Over at ESPN.com (Insider), Kevin Goldstein surveyed 8 big league executives with a simple question: With no concerns about cost or contract, would you rather have Yoenis Cespedes or any of these 5 outfielders for the remainder of their career?
Now, obviously Goldstein was asking the executives about the overall value of Cespedes, while defense isn't a particular concern for our purposes. But I think it can give us some idea of around where he should be drafted for both this year and long-term. Let's take a brief look at the five players mentioned, and their numbers from last season, and from their best season thus far (along with current ADP):
Colby Rasmus (209.41)
Last (2011): .225, 14 HR, 53 RBI, 75 R, 5 SB
Best (2010): .276, 24 HR, 66 RBI, 85 R, 12 SB
Drew Stubbs (81.33)
Last (2011): .243, 15 HR, 44 RBI, 92 R, 40 SB
Best (2010): .255, 22 HR, 77 RBI, 91 R, 30 SB
B.J. Upton (67.38)
Last (2011): .243, 23 HR, 81 RBI, 82 R, 36 SB
Best (2007): .300, 24 HR, 82 RBI, 86 R, 22 SB
Chris Young (124.91)
Last (2011): .236, 20 HR, 71 RBI, 89 R, 22 SB
Best (2010): .257, 27 HR, 91 RBI, 94 R, 28 SB
Adam Jones (74.94)
Last and Best (2011): .280, 25 HR, 83 RBI, 68 R, 12 SB
For reference, Cespedes is currently posting an ADP over at MDC of 194.87, putting him behind all of them except for Rasmus. In Goldstein's article, the executives he polled would rather have Cespedes than Rasmus, Stubbs, and Upton, a push with Young, and rather have Jones. For fantasy purposes, I think I'd only rather have him over Rasmus right now, and maybe Stubbs and Upton long-term.
Overall, I think that until Cespedes signs, his ADP around 190 is probably about the right area. The risk that Cespedes will need to spend at least some portion of the season in the minors to get acclimated to the United States leads me to think that he may only be in the Majors for 3-4 months, if that. Other outfielders going between 180-200 right now include Jeff Francoeur, Carlos Lee, Juan Pierre, Martin Prado, and Josh Willingham. Amongst that group, I'd rather have 4 months of Cespedes than a full season of the rest of them.
In dynasty leagues, I would probably move him up somewhere between 40 and 50 spots as of right now, with the potential for another 10-20 spots once he signs and gets into camp at the start of Spring Training. Outfielders in the 120-140 range (about where I'd move him up to) include Nick Swisher, Young, Nick Markakis, and Andre Ethier.
In terms of scouting, it's hard to judge much from his brief performance in the Winter Leagues, as he had not played in nearly 10 months prior to the Winter Leagues. Here's a bit of what Thomas Belmont over at Baseball Instinct had to say about Cespedes as a part of his scouting report:
His one possible plus tool is going to be his power which he has to all fields. But to try and project his power in the majors is tough. He’s had 175 HR in 9 seasons worth of 2905 ABs. It’s a decent run. He clearly has power and as a CF in Cuba the power is going to be a premium for the position.
From the video and watching him in the WBC, he does keep his bat in the hitting zone for a long time and has good contact ability. He hit .333 in 2011, but don’t let that number fool you too much, it was only good for #33 in the league. He struck out just 40 times in 354 at bats in 2011 and walked 49 times. The strikeout to walk ratio is one that rings true throughout his career.
Regardless of whether he ends up in center field or left field, he looks like he has the potential to post 20-25 home runs with a solid batting average in a full season. That may not happen in 2012, but I can see 2013 being the year we see as his best.