Analyzing the Dynasty Value of Debuted Top MLB Prospects
We’re barely 10% of the way into the 2019 season and it’s already been a whirlwind when it comes to top MLB prospects debuting. The Padres gave us the old two-for-one special when they put super prospects Fernando Tatis Jr and Chris Paddack on the Opening Day roster. Padres General Manager, A.J. Preller, said they wanted to put the best 25 players on the field, and that they did. The same happened across the country with Pete Alonso opening as the starting first baseman in Queens. Service time be damned!
So, with all these gifted MLB prospects gracing us with their presence, I figured it was a good time to take a look at their value in dynasty leagues now that they’ve made their Major League debuts.
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Dynasty Value of Debuted Top MLB Prospects
Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, San Diego Padres
I really can’t thank A.J. Preller enough for putting Fernando Tatis Jr on the Opening Day roster as the Padres starting shortstop. It’s nice when MLB prospects who are ready for a chance actually get called up when they’re ready. Tatis has done all he can to show that it was the right move, hitting .291 so far with six homers, 13 RBI, 12 runs scored, four steals, and a .955 OPS. He’s one of two players (Trevor Story) so far that have 5+ homers and 4+ steals. Not bad for your first 22 games as a Major Leaguer.
Does any of what I just said really shock anyone though? Tatis has oozed offensive potential for a while now as evident by his per-600 AB numbers of 27 homers and 34 steals in 2017-2018. With above-average contact skills, easy plus raw power, and above-average to plus speed, Tatis was a fantasy monster waiting to happen and he wasted literally zero time becoming that monster. When kids ask their parents to check under the bed and in the closet for monsters, Fernando Tatis Jr. is what they’re afraid of.
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) April 20, 2019
In my top-300 dynasty rankings that I put out back in February, my top five shortstops in order were Francisco Lindor (#4 overall), Trea Turner (#11), Carlos Correa (#12), Trevor Story (#19), and Xander Bogaerts (#39). Tatis is now ahead of the X man for me and approaching top-20 overall dynasty status. Personally, I wouldn’t be dealing away Tatis in dynasty, but if someone wants you to give up Tatis, I would tell them you’d need a monumental offer to deal away a 20-year-old superstar shortstop on the rise.
Pete Alonso, 1B, New York Mets
By the time you finish reading this, I’m sure Pete Alonso will have gone yard again (Wrote that sentence Saturday night before Alonso homered Sunday… called it). Going yard is kind of his thing. Alonso mashed 36 homers last season to tie for the minor league lead and already has eight so far this season with the Mets. These haven’t been cheap dingers either. Alonso ranks amongst the league leaders in average exit velocity at 93.3 mph and has two of the six hardest batted balls so far this season. On top of that, he ranks 15th in hard contact (52.0%), 8th in wRC+ (189), 8th in wOBA (.452), 10th in ISO (.384), 8th in slugging (.699), and 7th in OPS (1.103). What a beast.
Due to this scorching hot start, I’ve seen many people debate selling high on the young slugger. Hold your damn horses for a second. Unless you can get another young top-50 overall caliber player for him, I don’t recommend doing that. Alonso is already establishing himself as one of the top power threats in the game and has a better hit tool than people give him credit for. While he’s not likely to hit .325 moving forward, Alonso has the potential to settle into the .280 range with 35-plus homers annually.
In a dynasty league, the only first basemen I’d be willing to trade him for straight up right now are Paul Goldschmidt, Freddie Freeman, Rhys Hoskins, and Cody Bellinger. That’s it. Bellinger is questionable too. Alonso is already a top-5 dynasty option at the position and this is just the beginning.
I leave you with Alonso’s latest mammoth blast. One that that person operating the camera had a hard time locating.
Alonso wins this one.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) April 21, 2019
Eloy Jimenez, OF, Chicago White Sox
After an 0/4 day at the plate with two strikeouts yesterday, Eloy Jimenez is down to a .231 average, .658 OPS, and a 29.8% strikeout rate through his first 20 Major League games. But you know what? I don’t care one stinking bit. Like I’ve said time and time again, not all elite prospects dominate from the beginning. And it’s not like it’s all been bad for Jimenez. He does have three homers thus far with eight RBI, and six runs scored.
What has been the problem for Jimenez, outside of the strikeout rate, is that he’s been making a lot of weak contact on the ground. Jimenez currently has a 49.0% ground ball rate and a 21.6% hard contact rate, the latter of which ranks 188th out of 193 qualified hitters thus far, sandwiched between Jonathan Villar and Ben Zobrist. Do you really think he’s going to stay down in that area moving forward? No, that’s what I thought.
There’s no doubt that Jimenez has the power to become one of the top power bats in the game, and one that can hit .300 as well. Hitters that can hit .300 with 40-plus homers don’t just grow on trees ya know. To put things in perspective, I would take Jimenez ahead of Pete Alonso in a start-up dynasty draft right now. The gap has shrunk, but I still value the White Sox slugger a little bit ahead of my boy Pete.
