Dynasty Fantasy Baseball: Infield Prospects on the Rise
Over the last few weeks, we’ve been discussing prospects on the rise to target via trade in dynasty fantasy baseball leagues. After going over pitchers and outfielders, today we shift to the infield. As you can expect, many of the prospects below are shortstops. I know, big shock right? Every kid from Maine to Hawaii wants to play shortstop when they’re kids. On the list below, there’s a nice little mix of varying skill sets. We have a couple of big power bats, a couple elite speedsters, and a few under the radar guys that you can likely get for cheap.
If you aren’t playing your dynasty leagues on Fantrax, you’re missing out on the deepest player pool and most customization around. Just starting out in a dynasty league? Then check out Eric Cross’ Top-250 prospects, Top-300 Dynasty League Rankings, & 2019 FYPD/J2 Rankings.
Dynasty Fantasy Baseball: Infield Prospects on the Rise
Ronny Mauricio, SS, New York Mets
Age: 18 | Level: South Atlantic League (A) | ETA: 2022
While his surface statistics don’t exactly jump off the page at you, Ronny Mauricio is firmly on the rise as one of the top young shortstop prospects in the game. Here’s what I said about his offensive tools a few weeks back:
“As a switch hitter, Mauricio has displayed plus contact skills and a good feel for hitting from both sides of the plate, though, he’s struggled a bit from the right side this season. Mauricio starts with his hands right by ear, coils down and back, and explodes through the strike zone with exceptional bat speed and a direct swing path through the zone. He uses a bigger leg kick to time pitches as well as a big stride towards the pitcher, which coupled with his quick hips and wrists, generate plenty of torque in his swing. The big power numbers haven’t shown up yet in games, but with his above-average to plus raw power and bat speed, it’s easy to project plenty of power down the road once he beefs up his skinny 6’3 frame.”
Mets shortstop Ronny Mauricio has special physical tools: doesn’t turn 18 until next month, yet looks like a man amongst boys when standing next to 23 and 24-year-old teammates. Switch hitter, good coordination and major power potential. pic.twitter.com/MDDkfGWkAW
— Jacob Zweiback (@TheReelJZ) March 8, 2019
With those raw tools, it’s easy to project Mauricio as a shortstop that hits for both a high average and 25-plus home runs annually once he adds strength and his game power catches up to his raw power. There’s not a ton of speed projection here, but Mauricio should be able to add 5-10 steals to that AVG and power as well. Give it another 12 months or so (or maybe sooner) and you’ll likely see Mauricio’s name mentioned among the elite shortstop prospects in the minors. At that point, good luck trying to acquire him in dynasty leagues. That’s why the time to make an offer is right now.
Marco Luciano, SS, San Francisco Giants
Age: 17 | Current Level: Arizona League (RK) | ETA: 2022
The 2018 international J2 crop was chalked full of high-upside talent, especially at shortstop and in the outfield, per usual. And while there are a ton of names from this group I’m targeting in dynasty leagues, there are none I’d rather have on my team than Marco Luciano of the San Francisco Giants. The kid simply oozes upside at the plate.
Giants Marco Luciano – Slow motion swing 😍Lithe-strong upper half. Lower body/legs thinner than expected. Swing ✈️produces easy all-fields loft. Proj to easy plus power. Torque through hips, and preternatural bat speed. Top 100 consideration pic.twitter.com/CUL5C0P9OG
— Jason Pennini (@JasonPennini) January 20, 2019
Just look at all this raw power!
The Giants signed Dominican SS Marco Luciano, BA's No. 2 international prospect.
— Ben Badler (@BenBadler) July 3, 2018
Hitting a ball like that to the opposite field is damn impressive for a player in general, let alone a player who was just 16 years old at the time. Exceptional bat speed is very apparent when watching Luciano at the plate. He uses a high leg kick to time pitches and loads deep onto his back leg. To start, Luciano has his hands neck high, then coils down and back before exploding through the zone. The swing is clean and direct with plenty of bat speed and natural loft. Not only does Luciano have immense raw power, but he also has shown phenomenal bat control and feel for the strike zone.
