It doesn’t matter where a prospect falls within overall rankings, anyone can be undervalued. Even prospects ranked within the top 100 overall. These five names below can be found with many top-100 prospect lists, but I believe their overall perceived value isn’t as high as it should be and certainly not as high as their actual value for dynasty league managers. This makes them all ideal trade targets that should cost quite as much as their ranking in my personal rankings would warrant. Honestly, I could’ve rambled on about a few more names, but these are the five undervalued prospects in my top-100 that came to mind immediately.
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Undervalued Prospects To Target
Kyle Manzardo (1B – TBR)
Reading this blurb is going to give you a sense of deja vu. Just like a certain Kansas City Royals rookie first baseman, Kyle Manzardo has consistently shown high four-category potential during his time as a professional. Manzardo was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2021 draft out of Washington State University and has excelled ever since his first professional game. After a brief debut in rookie ball in 2021, Manzardo played at both Hi-A and Double-A in 2022, slashing a robust .327/.426/.617 with 26 doubles, 22 home runs, and a .290 ISO. On top of that, Manzardo displayed an advanced approach at the plate, posting a 14.9% walk rate compared to only a 16.4% strikeout rate. Yeah, sound familiar?
Being a 1B-Only player for fantasy means that the bat is going to need to stand out for him to draw intrigue. But with the profile Manzardo possesses, I’m definitely a believer in that happening. Manzardo’s hit tool is easily plus and he’s got enough power to exceed 25 homers annually at the highest level. Unfortunately, Tampa Bay has an irritating history of platooning a lot of their regulars, but I don’t expect that to be the case here given Manzardo’s ability to get on base at an elite clip and hit for plenty of power. That’s a combination Tampa Bay hasn’t seen a lot of lately. Manzardo needs to be considered a universal top-25 fantasy prospect.
Connor Norby (2B – BAL)
Before the 2022 season began, we spoke with Eric Garfield who covers Baltimore Orioles prospects and he spoke very highly of Connor Norby. After what Norby did in 2022, it’s easy to see why. In 547 plate appearances across three levels ending at Triple-A, Norby slashed .279/.360/.526 with 23 doubles, 29 home runs, and 16 steals. That’s a damn fine overall line but not even fully indicative of just how good Norby was over the final three months of the season. Norby posted only a .237/.311/.425 line in Hi-A before turning up the heat with a .298/.389/.571 line at Double-A with 17 home runs and 10 steals in just 64 games. The approach improved as well, increasing his walk rate from 8.6% to 11.5% while decreasing his strikeout rate from 23.9% to 19.9%.
Connor Norby is on 🔥
The No. 12 @Orioles prospect cranked two homers and tripled in a four-RBI day for the @BowieBaysox! pic.twitter.com/2kmHjjPxW1
— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) August 31, 2022
Similarly to his fellow Orioles prospect Colton Cowser, Norby’s all-around offensive game is quite robust. While there aren’t any standout tools, Norby is a plus hitter with plus raw power and average to above-average speed. He’s ever bit the hitter Josh Jung was while possessing a bit more upside on the bases. Add in a hitter-friendly home ball park and division and what should be a good lineup around him, and you have a top-of-the-order, five-category impact fantasy player set to debut at some point during the 2023 season. At this point, Norby should be considered a top-25 fantasy prospect.
Edouard Julien (2B – MIN)
When I mention that these prospects are undervalued, I’m guilty of undervaluing them to a degree as well. That was especially true with Edouard Julien this past season, but that ended quickly when I dug into his profile a bit more. Over the last two seasons, Julien is the only prospect in baseball under the age of 25 to post a .400+ OBP, .190+ ISO, 15+ HR, and 15+ SB in each season. His offensive onslaught has continued out in the Arizona Fall League as well with a .373/.536/.706 slash line through 69 plate appearances with four home runs, four steals, and as many walks as strikeouts (15).
