Normally, I focus on the majors in this space and try to offer some thoughts as to why fantasy owners should buy/sell different players. With dynasty leagues getting ever more popular, though, it’s seems valuable to cast our gaze to the young ‘uns and place “buy” or “sell” tags on them, too—as the savvy dynasty owners are focusing just as much on their minor-league rosters as on their major-league ones.
With that said, this article will focus on four minor-league players who are potential quality buys at this point in the season. Perhaps they’ve been overlooked. Perhaps they tanked in April and have bounced back strong. Perhaps few dynasty-league owners even know who some of these players are. Whatever the case may be, it’s my hope that a couple of these suggestions can aid one’s dynasty roster.
Catchers are notoriously dangerous assets in which to invest in dynasty leagues. They’re rarely rushed to The Show and often focus on defensive skills rather than their offensive ones. With the major-league position being nothing short of a wasteland of woefulness, though, one could easily make the argument that quality catching prospects have a touch more value these days.
Nonetheless, Nottingham came into the season with quite a bit of hype. He was a top-100 prospect moved to the Brewers’ organization, one that will likely move Jonathan Lucroy to a contender in the near future, which hypothetically opens a path to the majors for Nottingham. Much of that high-flying value came crashing to the ground once he hit .159/.243/.270 in the month of April. Even though he’s performed better as of late, his overall slash line of .244/.303/.372 still leaves a lot of fantasy players with cold feet when it comes to the 21-year-old catcher.
Too few people have noticed how well Nottingham has played in recent weeks. He hit .308/.357/.418 in the month of May and has gone 13-for-40 (.325) with four home runs in his last 10 games. Double-A Biloxi has moved him back to the middle of their batting order, and he enjoyed a three-night performance at the plate on Sunday evening.
He’s a guy who compiled a .316/.372/.505 slash line between three minor-league teams in 2015, clobbering 33 doubles, two triples, and 17 homers. The former sixth-round pick projects to hit for average and modest power—a combination at the catcher position that seems all too elusive at the major-league level right now. It doesn’t seem that Nottingham’s overall slash line will remain unattractive for too long, especially if he continues hitting as he has in the past two weeks, so the window of opportunity is shrinking to acquire him. Act now.
Banda came to the Diamondbacks’ organization, along with outfielder Mitch Haniger, in the 2014 trade that sent Gerardo Parra to the Brewers. It was an insignificant deal at the time for both clubs, but few people thought Banda was anything more than a mindless throw-in. Hell, the vast majority of dynasty leaguers don’t even know who the lefty is right now.
He caught a few eyes last year when he posted a 3.32 ERA in High-A with 24.3 percent strikeout rate (152 whiffs in 151 2/3 innings). The Prospect Team ranked the southpaw as the 10th-best prospect in the Diamondbacks’ system this winter, with little thought that he’d offer anything of future value in fantasy leagues.
It’s too early to say that he’s something; however, Banda owns a 2.57 ERA in 63 innings with Double-A Mobile. That comes with a 25.0 percent strikeout rate and stuff that had reportedly taken a step forward in the spring—meaning, he found more velocity with his fastball, touching the mid-90s rather than the low-90s that we regularly saw in 2015. He pairs it with a good curveball and a decent-enough changeup.
Banda isn’t a name that’s owned in fantasy leagues. He may be a trendy pick as he nears the big leagues over the next 12 months—as big strikeout rates with quality ERAs gain plenty of attention—so it’s probably wise to invest now. He’s only for deeper dynasties, as the lefty probably won’t be more than a back-end rotation option for the Diamondbacks, but I’m beginning to hope that there’s something more in the tank. He’s one of my favorite speculative grabs of the summer.
Torres imploded in April, hitting .179/.289/.308, which caused quite a bit of consternation among dynasty owners. At just 19 years old in High-A, though, it should’ve been obvious that more patience was needed before offering any long-term judgment on the young man. Unfortunately, few fantasy baseball connoisseurs are blessed with ample patience, and people began wondering if they should cut ties with Torres.
He erupted in May, hitting .306/.353/.519 with six doubles and five homers. The Venezuelan native even swiped a half-dozen bags for good measure. All of this should’ve reminded fantasy owners that Torres is young, is allowed to struggle, and is talented enough to adjust and flourish. The Prospect Team lauded his “exceptional” feel for hitting, which has been abundantly clear over the past month.
For those still focusing on overall slash lines, he’s been nothing but decent: .259/.332/.438. That ignores his age, his level, and his recent performance, which would all make that slash line look a bit more promising. It’s worth testing the waters and seeing if dynasty owners are treating Torres like the top-30 prospect that he is… or whether they’ve focused too much on his rough start and are willing to trade for a discounted price.
If fantasy owners are treating him as anything other than a stud prospect: buy now.
Bradley was one of my dudes coming into the 2015 season, and he laid waste to the Midwest League at 19 years old with 27 homers and a .357 OBP. The Prospect Team ranked him as the fifth-best prospect in a strong Indians’ farm system, while his fantasy stock rose considerably over the winter.
He’s now playing in High-A as a 20-year-old, and things are going rough, as expected. His batting average is just .228 and he has 72 strikeouts in just 53 games. Sure, the 13 home runs are nice, but the low batting average and the whiffs are considerable cause for concern. One can’t help but think of someone like Jon Singleton—even if those comparisons aren’t necessarily fair or accurate at this point.
Fantasy owners may be willing to sell low because things got especially bad in the month of May. He hit .180/.376/.393 in 89 at-bats. That’s enough to scare just about anyone off, or at least make one concerned that Bradley may be overvalued as a prospect.
I undoubtedly focus on the bright side with Bradley because he’s one of my dudes, as mentioned earlier, but it’s important to recognize that he walked 26 times and homered five times in his dreadful month. What will make him valuable remained. He actually almost walked as many times as he struck out (28) in May, which is kind of incredible.
Yes, I’m worried about his strikeout rate and his contact issues. I’m still not worried about his ability to get on base, nor about his ability to mash taters. And that’s what is going to make him valuable to Cleveland. His 30-plus-homer power potential is what will make him valuable in fantasy circles. Ignore the dreadful batting average and buy on the more long-term skill set: the patience and the power.
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