Scouting: Murphy has always shown impressive power from the right-side of the plate, as he has plenty of strength along with a swing path that is conducive to hitting the ball out to any part of the park. Despite the length to his swing, he makes lots of hard contact, and there's a chance for a 45-grade hit tool because of his ability to square up pitches to any part of the plate. He's going to have to show much more patience if he's going to reach that level, however, as he ends too many at-bats early due to his aggressiveness. It's not Yuniesky Betancourt-level hacking, but expecting more than 30-40 walks in a season is expecting too much.
Murphy isn't going to win many accolades with his glove, but he's certainly good enough to stay behind the plate. Despite having well below-average speed, he's quick enough to block balls in the dirt, and his above-average arm plays up because he gets rid of the ball quickly. He's improved his receiving and framing skills as well, so you're not looking at a guy who is going to have to move to first base anytime soon. Murphy's upside is an everyday backstop who can hit 20 homers in a season, and his floor of offensive-inclined backup gives him a relatively high floor as well. —Christopher Crawford
Fantasy: Given the apocalyptic state of the catcher position fantasy-wise, the 25-year-old backstop has value in two-catcher mixed leagues and NL-only formats. With veteran Nick Hundley slated to become a free agent this offseason, there is a chance Murphy, who hit .327/.361.647 (.317 TAv) with 19 home runs in 322 plate appearances at Triple-A this season, becomes the Rockies everyday option next year. He doesn’t possess the multi-category upside of other recent call-ups like Gary Sanchez, Willson Contreras or Jorge Alfaro. However, if he lives up to his offensive potential, 20 home runs is not out of the question in Coors Field. That considerable power, juxtaposed by a respectable batting average (for the catcher position), is going to make him an option in deeper leagues. —George Bissell
Scouting: Fine-tuning your craft is the essence of becoming a big leaguer and evidently Hunter Dozier did just that over the winter. Dozier’s set-up and hitting mechanics differ drastically from those of 2015. This year he has set his hands higher (about ear-level) compared to the letters and added a leg raise as a timing mechanism. His stance is more straight up and down, standing tall at the dish rather than looking like half a Jeff Bagwell imitator. Last season, upon loading, Dozier would push his hands back almost locking out his front arm which led to blowing the front side early in an attempt to clear his hands back through the zone resulting in poor bat speed and lack of contact. In 2016, his hands are free and have a slight movement back before his front foot strikes the ground and his hips clear the way for his hands to fly through the strike zone. It is a simple, fluid, athletic swing that allows Dozier to use his body more efficiently to get the barrel to the ball. The plus bat speed is much more consistent and the results of 2016 have put last years toils to rest. Last season I would have put Dozier’s hit tool at average with his approach and lack of contact. This year is a different story with increased bat speed, contact, barrel control, shorter swing path, and ability to stay balanced throughout the swing. His hit tool could be plus if he maintains his current approach. The plus power that was screaming to be released has finally surfaced and will be exciting to watch as Dozier matures at the dish and uses his 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame to it’s maximum ability. The Royals could have a long time power hitting third baseman on their hands for years to come. If Dozier can steadily improve his average glove and plus arm tools over at the hot corner, it will be an exciting career to watch as he grows into the complete player that was once promised. —Colin Young
Fantasy: The eighth-overall pick back in 2013 saw his fantasy stock crater after a disastrous 2015 campaign in which he hit a paltry .213/.281/.349 with 151 strikeouts in 523 plate appearances at Double-A. After overhauling his swing during the offseason, the on-field results materialized quickly for the 25-year-old, who rebounded by hitting .305/.400/.642 with eight home runs in a 26-game stint back at Northwest Arkansas. Following a promotion to Triple-A, Dozier’s bat continued to sizzle, hitting .294/.357/.506 with 15 home runs in 434 plate appearances. His .305 True Average (TAv) ranks eighth out of 167 Triple-A hitters (with at least 400 plate appearances) this season.
