With the First-Year Players Draft a little more than a week away, we’re continuing our discussion of some of the more advanced amateur prospects — guys who’ll be popping up on your fantasy radars within the next year or two. Last time we went over Braden Shipley, Kris Bryant, and Jonathan Gray. You can read that post here. Today, three more draft prospects:
Mark Appel | RHP, Stanford
Appel was widely considered the top arm in the 2012 draft class. The hype around him at this time last year was bigger than any other draft prospect — the Stanford product was #1 on most draft boards, and the projected #1 pick in most mocks. In the weeks leading up to draft day, however, signability concerns began to surface and clubs got cold feet. Appel slipped to 8th in the draft, where the Pirates took a stab at him, offering $3.8 million to sign. He turned it down, opting to return to Stanford for his final year of eligibility. So, for the second year in a row, Mark Appel is being considered as one of the top pitchers in the draft, projected to be off the board before pick #3. For us fantasy-minded folk, it’s disappointing that the soon-to-be 22-year-old had his pro development delayed by a full season, but Appel is still very good, and he’s certainly one of the best-equipped prospects to move quickly toward the bigs. At 6-5, 215, he fits the front-end prototype, generating effortless velocity in the mid- to upper-90s. His slider is a plus offering and figures to miss plenty of bats, and his changeup — graded as a below-average pitch last year — has taken a big step forward in 2013, flashing some plus potential. Appel will push through the minors with haste, but even so, it’s unlikely that he’ll surface at the MLB level before June of 2014.
D.J. Peterson | 3B, New Mexico
An elite hit tool and all-around advanced approach make Peterson a safe investment for any organization, and a good bet to develop quickly into a big league ready product. His 2013 line reads .411/.525/.823 with 18 homers in 53 games at New Mexico. Those 18 long balls rank second in Div I ball, behind only Kris Bryant — who we went over in Part 1 — so he’s certainly not lacking in the power department, but reports suggest he’ll be more of a doubles guy at the highest level. The only real knock on Peterson is that he lacks a solid defensive projection, which is a hurdle that could potentially delay his arrival, but it’s not a major concern for his long-term potential in the fantasy game. I expect him off the board before pick 15, and then for him to reach Double-A before year’s end.
Sean Manaea | LHP, Indiana State
Standing 6-5, 235, Manaea is a big boy. Given that sort of frame, you might expect the fastball to be quite good. You’d be right. Manaea has chewed up collegiate hitters with a mid-90s fastball that features devastating late action when it’s on. He changes speeds with a slider that has plus potential, and a fringy changeup. Naturally, both off-speed offerings play much better when he’s spotting the fastball. It should be noted, though, that 2013 reports on Manaea are not quite so glowing as they were in the preseason. This likely has more to do with an ankle injury than anything else, but his velocity has been down and his draft stock has sunk with it. The once sure-thing top 5 pick is looking more like a tail-end first rounder, and there’s a strong possibility that he’ll pull an Appel and return to Indiana State for his senior season in order to improve his draft stock/potential signing bonus. Let’s hope that’s not the case, because Manaea has a skillset that could be helping fantasy baseball teams at some point next season.