Most of my articles focus on trying to strike it big on relatively unknown minor leaguers who are flashing big ceilings. I find it exciting to pick someone like Akil Baddoo and hope he turns into an elite prospect. But even within the consensus top 100 prospects, there are players who aren’t properly valued or at the very least, still can climb even higher.
Here’s a few of those guys that you should poke around your league and see if a manager is valuing them less than they should be. If they value someone less than you, now might be the time to strike before top 100 lists come out in a few months.
Juan Soto, OF (WAS)
Soto is a guy who has only 330 career plate appearances between rookie ball and A-ball in the last two years. In 2017, he played just 32 games thanks to an ankle fracture and later a hamate injury. Despite this, he’s a top 50 dude in multiple sites because of his great approach at the plate and raw power from the left side. In 123 plate appearances Soto struck out just nine times. He has the pop and hit tool to be a consistent .280, 25-to-30 HR hitter. Oh, and he just turned 19 in October.
Soto’s injury marred 2017 prevents him from making a big jump in any prospect lists. But if he played out the entire season at a similar pace to what he showed in his 123 plate appearances, I’ve no doubt he’d be a top 20 prospect, pushing into top 15 territory. As it stands, he’s hovering in the 40s. Approach his owner and see if you can pry him away.
Taylor Trammell, OF (CIN)
The 35th overall pick in the 2016 draft, Trammell leaves a trail of tools everywhere he goes. He’s got 70-grade speed (41 SB in single-A), a strong eye at the plate (12.4 BB%), and even brings pop to the table (13 HR, .169 ISO). His profile looks strikingly similar to that of Starling Marte’s, albeit with a worse hit tool.
The former football player should begin next season at High-A with a chance to finish at Double-A. His ranking has been all over the place recently. In midseason, he was an honorable mention on our top 100. In an August update on Fangraphs he was 74th. To their credit, Razzball ranked Trammell 16th in mid-October. I think that’s pretty high for what he’s done thus far, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if performs well enough in 2018 to easily merit that spot. If the Soto owner isn’t budging, then Trammell is a great consolation.
Estevan Florial, OF (NYY)
If you haven’t figured it out by now, my fetish is outfielders with high OBPs. Florial was one of the breakout guys I wrote about in early June and so far he’s made me look good. I don’t think there’s any question he’s a top 100 guy now and should appear on the backend of all lists in spring. He has an All-Star caliber ceiling and can be someone who could routinely hit .275/.360/.480 with 30 HR and 15 SB. That’s an OF1, folks. His strikeouts are still a red flag, but I think he can overcome them or at worst, perform well in spite of them. A 30 K% isn’t the end of the world anymore.
Time is running out to buy on Florial. Savvy owners will ignore your attempts to downplay him with his strikeouts, but it’s certainly something you could try. His ascent through the minors could be rocky, but I don’t think there’s any question he’s a major leaguer, so your investment shouldn’t go to waste.
Luiz Gohara, SP (ATL)
Since PITCHf/x began recording data in 2007, Luiz Gohara had the sixth-fastest fourseamer of any pitcher at 96.92 mph. Not just lefties, but all pitchers. The C.C. Sabathia-bodied Brazilian also has a wipeout slider with two-plane action giving him two swing-and-miss pitches at the moment. His command lags and because his changeup is fringy, some believe he could end up in the bullpen. I think given that he’s been a starter his entire career with both the Mariners and Braves, and that Atlanta broke him in as a starter, there’s no reason to worry about him becoming a reliever.
I’m cherry picking, but if you remove his 4IP, 6 ER debut, he finished his final four starts with a 3.55 ERA (2.17 FIP), 25 Ks and just four walks in 25.1 IP. Whether or not he breaks camp remains to be seen, but he should be a decent contributor in 2018. Gohara has the ability to be a #3 SP as soon as next year. If you’re looking for someone who could make a big value jump at the major league level, this is it.
Triston McKenzie, SP (CLE)
The one thing we always hear about McKenzie is that he’s skinny as heck (listed at 6 foot 5 and just 165 pounds) and that he’s going to fill out. Well, damn, if we’re still waiting for the best part to come we should be buying in right now, right? McKenzie just wrapped up his High-A season where he was 19 for most of the year. All he did was punch out 186 batters in 143 IP and finish with a 3.46 ERA. He’s dominated at every level, has three future plus pitches (fastball, curve, change) and is flashing command of them.
But whenever the conversation turns to the best starting pitchers in the minors, I don’t really see McKenzie’s name get mentioned. If this is someone who’s supposed to put on more weight (and therefore throw harder), then we’re looking at a monster in the making. There are three or four pitchers I prefer over him. He might be the hardest to pry away from this list because he hasn’t hit any roadblocks and has been on radars for a while, but it’s worth paying the premium because I think he can climb higher.
Luis Robert, OF (CHW)
If you were nervous about trading for Soto after he missed so much time, you may want to avoid this next one. Luis Robert played just 28 games for the White Sox in rookie ball after suffering separate meniscus and ankle injuries in his debut year. But the elite Cuban prospect has tools to dream on. He signed with the team in May and in 114 plate appearances slashed .310/.491/.536 with 12 steals and 3 HR. I think there’s easy 20/20 ability here and he’d have been the top pick of the 2017 MLB draft if he were eligible.
I think of all the names here, Robert should prove the easiest to land. There’s very little information on him, he’s still about three years away and he’s yet to come stateside. Of course, all this makes him the riskiest of the bunch, but already sitting inside some top 100s, his talent is undeniable.
Which of these prospects would you most likely trade for?
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