Given the Royals depth and their proximity to a Wild Card berth, it’s difficult to envision the Texan garnering significant playing time down the stretch, making him merely a speculative option in AL-only formats. If Dozier can retain third base eligibility long-term, he becomes an intriguing option in deeper mixed leagues given his elite prospect pedigree and rapidly increasing power. —George Bissell
Scouting: Holder, a righty out of Mississippi State from the 2014 Draft, has shot up from A-ball all the way to the majors this year following a conversion back to his college relief role. As he’s risen, he’s utterly dominated every level, finishing the minor league season with a completely ridiculous 101/7 K/BB ratio in 65 â…“ IP, including a 35/0 spread at Triple-A. The stuff should play in the majors, starting with an easy to command fastball that he’ll work to all corners of the zone sitting around 91-95. The best offspeed pitch here is a beautiful looping curveball usually thrown in the mid-high-70s that might already be a major-league plus pitch, which he’s able to both drop in for called strikes and also get chases with. He’ll mix a pretty decent cutter/hard slider in the high-80s as a third weapon—the same pitch that it feels like every righty reliever gets off an assembly line these days. Holder’s motion has significant effort to it, though the Yankees have cleaned up his mechanics a lot, so even as a three-pitch guy, he’s probably not a great candidate for a conversion back to starting. New York did not have to add Holder to the 40-man this offseason, so he’s up because they think he can help now, and there’s a real shot for a dominant major-league reliever or even a future closer outcome here. —Jarrett Seidler
Fantasy: The 23-year-old right-hander posted a 1.65 ERA with 16 saves in 17 opportunities over 42 appearances between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season. He gained some national notoriety after a four-inning save in Rochester Aug. 28 where he struck out 12 of the 13 Red Wings he faced, including 11 consecutive batters to begin the appearance, en route to slamming the door. After recording a 0.89 ERA with 35 strikeouts and zero walks in 12 Triple-A appearances, he’s forced his way into the Yankee bullpen. With Dellin Betances firmly entrenched in the ninth inning, Holder’s fantasy appeal is limited to AL-only formats where his staggering strikeout numbers in relief can make an impact, but he’s someone mixed league owners certainly need to familiarize themselves with. —George Bissell
Fantasy: Paulino is one of those arms built for fantasy, as the impressive fastball-curve combo headlining his arsenal can produce strikeouts, and thereby value, even on off nights. He stays around the zone pretty well for a pitcher with his length, as evidenced by a walk rate of less than two-per-nine this year, mostly in the high minors. The plane he generates with his delivery gives him the ability to both run his fastball up in the zone and beat guys down low for in-zone whiffs, while the curveball’s sharp break out of a high arm slot gives it tantalizing whiff potential when he’s able to bury it down low. He hasn’t always shown great feel or consistency with the pitch in games, but nights where he has it working have the potential to be special strikeout nights. The change will play as a competent third pitch as well, and he really hasn’t struggled with much of a discernable platoon split throughout his rapid rise.
Despite generating ample fly ball contact, he hasn’t ever really struggled with home run issues, either—quite the contrary, in fact. His batted-ball profile instead suggests weaker fly ball contact as the likeliest outcome of a ball in play. And while Houston’s defense is not particularly adept as fly-catchers—they currently rate an ugly 28th in defensive efficiency on balls in the air—weak fly ball contact is generally about as tasty a BABIP-suppressant as they come. Between the potential for a whiff an inning (or something close to it) and solid WHIP numbers, Paulino should be regarded as a highly interesting fantasy arm. While we’re probably not looking at an ace, there’s a very real possibility he can emerge as a low-end SP2 or higher-end SP3, depending on your league depth. —Wilson Karaman
Scouting: If you’re looking for a dictionary definition of a solid-if-unspectacular player, Patterson may just be your man. The Rockies drafted him in the fourth round in 2013 out of the University of South Alabama, and he’s been a steady performer at every professional step since. He’s a big boy, with a frame that boasts projectable strength throughout and long levers in every direction. He’s a good athlete for a man his size, with some explosiveness and fluidity to his stride and actions in the field. He’s a sneaky base-stealer, with above-average straight-line speed that he’ll deploy strategically to pick off the occasional extra base. After moving around the outfield in previous seasons, the organization has settled him into a right-field role this season, while also adding first base to his arsenal in an effort to increase his versatility and open up more avenues to future at-bats. He has plenty of arm strength for right, and shows as a fundamentally sound defender there with solid-average defensive projection in that corner.
