April 29, 2014
NL East U25 Lists
To read the earlier editions in the U25 series, click below:
For this exercise, we're each going to rank our top-30 U25 fantasy players by division before we collaborate on a top-150 list once this portion of the project is complete. For each division, we'll give you our individual rankings and then discuss any major discrepancies in our rankings, talk about some sleepers we wanted to rank higher and take cheap shots at each other along the way. It will be like the TINO podcast, but for your eyes, complete with an imaginary Bret Sayre breaking up our fights.
Just like with the preseason organizational top prospect lists, 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.
Disagreement One: Wilmer Flores
Craig’s Take: I actually thought I liked Flores a decent amount coming into this, but I guess I showed myself what’s what. Flores can hit, to be sure, but my main concern is how much of that will result in an empty average, and at what position he’ll have eligibility. Defense isn’t a huge fantasy concern, especially since both second and third base are rather short on quality bats right now, but if he can’t hack it defensively at second base, he’s got nowhere to play with Wright in town. I’m not sure he’s a .300 hitter, and if he can’t slug .450, I’m just not sure where that lands him as a fantasy property. Add in the lack of a route to playing time, and I just couldn’t make a strong case for him over the rest of the list.
Ben’s Take: I think we agree on Flores’ profile, but I suppose we disagree on what sort of value that profile provides. If Flores can hit .280 with 12-15 homers at second base—basically Neil Walker—that’s someone I take over no. 5 fantasy starters or flawed outfielders like Ozuna, Marisnick, and Goodwin. I don’t have an issue ranking Sims or Crawford above him if you’re going for pure upside, but I think Flores will be usable in most leagues as soon as later this year, even if that means he’s dealt from the organization. He’s not the superstar that some forecasted many years ago, but I think he starts for someone for a long time. Maybe the floor is Alberto Callaspo, but the ceiling is someone you feel good about starting at MI, and that could be his reality soon.
Craig’s Take: I think it’s fair to say Neil Walker is around what we’re talking about, but that’s before factoring in playing time for me. I agree, he could be traded and that would change things for me, but I also think there’s a good chance he’s less than Neil Walker and that player is more of a utility guy than anything. As you said, we agree on the profile, but I’m discounting his immediate playing time more than you are. I don’t think you’re being unreasonable, I just worry about overvaluing a player with a Neil Walker profile and nowhere to play.
Ben’s Take: The Mets are getting better, but if they’re going to play Daniel Murphy at second I just don’t see how they can justify sitting on a talent like Flores—they have to turn him into something usable. That being said, it’s the Mets. Now I really want the Mets and Mariners to make a Wilmer Flores for Nick Franklin swap now. Would anything be more Mets and Mariners?
Craig’s Take: I feel like the Mets would force Franklin to buy his own ticket to NY, and the Mariners would convert Flores to left field and then immediately option him.
Imaginary Bret: Stop picking on the Mets! (Google Image searches Dominic Smith.)
Disagreement Two: Jake Marisnick
Ben’s Take: I’ve been a Marisnick fanboy for a really long time now, and I can accept the argument that I’m a bit higher on him here than most. But I really, really like his power-speed combination, and I do think he’ll hit enough to use those tools to their maximum efficiency once he faces more reasonable developmental expectations. Marisnick has been pushed aggressively through the minors since 2012, when modest struggles in High-A were overlooked in favor of an assignment to Double-A. That trend continued, when the Marlins exposed him to the majors way too soon because Marlins. I know his numbers haven’t looking great lately, but I think this is a player who will excel once he’s given some time at an appropriate level, though I acknowledge that the concerns about his hit tool are reasonable.
Craig’s Take: Marisnick is the same type of guy as Brian Goodwin for me, with the whole being less than the sum of his parts. I love the profile of his tools, but there’s enough concern about hit tool (and its effect on letting his power function) that I couldn’t push him up any higher. He’s definitely talented, but I’m not sure it’s going to manifest itself in a successful player. As much as the Marlins have been aggressive with him, his success last year at Double-A was at 22 years old (on level) and after a 247-plate-appearance stint in 2012. Perhaps he just needs an adjustment period before taking off (similar to 2012/13), but I think major-league pitchers are going to be able to exploit the holes in his swing to the point that he will struggle to maintain much value even with the solid pop and speed combination.
Ben’s Take: Honestly, that’s not an unfair evaluation of Marisnick and if you were a person of better repute, I might be tempted to listen. But I like what I’ve seen of Marisnick in terms of his ability to make adjustments, and he’s shown a willingness to take a walk in the past. I think we can all agree that high averages aren’t going to be a part of his game, but if he can hit .260 with 20 homers and 20 steals, that’s someone I’m going to be interested in owning, especially in OBP leagues. I get that those numbers represent a best-case outcome for Marisnick, but he’s a player I believe in and I’d rather gamble on that profile than a back-end fantasy starter.
Craig’s Take: Yes, well you also wanted to gamble on Roman Quinn, so…
Ben’s One Player He Wanted to Rank Higher: Brian Goodwin
Craig’s One Player He Wanted to Rank Higher: Andrew Heaney
Ben, say something nice about Craig: When I assailed his character on Twitter earlier this week, some people actually came to his defense. He’s right about ginger beer.
Ben Carsley is an author of Baseball Prospectus. Follow @bencarsley