All these impressive offensive tools should allow him to hit for a high average and 30-plus home runs annually. Whether that’s from the shortstop position or elsewhere on the diamond remains to be seen, but the Giants are going to allow him to try to make it at shortstop where he potentially could develop into one of the top offensive performers at the position down the road. It hasn’t taken him long to impose his will on Rookie Ball pitchers either. Through his first five games, Luciano has already cranked three home runs and has eight hits in 22 at-bats. By this time next season, expect to see him within the top-25 of a lot of prospect rankings, so try to trade for him now before it’s too late.
Vidal Brujan, 2B, Tampa Bay Rays
Age: 21 | Current Level: Florida State League (A+) | ETA: 2020/2021
Let’s switch gears for a second. The first two players we discussed were big AVG/Power threats with minimal speed upside. Well, I’m going to to a complete 180 and shift to Vidal Brujan, one of the top speed threats in the minor leagues. This little pint-sized ball of fury has averaged 56.5 steals per every 600 at-bats and has continuously improved his efficiency along the way.
Back in 2015-2017, Brujan was successful on just 65.8% of his attempts, which for a player with his speed, is quite low. But hey, he was young and very raw as a base stealer. Since then, he has improved his selectiveness and pitcher reads, leading to a much more efficient 74.3% rate in 2018 and 82.1 % so far through 28 attempts this season.
I clocked him at 4.11 here once foot struck bag, which is plus speed, but notice how he slowed down at the end. 70 grade speed.
Not shown: he stole second, advanced on catcher error, scored on sac fly. He’s going to wreak havoc. pic.twitter.com/hmsrgIyC2C
— Eddy Almaguer (@EddyAlmaguer) April 28, 2019
When targeting Brujan in dynasty leagues, the main reason why you want him is that blazing speed. The fact that he also has the skills to hit at or above .300 is icing on the cake. With a quick and clean swing, good feel for the barrel, and a sound approach, Brujan should continue to hit for a high average as he has throughout most of his minor league career. He also has enough power to approach double-digit home runs, though, power will never be a big part of his game. You’re going to see Brujan very high in my prospect rankings and can likely get him for a trade value lower than where I have him ranked.
Xavier Edwards, SS, San Diego Padres
Age: 19 | Current Level: Midwest League (A) | ETA: 2021
Like with Brujan above, a plus hit tool and elite speed are Edwards carrying tools. Basically, Edwards is a less advanced Brujan. His elite speed is a major asset, but he’s still in that stage of figuring out how and when to use it fully. With that being said, he is a tad ahead of where Brujan was at the same age, and with further development, 40-plus steals annually is a distinct possibility.
Switching over to his offensive tools, Edwards has very little power upside, but makes up for that with a plus hit tool and an advanced plate approach. Last year in 45 games, Edward out just 12.8% of the time and has cut that down to an even better 11.6% rate this season. For his minor league career, Edwards has almost as many walks (57) as strikeouts (58) so far while hitting a robust .340 overall and .336 this season.
Edwards will generate phenomenal bat speed with his quick wrists and is direct through the zone to the ball. He is able to hit the ball to the opposite field with regularity and has actually gone the other way around 50% of the time in his young minor league career. I’d love to see him start pulling the ball a tad more, but hey, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. With the massive speed upside and .300-plus potential, Edwards has the tools to be a big fantasy asset down the road, even if he’s never more than a 5-10 homer guy.
Triston Casas, 1B/3B, Boston Red Sox
Age: 19 | Current Level: South Atlantic League (A) | ETA 2021
Okay, back to a power guy. Even though the Red Sox really didn’t need another corner infielder with the likes of Rafael Devers, Michael Chavis, and Bobby Dalbec already in the organization, the upside of Triston Casas was simply too tantalizing to pass up with the 26th overall pick last June. Almost immediately, Casas endeared himself to Red Sox fans like myself, cracking a joke about former Red Sox third baseman, Pablo Sandoval, on draft night. Yes, we’re still paying him WAY too much to play for San Francisco. And no, I don’t want to talk about it.
Just for a second, think about the upside of Dalbec and Chavis. We’ve seen what Chavis is capable of with Boston and I saw him and Dalbec mash as Double-A Portland for multiple years. Long-term, Casas might just be the best hitter of the trio. With an above-average hit tool, and easy raw power, Casas has the potential to hit around .280 with 30-plus home runs annually. His swing is quick and geared for power with some natural loft, so I feel pretty confident in that 30-plus home run projection.
