As the temperature rises each and every day as the start of summer approaches, the top prospects in baseball are beginning to make their mark in the majors. Three such rookies are pitcher Roansy Contreras and catchers Gabriel Moreno and Adley Rutschman.

Entering the season, Contreras was ranked as the 80th best prospect by Baseball America, 71st by MLB and 89th by Baseball Prospectus. The right-hander has actually been up all season with the Pittsburgh Pirates, appearing in eight games and making six starts. However, he is rostered in only 34% of Yahoo leagues and 10.5% of ESPN leagues.

Moreno, who is only 22, started the season as a top-10 prospect by Baseball America and MLB and in the top 25 by Baseball Prospectus. He appeared in his first game with the Blue Jays June 11 and collected a single that night and has collected at least one hit in four of his first five major league games. Yet he is rostered in only 27% of Yahoo leagues and 9.8% of ESPN leagues.

Rutschman is 24 and just made it to the majors with the Orioles. But he should have been with Baltimore last season as he proved he had nothing left to prove in the minors. That said, he is rostered in only 61% of Yahoo leagues and a surprising low 41.5% of ESPN leagues.

Let’s look at these three players and examine of they should be Top Fantasy Keepers or not.

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Well, another week down and time for another week of Top Fantasy Keepers.

We’ve seen yet another top prospect called up to the majors in Gabriel Moreno of the Blue Jays. But I’m not going to focus on him yet. Let’s let him get settled in before we delve into what to expect from him. But here is a hint – I would consider him a Top Fantasy Keeper.

This week, I want to talk about Aaron Ashby of the Brewers, Michael Harris II of the Braves and Trevor Larnach of the Twins.

Ashby is a left-hander who moved through the Milwaukee system with very little fanfare. Fantasy owners, however, have taken notice of him as he is owned in 68% of Yahoo leagues and 40.7% of ESPN leagues. Unlike Ashby, Harris is a well known top prospect, entering the season ranked as the 46th best prospect by Baseball America (BA), 65th by MLB and 58th by Baseball Prospectus (BP).

STUDS OR DUDS?

Recently called up by the Braves, Harris is rostered in only 26% of Yahoo leagues and 7.9% of ESPN leagues. Meanwhile, Larnach is a former top prospect who was ranked in the Top 100 by BA, MLB and BP ahead of the 2021 season before surpassing prospect status that year with the Twins. If you go by prospects rankings, Ashby is supposed to be a dud while Harris and Larnach are studs. But maybe Larnach is a dud if you look at his 4% roster rate in Yahoo and 2.5% roster rate in ESPN leagues.

Sometimes (many times?) prospects rankings get players completely wrong. Let’s examine if they were wrong or right with Ashby, Harris and Larnach.

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Welcome to another addition of Top Dynasty Keepers.

We’ve taken a look at some of the top prospects who have been promoted to the Show the last couple of weeks. So this week, we are going to take a look at two players who are not on the popular top prospects lists in Luis Gonzalez of the Giants and Christopher Morel of the Cubs.

After two cups of coffee with the White Sox in 2020 and 2021, the White Sox let go of Gonzalez and the Giants claimed Gonzalez off waivers, only to later release him prior top the non-tender deadline. San Francisco then inked him to a minor league contract in December. Meanwhile, Morel, who is listed as the Cubs’ No. 21 prospect by MLB Pipeline entering the season, has finally made it to the majors after signing a contract with the Cubs in 2015.

Thus, it is not surprising that Gonzalez and Morel are widely available in fantasy leagues. Gonzalez is only rostered in 10% of Yahoo leagues and 4.5% of ESPN leagues. Meanwhile, Morel is getting a little more love by fantasy owners as he is owned in 55 percent of Yahoo leagues and only 14.5% of ESPN Leagues.

Are these fantasy owners right in shying away from these two players? Let’s take a look at their numbers and find out.

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Thanks the the new collective bargaining agreement between Major League Baseball and the players union, teams are no longer hiding their top prospects in the minors to delay their service time and ability to hit arbitration and free agency earlier in their careers.

The Mariners (Julio Rodriguez) and Astros (Jeremy Pena) have had top rookies in their starting lineup since the start of the season. Meanwhile, a host of other teams have featured rookies in their lineup from day one or already promoted them from the minors.

