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May 20, 2014

Dynasty Dynamics

The U25 Top 150, Part Two

by Ben Carsley and Craig Goldstein

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To read the first edition in the rankings series, click below:

We’ve done it, Internet. We’ve compiled a Big List of Players just for you.

Craig and I have spent the past six weeks breaking down each division, forming individual top-30 U25 dynasty rankings and comparing those lists with some witty (read: tired) commentary in each installment. We’ve also been debating each list on TINO, with the help of Dear Leader Bret Sayre and Mauricio Rubio, and have fielded many questions and concerns on Twitter and via the comments section, too.

Now, Craig and I have combined forces to form a collaborative top-150 list meant to give dynasty leaguers a concrete view of where we think each player’s value lies at this point in time. This is a great exercise because it forced Craig and I to defend players we love and form cogent arguments (a new experience, to be sure) against players we dislike, and I know I’ve personally changed my evaluations of a few prospects and post-prospects through this process.

That being said, we’re still going to provide you with a few tidbits of our own personal feelings about these rankings, and we strongly encourage you to ask us questions in the comments below. We still disagree on some of these players, but overall I think we’ve come to a happy, reasonable consensus.

As always, players will have to be born after April 1, 1988, to qualify, and just like with the preseason lists, there is of course an element of subjectivity that comes with these rankings. But unlike the preseason lists, these rankings are all about fantasy.

Dynasty U25 Top 150 Rankings, Nos. 51-100

Ranking Ben Feels Best About: Travis d’Arnaud
Some might argue that this is low for d’Arnaud, but I think it’s exactly where he belongs. He’s an injury-prone player at a position that invites injuries, he’s just a good—not great—hitter for a catcher, and he’s playing in an unfavorable home ballpark and mediocre lineup. I will not be surprised if d’Arnaud has a few years as a top-10 fantasy backstop. But I will be surprised if he’s healthy and good enough at the same time to produce at that level consistently.

Ranking Craig Feels Best About: Chris Tillman
It’s not flashy, and I received a bit of flack for praising him in the preseason, but what Tillman does works. There’s late wiggle on his fastball that seems to avoid missing the barrels of bats, so while he’s not going to miss bats at an elite level, if he lives in the 19-21 percent strikeout rate range he’s been at the last two years, the amount of innings and strikeouts he accumulates will be extremely valuable. He’s always going to allow his fair share of home runs, the price he pays for pitching up in the zone, but at season’s end, he’ll be worth the price you pay on draft day, and then some.

Ranking Ben Feels Worst About: Will Middlebrooks
Craig and I should’ve both known better. Middlebrooks is now back on the DL (his fourth time in three years), and he’s flat out stunk for the majority of his MLB career. The thing about Middlebrooks that makes him so tempting is he has games where it all looks so easy. He has 70 raw power, he’s very good at coming in on balls at third base and his arm is well above average. Unfortunately, I’ve just described everything Will does well on a baseball diamond, and you’ll notice that “hitting” and “reaching base” are conspicuously absent from my evaluation. His Red Sox tenure is likely coming to a close, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he needs to establish himself as a second-division starter elsewhere to get another legit shot. Honestly, you can argue for not having him on this list at all.

Ranking Craig Feels Worst About: Trevor Bauer
It’s not that we question his talent, as both Ben and I (more notably Ben though) have stuck by Bauer’s side through his darker times. He ranked this low though, because he wasn’t in the majors and his path to the rotation wasn’t at all clear with the organization recently choosing Josh Tomlin over him. With his recent call up though, he has the talent to vault forward on this last, by a significant margin, and now he’s got the opportunity. If we were making this list a day ago instead of a week ago, he’d be much higher.

Ben’s Fastest Riser: Eddie Butler
Butler is already ranked at no. 56 here, so it’s quite clear that Craig and I both have some feels for him. But if Butler has not yet exhausted his prospect eligibility by the time next offseason’s lists come out, he could easily be a top-20 fantasy prospect name. Though the strikeouts have yet to come in spades, Butler is pitching quite well in Double-A this year, and as Jason Parks wrote yesterday, he has the arsenal to succeed even in Coors Field. Butler and Jon Gray are going to give Colorado their first legitimately good rotation in quite some time, and they’re going to be useful pieces even from a fantasy POV.

Craig’s Fastest Riser: Maikel Franco
It wasn’t that long ago that I wasn’t high on Franco, assuming he was destined for first base where his bat wouldn’t be the difference maker it is at third. Not so anymore, as Cody Asche doesn’t appear to be long-term obstacle (despite recent improvement in production), and Franco looks to be given a shot at the hot corner. He could be up in the latter half of 2014, and if he hits like he’s capable of, it would be no surprise to me to see him in the 40 of a list like this come next season. That seems aggressive but first-base-quality bats at third base tend to be worth their weight in gold.

Ben Carsley is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Ben's other articles. You can contact Ben by clicking here
Craig Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Craig's other articles. You can contact Craig by clicking here

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