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March 20, 2014

Five to Watch

American League Post-Prospects

by Ben Carsley

As a fantasy player, prospect junkie, and wannabe scout, nothing appeals to me more than evaluating young MLB talent and seeing how players’ skills translate into big-league results. This most often comes in the form of prospect evaluation, as we're always clamoring to find the next best thing, and to find that ultimate fantasy prospect whose flaws have not yet been exposed to the world.

Yet now that I've been doing this for a while, I find that it's often post-prospects—players who've recently lost their rookie eligibility—who yield the greatest rewards in fantasy leagues. Once a player struggles or is simply mortal in the majors, he tends to fall off of fantasy radars as we collectively look to the next best things. This is a mistake, and it ignores standard developmental curves, which is why post-prospects are such a great source of surplus fantasy value year after year.

With that in mind, let's take a look at five post-prospects in the AL who aren't receiving enough attention this preseason and who make better gambles than many of their prospect counterparts who still generate unrealistic expectations from owners in any league.

Also, these are just five players I've chosen to write about, and this is not a comprehensive list. If you un=ironically tell me in the comments that you're disappointed about an omission, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill your fantasy team.

Chris Archer, Rays
Archer is one of the more interesting post-prospect cases heading into 2013, as his 129-inning stint in the majors last year pretty much flies in the face of his scouting profile. Archer struck out just 101 batters during his time in the majors, yet he walked just 38 and posted a respectable WHIP of 1.13. That's not the Archer scouts and analysts thought we'd see in the majors, as historically Archer has struggled with command but fanned at least a batter per inning. That being said, whether Archer is a high-strikeout, high-WHIP guy or a low-strikeout, low-WHIP guy, he should have significant fantasy value next season. I'd still bank on him being the former, meaning you might take a slight hit in WHIP and ERA to roster him, but he'll make up for it through strikeouts and wins on what should be a very good Rays team. Matt Moore's struggles aside, this is an organization that knows how to develop pitching and I'd bet on Archer having a productive MLB career.

Oswaldo Arcia, Twins
It's possible that I've published by affection for Arcia on the Internet once or twice before, but I'm going to beat this dead horse until people listen. Lost amid the sea of high-profile prospects in the Twins system, few paid attention to Arcia's quietly productive rookie season in 2013. A .251/.304/.430 line isn't going to turn too many heads from an outfielder, but Arcia doesn't turn 23 until May and his 14 homers in 378 PA last season adequately demonstrate his power potential. Add in his strong minor-league track record of getting on base, and Arcia has the potential to serve as a four-category fantasy contributor for a long time. He might struggle against southpaws and he's going to strike out some, but a .265 average with 25 bombs is very much in reach here for 2014, and those numbers could both tick up over time. Arcia's aggregate ADP (courtesy FantasyPros.com) still sits at just 272.7, behind the likes of Marcell Ozuna, Ryan Ludwick, and Melky Cabrera. That's going to look foolish in a few months.

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Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Bea... (03/20)
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