A TRIO OF ROOKIES

One team that has been aggressive in calling up top players from the minors is the St. Louis Cardinals. I talked about one of those rookies, Juan Yepez, last week. You can read about him here. The Cardinals also have two more rookies in their lineup, and both are readily available in Yahoo and ESPN leagues.

Rookie Brendan Donovan is rostered on 22% of Yahoo leagues and only 5.4% of ESPN leagues. Nolan Gorman, the other rookie, has the attention of a few more Yahoo and ESPN fantasy players as he is rostered on 63% of Yahoo rosters and 30% of ESPN rosters.

Meanwhile, the Kansas City Royals realized that Salvador Perez can’t play in every game, like he nearly did last season by appearing in 161 contests. The Royals thus turned to top catching prospect MJ Melendez and called him up from Triple A. Melendez is currently on only 37% of Yahoo rosters and 10.2% of ESPN rosters.

It’s time to take a look at these three players and discuss if they are Top Dynasty Keepers or not.

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Welcome back for another edition of Top Dynasty Keepers.

We are now in the part of the season where we are jettisoning the players who are completely underperforming and taking the best available player on the waiver wire. But when looking to add someone, don’t just think about what they can do for you this season, but always ask yourself if they can be helpful next year.

Dynasty leagues vary in their rules, so perhaps it is tough to just add someone. Perhaps there is a monetary penalty for dropping a player, or adding one. If you are in contract leagues, the cost to drop someone could be a big factor in if you actually want to add someone.

So this week we are going to look at two players who aren’t slam-dunk keepers based mostly on their past performance. The first player is catcher Jonah Heim. The Rangers basckstop is rostered in only 55.4% of ESPN leagues and 49% of Yahoo leagues. Until this season, Heim has not distinguished himself on the field, making him widely available in nearly every fantasy league.

Juan Yepez is coming off a great 2021 minor league season. Before last year, however, he was just another minor leaguer. Now he is a player you may want to think about becoming a member of your dynasty team.

So let’s take a deeper look at Heim and Yepez. 

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When I first started the Top Dynasty Keepers column in the offseason, one of the the first things I stated was how I prefer established pitchers over young pitchers.

There is a simple reason for this as I noted with this simple fun fact: Since the introduction of the Rookie of the Year Award in 1947 and it splitting into one for each league in 1949, 111 hitters have been awarded the Rookie of the Year compared to 39 pitchers. In this century alone, 31 hitters have been named ROY to 13 pitchers. And who remembers Jeremy Hellickson, Andrew Bailey or Jason Jennings anchoring anyone’s fantasy team?

Diamonds in the Rough?

But in fantasy baseball, you need pitching in order to win your league, and when it comes to looking for keepers, we are all trying to find that young diamond in the rough as the top pitching prospects and studs are long gone by now.

Right now, many fantasy owners don’t believe in Dane Dunning of the Texas Rangers or Reid Detmers of the Los Angeles Angeles, despite the fact he threw a no-hitter earlier this week. Dunning is owned in only 19% of Yahoo leagues and 12.9% of ESPN leagues. Meanwhile, Detmers is owned in 10.6% of ESPN leagues and 19% of Yahoo leagues.

Are fantasy owners missing something? This week, let’s take a look at Dunning and Detmers and decide if fantasy owners are correct in their assessment of these two pitchers.

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Welcome back to another edition of Top Dynasty Keepers!

Now more than a month into the season, major league teams are having to make adjustments on the fly due to underperforming players or injuries, or both. For the Red Sox, lack of performance from the outfield has them making an adjustment by recalling Jarren Duran.

Entering Firday night, the Sox were receiving little production from the trio of Kike Hernandez (slashing .189/.262/.305 with one homer), Alex Verdugo (three homers, .217/.255/.337 slash line) and Jackie Bradley Jr., who is lucky he can play great defense because his bat has been quiet for years now. The veteran is slashing .200/.268/.293 with zero homers and only six RBI.

As for the Minnesota Twins, they are a team dealing with injuries. Both starters Bailey Ober and Sonny Gray or on the injured list with a strained groin and  a hamstring injury and Carlos Correa is day-to-day with a bruised right middle finger after being hit by a pitch. To replace Gray, the Twins have been using Josh Winder in the rotation and they have called up Royce Lewis, one of their top prospects, to insert into the lineup while Correa is out.