Chris Paddack, SP, San Diego Padres
When you walk into the clubhouse as Chris Paddack does below, badass is the first thing that comes to mind.
Chris Paddack is the baddest MF on the planet. https://t.co/jIMbaswjZy
— Eric Cross (@EricCross04) April 19, 2019
I could literally watch that on loop all day. Not only does Paddack enter the clubhouse like a badass, he’s been pitching like one too. Through his first four starts, Paddack has a 2.25 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 3.2 BB/9, and 9.5 K/9 in 20 innings. Three of his four starts have ended with him allowing one earned run or less. Who needs Triple-A anyways?
Paddack has been carving up Major League lineups with his dynamic fastball, changeup, curveball mix and with his phenomenal command and feel for pitching, I don’t expect this to change any time soon. I’ll even go on record saying that Paddack will be one of the first 10-15 pitchers off the board in 2020 fantasy baseball drafts. He’s that good.
For dynasty leagues, I’m already considering Paddack a top-20 arm and that’s rising with each passing start. With his combination of ceiling and floor, his dynasty price is going to be astronomically high, as it should be. By season’s end, we’re likely looking at a top-10 dynasty arm.
Victor Robles, OF, Washington Nationals
While he might not have debuted in 2019, it almost feels like it after Victor Robles didn’t get any MLB action in 2018 due to a gruesome elbow injury. After batting almost exclusively out of the 9-hole this season, Robles has now hit first or second in two of the last four games. While it remains to be seen if that will become more common in the near future, Robles definitely projects as a top of the order dynamo long-term. After dominating in spring training (.321/2/7), Robles has started the season strong with a .286 average, .862 OPS, three home runs, and three steals in 20 games, putting him on a near 25/25 pace.
Everyone knows about the contact skills and the plus-plus speed, but Robles is much more than that. His power had been increasing with each passing season and it wouldn’t shock me if he had some 20-plus homer seasons in the future. Last month, I ranked Robles as the 15th best outfielder for dynasty leagues and expect him to be a top-10 dynasty outfielder by the end of the season.
Danny Jansen, C, Toronto Blue Jays
Unlike many of the names above, Danny Jansen hasn’t gotten off to a hot start to begin his Major League career. Not all MLB prospects can take the Majors by storm right out of the gate. Most prospects struggle early on, but that often gets forgotten. After going 1/3 with a walk on Sunday, Jansen is now hitting .179 with a .502 OPS this season and has yet to break into the homer column in 2019.
While his 2018 debut was fine, Jansen has experienced some strikeout woes this season (28.8%) and has been pounding the ball into the ground with a 55.6% groundball rate. There have been some positives, however. Jansen is hitting the ball hard with his 41.7% hard contact rate currently ranking 10th amongst catchers with 30-plus plate appearances and his walk rate is still solid at 8.5%.
Patience is key here. I’m still valuing Jansen as a top-10 dynasty catcher and if you can grab him for less than that price, I’d be all over it.
Other Quick Hits
Michael Chavis, 1B/2B/3B, Boston Red Sox
Chavis is a personal favorite of mine and one I’ve seen extensively over the last couple of seasons in the Boston system. His .280/30 upside will play anywhere but would look really damn good at second base. As a second baseman, he has top-10 upside at the position. Right now, I’d value him more of a top-20 guy at 2B and top-30 at 3B.
Cole Tucker, SS, Pittsburgh Pirates
Tucker’s upside comes mostly from his speed. His contact skills are average and he only projects as a 10-15 homer threat at best. He’s the likely shortstop of the future in Pittsburgh and has the upside to steal 30-plus bags annually, but don’t go crazy in dynasty. I don’t envision him nearing top-10 status at the position and would put him more in the Willy Adames range moving forward.
Yusei Kikuchi, SP, Seattle Mariners
The latest Japanese arm to come over has had a so-so start to his Major League career with a 4.68 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, and pedestrian 6.3 K/9. If the K rate remains low, his value will be limited. But there’s still some solid upside here and worth a buy-low offer if the Kikuchi owner in your league was expecting more out of him.
Brandon Lowe, 2B/OF, TB
While everyone is waiting for Nate Lowe to get promoted, Brandon Lowe has quietly put together a strong start to the 2019 season after a lackluster 129 at-bats in 2018. Through the first 20 games, Lowe is slashing .288/.338/.616/.954 with six home runs, 15 RBI, 11 runs, and a pair of steals. He didn’t get as much love as he probably should have during his days in the minors, but with his .280/20/10 potential, Lowe could become a borderline top-10 second baseman in time. For now, I’d value him as a top-25 second baseman in dynasty.
Photo/Video Credit: San Diego Padres, Jimmy Simmons/Icon Sportswire, MLB Pipeline.
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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