June 9, 2016
Evaluating the California League All-Stars
Yesterday the California League All-Star roster was announced for the upcoming Cal-Carolina League All-Star Game at Lake Elsinore. On paper it’s the weakest crop by a good bit in the three years I’ve been covering the league, but there are certainly still plenty of fantasy-relevant names littering the roster that bare some discussion. Let’s take a look at some of them, and then I’ll follow it up with some notes on a few of the more notable non-All Stars from around the league as well.
Travis Demeritte, 2B, Texas Rangers (High Desert Mavericks) – Demeritte is a prototypical boom-or-bust fantasy prospect, with the latter the more likely outcome. He frequently loses his mechanics with wild swings from the heels, and after taking the Cal League by storm in April the book has gradually circulated on him and pitchers have been much more successful at keeping him in the yard and off the bases of late. He’s got a ton of strength and bat speed though, and the ability to provide a useful power-speed combination at a shallow position, though it’s likely to come with a low AVG. He’s in the conversation to be a top-150 dynasty prospect at this point, but it’s a high-risk profile and managers would do just as well to move Demeritte now if they’re able to before Double-A pitchers sink their teeth into him.
Dinelson Lamet, RHP, San Diego Padres (Lake Elsinore Storm) – Lamet snuck into the back end of our pre-season Padres Top 10, with Bret noting the distance he’d need to travel to gain fantasy relevance. He’s taken a whole bunch of steps toward that end in the season’s first couple months, and they’ve taken him up to Double-A as of a couple days ago. In addition to the excellent fastball-slider combination he showed me, he’s also reportedly made some strides with his changeup of late. The profile still leans toward that of a reliever, and he’s still on the fringes of the conversation about dynasty league prospects, even in leagues that roster 200 of ‘em. But a successful handful of starts at Double-A could turn Lamet into a sneaky mid-season pickup in deep leagues.
Chris Shaw, 1B, San Francisco Giants (San Jose Giants) – Shaw gets the standard treatment that all-bat first-base prospects get in the scouting community, but as someone with looks at him dating to the Cape League a couple summers ago I’m here to tell you that he can hit, and he can definitely hit bombs. He’s a big, stiff, ogre of a player, but there’s nuance and looseness to his swing. He uses his hands well, and there isn’t a ton of wasted movement that goes into generating his coil and leverage. His plate coverage and strength allows him to fight off and even drive balls away, and the power he produces isn’t going to come at the expense of a terrible batting average. San Francisco is literally the worst place in the big-league world for left-handed power, and that’s a bummer. But Shaw will get his numbers, and bracketing the current organization he’s probably on the very short list of fantasy prospects to come through the Cal this spring.
Ryan Castellani, RHP, Colorado Rockies (Modesto Nuts) – I had the unfortunate honor of catching Castellani’s most recent start at Lancaster, and he didn’t have it on a night where you really didn’t want to be the guy that didn’t have it at Lancaster. The result: three dingers among nine earned runs in five innings. Castellani was a relatively raw projection second-round pick out of high school by the Rockies in 2014, and they’ve handled him accordingly with kid gloves in the time since. He flashed the ingredients of a mid-rotation starter with pleasant groundball tendencies in this look, but he also showed as quite raw with his repeatability and execution. Prep pitcher who remains majority projection and looks down the barrel of a future home in Coors Field? Yeah, not really a dynasty league asset to chase.
C.J. Hinojosa, SS, San Francisco Giants (San Jose Giants) – Hinojosa was expected to flower into a top draft pick after an excellent freshman year at Texas, but then he stagnated in his sophomore season and tanked hard amid a wrist injury in the spring of his draft year, leading to him falling all the way to the 11th round last summer. He’s subsequently done nothing but hit since signing, and currently sits second in the Cal with a .330 average. Based on my looks he’s going to have to continue to do so at every level if he’s going to warrant the dynasty attention he’s starting to receive. He’s not a great defensive player, and holding down shortstop at higher levels seems like it’ll be a stretch. He doesn’t run particularly well either, and the swing isn’t really geared to lift the ball with any regularity. He tracks pitches well though, with a nice command of the zone and solid bat-to-ball skills. But for our purposes he’s more likely an empty average at second base in a better-case scenario.