The bat has been the carrying attraction for Patterson in his ascent to the majors, and he has shown gradual but steady improvement in developing both his hit and power tools. He’s made significant progress in tightening up his load and bat path into the zone, to where he’s relatively compact for someone with arms as long as his. And while he’s always been an aggressive hitter in-zone, he has taken a nice step forward this year to better work counts and hone in on pitches he can drive. There’s room for another half a tick of power as he finishes filling out his frame, and there is a clear path to average-or-better hit and power tools at maturity. It’s more likely that those tools will play against right-handed pitching most of the time, as platoon issues have long been an issue, stemming from difficulties handling soft-away, hard-in sequencing. The realistic outcome here is a strong-handed platoon bat who adds value on both sides of the ball and lengthens a bench with positional versatility. —Wilson Karaman
Fantasy: Patterson “truthers” will point to his .376 OBP, which ranks 10th in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, combined with his 14 home runs and 10 stolen bases in 495 plate appearances this season, as evidence that the 24-year-old is an enticing fantasy proposition for deeper mixed leagues. Realistically, unless you’re playing in a format that utilizes on-base percentage, the lack of a standout tool and his struggles against left-handed pitching are deficiencies that becomes impossible to overlook. While he increased his efficiency on the basepaths in Albuquerque, going 10-for-10 this year, he’s not a prolific base stealer and doesn’t hit for enough power to be relevant in shallow formats moving forward. With the Rockies outfield cupboards fully stocked, it may take a trade to another organization before Patterson garners the playing time necessary to make a tangible fantasy impact. —George Bissell
Scouting: A good starter for the Rockies org at two levels this season, Marquez is best suited to the bullpen long term due to a fringy command profile and an inconsistent changeup. He routinely sits in the mid-90s early in starts although the pitch can be a bit straight. His best secondary offering is an 11-5 downer curve, which shows good, late depth when it’s on, a bit of a hump out of the hand when it isn’t. Marquez lost speed and stuff as he worked deeper into outings, but is intriguing as a two-pitch middle reliever. He also has to pitch his home games at Coors Field so this profile could also go pear-shaped quickly. —Jeffrey Paternostro
Fantasy: In addition to racking up nearly a strikeout per inning, the 21-year-old right-hander has posted a 3.13 ERA and 1.16 WHIP over 166 2/3 innings (26 starts) between Double-A Hartford and Triple-A Albuquerque this season. The omnipresent Coors Field factor puts an obvious damper on any fantasy expectations for Marquez right out of the gate, but a nearly 50 percent career minor-league groundball rate, in tandem with solid control (2.11 BB/9 this year), leave the impression that he could have some value in NL-only formats moving forward, if he sticks in the Colorado rotation. Given that his long-term future may be in the bullpen, Marquez doesn’t carry a ton of present value outside of truly deep dynasty formats where he becomes a low-risk stash candidate. —George Bissell
Scouting: Roman Quinn is faster than you, assuming you’re not Billy Hamilton. He’s a true top-of-the-scale runner, and it helps him not only steal bases, but beat out grounders that look routine. A positive development in 2016 is that he hasn’t hit nearly as many routine grounders. There’s almost zero power, but he does have the ability to “shoot” the opposite way, and his quick, line-drive stroke gives him a chance for at least an above-average hit tool. The shortness of the swing also means there are very few contact issues, and he’s shown decent patience at the plate as well.
