Mahle, SP, Cincinnati Reds, ETA 2018
2017 (AA/AAA): 144.1 IP, 2.06 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 1.9 BB/9, 8.6 K/9
2017 (MLB): 20.0 IP, 2.70 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 5.0 BB/9, 6.3 K/9
A tall righty with a plus heater, good command, and limits home runs well? Where do I sign up? Over 558 minor league innings, Mahle registered a minuscule 1.9 BB/9 rate and limited opposing batters to only 0.6 HR/9 as well. His secondary offerings, while all major-league average, lack strikeout ability. Unless he can develop one of those offerings, his ceiling is limited to a SP3/4 in the majors. However, Mahle’s control also gives him a high-floor as well and a good chance to reach that potential.
96. Shane Baz, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates, ETA 2021
2017 (RK): 23.2 IP, 3.80 ERA, 1.69 WHIP, 5.3 BB/9, 7.2 K/9
The Pirates have plenty of good arms in their system, but they liked Baz’s potential enough to make the high school right-hander the 12th overall pick in the 2017 amateur draft. He might have only 23.2 professional innings under his belt, but it’s becoming apparent that his upside is just as high as the other promising arms in this system. Baz possesses four — yes, four — plus pitches and a developing change-up. If Baz can harness these pitches and improve his control, he has the chance to be a SP1/2 in the majors down the road. He’s still years away, though.
95. Jeren Kendall, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers, ETA 2020
2017 (RK/A): 162 AB, .253/.311/.444/.755, 6 2B, 8 3B, 3 HR, 9 SB, 25 RBI, 26 R, 13/45 BB/K
One of the most toolsy players from the 2017 draft, Kendall is one of the top burners in the minors. Just take a look at what he did in 162 at-bats last season when he stole nine bases and legged out eight triples. Those nine steals could have been much higher, too, as he got caught eight times. His hit tool and power grade out as ML average at best, but it’s his plus-plus speed that is going to get him onto fantasy rosters. He’s still a couple of years away from The Show, but we’re looking at 50+ steals upside here.
94. Adrian Morejon, SP, San Diego Padres, ETA 2021
2017 (A-/A): 63.0 IP, 3.86 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 2.3 BB/9, 8.3 K/9
You ready for some Padres prospects? Cause I got a few of them coming right at you, starting with left-hander Adrian Morejon. The 18-year-old lefty possesses a plus arsenal and good command of all his pitches. His heater currently sits in the low 90s but should gain some velocity as he continues to develop and fill out. He walked only three batters in 35.1 innings in the rookie league before hitting a slight speed bump in Single-A. However, Morejon has SP1/2 potential and could move rather quickly through the Padres system.
93. Austin Riley, 3B, Atlanta Braves, ETA 2018/19
2017 (A+/AA): 484AB, .275/.339/.446/.786, 19 2B, 20 HR, 2 SB, 74 RBI, 71 R, 43/124 BB/K
The Braves have two big needs in their lineup: a third baseman and another power bat to complement Freddie Freeman. Luckily for them, they can kill two birds with one stone once they promote Austin Riley. In back to back seasons, Riley has cranked 20 homers while being relatively young for his level each season. He’s also combined for 58 doubles in the span. Riley had an impressive showing in the Arizona Fall League, hitting six home runs and slashing .300/.364/.657/1.021 in 74 at-bats. The Braves have a gaping hole at third, and it’s only a matter of time before Riley and his 30+ home run upside fill that void.
92. Luis Urias, 2B/SS, San Diego Padres, ETA 2019
2017 (AA): 442 AB, .296/.398/.380/.778, 20 2B, 3 HR, 7 SB, 38 RBI, 77 R, 68/65 BB/K
Meet J.P. Crawford with a better hit tool. And when I say better, I mean much better. Urias’ hit tool has been graded as plus, and he has a very advanced approach at the plate. In each of his first four minor league seasons, Urias has walked more than he struck out and has a 1.13 BB/K rate overall in 1,529 plate appearances. His power and speed aren’t great, but he can probably muster together some 10/20 type seasons hitting near the top of the lineup due to his high on-base skills.
