In dynasty leagues, the quest to find the next big superstar is never ending. You want to be the manager to brag about picking up the next generational talent, and slowly watch him grow on your team, climbing prospect rankings month by month, all while dreaming of the day he joins your big-league roster.
The five players on this list are tearing up the minor leagues and are all worth a pick up to see if they’re for real. We’re still at a sample size of roughly 180-200 AB for the batters and 40-50 IP for the pitchers on the list. There’s a very real chance these are just strong starts to the season, but when players are posting these numbers, we have to pay attention.
Finally, this list is aimed for managers in deep dynasty leagues. I’m assuming more than 175 prospects rostered. Ultimately, only you know your league, but you should do a litmus test first. Pick out a top 100 prospect list and peruse it. If many players are available from the list, chances are you might be able to wait on some of these players. If players like Ronald Acuna and Juan Soto are still available, consider this post as more of a watch list than a call to action. Oh, and go and pick those two up immediately.
Scott Kingery, 2B (PHI-AA)
Entering 2017, everyone knew more or less what to expect from Kingery. A 70-grade runner with no power who’s strong defense would cement him at the position for a while. And then he hit home runs. Lots of them. So much so, the 23 year old, with supposed 30 in-game power, is leading all of minor league baseball with 17 HR and is tops in AA with a 189 wRC+. The best part? He hasn’t sacrificed speed, swiping 13 bags.
“But he plays at Reading, one of the biggest launchpads in all of the minors!” you say. True, but check out the righty’s splits.
|AB: 98||AB: 105|
|HR: 9||HR: 8|
|SB: 6||SB: 7|
|AVG: .306||AVG: .324|
|OBP: .382||OBP: .405|
|SLG: 673||SLG: .657|
Despite his incredible numbers, scouts maintain that he’s still the same player. But as a fantasy manager, you need to pick him up to see if this power sticks. You don’t enter 2017 with eight career home runs in 197 professional games and then hit 17 in 50 games without changing something.
He’s blocked by Cesar Hernandez on the MLB roster right now, but word is the Phillies may want to try him at different positions to see if he can squeeze his way onto the field at some point down the line (most likely late 2018). If you make one batter pick up from this list, Kingery is your guy.
Mitchell White, RHP (LAD-A+)
The Dodgers drafted White in the second round of last year’s draft as a 21 year old who showed promise with a fastball sitting 91-93, a cutter to deal with lefties that sat 86-88 and a 12-6 curveball that graded as average. Then we entered spring. At this risk of letting ESPN prospect analysis Keith Law write this blurb, here’s what he saw:
“White threw two innings in the Dodgers’ first Double-A game of the spring on Monday and was 95-97 with above-average fastball life and a plus slider at 88-90 mph. The slider has hard, big downward break, and he also shows a true curveball at 81-83 that has some power to it, although I think the slider is the better pitch. He has workhorse size at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, with some evident athleticism and a very easy, repeatable arm action, one that has him on line to the plate and showing some fastball command already.”
There is some debate about whether his cutter is really a slider and vice versa. Point is, he has a weapon to remove the platoon advantage, a rare thing for someone in A ball. He’s still developing a changeup, which would give him four pitches, another rarity.
The Dodgers are being careful with him, hence only 38.2 innings. But in nine starts he has an 11.41 K/9 (30.8 K%), 3.72 BB/9 (10.1 BB%), and a 3.72 ERA (2.73 FIP). He’s generating groundballs at a 60% clip too. How many MLB pitchers have at least a 25% K rate and a groundball rate of more than 60%? Three — Alex Wood, Lance McCullers and Trevor Cahill(!).
Baseball Prospectus prospect evaluator Wilson Karaman has seen White several times and has said the righty cracks an updated top 100 list for him. Keith Law thinks White has a real chance of being a top 50 prospect right now. Both believe him to have a 60 overall ceiling, which would make him an upper-tier No.3. Get in on the ground floor now and enjoy what could be the next big pitching prospect.
Jon Duplantier, RHP (ARI-A)
Duplantier did not rate very highly on pre-season lists (#11 DBacks prospect in Fangraphs, #10 in BP’s Dbacks list) for one major reason: injury history. He suffered a shoulder injury in Rice, a program with a negative reputation for overusing pitchers, and that’s scared some evaluators.
But in 2017, Duplantier has done everything in his power to dispel the doubts. The 22 year old leads all the minors with a 0.50 ERA in 54.1 IP. Of course, he’s not that good, but he owns a 2.33 FIP, so it’s not pure luck. My favorite thing is his 10.27 K/9 (31.5 K%) and 1.82 BB/9 (5.6 BB%). His fastball tops out at 96 mph (but sits 91-94) and is considered plus thanks to some late life. He pairs the fastball with a slider and a change, both average and below-average pitches at the moment, but thanks to his sparkling command he’s been able to get away with it.
Just like White, he has a good body at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds that bodes well for his durability. Right now he’s seen as a No.4/No.5 SP and while his ceiling isn’t as high as White’s, he’s worth a pick up to see how he progresses. If any of his secondary pitches take another step forward, he may then be upgraded to a No.3/No.4.
Ryan Mountcastle, SS (BAL-A+)
One of the youngest regulars in the Carolina league, the 20-year-old Mountcastle is on here because of his power output. More specifically, the improvement he’s shown. With 11 HR so far, he’s exceeded his 2016 total in 69 fewer games. Sporting a .324/.351/.571 line, he’s finally combined his bat-to-ball skills he was drafted for with some power maturation.
The biggest drawback for him is position. I know that the ‘SS’ next to his name makes you drool, but he’s widely expected to shift to the OF, most likely LF, where there’ll be a lot more pressure on his bat. But with a chance to hit for average and power (think .275, 20 HR), the Orioles (or us fantasy players) aren’t going to care much where he ends up on the field.
Estevan Florial, OF (NYY-A)
As if the Yankees aren’t flush with prospects already, here’s another one that has a very real chance of cracking a top 100 list in March 2018. The 19-year-old Florial signed for $200K in 2015 and is finally starting to show signs of a breakout. The most exciting thing about Florial is his tools. Scouts high on him think he has three — yes, three — 70-grade tools. His speed, arm and power are all pretty damn good. Those who are not as high still believe those three tools carry 60-grade ceilings.
In 50 games, he’s hit 6 HR and stolen 9 bases to go with a .280/.356/.466 line. The biggest drawback right now is his propensity to swing and miss. He’s striking out 30% of the time this year and owns a 27% mark in 784 career PA. But according to Fangraphs prospect evaluator Eric Longenhagen, it might not matter much thanks to the pop.
Florial has above-average raw power and is likely to grow into more as his body matures. His swing (which a scout compared to Gregory Polanco’s) has natural, pull-side uppercut, and the power plays in games either in the form of golfed homers down the right-field line or doubles sliced the other way. Scouts question his bat control and vulnerability against offspeed stuff away but think he’ll patiently hit for power in games even if the strikeouts are an incurable issue.
Florial is probably the least known prospect on this list. But as the months pass, and barring an unlikely collapse, you’re going to start hearing his name more and more. If you’re in a league with more than 200 prospects, you may want to make the add.
Which prospect are you most likely to pick up?
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