Written by: Adam Ehrenreich
Follow us on Twitter: @Prospects365
As a means of introduction, my name is Adam Ehrenreich and I will be contributing in various ways to the up and coming blog, Prospects-365. I have been playing fantasy baseball since 1997 and have had success on many different platforms. Prospects have always been an exciting topic for me and I have gained a reputation amongst league mates for being able to jump on a player’s bandwagon before they hit the limelight and experience a high success rate. After previously writing in the realm of DFS, it’s my honor and pleasure to be able to share my insights and hopefully gear you in the right direction for success on all platforms, from dynasty to season long, wherever prospects can have a significant impact.
My first contributions to the blog will be a two-part series focusing on the system and environment that will allow prospects to prosper on their way to the show. Many times, the right system produces the best opportunity to play in the majors. Some things I look for are positional depth, historical moves of the organization, injuries and their severity, and the standings position of the major league squad. All of these factors play into the potential for a prospect to make a splash sooner than later. While these factors can translate into premature promotions, they can have fantasy impacts nonetheless. For example, one player who I will not be focusing on because he is already starting for the Chicago White Sox is Adam Engel. Here’s a player who was not a highly touted minor leaguer, and if you took a guess who would be the first prospect up for the White Sox this year, it could have ranged from Yoan Moncada to Reynaldo Lopez to Lucas Giolito and the plethora of top notch prospects roaming their minor league system. Here stands Engel, starting daily in center field primarily due to injuries. Charlie Tilson was slated to start the season in center field but a stress fracture in his foot in April, followed by a stress fracture in his ankle in June, proved to be his downfall, at least for now. Leury Garcia stepped in and was batting close to .300, but a finger injury put him on the shelf less than a month ago. In comes Engel, who was drafted in 2013 out of Louisville and batted .169 in AAA in April. But minor improvements to his swing and improved stats won him the promotion over other “fringe” type prospects. This is a classic example of a player turning system into opportunity. The White Sox are rebuilding and have nothing to lose than to see if they can catch lightning in a bottle. It happens all the time. Injuries presented the opportunity, and while it may not last long or be a success story, it’s one of the many potential routes to the majors. That is what I will focus on today.
Clear As Day:
Ozzie Albies – 2B – Braves
If there is one enigma who can dictate the game on the base paths, that would be Billy Hamilton, but Albies may find himself a close second. After starting off slowly this season, the speedy 2B has ramped it up and is now batting a cool .280 with 6 homers and 19 SBs on the AAA season. With the trade deadline looming, the next two weeks will determine whether the Braves are sellers at the deadline or if they’ll make a run at the wildcard. Either way, Albies will either be manning second base when Brandon Phillips is traded or (in a worst case scenario) a September call up, penciled in to start alongside Dansby Swanson for years to come. If he’s not owned in dynasty leagues, grab him now. If you’re in a season long, fire up that watch list; he could make a major impact in more than one category.
Willie Calhoun – 2B – Dodgers
Think about Ian Happ and the elite hitting skills. Now picture what that would look like without Happ’s K rate. While that should eventually normalize, I have a feeling we won’t have to worry about that for Calhoun at all. The Dodgers are on fire. People are calling this Dodgers team one of the best Dodgers teams ever… I’m looking at you Buster Olney. So imagine a team of that stature with a hole. That hole may very well be second base. While Logan Forsythe has recently awoken from his early season slumber and injuries, he has never been the beacon of health. If he falters again (I happen to think he won’t), or gets hurt, Chase Utley and Kike Hernandez (with the Dodgers being in the midst of attempting a World Series run) should not be the fix. Calhoun, batting .298 with 17 AAA homers, should be, and there is no better plug to an already sparking team than an in-house fix.
Amed Rosario – SS – Mets
We all know the story here and have been saying the same thing for months now. There is no way this can last much longer. The Mets have fit all the indicators that should allow Rosario to be in the majors, yet he remains stuck in AAA. If anything, this is just making the pressure on him worse, because social media can’t get enough. Hope this ends soon.
Renato Nunez – DH – A’s
The A’s have some intriguing prospects, specifically Franklin Barreto, who should be back with the major league club after the trade deadline. I happen to love power guys who mash (think along the lines of Chris Davis). I think Renato Nunez could be of that mold. Now, I’m not saying he will hit 50 dingers, but a .240 average and 35 home runs plays in most fantasy leagues. He already got a cup of coffee in the majors last year, so if Yonder Alonso is traded, that may be enough to get the PCL league leader in homers into the lineup. This is a team that should see what they have on the farm, and they’ve never shied away from it in the past.