Time to make adjustments

Like major league teams, fantasy owners should be adjusting on the fly as well. If not, you could be left in the dust. Now is a prime chance to snatch some young talent if you play in a league that doesn’t have minor league rosters or has limited roster slots.

Everyone has a player or two not performing or is sitting on the IL. Should you shake up your roster by adding Duran, Lewis or Winder?

Let’s dig a little and find out.

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Finding great pitching is always always a chore during the fantasy season. If the pitchers on the waiver wire were sure things, they would have been added during your league’s offseason draft.

But this doesn’t mean finding a good pitcher is impossible. It just means you have to study the pitchers and make an informed decision about whether a certain pitcher is just hot or is a legit add and keeper.

Two players we will look at today are Eric Lauer of the Brewers and Matt Brash of the Mariners.

Who are Lauer and Brash?

Lauer was drafted twice, once out of high school by the Blue Jays in the 17th round of the 2013 draft and then with the 25th pick of the first round of the 2016 draft by San Diego.

Lauer had a great college career at Kent State, going 23-10 with a 1.86 ERA and a K/9 rate of 11.2 while walking only 2.5 batter per nine innings. 

In the four minor league seasons, he was only 9-10, but he had a 2.85 ERA, 1.175 WHIP and still 10.2 K/9,

Brash was drafted in the fourth round out of Niagara University by the San Diego Padres. In college, Brash put up nice, but not great numbers. 

He started 29 of the 38 games he appeared in over three years, going 12-7 with a 2.97 ERA. In 190.2 innings of work, he struck out 215 hitters, or 10.1 K/9, with a 3.1 BB/9 rate.

His walk rate increased in the minors, where in 25 career games he had a 4.2 BB/9 rate but with an outstanding 13.1 K/9 rate.

So, why are they still available?

Lauer was a pedestrian pitcher his first major league three seasons, posting ERAs of 4.34, 4.45 and 6.37. But last season the lefty rebounded with a 3.19 ERA.

Fantasy owners are coming around on Lauer, at least in Yahoo leagues where he rostered on 66% of teams. However, he is only rostered in 49% of ESPN leagues.

Meanwhile, Brash is owned in only 30% of Yahoo leagues and 17.8% of ESPN leagues. While he is ranked as a Top 100 by several publications, the fact he didn’t dominate hitters in college and the minors has left doubt about him by fantasy owners.

Is that doubt about Brash correct? Is Lauer really for real?

Let’s take a look.

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Fantasy baseball players are always taking stock of their roster – at least the smart players do. Doing so is often the difference between winning the league title and finishing short of making the playoffs.

With the MLB season now more than two weeks old, everyone is scouring the waiver wire to see who they should add to the roster. Depending on the size of your league and rosters, there is either a lot of talent or a lot of players who are hanging on for their baseball survival.

There are two players who appear on a lot of waiver wires who I want to talk about this week – Andrew Vaughn of the Chicago White Sox and Jo Adell of the Los Angeles Angels of Orange County of Anaheim of California of the United States of America.

Right now, Vaughn is rostered on 62 percent of Yahoo leagues and only 52% of ESPN leagues. Meanwhile, Adell is currently rostered in only 44 percent of Yahoo leagues and 13% of ESPN leagues.

Snag or pass?

If you follow baseball, and if you are reading this I assume you do, then you know of both players. They have not snuck up on anyone as both are former first round draft picks. But unlike other top prospects like Spencer Torkelson or Julie Rodriguez, they have not received the same amount of fan attention.

Perhaps it is because they didn’t burst onto the scene and put up crazy numbers in the majors. But now is the time to ask – should I snatch Vaughn or Adell – or both?

Let’s dive into the numbers and find out.

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The Cleveland Guardians are not expected to win their division this year nor sneak into the playoffs by grabbing that sixth spot.

The expectations are low because the team is so young. But if they were playing in a dynasty keeper league, the Guardians would be the prototype team. On the current roster, only two players are over the age of 30 – relievers Bryan Shaw and Anthony Gose. The everyday lineup features only two players older than 27-years-old – third baseman Jose Ramirez and catcher Austin Hedges, who are both 29.

