Imagine MLB with a relaxed version of the reserve clause, and you’re well on your way to understanding the reason to go for prospects in Scoresheet. The vanilla Scoresheet format allows for unlimited minor league keeper protection, at the mere cost of a team’s lowest draft pick. When combined with the 13 perpetual hard keeper slots at the major-league level, it means that going prospecting is one of the few ways to reliably improve your team’s lot in life.
Focusing on minor leaguers doesn’t mean, necessarily, that you should build your team directly through the players on your farm. When we hear Scoresheet owners sometimes complain that prospects are being overvalued in their drafts, we wonder if they are using their farm wrong, focusing on the bust rate of a prospect as opposed to the relative commodity value of the asset. Developing your prospects in order to trade them is a perfectly acceptable strategy, much like a bad team hoarding talent at a position or drafting easy-to-flip middle relievers for future picks would be. With that in mind, even owners who doubt the return on investment in a prospect should still consider playing the market.
Fortunately, Baseball Prospectus has been producing articles all month with the dynasty league owner in mind. We brought BP’s fantasy editor, Bret Sayre, on this week’s podcast to discuss specific prospects to target in leagues, using the Average Keeper Rankings we introduced last week as a guide. The dynasty league prospect rankings don’t mirror Scoresheet value exactly—both in the obvious ways (players with speed are valued more highly in roto than in Scoresheet), and in some ways that have more to do with relative replacement level at positions. Catching prospects, for instance, are much more valuable in Scoresheet than in most roto dynasty formats, while outfielders are generally worth a little more in roto.
In addition, keep in mind the unique format of Scoresheet’s protection model when drafting a prospect. Perpetual keepers make top prospects even more valuable in Scoresheet than in most fantasy formats—just ask the Mike Trout owner in your league how they feel about the lack of pressure in returning him to the draft pool anytime soon. However, there’s a natural counterbalance when it comes to non-elite prospects. If you keep seven prospects, taking that additional low-A pitcher will mean that you’ll have to spend three 27-round picks bringing him to the majors. At that cost, he’d better be one of your top 13 players almost immediately on arrival. To offer a specific example, in the podcast, we note that the Rangers’ advanced pitching prospect Chi Chi Gonzalez is available in nearly three-quarters of all AL leagues. If you can find a player who is nearly ready for the majors still available in your league, then why would you nurse a non-elite pitching prospect into Double-A instead?
We encourage you to concentrate on high-floor prospects at key positions, and only keep players with elite upside elsewhere. Even then, be ready to trade those prospects as they appreciate in value if you can get a major-league keeper in return. With luck and some solid trading skills, a healthy farm system can rebuild your major league team even before the players themselves are ready.
This Week’s Podcast
This week, the Outcomes talk with BP’s fantasy guru Bret Sayre about drafting prospects in Scoresheet, continuing their streak of inviting guests smarter than they are.
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