91. Colton Welker, 3B, Colorado Rockies, ERA 2020
2017 (A): 254 AB, .350/.401/.500/.901, 18 2B, 6 HR, 5 SB, 33 RBI, 32 R, 18/42 BB/K
A plus hit tool and Coors Field go together like David Ortiz and walk-off hits. They’re a beautiful match. One of the latest talented hitters to enter the Rockies system is third baseman, Colton Welker. Why didn’t you catch that pass in Super Bowl XLVI?! Sorry, wrong Welker. This particular Welker is a hitting machine with blossoming power that should turn into 20+ home runs at the Major League level. However, his hit tool is what gets Welker noticed. All he’s done in his first 465 at-bats is hit .341. That’s all. Unfortunately for him, he’s kind of blocked by some guy named Nolan Arenado at the hot corner.
90. Anderson Espinoza, SP, San Diego Padres, ETA 2021
2017: DID NOT PLAY
Wait, who are you? Do I know you, mister? Oh yeah, you’re that Anderson Espinoza guy. How you been? Coming into the 2017 season, Baseball Prospectus, Baseball America, and MLB.com all had Espinoza as a top-25 prospect. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see him throw a single pitch last season. Right out of the gate in April, Espinoza experienced the dreaded “forearm tightness” and was shut down. After trying to rehab and work his way back, he ended up tearing his ulnar collateral ligament and underwent Tommy John surgery in early-August.
We likely won’t see Espinoza on the mound again until 2019, but don’t forget the immense upside here. He has a mid-90s fastball and two plus off-speed pitches that can generate plenty of whiffs. Assuming he can come back from this surgery, there’s a chance we see Espinoza as a top-of-the-rotation hurler one day.
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89. Jake Bauers, OF/1B, Tampa Bay Rays, ETA 2018
2017 (AAA): 486 AB, .263/.368/.412/.779, 31 2B, 13 HR, 20 SB, 63 RBI, 79 R, 78/112 BB/K
You’re going to see the words “plus hit tool” a lot in this article and my other four upcoming top-100 prospect articles. So guess what? Bauers has a plus hit tool. He might not have any .300 seasons under his belt, but Bauers makes solid contact and can use the whole field to his advantage. His power and speed aren’t quite on the same level, but he is good enough at both to have some 20/20 seasons in the future. With Tampa Bay on the decline, it shouldn’t take long for Bauers to crack the everyday lineup either at first base or a corner outfield spot.
88. Lewin Diaz, 1B, Minnesota Twins, ETA 2020
2017 (A): 466 AB, .292/.3329/.444/.773, 33 2B, 12 HR, 2 SB, 68 RBI, 47 R, 25/80 BB/K
Over the last two seasons, Diaz has blossomed into a pretty darn good hitter. In 640 at-bats, he’s hit .297 with 21 home runs, 48 doubles, and 105 RBI. The power is blossoming and continues to become more consistent in games. If he can continue to make good contact and drive the ball to all fields, the upside is a .280 hitter with 25+ home runs annually.
87. J.B. Bukauskas, SP, Houston Astros, ETA 2020
2017 (RK/A-): 10.0 IP, 2.70 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 4.5 BB/9, 8.1 K/9
After a great collegiate career at the University of North Carolina, the Astros snagged Bukauskas with the 15th pick in the 2017 amateur draft. The six-foot righty possesses two plus pitches in his slider and mid-90s heater, and he has shown flashes of a developing change-up. His control is lacking behind a tad, which might cause a move to the bullpen, but Bukauskas has SP2 or top-10 closer upside either way. It will all come down to the development of his change-up and control.
86. Ian Anderson, SP, Atlanta Braves, ETA 2020
2017 (A): 83.0 IP, 3.14 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 4.7 BB/9, 11.0 K/9
The Braves have enough Major League-caliber starting pitchers in the minors that they could get rid of their entire current rotation and start fresh. Seriously. Seven of their top eight prospects were pitchers at the end of 2017, according to MLB.com. He might be the furthest away from the Major Leagues, but Anderson has just as high of a ceiling as any pitcher in this system. His fastball sits in the 91-95 mph range and could see an uptick once Anderson fills out his 6-foot-3 frame a little more. He also features a plus slider and an average change-up. His shaky control will determine if he’s a front-line starter or simply a mid-rotation option. Oh yeah, he didn’t give up a single home run last season.