Julien has played in 225 games as a professional and sports a ridiculous .437 OBP. A lot of that is due to his 20.4% walk rate, but Julien possesses above-average contact skills as well. His power is sneaky-good too. Is he ever going to hit .320 or crank 35 dingers? Maybe not. But hitting .280+ with 20+ home runs and an elite OBP is certainly capable with his profile. That’s not even factoring in his ability to add 15-20 steals annually as well. When combine the sum of all these parts, the package is very exciting for fantasy purposes and warrants a spot inside my top-50 overall, which is where he’ll be ranked for my next Top-400 upside on FantraxHQ.
Endy Rodriguez (C – PIT)
For whatever reason, everyone in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization seems to be undervalued with the exception of Oneil Cruz. Yes, the Pittsburgh Pirates haven’t had much success for a long time now, but there are plenty of exciting young players in this system, especially Endy Rodriguez. Ignore the position listed next to his name and focus on the bat and the overall talent here in the profile. Pittsburgh also has Henry Davis approach the Majors quickly so there’s a chance Rodriguez moves to a corner outfield spot or even somewhere in the infield. Rodriguez saw time at 1st base, 2nd base, and in the outfield each of the last two seasons.
Offensively, Rodriguez has the tools to stand out regardless of position. In each of the last two seasons, Rodriguez has hit above .290 with an OBP above .380 and ISO above .210 while demonstrating a sound approach at the plate.
- 2021 (A): 434 PA, .294/.380/.512, 25 2B, 15 HR, 2 SB, 11.5% BB, 17.7% K, .218 ISO
- 2022 (A+/AA/AAA): 531 PA, .323/.407/.590, 39 2B, 25 HR, 4 SB, 11.3% BB, 19% K, .267 ISO
Rodriguez increased his SLG and ISO considerably this past season while maintaining his BB and K rates from 2021. When a player is able to add power without sacrificing contact or approach, that’s when you should get extremely excited for fantasy purposes. Rodriguez profiles as a .280+ hitter with a high OBP and 25+ home runs annually while hitting in the top half of the lineup and accruing solid run and RBI totals. This is a top-25 dynasty prospect for me without question, but he still doesn’t get valued that way. Take advantage of that in your dynasty leagues.
Matt Mervis (1B – CHC)
Last but certainly not least we have Matt Mervis. A recent addition to my top-100 overall, Mervis falls into that “older prospect” category. However, with his performance this season and offensive profile, his top-100 ranking is well-deserved. And frankly, he might be pushing top-50 before too long. Mervis quickly ascended from Hi-A to Triple-A this season, cranking 40 doubles and 36 home runs along the way with a .309/.379/.606 slash line. He’s far from just a slugger too, displaying an above-average hit tool while also keeping his strikeout rate under 20%. This offensive barrage hasn’t stopped out in the Arizona Fall League either, with Mervis currently tied for the league lead with five home runs in just 13 games.
Another tank for Matt Mervis #Cubs pic.twitter.com/WOTgOezQOQ
— Josh Norris (@jnorris427) October 14, 2022
With the Cubs currently having a gaping hole at first base due to Frank Schwindel’s immense struggles, Mervis has the chance to grab that starting gig with a strong showing in spring training. That makes him an attractive deep-league, DC, or BestBall target for 2023 along with being one of my favorite prospect targets for dynasty leagues right now. Mervis has the skills to hit for a soldi average and 30-homers annually, and the friendly confines of Wrigley Field should only help him.
Others I Believe Are Undervalued In My Top-100 Overall
Austin Wells (C -NYY) | Chase DeLauter (OF – CLE) | Sal Frelick (OF – MIL) | Emmanuel Rodriguez (OF – MIN) | Christian Encarnacion-Strand (CI – MIN)
Media Credit: Minor League Baseball (@MiLB), Josh Norris (@jnorris427)
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I definitely been using the k:bb rates to find risers. Works well for pitchers too.
CES was traded to Cincinnati as part of the return for Mahle. I love most of your selections. I think you focus on K% and BB% as well as ISO and OPS. I love this process. However, in the two months after the trade to the Cincinnati organization CES had a BB% of 4.1% and a K% of 25.7%. Not even Javier Baez had a 5/1 K/BB% in the minors.