Welcome! to my initial foray into prospect coverage. I've been in the peanut gallery for a long-time, watching and holding my opinions to myself, and I hope that this article is the first step in my move to the front lines of fantasy prospect coverage. My philosophy is simple: Give me something to dream on. In every dynasty league I'm apart of, there is almost no cost to keeping a minor leaguer so holding a prospect whose ceiling is a fringe starter in a 12-team league makes no sense. I want the power/speed combo players - the boom or bust types.
My first article covers some breakout prospects in 2013 who might be available in off-season drafts coming up in your dynasty leagues. These are players who were already in major league systems in 2012 but might not have been picked up in fantasy rookie drafts when these players were first available. Take a look and please leave a comment with any comments, arguments, and questions. Follow me on Twitter (@BrianCreagh) for more fantasy coverage and to ask any prospect questions.
Rosell Herrera - Colorado Rockies, SS - Herrera entered 2013 as a 20-year old repeating the Sally league, on the outside of the Rockies Top 10 list. Now he's leaving as the best prospect in the league and the third best prospect in the Colorado system (behind Dahl and Story, IMO). He's a switch hitter who has seen equal amounts of success from both sides of the plate, but I have to say I love his swing from the right-hand side specifically. Herrera has a much quieter load and a more balanced swing, which shows itself in his 18.1 K% as a lefty versus 15.7 K% as a righty. I'm not sure Herrera is a SS in the long-term; he was bumped to 3B when he and Trevor Story were both on Asheville in 2012, and he's been highly error prone when playing at short this season. Here's a video of him against the next player on our list, C.J. Edwards.
C.J. Edwards - Chicago Cubs, RHP - The secret of C.J. Edwards was let loose when he became the centerpiece in the Matt Garza deal. The 22 year old right has had an excellent start to his professional career with a 1.72 ERA and 240 K's in 183.1 IP. Edwards should see Double-A in 2014 and might not be fantasy relevant until early 2016, but the strikeout potential is very real and this guy is worth a stash. He is the best pitcher in the Cubs organization in my opinion, and he should be coming up at the same time as the Big 4 offensive weapons.
Miguel Almonte - Kansas City Royals, RHP - Almonte almost doubled his workload from 2012, and he was able to maintain the impressive numbers that put him on my radar. In 130.2 IP, Almonte struck out 132 batters vs. 36 walks while adjusting to his first full season of professional baseball. Almonte has a plus fastball and plus changeup, and if he can develop a breaking pitch, he could be a number 2 starter. The Royals have a terrible track record in developing arms, but Almonte is coming in without the hype of Montgomery, Duffy, and Hochevar and I have a feeling he will see much more success. Here is some solid video of Almonte this year in Lexington where his fastball/changeup combo looks very enticing.
Devon Travis - Detroit Tigers, 2B - Travis is a college bat from Florida State who has exceled at every level in his professional career. In 132 games across A and Hi-A Travis has slashed an impressive .351/.418/.518. He has an excellent approach with a 53/64 BB/K ratio and has developed some power this season (10 HR's in 55 G's since his promotion to Hi-A). He could move quickly through the system with an outside shot of seeing some time in Detroit at the end of 2014, but 2015 is a more likely ETA. Here's an extended video of Travis where you can get a look at his diminutive stature as well as his quick-twitch swing.
Alec Asher - Texas Rangers, RHP - A big right-hander taken in the 4th round of the 2012 draft, Alec Asher has pitched really well in his first full, professional workload. In the hitter-friendly Carolina League, Asher struck out 139 batters with a 2.90 ERA in 133.1 IP. He will be 22 next year in AA, so next season will go a long way in determining whether we see Asher in the rotation around 2015, or if he ends up as a bullpen arm. He should still come cheap in most fantasy prospect drafts, so take a shot on Asher in a later round as there is number 3 starter potential here.
Jorge Polanco - Minnesota Twins, SS - In his first jump to full-season ball as a 19-year old, Polanco has made a huge jump in 2013. Slashing .308/.362/.452 in 115 games, Polanco should develop a little more power than his 5 HRs this season indicates. He's a switch hitter with extremely quick hands, and even if the power doesn't come around he will still hold fantasy value as an average-only middle infielder hitting atop any lineup. Here is some video showing Polanco taking some hacks from both sides of the plate. I love his easy swing and quick hands.
Harold Ramirez - Pittsburgh Pirates, OF - Ramirez played the entire 2013 season as an 18-year old in Lo-A, which makes his .285/.354/.409 slash all the more impressive. Ramirez is a speed prospect who could provide a decent AVG/SB combo. Ramirez is a long ways away from realizing his full potential and his 5'11", 175 lb. frame might slow him down as he ages so there's quite a bit of risk here. Here's some video of Ramirez this summer in Jamestown
Dilson Herrera - New York Mets, 2B - This might be my favorite player on the entire list (maybe I'm biased as I just pulled his Chrome Bowman card in a recent pack). From a fantasy perspective, Herrera's future ranges from a Top 10 2B option to never cracking the big leagues. There appears to be excellent pitch recognition skills as Herrera goes deep into counts and shows the propensity to take a few pitches, but this observation doesn't mesh with his 116 K's in 116 Games this season. He has an intriguing power/speed combination, but I think the power might really take off in 2014 as he beefs up from his current 5'11", 150 pound frame. There are a ton of question marks in Herrera's game, but if it all comes together there is serious upside here. This link is to some extended footage of Herrera when he was in the Pittsburgh organization.