Quinn moved over to the outfield in 2015, and he’s taken to center field as well as can be expected. His solid, accurate arm would play well at any outfield position, but his ability to get to everything realistic makes him a natural for center. If everything goes right, he’s hitting at the top of an order and stealing bases while playing above-average defense. If everything goes wrong, Quinn is a solid fourth outfielder who (presumably) can handle any position in the grass, and give pitchers the gee willikers as a pinch runner. —Christopher Crawford
Fantasy: Roman Quinn has one thing to offer to your roto team: speed. He has stolen 30 or more bases in every minor league season he’s played except one, and in the one that he didn’t reach 30, he had 29 in only 58 games. Aside from a rehab stint in the Gulf Coast League, the speedster spent the season at Double-A Reading, posting a .287/.361/.441 line in 322 plate appearances with six home runs, 31 SB and eight CS. Skipping over Triple-A, the 23-year-old doesn’t figure to be an everyday starter in the outfield for the Phillies for the rest of the season, so his opportunities will be few and far between. Still, if you’re in a tight race in stolen bases, Quinn could help you gain a point in the standings even if his role is limited to pinch runner, pinch hitter and spot starter. He might be slightly more valuable in OBP leagues due to his nine percent walk rate in Double-A, but keep in mind that decent walk rates for low-power hitters like Quinn often don’t translate well to the majors, where pitchers choose to pound the zone against hitters that probably won’t take them deep. —Scooter Hotz
Scouting: Nunez has been a candidate to move from third to first from practically the day the A’s signed him for big money as a 16-year-old. He’s still manning the hot corner though, and if he can stay there, it will add a bit of spice to a profile that has lost some luster in recent years.
Nunez has above-average bat speed, a swing built for home runs, and enough strength to earn a six on his raw power. The power plays down in games because of his approach, which isn’t quite “swing at everything that moves” but it’s in the next tier up. He’s struck out in 21 percent of his plate appearances this year—not a death knell in and of itself, but a problem when you’re slugging .412—and his willingness to swing limits his ability to get deep in counts. He also gets undressed by good breaking balls, as the effort in his swing lengthens the stroke and limits his ability to adjust the barrel once he gets his hands going.
Defensively, he has the arm and the hands to stick at third, but his lack of mobility could push him to the other side of the diamond, where the bat won’t play in a starting role. In the A’s Top 10 List this spring, Chris Crawford wrote that there is “a chance Nunez ends up a starting third baseman who can hit .260 with 25-plus homers,” and that still holds. But after a middling year in Triple-A, it looks less likely that he’ll reach that ceiling. He may be just 22-years-old, but his approach hasn’t improved much, and at the very least, he’ll need more minor league seasoning next season. With Ryon Healy and Matt Chapman lurking, Nunez could get buried in this system soon. —Brendan Gawlowski
Fantasy: Renato Nunez has bashed 23 homers in Triple-A this year, but he only hit .228 with a .278 OBP. His fantasy value is inherently limited—even more than his new Athletics’ teammate Khris Davis, who is the epitome of the low-average, low-OBP, high-power hitter—but there’s normally a spot on the ol’ fantasy squad for a 20-plus-homer bat. The problem is that Nunez doesn’t project to get everyday at-bats this month. Ryon Healy is hitting .289/.318/.481 with eight homers, and at just 24 years old, he’ll continue to get a look with an eye toward next season.
Nunez is a name to watch for the 2017 season, as he has the power potential to be fantasy relevant. But he figures to have a steep learning curve and won’t get enough playing time to matter in the final few weeks of the fantasy season. Now is not the time to pull the trigger. —J.P. Breen
Scouting: Scouts are generally skeptical when a player produces big numbers in a great hitters park. Such was the case for Olson, a first-round pick who drew mixed reviews even after posting a .260/.404/.543 line in the California League as a 20-year-old in 2014. While some saw a future above-average regular, evaluators were split on whether Olson would hit enough to tap into his above average raw power, or if his stiff, mechanical swing would limit the utility of his on-base skills.