Chance Adams – SP – Yankees
This may not be relevant soon, as the Mets injury bug has made its way to the Bronx, but for lack of better terminology, Adams has a “chance” to really lift the Yankees to unprecedented territory. Not many people expected them to be where there are today, in the hunt for a division title despite stumbling as of late. There aren’t many pitchers who fit the bill of performing on a high-level and making an impact on a playoff hunting team. The Yankees rotation is living on the breakout of Severino, the improvements of Pineda, the apparent reemergence of C.C., the surprise of Montgomery, and the ups and downs of Tanaka. There lies a spot for Adams, and if the Yankees want to pick up some wins, it would serve them right to bring him up. Teams tend to struggle versus rookies they lack experience and scouting on. Like Amir Garrett, it sometimes starts hot and ends in shambles, but Adams is thriving to the tune of a 0.98 WHIP, 2.27 ERA and 84 Ks in 82 AAA innings. He is the real deal and should be on all radars for a potential pennant-race Yankees team.
Hold Your Horses:
Scott Kingery – 2B – Phillies
This one is a little sticky. Kingery is not currently on the 40-man roster and is protected by rule-5 rights, but he is one of my favorite prospects in baseball. Earlier this season, Kingery crushed AA to the tune of a .313 AVG, 18 HRs, 44 RBIs, and 19 SBs in just over 300 ABs. In 12 AAA games, he has 4 HRs, 8 RBIs, 4 SBs, and a .306 AVG. There are no smoke and mirrors in this guy’s game and he is going to wreak havoc in fantasy for years playing in the shoebox that is Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. Cesar Hernandez’s injury should have paved the way if not for the 40-man roster hurdle, but it seems we will have to wait until next spring to bear witness.
Harrison Bader – OF – Cardinals
Bader is having a superb season, but seems to be blocked by Dexter Fowler, Stephen Piscotty, Tommy Pham and (somehow) Randal Grichuk. The Cards have shown a willingness to promote prospects, even from High-A earlier this season when Magneuris Sierra got the call, but for some reason they are hesitant to take the reins away from Bader. There have also been rumors of a trade for J.D. Martinez, Josh Donaldson, or Avisail Garcia, which shows a willingness to improve from the outside. This may open a space for Bader if a player like Grichuk is moved, but the jury is out on when he will finally get the call and how much playing time he will receive when it finally happens.
Willy Adames – SS – Rays
After starting terribly slow, the shortstop of the future in Tampa heated up in a big way en route to a .350 AVG and .999 OPS in June. For the season, he now sits at 7 HRs, 40 RBIs, and 7 SBs with a .277 AVG, all of which is accompanied with stellar defense. It appeared Adames was destined for the show merely weeks ago, but the problem is the Rays just traded for Adeiny Hechevarria from the Marlins, among the best fielding shortstops in the game. For now, Adames will bide his time in AAA.
Lewis Brinson – OF – Brewers
After a quick stint in the majors, the 5-tool Brinson finds himself mired in a waiting game. His biggest current issue is his path to big league playing time. With Ryan Braun, Keon Broxton and Domingo Santana all having good seasons and the Brewers surprising everyone sitting in first place in the NL Central at the break, there is no indication that the Brew-Crew will be selling at the deadline. For now, it seems only an injury or September roster expansion will move Brinson and his elite all-around tools back to the majors. He is a definite hold in dynasty formats, but can most likely be ignored in season longs, for now.
Individual systems have just as much to do with prospect success as talent alone. When you see top prospects traded, sometimes the system just isn’t a fit and a change of scenery can lead to an accelerated path (take Michael Fulmer for example). Sometimes a change of scenery can doom a prospect, like a Lucas Giolito type, who just hasn’t lived up to the immense hype since being traded to the White Sox (though the latest returns have been promising). You now have the framework and a handful of examples as to how a system can gear a prospect’s chances to a swift path to the majors. Hopefully this will help in constructing your dynasty team or your season long roster. Next time, I’ll discuss how the environment surrounding the major league club can make an impact in the realm of prospectus.
Thanks for following along!
Featured image courtesy of Pinstripe Prospects