We’ve been focusing on a breakout prospect from each team (broken down by division) while we wait for offseason leagues to kick in. These are players who “broke out” statistically in 2015 and were either ranked in the bottom half of their team’s preseason top ten list or didn’t make their team’s list at all. Some of these names will look familiar and have already been scooped up in many dynasty formats. Others may still be flying low enough that their big performances have gone undetected. Today we’ll look at five breakout prospects from the AL West.
|Sean Newcomb, LHP | LAA||Age: 22||ETA: 2017|
Newcomb didn’t exactly come out of nowhere. He was the Angels’ first round pick last year and ranked highly on most prospect lists, including mine. Without a ton of other options to choose from, I decided to look at Newcomb as this year’s breakout. Outside of his walk rate, he put up good numbers across the board in his first full season as a pro. Especially interesting for fantasy is the high strikeout rate. I’m curious to see how quickly he moves through the system since he already logged 36 innings in Double-A this year, and probably should have been there sooner. If he can improve his control without sacrificing the strikeouts, Newcomb should reach his frontline starter potential and be a major fantasy asset.
|Tyler O’Neill, OF | SEA||Age: 20||ETA: 2018|
O’Neill is a little more of the under the radar type I’m looking for with these. I’m not getting too excited yet, despite the gaudy homer total from this season. There’s really two simple reasons for that. First, I would want to see him do it outside of the Cal League, which is sort of the standard “prove it to me” line when I guy makes a statistical jump there. Bakersfield is known as a homer-happy park. Second, the strikeout rate is too high for me to rush out and grab him. Anything in the neighborhood of 30% gives me pause. Oh, I almost forgot the third thing, which is if he makes it all the way to the bigs without a trade he’d have to play in Seattle’s park. Now that I’ve thrown a big wet blanket over O’Neill’s great season, I have to recognize that the guy did go god-mode in the homer department for most of the year.
|Lewis Brinson, OF | TEX||Age: 21||ETA: 2017|
I was actually pretty high on Brinson coming into the year. I ranked him third on the Rangers’ list and 33rd overall. That wasn’t the case everywhere, and Brinson’s approach had a lot of folks wondering if he’d ever be able to tap into all of his outstanding tools. Like his former teammate Nick Williams, Brinson answered a lot of questions at the plate this season, and in turn he’s getting noticed. Plus raw power, plus speed, and a hit tool that you’d have to at least consider average at this point all make for a very appealing fantasy player. There’s room on his frame for some more power, and I don’t think it’s crazy to dream on 15-homer/30-steal seasons with great defense in center. With trades and graduations, Brinson could be the #1 prospect in Texas heading into 2016.
|Jacob Nottingham, C | OAK||Age: 20||ETA: 2018|
Nottingham became a household name after the trade to Oakland this summer. If you’re going to invest in a catching prospect in fantasy, make sure you’re at least getting an offensive-minded one like Nottingham. He’ll need more time to develop, like most catchers, but Nottingham’s bat should be worth it if he continues to tap into the double-digit power he displayed this year. Oakland isn’t an ideal offensive environment, but if Nottingham is still sitting out there in your dynasty league, he’s probably worth a stash. The eventual jump to Double-A will be a big test.
|A.J. Reed, 1B | HOU||Age: 22||ETA: 2016|
I’ll get this out of the way right off the bat: it was impossible to decide between Reed and Francis Martes. They were both awesome in 2015. Forgive me for going with the bat. Remember the concerns I had with O’Neill and his numbers? I don’t have those with Reed. Reed showed his numbers weren’t a Cal League mirage when he hit .332 with 11 homers in 53 games at Double-A. He also doesn’t have the plate discipline concerns, as he was able to keep his strikeout rate around 20% at both levels while also keeping his walk rate above 10%. Couple that with the question marks surrounding first base in Houston next season and Reed could be looking at a very short stay in Triple-A in 2016. First base is pretty far down there on the defensive spectrum, so Reed’s bat will need to carry him. But 2015 showed us his bat is more than ready to shoulder the load. Reed already snuck into my Midseason Top 50, but he’ll likely climb even higher on the 2016 preseason list.