Manuel Margot, San Diego Padres
In terms of real baseball value, Manuel Margot is one of the more exciting outfield prospects in the game. He’s right on the verge of contributing in a meaningful way, and should do it in most areas of the game. He’ll hit a little, he’ll fly on the bases and his athleticism and defensive instincts will play well in San Diego’s spacious outfield. Unfortunately, much of that skill set doesn’t translate into fantasy value.
This isn’t to say that he won’t be valuable in fantasy circles, but it’s likely not going to be worth whatever he’d cost in a dynasty league right now. People see that he’s a top-20 prospect and he’s ready to contribute in the majors and they understandably drool from a fantasy perspective. However, his value here is unclear. He’ll steal some bases, but that’s about all we can be sure about. Scouts are mixed on his power potential, and personally I see him as more of a doubles hitter than a home run masher, particularly in San Diego. Additionally, he’s an aggressive hitter and while that works in his favor a lot, it’s something that major-league pitchers could take advantage of and hinder his AVG. He has the athleticism and line drive skills to be a fantasy piece, but at this moment in time his price tag is likely a bit too high for my taste. —Matt Collins
Kevin Kiermaier, Tampa Bay Rays
When I’m investing in a player long term, I look at his ceiling, his floor, and the presumed long-term cost of adding him at a later date versus the cost now. With Kiermaier, my argument takes the last point first: I cannot imagine a time when the cost to acquire him is recognizably higher than it is come draft day 2017.
This is mostly saying that his ceiling isn’t very high, even if his floor is stable enough. Kiermaier is fast, which allows him to be one of the great defensive outfielders we’ve ever seen — fantasy-wise, this and $2.75 will get you on the subway, meaning it’s worthless. On the plus side, a fantasy owner can count on him for a healthy number of steals and runs whenever he plays, which is cool.
Long-term, it seems unlikely he’ll ever permanently break out of the .260/.320/.420 mode, and if he doesn’t, his steals and runs can likely be bought from the rebuilding teams in your league come mid-season. To be kind, one could argue that there is a lot of room for him to grow at the plate, insofar as he could clearly be better and, you know, nature abhors a vacuum. By this logic, this upside exists for me as well, and compared to Kiermaier, I have a lot more ground to potentially cover. I would not invest in me long-term (to *play baseball;* please invest in me otherwise), nor would I invest in Kev. Like me, he is who he is, and that’s a guy who you don’t need on your team to win a title, but one who you can grab for the right, low price whenever you need to. Kiermaier works cheap, but he’s got nothing on me. —Bryan Joiner
Aaron Judge, New York Yankees
It is easy to forget how much buzz Judge generated in his first two major league games. The 24-year-old slugger homered in his first big-league at-bat against Matt Andriese and then homered the next day against Jake Odorizzi.
The problem for Judge is that the rest of his brief time in the majors was a disaster. Over his next 87 plate appearances, Judge posted a .156/.241/.260 line before being sidelined with an oblique strain that ended his season. Even worse, Judge struck out in nearly half of his plate appearances, whiffing at a prodigious 47 percent rate. Nearly all rookies struggle, but Judge’s struggles went beyond the typical rookie issues.
Judge will get another opportunity for the rebuilding Yankees, but even if he breaks camp with New York there are still reasons for concern. Granted, Judge has hit at every level to date, but hitters of his immense size (insert your My Large Sons Joke here) often have difficulty making the final adjustment to the majors. Again, there isn’t enough of a sample to draw definitive conclusions, but Judge’s contact profile combined with his size are worrisome. A few hitters of this ilk have had productive careers but most cannot compensate for major league pitchers who are more capable of exploiting a larger zone than their minor league counterparts.
Yankee Stadium will help, but no park can help a hitter make favorable contact. Keep in mind, also, that this is an article about the long-term. Judge will be 25 in April, and the window for him to establish himself as a viable starter is small. Judge could crack the code and cut down on those whiffs in his first full season, but the early results are not encouraging. —Mike Gianella
Adam Duvall, Cincinnati Reds
Adam Duvall was one of the few bright spots during a bleak 2016 season in Cincinnati. In his first full season of major-league action, Duvall rode a hot first half all the way to the All-Star Game. Fantasy owners were in for a pleasant surprise as Duvall returned $15 of value in standard mixed leagues. Given his age and production, Duvall could be an attractive outfield option late in drafts. However, especially if you’re thinking about his long-term value, there are plenty of reasons to be concerned moving forward.
Most fans are aware of the discrepancies in Duvall’s performance from the first to the second half. Prior to the All-Star Game he hit .249/.288/.551 with 23 HR and 61 RBI. In the second half, Duvall hit .231/.306/.434 with 10 HR and 42 RBI. That’s not to say there weren’t any positive developments. His walk rate did jump from 4.9 percent to 8.8 percent in the second half. However, his HR/FB rate fell from 24 percent to 11.2 percent, and he saw a drop in his batting average even as his BABIP held steady.
There are other reasons to be concerned even if you’re not worried about his splits from last season. As Matt Collins mentioned in his “Early ADP Analysis,” the lineup isn’t going to do Duvall’s counting stats any favors. There’s also the issue of his playing time down the road. The Reds outfield situation could quickly become crowded if prospect Jesse Winker forces himself on to the major-league roster. That doesn’t take into account the possibility that Devin Mesoraco and Eugenio Suarez could eventually find themselves in the outfield mix. That is if they are forced out of their current positions by upcoming prospects (Suarez) or injury (Mesoraco). The Reds haven’t significantly invested in Duvall, and they’ll have no problem putting him on the bench if higher ceiling options need the playing time. —Eric Roseberry
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