You’ve heard of guys who are post-hype sleepers. Guys who were top prospects at one point but for one even or another faded out of relevancy. Whether it’s a move to a bullpen, an injury, poor performance upon their debut, or a combination of any of the three, these guys have lost the momentum that they had as prospects, but those who believe in them will call them sleepers. Post-hype sleepers are a dime a dozen. Most people can spot them, because all it takes is patience in a young player with potential, which most of us have. Waiting out a guy like Willie Calhoun, Michael Kopech, or Julio Urias may be frustrating, but it isn’t all that difficult. What I’m looking for here is post-post-hype sleepers; guys who are so far removed from the hype that you may not even remember that they’re still playing in the majors. In 2019, two of my favorite post-post-hype breakout picks were Hunter Dozier and Frankie Montas, both of which I was on very early in the season. Identifying breakouts like this can be the difference between winning your league and coming in 4th, so I want to help all of you identify these guys too before it’s too late. Late pitching especially can make a massive difference. For the first installment of this series, I’m going to be talking about a guy who was one of my favorite pitching prospects a few years ago: Daniel Norris.

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While it seems so far away, before you know it the 2020 MLB Draft will be here. For us fantasy players, that means some first year player drafts will start happening as well (although you should really wait until the end of the season), and players who many know little about could soon become the future of your dynasty team. Many of you may also be participating in best ball drafts, where some of these guys have the potential to contribute to your team in the next 5 years. The point is, it’s never too early to start looking into the players in the MLB Draft Class. I’m going to talk about a few names that stick out for me, and talk about their fantasy outlook, as well as where they could end up.

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1. Don’t Prospect Hug. 

We’ve all heard the term “prospect hugger” before. We’ve all likely played with prospect huggers before. Many of us have probably been prospect huggers before, but if you want to be a successful dynasty player, then you want to avoid prospect hugging. It’s important to note here that there is a difference between properly valuing your prospects and prospect hugging.

There’s nothing wrong with holding on to guys who you think are more valuable than what you’re being offered, but what I’m talking about is guys who will rarely move prospects, or even consider moving prospects, even when they get offers that are more than fair. As someone who writes almost exclusively about prospects, I understand how exciting the unknown can be, and I see the appeal in prospects, but it’s also important to be realistic and understand that a large percentage of prospects never really amount to anything. You should never value a prospect at what their ceiling is, but rather a fraction of their ceiling based on how far they are from the majors. This is especially true the more shallow a league is, as when there are fewer prospects rostered, there’s always going to be solid guys available to replace anyone you trade.

I saw a trade offer posted on twitter recently by @Prospects365 which was Sonny Gray and Matthew Liberatore for Kristian Robinson, and the Robinson side somehow got 40% of the vote. Personally, I would take the Gray side in any league, but what makes this even worse is that this was a league where only ~100 prospects are owned, meaning that there’s plenty of solid prospects available to replace Robinson with. To be completely honest, prospects should mostly be considered trade bait. When I play dynasty, I’m always looking to move prospects in 3-for-1 type deals for major leaguers, and then replacing those prospects with potential breakout guys who I can trade after they breakout, and it’s an endless cycle.

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Before the start of the 2019 season, there was an article posted on MLB.com labeling the Pittsburgh Pirates rotation as possibly the most underrated in all of baseball. It highlighted Jameson Taillon as an emerging ace, with Trevor Williams and Joe Musgrove showing great potential, and a full season of Chris Archer, who was ready to fix his 2018 struggles. It also mentioned Nick Kingham, Mitch Keller, and Jordan Lyles as great backend options. Unfortunately, we all know how this story ends. Taillon hurt his arm, Williams, Lyles, and Archer both posted ERAs over 5.00, Keller’s ERA was over 7 in his debut, and Steven Brault was their 2nd best pitcher. Yikes. Even Musgrove, who had a great season in his own right, posted an ERA of 4.49 and struck out less than a batter per inning, which isn’t great for fantasy purposes. Overall, the Pirates’ starters as a whole posted a combined ERA of 5.40; the 5th worst in baseball, and 2nd worst in the NL, only ahead of the Rockies.

The Pirates as a whole right now are a bit of a joke, and as a Reds fan it brings me great joy and pleasure to say that. There’s obviously some fantasy value in their lineup, with guys like Josh Bell, Brayan Reynolds, and Kevin Newman just to name a few, but what about their pitching, which was horrible in 2019?

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Managing prospects in dynasty can be a struggle, because a guy’s value is only as much as someone is willing to pay for them. Until they make the majors they don’t technically contribute anything to your team, and so many prospects end up having very little success in the majors. Essentially, prospects are lottery tickets. Some have better odds than others, some have better payouts, but in the end they’re all lottery tickets. For this reason, I’m a big proponent of moving prospects for established big league pieces. You still have to be careful to make sure you don’t trade away future stars for guys who aren’t that much of an improvement from waiver wire options, but for the most part prospects are expendable and can be replaced. For example, if you trade any of the two guys in this article for major league pieces, you could likely replace them with any of the six guys I predicted to skyrocket this year and suffer very little to no loss in prospect value. If none of those guys are available, comment on this post and I’ll happily give you more names to replace these guys with. That being said, these guys are ones who I personally would sell high on right now, not necessarily because they’re bad, but because I think they’re being overvalued and ranked too high.