So when it comes to finding keepers for the rest of the season and beyond, the Guardians are a great team to examine. Owen Wilson and Steven Kwan are two players who quickly come to mind if you are thinking about additions to your team.

Right now, fantasy owners are buying into Kwan a lot more than Miller. Miller is currently rostered in 36% of Yahoo leagues and 30% of ESPN leagues. Meanwhile, Kwan is rostered in 78% of Yahoo leagues and 74% of ESPN Leagues.

Is the fantasy playing public making the right call?

Time to find out.

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Spring Training can mean different things to different people. For baseball fans, it means the season is near and there is still hope that your team can win a division title (unless you are a fan of the Pirates – then you have no hope).

For the veteran baseball players, it is a chance to work on their timing at the plate or a new pitch while basically getting the body ready for the season. Young players, however, use spring training to prove they should make the jump from the minors to the big leagues or that a disappointing 2021 season wasn’t a fluke. Alec Bohm, Mickey Moniak and Bryson Stott fell into the young players group.

Bohm starred at Wichita State University and was the third overall pick in the 2018 draft by Philadelphia. He appeared in the 2019 Futures Games and entered the 2020 season ranked as the 28th best prospect by BA  and 30th by MLB . He proved those rankings were pretty solid as he finished second in the 2020 NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2020 after slashing .338/.400/.481 with four homers and 23 RBI in 44 games.

Moniak joined the Phillies organization in 2016 after being the top overall pick in the 2016 draft out of La Costa Canyon High School. Ahead of the 2017 season he was ranked the #17 overall prospect by Baseball America (BA) and #19 by MLB Pipeline (MLB), but fell out of the BA rankings ahead of 2018 and dropped to #88 by MLB. Moniak also struggled in two stints with the Phillies, leaving him on the outside looking in when it came to having a spot on the Opening Day roster this year.

Stott was drafted by the Phillies with the 14th overall pick in 2019 out of UNLV. After playing in the Futures Game last year, he entered this season ranked as the 67th best prospect by BA and 45th by MLB.

A Bad Break

Moniak suffered a bad break, both literally and figuratively, at the end of the spring training. In the final spring game, Moniak was hit in the hand by a pitch. Initial X-Rays were negative, but subsequent X-Rays showed a hairline fracture. In the blink of an eye, Moniak went from being the Opending Day starter in center field for the Phillies to being sidelined for six weeks.

On the fantasy front, it is bad news for players in redraft leagues. But in keeper leagues with limits on the number of player you can keep, there should be an interest in examining Moniak in addition to Bohm and Stott to determine who may be the best keeper down the line.

So let’s take a look at the Philadelphia trio.

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Since being drafted with the 20th pick of the first round in 2016 by the Dodgers, high expectations have been placed on Gavin Lux. By 2019, he was one of the top prospects in baseball by 2019, ranked 40th overall by Baseball America and 70th by MLB Pipeline. Lux was so impressive in the minors, he appeared in 23 games with the Dodgers that season at the age of 21, slashing .240/.305/.400 with two homers and nine RBI.

In Double-A and Triple A in ’19, Lux slashed .347/.421/.617 with 26 homers, 76 RBI and 10 steals. That showing moved Lux up the prospects rankings in 2020 as he was ranked as the fourth overall prospect by BA and second by MLB.

Sadly for Lux owners, the Lux Era become a reality. In 2020 he played sporadically before given a chunk of time to prove himself last season. However, instead of establishing himself as the second baseman of the future, he turned into a utility player, seeing time at second base, shortstop, left field, center field and even one game apiece at third base and right field.

Lux is only 24-years-old, so there much more future than past when it comes to his career. Unfortunately, he has not established himself. Thus, we have to ask “is Lux really is going to be the player we expected him to become?” If not, who else should we look at who may have a better future?

There are two middle infielders who are basically the same age as Lux – 24-year-old Jeremy Pena of the Astros and 23-year-old Jose Barrero of the Reds. Pena has yet to play a game in the majors but has been given the task of replacing Carlos Correa. Barrero, who has had a couple of cups of coffee with the Reds the past two years, suffered a broken hamate bone and is now out until at least May, but we are looking into the future and not just today.

Let’s discuss these three players and find out what I think their future is.

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