Under-the-radar players are vital to your dynasty teams; guys such as Bryan Reynolds, John Means, and Hunter Dozier are among the many players who started the season unheralded and have made a big fantasy impact. With some trades including prospects happening this past week, this week’s edition of the minor league sleeper team of the week will focus on the players moved so far this trade season and figuring out their worth in dynasty leagues.
Current Level: Triple-A
A 2016 first-round pick, Anthony Kay underwent Tommy John surgery following his 2016 senior year and didn’t make his debut until the 2018 season. He was fine but unspectacular a season ago but garnered big-time prospect hype again by lighting up Double-A to start 2019. In 66.1 innings, Kay managed a 1.49 ERA with a 0.92 WHIP and a 70:23 K/BB ratio.
He’s struggled since being called up to Triple-A, but it’s not too much of a worry with a bit of it being regression from his insane Double-A run combined with struggles jumping up a level so quickly into his professional career. His repertoire isn’t one that screams ace potential as much as it does No. 5 or long relief floor, with more of a mid-rotation ceiling. Kay has average velocity with a really good changeup, and there’s a bit of concern to me that he profiles as somebody that could surrender a lot of home runs.
Honestly, the profile is very similar to a Means, Jeremy Hellickson, or Trevor Richards type of a pitcher, with slightly better control. I’m not super high on Kay compared with where some people have him, but there are reasons to be optimistic about his future.
Simeon Woods-Richardson, SP, Toronto Blue Jays, Age: 18
Current Level: A-Ball
In my opinion, Simeon Woods-Richardson, and not Kay, is the best prospect the Blue Jays received for Marcus Stroman. A second-round pick out of high school in 2018, after dominating Rookie-Ball in his debut 2018 season, Woods-Richardson has spent the entire 2019 season in A-Ball, where on average he is 3.8 years younger than his competition at just 18 years old.
The results have been encouraging; the 4.25 ERA is unspectacular and 78.1 innings in 20 starts show how slowly the Mets had been taking his workload development, but looking deeper, he’s been incredible. His 97:17 K/BB ratio has shown far better control than what was expected out of Woods-Richardson when he was drafted. His fastball currently sits at about 93 on average, with a changeup and curveball that need work but show the potential to be plus pitches.
Woods-Richardson has legitimate top-of-the-rotation upside, and with how good he’s performing at such a young age, I’m looking to buy in any dynasties I can.
Lewin Diaz, 1B, Miami Marlins, Age: 22
Current Level: Double-A
Lewin Diaz is a very interesting prospect. His frame of 6’4” and 225 pounds and 60-grade power profile him as a power hitter, but outside of a solid 2016 in Rookie ball, Diaz had never really shown it. In 2018, Diaz entered the season a top 10-ish prospect for the Twins but completely fell from prospect charts after his 2018 debut in High-A in which he had a .588 OPS and a 10:56 BB/K ratio in 78 games before his season ended because of a thumb injury. It’s hard to know what he changed, but he has completely turned things around in 2019. In 57 High-A games this season, his .243 ISO and .866 OPS with 13 homers got him a call-up to Double-A.
The Double-A results have been even better with a .928 OPS and six home runs in 138 plate appearances. His plate approach still leaves a lot to be desired, with a 22:63 BB/K ratio across both levels in 372 plate appearances, but the power upside is very clear for the 22-year-old. His glove is what some consider to be his best trait, which doesn’t matter a ton for fantasy purposes but could give the Marlins reason to give him a chance starting at first base in 2020.
Another reason to consider Diaz a likely candidate to start at first base as soon as next year is the fact he’s Rule 5 eligible this offseason, meaning the Marlins will be forced to add him to their 40-man roster.
Current Level: A-Ball
A 16th-round pick in 2018, Ruben Cardenas has showed power potential that was not expected when he was drafted. A bit of his production stems from being a fairly polished hitter at the time he was drafted, but Cardenas’ 10 home runs in 354 plate appearances in 2019 nearly match the 12 he had in 489 college plate appearances.
He’s hit pretty well in his professional career so far and there have been some changes in his batted-ball profile that explain the increased power, but Cardenas needs to keep up this production against older competition for him to be worth legitimately looking at.
Current Level: Double-A
After playing baseball professionally in Cuba from 2012-2015 and then taking a two-year hiatus from the sport, Dairon Blanco was signed by the Oakland Athletics. In 2018, Blanco spent the full season in High-A and the numbers were fine, but this year, he’s been better in Double-A.
His calling card for fantasy is his speed; scouts consider him to be one of the fastest players in the minor leagues. Blanco has 49 steals in 160 minor league games over the past two seasons. Blanco combines that electric speed with average power and below average plate discipline, but his quality of contact is very good. He’s a more interesting prospect than I realized, and despite being so old for his level, there’s some appeal here.
He’s worth adding in leagues with minor league spots where your team is competitive but may need steals down the stretch of the season, as it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see him on the major league club by the end of the season.
Current Level: Rookie-Ball
Ismael Aquino is intriguing but super far away from being anything close to a bankable asset. He combines a hard fastball that will get up to 97 with a good changeup but has very bad control. As a 20-year-old in Rookie ball, his numbers have been forgettable, and he will need to show increased control along with better strikeout numbers to be a stash in the average dynasty league.
2018 fifth–round pick Chris Vallimont was sent with Sergio Romo to Minnesota for Diaz. Vallimont has put up really good numbers in his first full professional season, across A-Ball and High-A. Vallimont has a 3.16 ERA with a 1.10 WHIP, and a 122:37 K/BB ratio in 105.1 innings. Vallimont has a really good fastball that has been clocked as high as 98 but normally sits in the 92-96 range. Vallimont also features a slider that has huge movement that has been his strikeout pitch, along with a changeup and curveball that need work but have shown upside to being plus pitches.
Personally, I believe the Twins acquired the best prospect in this deal in addition to landing Romo, as Vallimont has shown a lot of upside in his first full season and has a deep repertoire that could get better as he progresses through the minors.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@FreshMeatComm on Twitter)