If you thought the infield was a trendy joint, just wait for the outfield. Last week, we dove into some prospect trends in the infield for dynasty leagues. This week, our focus is on outfield prospect trends, and boy, are there a lot of them. Two big names joined the elite this season, while a few others frustrated their dynasty owners for much of the last five to six months. Are these trends just a product of 2018 or are they indicative of future value? Let’s dig in.
Outfield Prospect Trends
Alex Kirilloff, Minnesota Twins
From borderline top-100 prospect to elite top-25 prospect in just one season. Yes, 2018 was one heck of a season for the 20-year-old Pittsburgh native. After missing the entire 2017 season due to Tommy John surgery, Kirilloff started the season with Single-A Cedar Rapids in the Midwest League. The next five months consisted of him tormenting minor league pitchers, equally splitting his destruction between the Midwest League and the high Class-A Florida State League. Combined, he slashed .348/.392/.578/.970 with 44 doubles, 7 triples, 20 home runs, and 101 RBI in 512 at-bats.
Alex Kirilloff is red hot in the FSL playoffs. Our own @JasonAtTheGame says he is the best hitter he has seen this year. Check out the balance, the extension, and the ability to consistently work LF.#MNTwins #FortMyersMiracle pic.twitter.com/16P8IueW0c
— Prospects Live (@ProspectsLive) September 6, 2018
Look at that above tweet closely. Fellow prospect analyst, Jason Woodell, said that Kirilloff was the best hitter he saw this season. That’s high praise as Jason basically lives at minor league ballparks. Kiriloff uses a balanced approach at the plate and plus bat speed to make consistent hard contact to all fields. While he’s more of a line drive hitter at the moment, his plus raw power is showing up more and more in games with 30 home runs annually likely in his future. There’s not much speed here, but Kirilloff is one of the best pure hitters in the minor leagues and is emerging as an elite dynasty league prospect. He’s not going away.
Jo Adell, Los Angeles Angels
Speaking of elite prospects, Adell decided to join that club this season as well. While not as polished as Kiriloff at the plate, Adell’s tantalizing combination of power and speed makes him one of the most intriguing prospects to own in dynasty leagues right now. That’s not to say he can’t hit for a high batting average, though. Just more in the .280-.300 range than .320-plus like Kirilloff.
Impressive power today from Angels OF Jo Adell during Futures Game BP. pic.twitter.com/nBCDkNkom3
— Ben Badler (@BenBadler) July 15, 2018
But like I said, Adell’s power/speed upside is enormous. In 599 career minor league at-bats, Adell has racked up 43 doubles, 12 triples, 25 home runs, and 23 steals in 28 attempts. All before he even left his teenage years. That’s just the tip of the iceberg my friends. It’s not often that you find a combination of plus power and plus speed, especially when it’s this blatantly obvious in a 19-year-`old finishing up his first full professional season. Adell will likely open 2019 back at Double-A with a late-2019 debut not out of the question. He’s truly an elite prospect, worthy of top-5 consideration.
Bubba Thompson, Texas Rangers
A 2017 first round pick, Thompson hasn’t taken long to show why the Rangers made him their top overall selection last June. In just 332 at-bats this season, Thompson racked up 31 extra-base hits and 32 steals on 39 attempts. His slash line was equally as impressive, finishing at .289/.344/.446/.790. Not too shabby for your first full professional season.
What’s exciting about Thompson is that there’s a lot of room to grow. He was a two-sport star throughout high school and has only been solely focusing his attention on baseball for the last 18 months or so. It’s incredibly enticing to think what he could develop into in the next few years with continued development in the minors, working on his swing and honing his craft. While the power isn’t quite there yet, Thompson has the strength to grow into 20 homers down the road to go along with his 40-steal upside.
The downside here right now is his subpar plate discipline. His 6.3% walk rate isn’t terrible, but Thompson will need to cut down on that 28.7% strikeout rate. Again, something that can be worked on with further seasoning. The great thing about Thompson is that his dynasty price tag hasn’t quite caught up to his upside yet. Buy if you can.