85. Brandon Marsh, OF, Los Angeles Angels, ETA 2020
2017 (RK): 177 AB, .350/.396/.548/.944, 13 2B, 5 3B, 4 HR, 10 SB, 44 RBI, 47 R, 9/35 BB/K
Haven’t heard of Brandon Marsh before? Well, you will soon enough. This toolsy outfielder does a lot of things well, starting with his plus speed on the base paths. He swiped 10 bags in 12 attempts last season and legged out five triples, as well. Pair that speed with a plus hit tool (ee, there it is again) and developing power, and you have a dynamic dynasty outfielder with .300/20/40 upside. Don’t sleep on Marsh.
84. Franklin Perez, SP, Detroit Tigers, ETA 2018/19
2017 (A+/AA): 86.1 IP, 3.02 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 2.8 BB/9, 8.1 K/9
Remember how I just said that the Braves have a ton of good pitching prospects? Well, the Tigers are almost right there with them. The second most upside of the Tigers’ quartet of high-upside arms belongs to Franklin Perez. It’s hard to believe that 2017 was a step back for Perez, as he registered a 2.84 ERA and 10.1 K/9 over 66.2 innings at Single-A. With a three plus pitch arsenal and above average control, Perez could soon find himself near the top of a Major League rotation.
83. Stephen Gonsalves, SP, Minnesota Twins, ETA 2018
2017 (AA/AAA): 110.0 IP, 3.27 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 2.5 BB/9, 9.7 K/9
Pitchers without a plus arsenal often go slightly overlooked in prospect circles. That’s exactly the case with Stephen Gonsalves. All the guy has done is perform at a high level at every stop in his minor league career. A career 2.39 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 3.3 BB/9, and 9.7 K/9 through 478.1 innings thus far is nothing to scoff at. He’s done all that with a low-90s heater, plus change-up, and an average curveball that has shown promise at times. Sometimes we have to stop questioning how it’s getting done and look at the results. Gonsalves might not have an ultra-high ceiling like others on this list, but his high floor and knack for pitching make him a valuable commodity.
82. Nick Gordon, SS/2B, Minnesota Twins, ETA 2019
2017 (AA): 519 AB, .270/.341/.408/.749, 29 2B, 8 SB, 9 HR, 13 SB, 66 RBI, 80 R, 53/134 BB/K
Dee’s little (half) brother doesn’t quite have the same wheels, but Nick did mimic Dee’s power, hitting only five home runs in his first 1,177 minor league at-bats. I wouldn’t call last season’s nine homers a power surge, but hey, it’s damn sure better than one or two. His defensive abilities are what are going to get him to The Show at one of the middle infield spots, but how much fantasy value he’ll have remains a mystery. Gordon has the looks of a .280/10/25 type of player in his prime. That might not be an overly high ceiling, but the floor here is also rather high.
81. Alec Hansen, SP, Chicago White Sox, ETA 2019
2017 (A/A+/AA): 141.1 IP, 2.80 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 3.2 BB/9 12.2 K/9.
The one and only reason why Hansen isn’t inside my top-50 is his shaky control, which might constitute a switch to the bullpen at some point. If you like flame-throwers, then take a long look at this imposing 6-foot-7 right-hander. Hansen throws his fastball in the mid to upper-90s and pairs that with two plus breaking balls and an average slider, all of which he can use to strike out opposing batters at a very high clip. However, like I said, the control is lagging behind for Hansen and needs to be improved if he wants to become a front-line hurler. If he shows continued improvement there, expect to see Hansen much higher in my mid-season update.
Stay tuned for prospects 80-61 next Tuesday here on Fantrax.
Thank-you for reading another edition of Dynasty Dugout here 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 that I didn’t cover here? Then follow me on Twitter @EricCross04 and ask there.