Two years ago I was invited to take over an abandoned roster in a 30-team dynasty league. It looked like what I imagine most abandoned dynasty teams look like – a couple of good players with good contracts, a couple of decent players with bad contracts, and a bunch of horses***. Each roster is capped at 75 players, so there are over 2,200 players owned. There are probably readers out there who scoff at that kind of depth, but for me it was by far the deepest fantasy league I’d ever been in. The biggest problem with righting the ship was the state of the farm. It was just a handful of non-prospects. The previous owner didn’t use all of their available roster slots, so there was no new blood coming in via minor league signing bonuses, etc. Additionally, all of the supplemental draft picks in the prior year were traded in acquiring a “bad” major league contract. I don’t write these details to crap on the previous owner – I don’t even know them and I’m sure they’re a cool person – but rather to illustrate the state of the team and to relate to some of my readers who also find themselves trying to revive a dead roster. So how did I tackle this particular rebuild?Please, blog, may I have some more?
Oakland’s pitching-friendly park might ding the overall upside of its hitting prospects, but on the flip side the pitching gets a slight boost. The Athletics have a balanced farm with solid prospects both in the box and on the mound. What this organization lacks in blue chip prospects, it makes up for with depth and a slew of players on the verge of joining the show. At the 2015 trade deadline, the A’s turned Scott Kazmir, Ben Zobrist, and Tyler Clippard into three of the prospects listed below. Billy Burns emerged as a table-setter, while fellow graduate Mark Canha was third on the team in both homers and runs batted in. Oakland will pick sixth overall in the 2016 draft.Please, blog, may I have some more?
The Brewers picked up three solid prospects in trades this past summer – acquiring Domingo Santana, Brett Phillips, and Zach Davies. Santana has already graduated and should be an interesting power upside play in 2016, while Davies should start the year in the rotation. Phillips migh have the most upside of any of them, but likely won’t reach the majors until 2017. After being one of the weaker systems entering the 2015 season, these trades and the 2015 draft have done a lot to bolster the farm. They’ll add another strong piece this summer with the fifth pick in the MLB draft.Please, blog, may I have some more?
The Colorado farm is full of tasty fantasy prospects, with five names that could easily slot into a Top 50 overall. You’re going to have to tread carefully here with pitching prospects, but despite the unfriendly home territory there are still three arms that are worth looking into for dynasty leagues. On the hitting side, there’s a bunch of high-upside youngsters who may one day call the best hitter’s environment in baseball their home. While we didn’t see many graduations in 2015, we did get to watch Nolan Arenado evolve from a potential monster into an actual monster…so that was fun. After picking third overall in 2015 – and making good use of it with Brendan Rodgers – the Rockies will pick fourth overall in the 2016 draft. That should give them another blue chip prospect to add to their collection.Please, blog, may I have some more?
The Braves are in a rebuilding period, and after a few trades their farm looks a lot different than it did at this time last year. Mike Foltynewicz, Williams Perez, Jace Peterson, Adonis Garcia, and Matt Wisler all surfaced in the majors with mixed results. In one of the more surprising moves, Atlanta took on Cuban import Hector Olivera from the Dodgers as part of a much larger deal that included Alex Wood and Jose Peraza. Peraza would have easily topped this year’s list, and while Olivera is a very good prospect in his own right, the initial reaction to the trade was confusion. 2016 will be a continuation of the rebuild, and the Braves can add another premium prospect with the third overall pick in the draft.Please, blog, may I have some more?
The Reds battled with the Phillies for the worst record in baseball and came away with the second overall pick in the 2016 draft. Another thing they had in common with the Phils was dealing their ace. Johnny Cueto netted the Reds three left-handed pitching prospects from the Royals, with Brandon Finnegan the centerpiece of the return. Raisel Iglesias had a solid rookie year, and the Cuban import will look to build on that in 2016. We should also see the Reds’ two best prospects (Winker/Stephenson) in Cincinnati at some point this year. Adam Duvall, the return when the Reds traded Mike Leake, will presumably get a long look and has enough power to be on fantasy radars. It probably won’t be a competitive year for the Reds, but they’ll have some interesting young pieces surfacing.Please, blog, may I have some more?
The rebuild is in full swing and the Phils are sporting a new general manager. They sold off their best trade chip in 2015, Cole Hamels, and regardless of your opinion on the return, the Phils landed three of the prospects in this year’s preview in addition to some pitching depth. 2015 also featured solid performances from rookies Maikel Franco, Aaron Nola, and Odubel Herrera, which gave fans of this team reason for optimism – something they’ll need in 2016 as it will almost certainly be a continuation of the rebuild. Philly will also have the first overall pick in the 2016 draft, which will add a premium prospect to what is now a deep and impressive collection of minor league talent.Please, blog, may I have some more?
This index is meant to help you navigate through all of the minor league previews from both this season and last season. All of the reports from last year are already linked, including the preseason and midseason Top 50 fantasy prospect lists. Links to this year’s previews will go live as each report is published, beginning with the Phillies and ending with the Cardinals (we’re using the 2016 MLB draft order as our guide this year). By the spring, this index should make it easy for you find a specific team’s preview and compare the changes from year to year in both the organizational and overall prospect rankings.Please, blog, may I have some more?
Winter leagues are starting up with notable prospects playing in most of them. One player who’s just happy to be back on the field is Roman Quinn. The Phillies’ switch-hitting outfielder was off to a great start in 2015, and was even named an Eastern League All-Star, but a hip flexor tear essentially ended his season. Quinn’s not a blue chip prospect, and he likely won’t be relevant until 2017 at this point, but he’s a prospect I’ve always personally liked and have wanted to see succeed. His best tool is his elite speed, but in the first half of 2015 he seemed to have figured something out with his bat as well – hitting .306 with four homers. He could eventually be a top-of-the-lineup runs and steals producer for fantasy teams, with a little bit of pop sprinkled in (~8 homers) but that will hinge squarely on how his hit tool progresses. He’ll play for Licey this offseason, and I’m hoping that the improvements he made in 2015 have carried over. Things went well for him in his debut – going 3-for-5 with a triple and a steal. Here are some notes on other prospects playing in the offseason leagues…Please, blog, may I have some more?
A more accurate title for this post would have been “interpreting scouting reports of prospects for the purposes of fantasy baseball” but that’s a bit too much. I did a similar primer on fantasy prospects last year, and while some of this info will be the same, it’s always good to take a deep breath and look at the big picture before diving into the heart of the prospect season. This year’s minor league previews will (hopefully) be even more useful for fantasy players than last year’s. If you’re a baseball fan, you’ve likely seen a traditional scouting report and have a general idea of how the 20-80 (or 2-8) scouting grades work. You’ve also probably heard of the “five tools”, which are hit, hit for power, run, field, and throw. Baseball reality is concerned with all of those tools, but fantasy players probably don’t care much about the last two on that list. There’s a ton of scouting information out there for the public now. So the question becomes how we can get down to brass tax and glean a quick fantasy profile from a traditional scouting report. Here’s a few thoughts on that…Please, blog, may I have some more?