Even, if he ends up at first base or DH down the road, his offensive upside will fit in just fine. Currently, I’m slotting Casas firmly within my top-100 prospects, but I bet you can nab him for cheaper than that in trade…. for now.
Taylor Walls, SS, Tampa Bay Rays
Age: 22 | Current Level: Florida State League (A+) | ETA 2020/2021
To the window, to the Walls. To the sweat drop down my… I’m not going to finish that, but how often can I sneak a Lil’ Jon reference into a prospect article? Or any article for that matter. Taylor Walls is one of my favorite sneaky-good shortstop prospects in the minor leagues right now and 2018 was his coming out party. In 467 at-bats, Walls slashed .304/.393/.428/.821 with 40 extra-base hits, six home runs, and 31 steals. So far in 2019, that average has dropped to .269, but his HR/SB pace is slightly up from last season.
Walls is exactly the type of prospect that often gets underrated due to his lower power projection. But hey, not everyone can hit 30 dingers. Some, like Walls, thrive outside of the power department. As a switch hitter, Walls has demonstrated a good feel for hitting from both sides, with a touch more pop from the right side of the plate. His swing is quick with clean mechanics, and Walls has shown that he can use the entire field with 62.4% of his batted balls going to center or right field.
With his hit tool and speed, Walls has the ceiling of a .280-plus hitter capable of swiping 25 bags a season. There are plenty of good middle-infielders in this system, which does cloud his future outlook a little. However, Walls is one of the better defensive infielders in the system to go along with his nice offensive tools. Whether it’s in Tampa Bay or elsewhere, Walls will get a shot.
Owen Miller, SS, San Diego Padres
Age: 22 | Current Level: Texas League (AA) | ETA: 2020
Miller was featured in last week’s sleeper prospect spotlight in my Fantasy Baseball Prospects Report. here’s my blurb about him:
“With his plus contact skills, it’s not surprising to see Miller hitting for high averages. But what has been a pleasant surprise is the additional power he’s shown his season. His seven dingers are the most Miller has hit in the minors or at Illinois State. If he can get up into double-digit power totals, that would look really good next to his high batting average and 20-steal upside, which is still lurking despite his lower steal totals.
Who know if he ever runs more and fully capitalizes on his above-average to plus speed. He’s yet to do so, but that speed is there. Miller’s ceiling is a .280/15/20 hitter at either second base or shortstop. With his weaker throwing arm, however, second base could end up being his long-term defensive home instead of his current shortstop position. If your dynasty league rostered 300+ prospects, I’d give Miller a look.”
Terrin Vavra, SS/2B, Colorado Rockies
Age: 22 | Current Level: South Atlantic League (A) | ETA: 2020/2021
Great, another talented Rockies middle infield prospect. Don’t they have enough of those? While Brendan Rodgers, Ryan McMahon, and Garrett Hampson duke it out for playing time in Colorado, Terrin Vavra is quietly tearing up the South Atlantic League to the tune of a .328/.408/.524/.932 slash line with 23 doubles, eight home runs, and 11 steals in 250 at-bats. Now, let me preface this by saying that the upside isn’t as high with Vavra as it is with others on this list, but there’s still a lot to like. Vavra was the Rockies 3rd round pick last June and has done nothing but hit since being drafted. He possesses above-average to plus contact skills with a sound plate approach and average power and speed. At peak, he could be a .280 hitter with 15-20 home runs and steals. If your dynasty league rosters 200-plus prospects, I’d definitely give Vavra a look.
Photo/Video Credit: Jacob Zweiback, Ben Badler, Jason Pennini, Eddy Almaguer, Robert Robinson (Featured Image).
Eric Cross is the lead MLB/Fantasy Baseball writer and MiLB prospect analyst for FantraxHQ and has been with the site since March 2017. In the past, he wrote for FantasyPros and FanSided. He is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) and a contributor in the best-selling Fantasy Baseball Black Book. For more from Eric, check out his author page and follow him on Twitter @EricCross04.
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