We dropped our Top 100 Prospect rankings for dynasty last week, which combined lists from 11 different staffers. In general, I was higher on the teenage bats without long track records, and I was lower on pitchers. That’s not a big surprise as I typically favor hitters over pitchers in dynasty formats, but there were still plenty of names I didn’t expect to be leading the charge on. Am I just drinking the Kool-Aid?
Here are the players I differed on the most:
Prospects I’m higher on
Jeter Downs, SS, Boston Red Sox
My rank 31/ Staff rank 55
The Jeter Downs hype train has been in full effect all winter and that was before his recent move to the Red Sox. I wrote up the toolsy infielder for the staff’s prospect mock draft back in November, highlighting that Downs mashed at two levels last year and seemed to get stronger against tougher competition. His stat line looks very similar to what Gavin Lux did at the same levels the year prior. According to RotoWire’s minor league battle ball data, Downs’ hard-hit rate also ranked in the top 10 of all players with at least 500 plate appearances (Single-A level or above). And he didn’t have the AAA fun ball, either. The move to the Red Sox is just the icing on the cake, as he’s not uber blocked anymore and is a prime candidate to eventually fill the 2B job in Boston.
Noelvi Marte, SS, Seattle Mariners
My rank 36/ Staff rank 68
The dynasty game is changing. Teenage prospects are now common in top-100 lists and can even crack the top 10 without playing an inning of pro ball. So I don’t think it’s too crazy to be high on Noelvi Marte, who at 17 years old raked in the Dominican Summer League (DSL) with a .309/.371/.511 slash line. Stats in the DSL can be deceiving, yes, but I feel comfortable projecting Marte because the supporting evidence (scouting reports, international pedigree, physical makeup, etc.) is all pointing up with him. Sure, there will be some busts with young international prospects (Kevin Maitán, anyone?), so I understand wanting to take a cautious approach with them. But I also don’t want the fear of being wrong to get in the way of ranking the top talents accordingly. As such, I really think Marte belongs in the top 50.
Orelvis Martinez, 3B/SS, Toronto Blue Jays
My rank 49 / Staff rank 81
Pretty much everything I wrote about Marte applies here as well. I suppose there is a trend developing? Anyway, I’m all in on Orelvis Martinez, who at just 17 years old has already drawn comps to Adrian Beltre for his approach at the plate. He flourished in the Gulf Coast League (GCL) last year with a .901 OPS and .549 slug. It’s not like he’s had years to hone his hitting approach, either. This was his pro debut. He skipped the DSL entirely, which is pretty rare for an international prospect of his age. There isn’t much more to say other than Martinez is an offensive stud whose fantasy value is only going up.
Khalil Lee, OF, Kansas City Royals
My rank 81/ Staff rank 129
I don’t know why everybody is giving up on Khalil Lee. I mean, he broke his hand playing winter ball in Puerto Rico, yes. But he’s coming off a solid season that saw him set a career-high 53 SBs. If this was a real-life prospect list, I can understand ignoring him. He strikes out too much, he’s not a big guy at all, etc. But this is a fantasy list and any player with 15 HR-30 SB potential with a history of walking at greater than a 10% clip has to receive some love in my book (he appeared on only 2 of the staff’s 11 ballots). He’s also just 21 years old and is close to reaching the majors having finished a full year at AA. It’s a shame he broke his hand, because that probably pushes his arrival date back a bit. But with the Royals set to give playing time to guys like Ryan O’Hearn and Nicky Lopez, it won’t be long before they look to Lee to add a spark to that offense.
Prospects I’m lower on
Casey Mize, SP, Detroit Tigers
My rank 29/ Staff rank 11
I don’t doubt Mize’s skills on the mound. His splitter is absolutely filthy, and it should be an out pitch for him in the majors. But I’m worried about him actually staying on the mound. He had a flexor strain in college that forced him to miss time and then last year he sat out with shoulder soreness. Perhaps it’s an overreaction, but the accumulation of his injuries scares the crap out of me. I could see Mize posting one or two good years in the majors, but I’m skeptical he’s going to hold up over the long term. And hey, I still have him in my top 30 so it’s not like I’m totally out on him. If the health issues are indeed overblown, he should be a solid starter for years to come. Don’t hate me.
Brendan Rodgers, SS, Colorado Rockies
My rank 70/ Staff rank 35
Finally a shortstop I’m lower on! There’s an argument to be made the Brendan Rodgers hate has gone too far. His fantasy stock has already dropped a bit over the last year, but I’m still iffy about his future. For one thing, he’s coming off a torn labrum surgery and we don’t even know if he will be the same hitter when he gets back. Secondly, his bat has always been solid, but I don’t get a star vibe from him. Lastly, I still don’t know where he fits in the Rockies’ future plans. It’s probably unfair to ding him for that, but he didn’t exactly impress in his cup of coffee last year with a .224 avg. and 33.3 K% in 81 PAs. For someone so close to the majors there are still a bunch of question marks.
Nolan Gorman, 3B, St. Louis Cardinals
My rank 68/ Staff rank 39
I tend to downgrade prospects with Nolan Gorman’s profile, so it’s not surprising I was the lowest on him. And I’m a Cardinals’ fan! I just think unless his power is so prodigious that it gives Joey Gallo a run for his money, he’s basically a 3-category player in fantasy who is not all that unique in today’s game. For dynasty, you can also find other prospects to invest in who are similar and cost way, way less (Mason Martin and Bryce Ball come to mind) because they don’t come with a first-round draft pedigree. I do hope I’m wrong and he’s hitting 40 bombs with a decent average in St. Louis in the near future. But he’s not a top-50 prospect for me.
Matthew Liberatore, SP, St. Louis Cardinals
My rank 97/ Staff rank 63
Another Cardinals’ prospect I’m lower on. What is happening here? OK, I know what’s happening here. Liberatore fell into the glob for me. Normally we hear about the glob when it comes to ranking MLB pitchers for fantasy, but the same thing happens when ranking prospect arms who are very evenly rated and don’t have enough of a track record yet to set them apart from one another. I actually like Liberatore’s stuff and his standout curveball, but there are just other pitchers I value more. And it’s not like he was dominant in Low-A last year. The 3.10 ERA is nice, but he had a 9.3 BB% and a 13.5 K-BB% overall, which is just OK for the level. He’s a fringe top-100 guy for me.
Photo by Joshua Sarner/Icon Sportswire. Feature Graphic Designed by James Peterson (Follow @jhp_design714 on Instagram & Twitter).
You’re way off on Khalil Lee. I’ve seen him person. He strikes out way too much. Can’t get on base, makes weak contact, soft groundballs and lazy flyballs. And that was in in Double-A ball. He’s got Billy Hamilton disease by the time he reaches the majors. What’s that you say? You can’t steal first base.