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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Despite being a 26th round draft pick in 2013, Mauricio Dubon has been a fairly big prospect name since about 2015, where he was commonly ranked about top 15 in the Red Sox system. Dubon was traded to the Brewers along with Travis Shaw in 2016 for Tyler Thornburg, and has been a top prospect in that system since. A career .300 hitter in the minors, Dubon caught people’s eyes with his abilities as a pure hitter, and has consistently been given an above average grade on his hit tool as a prospect. He got off to a great start in 2018, slashing .343/.348/.574 through 27 games, but unfortunately had his season cut short due to injuries. Dubon returned in a big way in 2019, demonstrating power that he had never shown before en route to hitting 24 HR on the season (20 in AAA and 4 in the Majors). Despite this breakout, the Brewers felt comfortable enough with their infield depth (ironic given the fact that they just traded for Luis Urias who I’m not a fan of), and they traded him to the Giants for Drew Pomeranz. Come September, Dubon found himself getting regular playing time at both 2B and SS, and looks primed to be the Giants starting 2B going into the 2020 season, so this begs the question: what is his fantasy value? 

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For my last two articles, I highlighted two guys who made pretty big impacts in 2019. For this article, I’m going to be looking at a more under the radar guy who only pitched 8.2 innings in the majors in 2019, but has the potential to provide great late round value in 2020. Bryan Abreu isn’t an unknown prospect; as he was widely regarded as one of the Astros top five prospects after his breakout 2018, where he struck out 90 batters in only 54 IP. His 41.9 K% in 2018 was the highest of any non-reliever with at least 50 IP in the entire minor leagues, so people were intrigued to see how Abreu would build on his success in 2019. At the beginning of the year it looked like more of the same for Abreu, as he sported a 42.4 K% through his first three starts at A+. Following this third start, the Astros decided to get aggressive and promote him to AA, despite him having less than 50 IP at full season ball. In hindsight, I think this move was a bit questionable, as Abreu still has some command issues that I think he could use more time working out at the lower minors, but this move also made it clear to me that the Astros had more interest in Abreu as a reliever. 

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After a slight breakout in 2016, where he posted a 143 wRC+ in the FSL, Aristides Aquino was one of the most popular under the radar prospects in all of baseball, and had a lot of helium heading into 2017. In the next two seasons following, Aquino would play about 250 games in AA, where he struggled mightily to find his footing. This was nothing new for him, as he’d spent 4 seasons in rookie ball before he was finally ready for full season, but people gave up on Aquino for the most part after 2017. While he played fairly well in 2018, Aristides Aquino was a name that was on very few people’s radars going into 2019.

Despite being cut from the 40-man roster, Aquino turned some heads at Spring Training, not for his play, but for his extremely unorthodox stance. Despite how strange it may look, this drastic change made a huge difference for Aquino, as he came out absolutely dominant in AAA. At the time of his callup in August, Aquino had put up a slash line of .299/.356/.636 with 28 HR in only 323 PA; good for a 144 wRC+. Despite his drastic improvements and the trade of Yasiel Puig people still weren’t talking about Aristides Aquino when he was called up. It only took a couple of weeks for that to change. In his first 16 games (1 of which was a pinch hit appearance), Aquino hit a record 11 HR, and was possibly the biggest story in all of baseball. Three months later where do we stand with Aristides Aquino?

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After a strong performance in 2017, Dustin May truly broke out as a top pitching prospect in 2018, where he added a few MPH of velocity, while also scrapping his slider in favor of a more effective cutter, and a high spin curveball. While questions about his secondary stuff still existed, most considered May to be a top 100 prospect at the beginning of 2019, and he was ranked even higher at the time of his promotion. May’s August call-up was arguably the most exciting of a pitching prospect not named Jesus Luzardo or Brendan McKay, and for the most part he didn’t disappoint, but there are a few red flags that I think need to be addressed with caution moving forward. May’s debut was a mixed bag that, despite small sample size, gives us a great idea of the pitcher that May is, as well as the potential he has.

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