Anthony Alford, Toronto Blue Jays
Back in the pre-season, it appeared that Alford was ready for a spot in Toronto’s outfield. He was coming off a strong 2017 that saw him slash .299/.390/.406/.797 with five home runs and 19 steals in just 278 at-bats, most of which came with Double-A New Hampshire. Following that was an even more impressive showing in the Mexican Pacific Winter League where he hit .352 with eight steals in 26 games. Granted, the competition isn’t overly great in that league, but it was nice to see Alford build off his successful 2017 minor league campaign.
That was 2017, and 2018 was a whole different story. In this “what have you done for me lately” world a lot of people live in today, Alford hasn’t done much of anything lately. Basically everything you can imagine decreased or regressed for Alford in 2018. Walk rate, strikeout rate, power, speed, you name it.
Now, you can’t just go off of stats to determine a prospect’s value. You need to watch video and see these guys first hand. Statistics and numbers are great and all, but don’t tell the whole story. Alford is still a plus runner and has a clean swing, capable of .280-plus batting averages, but he’s added little to no loft to his swing and has begun chasing more pitches than other before. There’s still solid upside here, but nothing you should be looking to acquire at his current dynasty cost.
Monte Harrison, Miami Marlins
Just put it in play kids. Anything can happen when you put the ball in play and make the defense get you out. On the other hand, getting yourself out by striking out more than 1/3 of your at-bats does no good at all. Crazy, I know. That’s what we have her with Harrison, an athletic outfielder that struck out in 36.9% of his plate appearances this season. It wasn’t just one bad stretch either. In each full month, Harrison struck out between 33.6% and 40.6% of his plate appearances.
When the season was all said and done, Harrison was only one homer shy of a second consecutive 20HR/25SB season. However, his overall stat line looked less impressive when you factor in his .240/.316/.399/.715 slash line. Every one of those numbers in his slash line was well down from his 2017 breakout season. The power and speed are nice, don’t get me wrong. But Harrison is going to need to cut down on the strikeouts if he wants to hit for a respectable average in the Major Leagues.
Austin Hays, Baltimore Orioles
Coming into 2018, Hays could do no wrong. He had just completed a season where he hit .329 with 32 doubles, 32 home runs, and 95 RBI, earning a September cup of coffee with Baltimore. All he had done since the Orioles took him in the 3rd round of the 2016 amateur draft is hit, hit, and hit some more. Wake up, demolish minor league pitching, repeat. I even saw some dark horse AL ROY picks for Hays in February and March. I’d also be lying to you if I said that thought didn’t cross my mind a time or two as well.
Okay, enough build up. This season did not go Hays’ way. It started with a strained shoulder in Spring Training which delayed his start to his season and an ankle injury caused him to miss more time in May and June. In between those injuries, Hays never seemed to find his footing this season, ending with a .676 OPS in 75 games. The one difference here is that Hays has bounceback written all over him. The tools that helped him break out in 2017 are all still there, so buying low right now is highly recommended.
Leody Taveras, Texas Rangers
Just looking at his raw tools, there’s a lot to like about Leody Taveras. Plus speed, budding power stroke, above-average bat to ball skills, the list goes on. Unfortunately, that’s all we really have to hold onto right now as his performances the last two seasons South Atlantic League (A) and Carolina League (A+) haven’t cut the mustard.
- 2018 (A+): 521 AB, .246/.312/.332/.644, 16 2B, 7 3B, 5 HR, 19 SB, 11 CS
- 2017 (A): 522 AB, .249/.312/.360/.672, 20 2B, 7 3B, 8 HR, 20 SB, 6 CS
I, for one, look at his swing and immediately think that it could use some simplicity. Taveras uses an extreme leg kick and can get too far out on his front foot which cuts down on his power potential. He has a clean swing that is geared to spray line drives all over the field, but he could benefit from toning down the leg kick and staying more balanced at the dish. Like with Hays, the skills here are worth buying low on in dynasty formats.
Eric Cross is the lead MLB writer and prospect analyst here on FantraxHQ and has been with the site since March 2017. He is also a member of the FSWA. For more from Eric, check out his author page and follow him on Twitter @EricCross04.