Unfortunately for Olson and the A’s, the latter looks much more likely going forward. He’s passive at the plate, which puts him in a lot of deep counts, and consequently he’s struck out more than once per game at both levels of the upper minors. He doesn’t have the bat speed to catch up to elite velocity, and he has a reputation for being more of a mistake hitter than a real bopper when he does connect. Defensively, he can fake it in a corner, but his best position is at first base, and a cavernous home park won’t mask his shortcomings in the outfield. He can still run into one occasionally, and he may get on base enough to hold a big league job for a while, but Olson looks like a tweener. —Brendan Gawlowski
Fantasy: With the Athletics having checked out for the 2016 season over a month ago, and rumors swirling of an impending Danny Valencia release (despite a .295 TAv that held serve with his 2015 performance), Olson could find himself getting a decent amount of playing time down the stretch in Oakland. Unfortunately the previous statement is not nearly as exciting as some thought it would be when he impressed in the California League as a 20-year-old. After all, a .757 OPS in the PCL doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.
Olson is really a two-and-a-half category player, and none of them are particularly impactful. If you squint, he could be a 20-homer guy over a full season and if you really squint, that could come with 75 or so RBI. He gets on base enough to be a reasonable contributor in runs scored, even though he’s not a fast human, but if you’re in a batting average league, shield your eyes. Oh also, this package is likely to come only with first base eligibility, despite the fact that he’s lumbered around in the outfield around two-thirds of his time in the minors over the last two years. Get psyched. —Bret Sayre
Scouting: Vogelbach can really hit, and after belting 23 homers and slugging over .500 in his first spin through Triple-A, it’s looking increasingly likely that he’ll bring his plus raw power into games as a big leaguer. At the plate, he loads his hands deep but gets set early, starting low and using an efficient uphill bat path to drive the ball to all fields. He’s very strong, and is capable of keeping his hands back on an offspeed pitch if his weight starts to drift forward. His swing covers the entire plate and he has power to all fields. He’s also a heady player and a hustler: more than once, I’ve seen him take an extra base on a sleeping outfielder.
Vogelbach won’t be a huge batting average guy. His swing plane isn’t conducive to it, and he’s not going to beat out many grounders. He should compensate by walking a ton though, thanks to a patient approach and tremendous strike zone judgement. He can be fooled by off-speed, especially a good curve, and some of the craftier arms in the PCL got him off balance occasionally. But Vogelbach also showed a knack for making in-game adjustments, and he’s more than a mistake hitter. It’s not hard to envision the hit and power tools playing above average at maturity, and he’ll chip in 2-3 walks per week as well.
Out of need, the Mariners may actually stick Vogelbach at first base a few times down the stretch. To be fair, his conditioning has improved throughout his time in the minors, and he can handle the position in a pinch. Still, he fits best long term as a designated hitter. He’s a 20 runner with limited range on grounders and pop-ups, and now that he’s with an American League club, his transition to full-time DH should begin very soon. —Brendan Gawlowski
Fantasy: “He rakes,” Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto told the Seattle Times in late July after acquiring the tailor-made designated hitter from the Cubs. “He rakes everywhere he’s ever been. He’s an elite strike-zone controller with well above-average power. He has absolutely tormented right-hand pitching, especially this year.”
The 23-year-old hit a staggering .292/.417/.505 with 50 extra-base hits (23 home runs) and a 97-to-101 BB:K ratio over 563 plate appearances between Triple-A Iowa and Tacoma this season. While the Pacific Coast League, which averaged nearly five (4.78 to be exact) runs-per-game this year, is known for grossly inflating hitter’s offensive numbers, Vogelbach’s numbers become even more impressive when they’re put in context.
There’s a legitimate case, made by BP’s advanced metrics, that he was one of the best pure hitters in the minor leagues this season. By True Average, an advanced statistic which measures total offensive value (while adjusting for park and league quality) scaled to batting average, Vogelbach’s .334 mark ranked second out of 172 Triple-A hitters with at least 400 plate appearances this season.
The rare prospect who personifies the expression “better fantasy than real-life asset,” Vogelbach, at a bare minimum profiles as an elite righty-masher, capable of holding down the strong side of the designated hitter platoon role in Seattle for the next few years. It’s an exciting profile fantasy-wise. If he continues to mash at the major-league level, he has the potential to become the West Coast version of David Ortiz as a DH-only power bat. There, I said it.* —George Bissell
*This opinion belongs to George Bissell alone. Maybe to Wilson Karaman and Bret Sayre too, but that’s it. Not anyone else.
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