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MLB Prospect Analysis: The Missing Link – Speed

In recent years, the importance organizations are putting on swing path, elevating the ball, and hitting for more power in general, has made it easier than ever to find players capable of helping in home runs and RBI. It seems like you can get power-bats later in drafts and spend your focus on more rare skillsets early on. And to a certain degree, this is an accurate assessment. But there still seems to be a disconnect at times between a home run hitter and a four-category producer. The hit tool usually needs to be present to maximize their skill set. There are numerous players in the Majors that can crush baseballs into orbit when they make contact. The players with a relatively high batting average and good run totals can work their way into the early rounds in drafts.

This week I look at players who possess the hit tool and power to become a significant four-category contributor. Some of these players have solid athleticism and could end up chipping in double-digit steals, particularly early in their careers. Others are classified as more traditional sluggers but have the hit-tool to be considered more. A few lead with their ability to hit, but it is clear more power is coming. Hit-tool and power players do not have the appeal of high-end speed options. But there is a significant role for players of this ilk within the fantasy realm. Leagues that do not value stolen bases could find these players are the most appealing long-term options. You could make a case that these players are some of the safer options (in terms of reaching their potential). They are not required to add any additional tools to their repertoire to become valuable players, only polish and maintain.

For more great analysis and rankings, make sure to check out the 2022 FantraxHQ Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit!

The Cream of the Crop

  • Julio Rodriguez, OF, SEA (21/AA)
  • Riley Greene, OF, DET (21/AAA)
  • Spencer Torkelson, 1B, DET (22/AAA)
  • Adley Rutschman, C, BAL (23/AAA)
  • Josh Jung, 3B, TEX (23/AAA)
  • Triston Casas, 1B, BOS (22/AAA)

Here we have a group of coveted players everyone should be familiar with at this stage. They are all highly touted within the prospect world and should see time in the Majors next season. Each player shows the skillset required from a four-category run producer. It is a matter of what kind of adjustments they need to make once they reach the highest level. A couple of them (Rodriguez and Greene) bring some youthful athleticism to the table, but it is clear that speed is their least impressive fantasy tool. You should feel comfortable investing in hitters that make consistent hard contact, possess good pitch selection, and have power at a young age. This group is valuable because of their proximity to the Majors and long-term appeal at their position once they become acclimated. It can be difficult and costly to acquire prospects on the verge of getting an opportunity. But these players will become savvy buy-low targets if a window opens up during any initial struggles adjusting to the big leagues.

Highly-Ranked Youngsters

  • Jordan Walker, 3B, STL (19/A+)
  • Kahlil Watson, SS, MIA (18/CPX)
  • Nick Yorke, 2B, BOS (19/A+)
  • Marcelo Mayer, SS, BOS (19/CPX)
  • Cristian Hernandez, SS, CHC (18/DSL)
  • Marco Luciano, SS, SF (20/A+)
  • Tyler Soderstrom, C, OAK (20/A)
  • Coby Mayo, 3B, BAL (19/A)
  • Jasson Dominguez, OF, NYY (18/A)
  • Reginald Preciado, SS, CHC (18/CPX)

This big tier is packed full of intrigue in the early stages of development. They present similar characteristics as the top players but carry variance in their ranking and proximity concerns that prevent them from being viewed on the same level. Most players with a good hit tool and power are ranked aggressively early based on their potential. All of these players performed admirably considering their age vs. level at the time. If you would rather not pay the premium cost to acquire one of the more notable sluggers, this group has a lot of potential to enter the top tier down the line. On the flip side of the coin, a rational person could make an argument that some of these players have already made massive jumps in a short time and could be viewed as viable sell-high candidates, depending on how you operate. Each player carries the risk associated with young players. They also possess the mouth-watering potential to become an impact player in their prime.

Potential Underrated Targets

  • Miguel Vargas, 3B, LAD (22/AA)
  • Nolan Gorman, 3B, STL­ (21/AAA)
  • Brett Baty, 3B, NYM (22/AA)
  • Curtis Mead, 3B, TB (21/A+)
  • Dustin Harris, 1B, TEX (22/A+)
  • Jose Miranda, 3B, MIN (23/AAA)
  • Andy Pages, OF, LAD (21/A+)
  • Jhonkensy Noel, 1B, CLE (20/A+)
  • Trey Sweeney, SS, NYY (21/A)
  • Blaze Jordan, 3B, BOS (19/A)

Here we have a large group of intriguing prospects at various stages of development. The vast majority of them are coming off of breakout seasons. Most of the players in this tier are household names to hardcore dynasty managers, but you will not find them ranked aggressively on every list. Once we move beyond the most established and decorated, it becomes more of a judgment call. Some players end up getting lost in the shuffle. It is crucial to develop the skill to identify players who show these traits early. Generally speaking, it can be easier to discover these types if you pay close attention during the season. Many in the fantasy community will be relatively slow to notice until their stats and proximity are too much to overlook. Even then, there seems to be a fluctuating view of how players like this are valued. If you trust your ability to identify the desirable players before they are hot commodities, there is ample opportunity in this range each season. Identifying them before your competition can result in several positive trade results at the bare minimum.

Rookie Ball Stashes

  • Gabriel Gonzalez, OF, SEA (18/DSL)
  • Cristian Santana, SS, DET (18/DSL)
  • Samuel Zavala, OF, SD (17/DSL)
  • Yerlin Confidan, OF, CIN (19/CPX)
  • Daniel Montesino, OF, SD (17/DSL)
  • Junior Caminero, 3B, TB (18/DSL)

Finally, we look at a group of high-upside teenagers who showed flashes of significant upside during their professional debut. Each of these players should be considered an intriguing target in deep leagues. They have the tools to continue rising on lists if their skill set plays against more advanced pitching. Considering the relative youth of this group, each player has further to go to reach their potential, but an early investment could pay off handsomely if you remain patient. There is a wide range of outcomes, but there is room for added athleticism in prospects this age. Ultimately, each player should be on your radar already in deep, competitive leagues. Players like this tend to take a step back or a massive leap forward in public perception. This fact makes them intriguing targets beyond their actual skill set. The real possibility one or more takes a big jump up rankings is noteworthy. You won’t need to wait years for all these players to develop. Their trade value can spike, and you can cash out for a player that is more up your alley.

Things look bleak now but there will be baseball in 2022! Why not get a head start and jump in a Fantrax Classic Draft contest? Get a jump on the season with a Best Ball league or maybe a Draft and Hold. Or put some green on the line with a new season-long league to try and conquer. There’s no better time than now to get your baseball on!
1 Comment
  1. Dennis Strolle says

    No Bobby Witt! Are you crazy.

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