Today I am starting a series of articles I'm going to be writing comparing two up-and-coming prospects and what impact they could have at the major league level. I am going to give a brief report on each prospect and then sum up their fantasy impact in a third paragraph. I have a few more comparisons in mind, but if there are any you all would like to see reviewed and compared, I'd be happy to do so. I'm going to start with two of my favorite prospects in the minors (I happen to have both in a 20-team dynasty league), who are not at all similar but do a good job of illustrating the difficult choice fantasy managers have when choosing between prospects. Our inaugural prospect comparison begins with Wil Myers vs Anthony Gose:
Wil Myers - RF - Royals - Myers is the complete package offensively. He provides excellent batspeed, barrels the ball consistently and sprays linedrives all over the field. Drafted 91st overall as a catcher in the 2009 draft, Myers signed for a well above slot $2 million. Myers was converted from catcher to right field ahead of the 2011 season, and adapted well. He was a well-above average athlete for a catcher, and though he can use some seasoning in right field, he has been adequate at worst since the switch. 2011 was a disappointing year for Myers, posting .254/.353/.393 as a 20-year old in Double-A. Not a bad line at all for a 20-year old in Double-A, but certainly more was expected after he tore up Lo- and Hi-A in 2010. Myers played hurt for much of 2011, affecting his numbers drastically. He saw his OPS drop from 934 to 745, but by all accounts showed up healthy to the Arizona Fall League, and produced a stellar 1155 OPS there. Currently, Myers has a swing geared towards line drives, but given time I think he will learn when he can turn on balls and hit for a little more power than he's currently shown. He has very quick wrists giving him plus raw power, though he hasn't been able to translate it into games at all times. While his Double-A numbers might leave one wondering why Myers is a top prospect, he is a darling of the scouting community and with good reason. I am not one who likes to fall back on "young for his level" -type comments, but it holds true in this situation, and he played much of 2011 injured. Myers showed what he could do when healthy in the AFL, and will likely begin 2012 at Triple-A with a solid chance of reaching the Majors in the latter half of 2012, though I wouldn't expect any real production until 2013.
Anthony Gose - CF - Blue Jays - Gose sports three plus to plus-plus tools in his arm (up to 97 MPH as a pitcher), defense in centerfield and his speed. Drafted in 2008 (though only three months older than Myers) Gose had been coveted by Toronto in Roy Halladay talks. While they were unable to acquire him then, they got their man by flipping Bret Wallace to Houston after Gose had been sent there in the Roy Oswalt trade. Gose has been a toolsy prospect that scouts have loved for quite a while, but I was not on board until after the 2011 season. What changed? He learned to control the strike zone a bit better, generating a 10.6% walk rate (a career-high excepting a 27 game cameo at Hi-A in 2010). Gose also swatted a career-high 16 home runs in 2011, almost doubling the total from his first three seasons combined. These developments have me hopping aboard the Anthony Gose bandwagon, and in a hurry too.* One area that Gose needs no development in is on the basepaths. He swiped 70 bases in 2011 at a career best 82% success rate. Gose's flaws are apparent right on the surface. Despite the improvement in his walk rate, his strikeouts are a major red flag. His strikeout percentage has never been lower than 19% in his career, and was an unsightly 26.2% in 2011, leading to an unsatisfactory .253 batting average. While Gose may never be an above-average hitter in terms of average, but if he can get enough walks, he will be extremely valuable on the basepaths. I wouldn't expect Gose to reach the majors before around May 2013, and despite his deficiencies, he has a chance to be an true impact fantasy player due to his superb speed and emerging secondary skills.
* I recently traded Brett Jackson and Nate Eovaldi for Gose in a 20 team dynasty league. That is how much I believe in his recent progress.
When comparing the scouting reports between these two, one could easily draw the conclusion that Myers is the better prospect. They certainly wouldn't be wrong at this juncture. Myers certainly has the higher floor, and I would expect him to be the better player over the long term. However (and you knew there would be one, didn't you?), I do think that if he continues to develop, Gose could put together a season similar to the one Jacoby Ellsbury had in 2011. Ellsbury never stole 50 bases in the minors or hit more than 7 home runs, so I wouldn't rule out the possibility. If Gose can tap into his potential, he could post the type of season that will win you to a title almost single-handedly. Myers is the safer option, and will be a core piece of a winning team while Gose is the lottery ticket that could carry you to victory.