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First Year Player Drafts are an important part of building a strong foundation for your dynasty team, as it’s a great opportunity to build the foundation of your minor league system. Hitting in the FYPD could be the difference between having a guy like Julio Rodriguez or a guy who you’re just going to be dropping halfway through the season. The top of FYPDs are usually fairly straightforward, with a group of guys that’s pretty set in place, but as you get into later rounds, there’s plenty of opportunity to find hidden gems that can help skyrocket your team’s value. In order to help you get ahead of your fellow league members, I’m going to give you a few guys you should be targeting in later picks of your FYPDs. 

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Last week, I posted an article about Three Prospects Poised to Skyrocket in 2020. While I didn’t realize it at the time, all three of those guys are on NL teams, so it definitely wasn’t the most helpful for guys in AL-Only leagues. For that reason, this week I’m going to be covering three guys from AL teams who are going to breakout big time in 2020.

If you notice that the six prospects I’ve covered over these past two articles are all position players, that’s not by accident. You may have seen the acronym “TINSTAAPP” around the baseball world before, meaning “There Is No Such Thing As A Pitching Prospect”. While it’s a bit of an oversimplification, the reasoning behind it is that pitching prospects are significantly more risky than their position-player counterparts, so you’re more likely to get value out of a hitter than a pitcher. Additionally, the adjustment curve for pitchers in the majors is a bit steeper, and few pitching prospects contribute at a high level immediately. Many prospects struggle massively in their debuts (i.e. Berrios), and some even take a few years (i.e. Giolito, Glasnow) before really figuring it out (By the way if you’re looking for a pitcher like Berrios who struggled in their debut, I highly recommend picking up Mitch Keller.). Because of this, many former top prospects will end up hitting the waiver wire in even deep dynasty leagues, so I think you should invest in position players way more, and for that reason I’m focusing mainly on hitters.

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One of my favorite parts of dynasty leagues is picking out the crop of prospects who I think will skyrocket in value in 2019. One of my big picks for 2019 was Julio Rodriguez, saying that he’d be a top 20 prospect by year’s end in an article I wrote at the beginning of the season. For people who grabbed Rodriguez in their FYPD, or early on in the season, a player who was fairly irrelevant in terms of fantasy value suddenly became one of their best assets, either for trades or just to keep for the future. Predicting MLB breakouts and making good trades are both important parts of playing dynasty, but if you really want to dominate your fellow league members, picking up the right prospects can make a massive difference. If you really want to get a jump in your dynasty leagues, I highly recommend picking up these three players, who you likely won’t find on many top 100 lists, but you certainly will next year. And here’s Prospect Itch’s top 100 fantasy baseball prospects, if you’re into that sorta thing.

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On Thursday, December 12th, 2019, an event took place that even some of the most hardcore baseball fans don’t pay attention to, and for pretty good reason. The Rule 5 draft was started as a way for the MLB to attempt to give players buried in the minors, usually on strong teams or teams deep in their position, a chance to earn a role on another team. They attempt to accomplish this by allowing anyone not on a 40-man roster to be selected by another team, as long as they stay with that team in the Majors all year. This sounds great in theory, but when the 40-man rosters are all sorted out, that’s around 1,200 players that get protected, so it’s very rare that a gem slips through the cracks. For this reason, most teams will pass on their picks, and most of the ones that do get picked end up being returned to the team that they’re selected from. There are scattered success stories, with guys like Brad Keller, Odubel Herrera, Ryan Pressly, Marwin Gonzalez, and Mark Canha being some notable recent ones, as well as plenty of other intriguing names like Delino DeShields Jr., Hector Rondon, Josh Fields, etc., but for the most part there usually isn’t much to come out of the Rule 5 Draft. As a fantasy player you’re not worried about who’s going to get returned, you just want to know if there’s any fantasy value in the draft. Most of the guys taken are big arms with command issues, or bench players at best, but here are 3 names who could make an impact.

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Just over a year and 89 minor league games after he was drafted, Nico Hoerner made his debut with the Chicago Cubs, going 3/5 with 4 RBI in his debut, as the Cubs starting SS on September 7th. While the rest of his first month in the majors wasn’t quite as spectacular, Hoerner’s debut was a bit of a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing season for the Cubs. His .282/.305/.436 grades out as below average overall, but it displayed his plus hit tool, as well as surprising power. Hoerner has been somewhat of a hot commodity this offseason, so my goal here is to help you realistically guide your expectations for Nico Hoerner, both for 2020 and moving forward.

When Hoerner was drafted, he was seen as a safe, but unexciting pick, yet here he is getting people excited about his fantasy potential. Hoerner’s hit tool has always been his best tool, as he was a .300 hitter through both his last two years of college, and the two summers he spent in wood bat collegiate summer leagues. While he’s shown to be a competent fielder, and can run pretty well, Hoerner didn’t seem to have anything outside of his hit tool that could help him contribute in fantasy, yet here we are. Nico Hoerner’s AA stats seem pretty in line with how he fared in his major league debut. He walked a bit more, and didn’t show as much power, but the overall slash line was very similar.

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