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Post-Hype Prospects: Tracking Players in Limbo

There may be no area of baseball more under-covered than post-hype prospects. You know the type; they’ve logged too much MLB time to remain on top prospect lists, but they’ve yet to establish themselves as quality players. Often, though, these players remain young with substantial upside. Because of injuries or riding the Triple-A to MLB shuttle, they’ve flown below the fantasy radar.

Things can change significantly in only two years. Case in point: Baseball America’s 2017 top 100 prospects. While the top-10 looks quite strong in retrospect, Yoan Moncada was probably overrated at No. 2, while Aaron Judge barely snuck onto the list. That’s not to criticize BA, whose list looks quite strong in total. A few talented players from that list, though, have fallen into the aforementioned no man’s land. We’ll run through some here. This isn’t to cover prospects who just haven’t clicked yet; Lewis Brinson might still have a bright future, but owners have valid reasons not to buy into him after his dreadful 2018 season. Yadier Alvarez, Casey Gillaspie, and Delvin Perez, meanwhile, might never be talented enough to make the majors. These five players, though, have yo-yo’d between Triple-A and MLB in recent years.

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Post-Hype Prospects for 2019

JP Crawford, SS, Seattle Mariners

Crawford’s long been a more exciting real-life prospect than fantasy prospect. He doesn’t have elite power or speed; most of his value lies in elite plate discipline and a solid glove at shortstop. Crawford’s Depth Charts projections aren’t great: .225/.318/.347 with nine homers and six steals. In 2017, Crawford performed well for a 22-year-old in AAA. Further, in his MLB time, he’s made a decent amount of contact. He hits the ball in the air and he might have a little more upside than he showed in 2018 (when he hit just three homers in 138 plate appearances) as he gets further removed from a hand injury.

Philadelphia traded Crawford to Seattle this offseason, which is a downgrade in his home park. On the flip side, Crawford should have a clearer path to playing time on a Mariners’ club taking a step back in 2019. He’s not a great redraft target, but there’s still a chance for .260 with 15-20 homers as a shortstop down the road.

Clint Frazier, OF, New York Yankees

Frazier’s been squeezed out by a loaded Yankee outfield in recent years and he’s shown dreadful plate discipline in sporadic MLB time. While that may sour some owners, there are plenty of extenuating circumstances here. He’s still only 24, has electric physical tools and has been decimated by concussions. More than that, he’s proven to be quite a good hitter in AAA. Even last year, he hit .311/.389/.574 with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, showing much better feel for the strike zone than he has in the big leagues in addition to his vaunted power. By all accounts, he’ll start 2019 in the minors, but he’s healthy and should be New York’s first call in the event of an outfield injury. If the opportunity in the Bronx never arrives, then a trade might free Frazier up elsewhere. Either way, he remains an exciting young player.

Franklin Barreto, IF, Oakland Athletics

Reports on Barreto are divided. He’s not going to unseat Marcus Semien at shortstop, and the A’s acquired Jurickson Profar, blocking his cleanest path to everyday duty. That might allow Barreto to pick up multi-positional eligibility, but it’s not encouraging for consistent playing time in 2019. More concerning, though, Barreto hasn’t shown many strides with his plate discipline in recent years. He’s now over 800 plate appearances into his Triple-A career with a 29.3% strikeout rate. To Barreto’s credit, he more than doubled his walk rate last year and has continued to hit for power, but it’s tough to determine just how much of that is due to the hitter-friendly nature of the PCL. He remains supremely talented. That said, Barreto hasn’t progressed as much as his former top 50 prospect status and surface statistics might indicate.

Erick Fedde, P, Washington Nationals

Fedde’s career 6.44 ERA has pushed him off fantasy radars, but there are things to like about him. His fastball has among the lowest spin rates in baseball, translating into plus sink and a career 55.2% ground ball rate. Fedde need only beat out Jeremy Hellickson and Joe Ross for the final spot in their rotation. Fedde might never be a high strikeout arm, but he projects for a decent 4.27 ERA and was quietly fantastic in Triple-A last season. It’s not the most exciting profile, but Fedde’s an underrated streaming option.

Willie Calhoun, OF, Texas Rangers

In many ways, Calhoun is the antithesis of Crawford. While Crawford’s defense and plate discipline make him a better real-life player than fantasy option, Calhoun’s a dreadful defender who makes up for poor plate discipline with advanced bat-to-ball skills and raw power. The Rangers were reportedly less than pleased with Calhoun’s effort level last season, but he’s drawn plaudits for his offseason work from GM Jon Daniels. Calhoun isn’t the cleanest roster fit in Texas, with Shin-Soo Choo similarly incapable of manning the outfield, but the Rangers are retooling anyhow. Calhoun may need to start this season in Triple-A, but if he hits there, he’ll be up in short order. There’s no reason for Texas not to run him out there. A 24-year-old with defensive question marks isn’t the type of prospect to play service time games with. At the same time, it’s tough to see them extracting much trade value from Choo, regardless of his performance. A 36-year-old DH with a $42 million contract doesn’t have much of a market.

Calhoun only needs to prove he’s a worthwhile big league hitter to get an opportunity in Arlington’s hitter-friendly confines. He was good, not great, in AAA last year, but no one questions the offensive skill here. Calhoun’s coming off the board No. 82 among outfielders right now. Realistically, he should be closer to 60th at the position.

You buying in on Anthony’s post-hype prospects? For more great rankings, strategy, and analysis check out the 2019 FantraxHQ Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit. We’ll be adding more content from now right up until Opening Day!

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