Last week I wrote about a handful of top prospects and where they were going in various drafts per their Fantrax ADP. I mostly limited that to the bigger names that are almost universally believed to see some Major League action at some point this season. Today, I’m going to continue that venture, but I’ll also try to look a little deeper to find some names that aren’t a lock to make an impact. If these names get called up and receive a decent amount of playing time, they could give you a huge boost at the end of your draft (especially in our Draft and Hold Best Score Leagues!).
This, of course, assumes a standard 5×5 redraft league, so values are going to be very different if you’re playing in a startup dynasty league. And one last piece of advice: If you think a player is going to have a certain type of impact, reach for him! Particularly later in the draft when your picks aren’t as devastating if you make a mistake. I recently reached waaaaaaaaaaay too far in a new league to grab Lewis Brinson because I’m positive he makes an impact. But I wanted him and his ADP is rising every minute we get closer to opening day. So if you like one of these guys, stretch a bit just to make sure you get him on your team.
Willy Adames – SS – Tampa Bay Rays
Fantrax ADP: 500
Adames is a low-floor, high-ceiling shortstop prospect that generally ranks within the top 50 of top 100 prospect lists. He doesn’t project to be amazing at any one thing particularly, but he also doesn’t look like he’s going to hurt you anywhere, either. He pairs a good hit tool with a great eye at the plate to consistently put up a .270 batting average and .350+ OBP. And while the power isn’t great in this Major League power environment, I wouldn’t be shocked to see him hit 20 homers with a full season of work, though I’ll pencil him in for 15 and anything extra is gravy. His speed is not great, but he does run enough to net around 10 steals per season. That said, if he gets much bigger (and he might, since he’s only 22), that facet of his game could disappear.
Defensively, he’s pretty solid at shortstop but isn’t anything spectacular and might have to move off of the position at some point. A move to third base isn’t out of the question, especially as he grows into his frame. A lot of Anthony Rendon comps have been thrown around out there, and if that happens the Rays will be really excited. I don’t think that happens quite yet, but he has nothing left to prove in the minors after sturdy showings in Double-A in 2016 and Triple-A in 2017. If he were on a contending team that actually has payroll, then he might be up Opening Day. However, since he’s on the penny-pinching Rays, he’s all but assured to start in the minors. Once those service time milestones begin to pass, he could very well see himself up and on the big league club. And when he is, you’ll want him on your team as a very steady middle infielder.
He’s sitting around pick 500 in most leagues, and that’s just insanely low for a guy with his talent. Rather than keeping some of these low-end starting pitchers on your bench, why not take a flyer on a guy with Adames’ talent and see if he comes up quickly? If you need the roster spot, it’s an easy drop, so there’s really no harm in picking up a guy like this when you’re selecting bench guys anyway.
Franklin Barreto – SS/2B – Oakland Athletics
Fantrax ADP: 453
Another player that could be starting the season in the big leagues if he were on the right team, Barreto was the centerpiece that the Athletics got in the big Josh Donaldson trade with the Blue Jays a few years ago. Barreto struggled quite a bit in his first big league action in 2017, but in Triple-A he continued to show good speed and power for a middle infielder. He strikes out a bit too much and he’ll need to improve his batting eye to become an elite-level player, but it’s not hard to see what it is the Athletics liked about him when they picked him up.
Because the Athletics are cheapskates and because they have enough pieces on the Major League roster right now, it’s doubtful that Barreto breaks camp with the team. It wouldn’t be worth it to have him ride the bench, and the A’s seem committed to giving Jed Lowrie the second base job to start the season. There are injury risks and plenty of question marks on this team though, so with some poor showings or injuries to Lowrie, Marcus Semien, Chad Pinter or Renato Nunez, Barreto could see himself called up to the Major League roster sooner rather than later. And when he does get called up, he’s a potential 20-20 hitter with a good enough hit tool to bat .285+.
I don’t put a lot of stock into spring training stats (and guess what — you shouldn’t either!), but Barreto is hitting the ball really well so far, and that may force the Athletics to rethink their plans. If he gets the job out of the gate, there’s no reason not to draft him as a top-20 second baseman, and that bumps him up about 100-150 spots in ADP.
Alex Verdugo – OF – Los Angeles Dodgers
Fantrax ADP: 502
If you’ve read my work, then you know that Alex Verdugo is a player that I have had my eye on for many years. He’s a bit of an anomaly in this day and age of the “fly ball revolution” in that he hits the ball on the ground, works at-bats and doesn’t strike out much. He’s one of those players that could annually bat over .300, and with continued development of his patience and batting eye, he should post some insane OBP numbers, as well. Right now, his power is more suitable for hitting the ball in the gaps, but scouts are divided on his ability to hit for home run power. I believe he can hit for enough home run power, but he’s not likely ever going to hit 30 out in a season. The speed is better than his stolen base numbers imply, so there’s also plenty of potential and room for growth there.
Even if Verdugo doesn’t develop as expected, we still have a kid who can hit for a high average, get on base a decent amount, and likely score plenty of runs thanks to his good speed. Even at just 21 years old, he doesn’t have anything to prove in the minor leagues. In 2016, he hit .273/.336/.407 in Double-A, then followed that up with a stellar 2017 season in Triple-A where he hit .314/.389/.436 and managed to walk more than 10% of the time. There’s nothing for him to prove, but that doesn’t mean the Dodgers won’t keep him down for a couple of roster reasons.
Currently, on the Dodgers’ outfield depth chart, we have Matt Kemp, Kike Hernandez, Joc Pederson, Chris Taylor, Yasiel Puig, and Trayce Thompson. I could argue that Verdugo deserves a starting job over a lot of these guys, but service time and cost always play a role. Unless the Blue Bombers are able to dump Kemp (not likely since they’ve been trying all offseason), trade Puig, or have injuries or ineffectiveness befall some of the other names, Verdugo might not see some action for a while. That said, I won’t rule anything out considering the names in that group, so if the need arises, he will be there to answer the call.