One of my favorite traditions as a young fan was Peter Gammons profiling each team’s spring training focus points.
I loved the spittle and shake of his voice, the depth of his details, and especially how he always shot the segments in front of people playing catch, gloves popping symphonically as Gammons explained how critical first overall expansion draft pick Travis Lee would be to the long-term fate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
It’s in that spirit that I begin our next prospect series—one that works in concert with Razzball’s Gammonsian team previews and one that involves a few nods to some non-prospects. Graduating from eligibility requirements doesn’t mean you’re a known quantity, nor that you’ve graduated to an everyday opportunity. Yesterday’s failed prospects are often tomorrow’s sleepers, so let’s take a lap around the division looking for some fantasy profit.
What was once a land of sleepertunity in Arizona has turned barren. David Peralta re-signed to close out a corner outfield spot, and the Pirates sent Starling Marte to take over in center, leaving Night King Josh Rojas doing the shrug emoji. Even Ketel Marte was a value early in winter when his ultimate position was up in the air and the echo chamber was chanting “regression!” Those days are long gone. Gotta cook up the Ketel in early round 3 if you want him. I still do. He was essentially an actualized Wander Franco in 2019.
On the mound, Archie Bradley was elite after some early hiccups and seems to have harnessed his incredible athleticism. He’s a top tier closer going 16th among RP at last check.
The rotation is the one unsettled spot, but rumors of a Robbie Ray trade are gaining steam, and with six starters for five spots–seven if you count Alex Young–the Diamondbacks find themselves with a problem anyone would be happy to have. The only pitcher I like at his current cost is Madison Bumgarner (Rd 11 pk 9), who actually went after Zac Gallen (Rd 8 pk 3) in my TGFBI league, affectionately known as the group of death.
You can find a lot of fun things in Colorado, but if you start mining the Rocky mountains for fantasy baseball gold, you’re putting your fate in the hands of men who clearly have no regard for your roster crunch, let alone their own.
Behind the plate, Dom Nunez is one hope for value. Edwin Diaz is another. Either could be intriguing for our purposes even in part-time roles, but the bet here is Tony Wolters cannibalizes their chances. He was worth -22.5 WAR on offense according to Fangraphs, so that’s cool.
Sophomore RHP Peter Lambert spent his off-season re-working his delivery, which was needed in my opinion but seems unlikely to matter much in the setting. It’s not just the park itself; it’s all the extraneous factors that come along with battling that park. 25-pitch innings are brutal, but they’re normal in Coors, and that kind of wear and tear, along with the mental battles of redefining success for home starts and then re-redefining it on the road and so forth, it’s just . . . hard pass forever as far as I’m concerned.
Zach McKinstry is the latest swing-change helium balloon in Los Angeles. Take-off is underway thanks to a hot start featuring 2-for-2 with a bomb on Friday. He’s already on the 40-man, and while it’s certainly crowded in L.A., the Jeter Downs trade clears a little bit of long-term traffic, as does the implosion of the Angels trade that would’ve brought back Luis Rengifo. My guess is The Consultant (not sure we need a nickname, but I want to grab this McKinsey thread while I can) spends the early season bouncing around the diamond at AAA, working to make himself an option at third base and in the outfield corners. If you’re in contention this dynasty season, try to find a spot for McKinstry.
The next blurb could be partly copied and pasted, as CI Edwin Rios is a ready-made bat in search of a gig just like our young McKinstry Consultant. Both guys will be instant-adds in most leagues if they fall into a semi-regular role.
Look, everything the Dodgers touch turns gold, so go get Gavin Lux and Julio Urias and Alex Wood and Brusdar Graterol and Blake Treinen and David Price and whoever else comes at something of a discount. I know this is too broad a brush and that A.J. Pollack is waving at us from the rearview, but the odds are ever in your favor if you just lay your bets where the Dodgers do.
I have always wanted to live in San Diego.
Still might someday, but they’ve got something of an infestation problem: specifically, an influx of monsters. More Specifically, Trent Grisham is a monster. Tatis, Machado, and Paddack all moved in last year. Now Tommy Pham and Grisham The Reckoning come to town. Currently a no-doubt value at ADP 300 per NFBC, 25 HR, 15 SB is within reason. No offense to the Brewers front office, but I think they sold early and low and that regret is barreling toward them in the form of a long and distinguished career from Trent Grisham.
The infield seems pretty set, but you might find value in Francisco Mejia. It’s not exactly a make-or-break year for him, but with Luis Campusano banging on the door and Austin Hedges still in town, the bat better make some noise in 2020.
All the pitchers but Lucchesi and Lamet seem like solid values to me, and I could be talked into Lamet in the right build/settings/price-point combo. I liked him a lot last year; he just picked up a little too much inflation over the winter.
We might have a buy window on Emilio Pagan in dynasty leagues. He might be ahead of Munoz as heir apparent to Kirby Yates, and either could be traded into saves come July. I wouldn’t want to spend much more than a roster spot, but in a rebuild he’s a smart use of an active spot if you can get him on the cheap.
The fences are moving closer in San Francisco.
Might be too late to change the trajectory of Brandon Belt’s career. He’s won some titles and made a lot of money, so I’m not throwing a pity party, but he’s never quite met expectations for our game. If he’s ever going to make a real fantasy impact as a Giant, it will happen in 2020.
If he starts hot, he might get traded and open a window for Chris Shaw.
Wilmer Flores kind of defines the term “sleeper” as I once knew it. He’s something of a forgotten man in the baseball world, and while it’s not ideal that he’s blocking Maurcio Dubon, it is ideal that he’s finally got a chance to play every day. Dude. Can. Hit.
Which is more or less my feeling about Mike Yasztremski. Nothing in the profile screams fluke to me. Might pop 30 bombs if healthy all year.
Alex Dickerson, too, could be a functional bat while healthy.
In general, look for the Giants to add value to a lot of the players they employ. Kevin Gausman is generating a fair bit of hype, but I’m focused on Tylers Anderson and Beede. One was always good outside Coors, the other says he’ll throw his fastball less this year, leaning instead on his analytically potent off-speed pitches. Drew Smyly’s making eyes at me, too.
In the pen, submariner Tyler Rogers and veteran lefty Tony Watson look like front-runners for early saves, in part because Shaun Anderson is being developed as a starter and Reyes Moronta is on the IL.
Thanks for reading! Hope you’re having a fun Spring!
You can follow me @theprospectitch if that’s the kinda thing you might be interested in.