Brandon Phillips and the illusion of hindsight, by way of the one-time elite prospect.
Jurickson Profar first graced the electronic pages of Baseball Prospectus in Kevin Goldstein’s 2011 Top-101 prospect list. He checked in at 78th overall, sandwiched between Jake Odorizzi and one-time teammate Tanner Scheppers. By August of that same year, Jason Parks was listing him neck-and-neck with Manny Machado as the top shortstop prospect in the minors, extolling his five-tool talents and confidence, projecting him as a “first-division starter with All-Star appearances in his future.” We all know Profar’s story from that point on. He slotted in fourth overall by the next year’s list, and was a consensus no. 1 overall prospect on the 2013 iteration.
The Super Two cutoff isn't yet upon us, so Gregory Polanco retains his spot atop the list.
We’re rolling with a slightly different format this week, so instead of an introduction, we’re actually going to talk about those who graduated from last week’s list. Do you like this? RT for yes, fav for no.
The Graduates: Jaime Garcia (14), Derek Norris (15), Rafael Montero (19), Jennry Mejia (22)
We finally had some graduates this past week, clearing a few spots on the list for new names. Garcia looked pretty sharp (other than a few long balls) against the Braves, and I remain optimistic about him from a skill (not health) standpoint. Norris finally goes off the list as he started five games last week, with four of them coming against right-handed pitching. If he’s still unowned in your league, please rectify this immediately. Montero made his debut against the Yankees on Wednesday and looked good enough that Mike Gianella and I picked him up for our LABR team. That fact alone should cause you to sell him before he spontaneously combusts (yes, we’ve gone through more pitchers than Spinal Tap has drummers). And finally, Mejia seemed like the best option the Mets had to close games, and he’s doing just that—causing him to fall off the list for positive reasons.
Jurickson Profar makes his first appearance, but Gregory Polanco remains at the top.
The worst thing for a player who is performing at a high level in the minor leagues is to have a player (or players) ahead of him who is also getting the job done. This goes triple for position players, as a starting pitching prospect will force his way in there if his performance dictates that he deserves a job. If you look at the top names on this list (specifically the first five prospects), part of the reason why they are so prominently ranked is that they are significantly better from a talent perspective than what is ahead of them on the depth chart. Those five players, who are potentially going to be phased out, are (roughly) Travis Snider, Jon Jay, Luis Valbuena, Marc Krauss, and Cody Asche. Those are not impediments, they are placeholders.
The waters get much more murky when you have a player like Alexander Guerrero, who from a talent and performance standpoint should probably get a shot at major league playing time, but is behind Dee Gordon on the depth chart. Normally this wouldn’t be a huge obstacle, but Gordon (and his .385 on-base percentage) has been one of the best leadoff hitters in baseball this season. So while Guerrero ends up in the Honorable Mention section again because he would likely get the call in the event of a Gordon injury, that’s a much less likely outcome than a near replacement player playing like a near replacement level player.
Javier Baez gets the nod atop the first edition of this year's list.
Welcome back to my focal column here at Baseball Prospectus, The Stash List. I know, you’ve missed it. But for the 2014 season, we’re starting right from Week 1 with a first look at who you should be spending valuable reserve slots on in your league. For those of you not familiar with this column and the types of players who are included/excluded from it, I will now throw it out to past Bret to explain from April of 2013:
The purpose of it is to rank the top 25 players who are not active contributors to fantasy teams for 2013 only. Again, it does not take into account future value, which would result in a very different order. This list will include four different types of players, with specific restrictions attached:
This week's showdown features a pair of young keystoners who recently topped their organizations' prospect lists.
For the second-base edition of “Tale of the Tape,” I was given a choice between Jason Kipnis vs. Dustin Pedroia, Neil Walker vs. Martin Prado, and Anthony Rendon vs. Jurickson Profar. As the title gives away, I chose set no. 3, Rendon and Profar—a pair of former no. 1 prospects with All-Star potential. More than two years separate the second basemen in age, but both will enter the year ready to compete in their first full major-league seasons. In BP’s positional rankings, Craig Goldstein lists Rendon at the back end of the three-star tier and Profar checks in a few keystones later inside the two-star group. Can the two-star player outshine the three-star favorite?
To this point in their brief careers, Rendon and Profar have combined for fewer than 750 plate appearances, so small-sample-size goggles are required. As things stand, Rendon enjoys a comfortable .265-to-.231 lead, but Profar’s major-league clock also extends to a brief nine-game stint in 2012, when he struggled and hit .176. For what it’s worth, Profar out-hit Rendon with a .276 BA in four minor-league seasons, compared to Rendon’s .269 in two. We have obviously yet to see either player reach his full potential, but both have been graded with the tools to one day hit .300. Profar hasn’t adjusted as well to big-league pitching as Rendon, however, striking out 19.6 percent of the time (compared to about14 percent in the minors); Rendon’s strikeout rate is a cleaner 17.5 percent. And while both have fantastic contact rates, Rendon appears poised to hit for a better average in 2014. For Profar, the new season should help shed some light on his chances of fulfilling a grade-7 hit tool.
These young bats have seen their near-term fantasy stocks improve over the last few weeks.
If you’ve been reading Baseball Prospectus’ outstanding Transaction Analysis series, you’ll know that the BP Fantasy team chimes in on every move as well. We think this is a great way to bring our fantasy readers information throughout the offseason, rather than flooding them with opinions come spring, and if we’re being honest, it’s just good fun, too.
Something we pride ourselves on is analyzing not only the players dealt or signed in a transaction, but on talking about every relevant player who might be impacted. You’d be surprised at just how often non-moving pieces are more deeply affected than their dynamic counterparts.
Covering all the fantasy angles of a swap whose impact goes well beyond the two traded players.
The fantasy impact of the Prince Fielder-Ian Kinsler trade go well beyond the two players involved, so we’re going to tackle its effects one-by-one and with lots of arrows. Who doesn’t love arrows? Let’s start with the Rangers’ side: