Bret Sayre and Ben Carsley gave you their top 100 dynasty prospects a couple weeks ago and Carsley dropped 112 more names on you last week. As is my wont, I’m wading into still deeper waters to cover five guys that missed those lists. Applicability depends on league size, of course, but there should be a little something for everyone here, including re-drafters.
Eliezer Alvarez, 2B, St. Louis Cardinals
If there’s one thing this dynasty drafting season has taught me, it’s that I’m higher on Alvarez than all of my league mates. Alvarez has received nary a comment on these digital pages and nothing more than a Lineout in an Annual, so needless to say his profile is relatively low. For good reason, too; it took Alvarez two seasons to get out of the GCL after coming stateside, then another in the Appy before finally graduating to full-season ball in 2016. He raked in the Midwest League when he finally arrived though, hitting .323/.404/.476 and stealing a league-leading 36 bases. As a result of his elongated short-season development, you’d be right to have some age-at-level skepticism. I trust the foundational tools and the organization’s ability to get the most out of them. Alvarez doesn’t have the straight line speed to repeat 2016’s raw stolen base total as he climbs the ladder, but I do think he’ll continue to hit because of a short, quick stroke and ability to spray the ball all over the place. For fantasy, you’re hoping that hit tool combined with enough plate discipline and speed leads to a leadoff role, because the power isn’t likely to meet the standard of today’s keystoners. Second base prospects are inherently boring, but if you’re still making excuses for, say, Forrest Wall, it’s time for some new blood on your depth chart.
Demi Orimoloye, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
Give me all the dudes that look like they could be playing strong safety for a Division I college football program just as easily as they could be playing minor league baseball. That’s especially true when there are legitimate first round tools behind the physique. Orimoloye’s .205/.293/.324 certainly looks pedestrian, but that slugging percentage obscures the plus raw power his physicality and bat speed produce. To get to it, he’ll have to make significant progress at the plate. It may come with continued mechanical tweaks, it may come with more reps, or it may not come at all. That he shaved his K/BB ratio from 13.0 in his draft year to 2.5 in 2016 is a positive sign. Orimoloye will also need to learn to go the other way; his spray chart shows that nearly all his damage came to the pull side. Adding to his fantasy appeal are the 37 bags he’s swiped in 94 professional games. There’s a pretty good chance that Orimoloye does not become the first African-born player to reach the majors, much less a fantasy asset. On the other hand, this kind of raw material doesn’t come around very often, and if it clicks, you have a difference maker on your hands.
Crisitian Pache, OF, Atlanta Braves
If you like to dabble in the teenagers-who-haven’t-played-full-season-ball market, I submit Cristian Pache for your consideration. (Truthfully, I prefer Jesus Sanchez but my research indicates that the Rays are not in the National League.) A big ticket signing on the 2015 international market, Pache has a chance for three-category impact, with power the lone shortcoming in his fantasy game. The Braves skipped the 17-year-old Pache right past the Dominican Summer League in 2016, and he rewarded their aggressiveness with a .309/.349/.391 triple-slash across stints in the GCL and Appy. He was the youngest player in the latter. That he only struck out 24 times in 236 plate appearances at that age tells you that Pache has remarkable bat-to-ball skill. Most of his value will come on the bases though, where he should be able to utilize double-plus speed to contribute plenty of fantasy’s scarcest commodity. There’s some better-in-real-life inflation risk in his profile because of his ability to play up-the-middle defense, but Pache makes for a fine speculative add before he becomes a household name.
Sal Romano, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
If you’re a regular reader and listener to our fantasy team, you’ve heard us repeat ad nauseam the mantra that you should pay little attention to Spring Training stats. While it’s true that spring performance should not fundamentally change what you think about a player, it can help you figure out who is seizing opportunity on the margins of a 25-man roster. There is latent value in some of these roster spots, especially on rebuilders for whom meaningful playing time is up for grabs. With that as context, consider that Romano has allowed just two earned runs in 15.1 innings, striking out 19 batters, allowing less than one baserunner per inning, and garnering praise from his manager and pitching coach. There might be worse starting units in 2017, but none is as high variance as the Reds, who currently project to open the year with Brandon Finnegan, Amir Garrett, Cody Reed, and Robert Stephenson in the rotation. Along with a handful of disinteresting veterans, Romano is in the mix thanks to his impressive March. Even if he doesn’t earn a job right away, the volatility of that staff all but ensures he’ll get a chance to start at some point in 2017. Sure, the big fastball, lack of a consistent offspeed pitch, and spotty command history might result in the eventual bullpen conversion that has been part of his projected path for some time. In the meantime, you should jump at the chance to get some near-term innings that come with long-term upside.
Cole Tucker, SS, Pittsburgh Pirates
A first-round pick in 2014, Tucker’s stock is at a low point following late-2015 surgery to repair a torn labrum and an unproductive 2016 season in High-A. Tucker slashed .238/.312/.301 in 304 plate appearances after returning last May and, perhaps more importantly for his fantasy future, only swiped five bases after stealing 25 in 73 games the previous year. There’s still plenty of upside to dream on though, in part because of a body that has room for physical projection and in part because Tucker is still just 20 years old, with limited reps as a professional. He needs to show progress with the bat in his second go at the Florida State League to stay relevant in our game. The switch-hitting Tucker was particularly poor against southpaws in 2016, going 10-for-60 with one extra base hit. The bar will be lower if he can stay at the six spot, where speed and hit would play even if the power never comes. Assuming his arm strength continues to show no ill effects from the shoulder surgery, he has a decent chance to stick despite his height. Tucker is a low-reward investment – a borderline first-division regular even if everything breaks just right – but one who should come at a negligible price given his recent history.
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good list of prospects. thanks.