With 120 teams and 5,000+ players spread through four levels (not to mention the Dominican Summer League and the Rookie Complex leagues in Arizona and Florida), identifying the next prospect breakout can be difficult. If you wait until end-of-season wrap-ups, a prospect may get too much coverage and no longer be available. You can scout stat lines all year, but that can be tedious, and it’s difficult to keep an eye on every tweet and post. We may have renamed this column but fear not, intrepid dynasty league manager, this is still THE place to find your potential prospect diamonds in the rough.
For those unfamiliar, this is a weekly column where I’ll select four prospects (typically 2 hitters and 2 pitchers) who performed outstandingly in the prior week. Not only will you get a name, but also we’ll dive into what powered their results and where their future value stands. “But,” you may think to yourself, “what makes this column so different than any of the countless other blurbs, rundowns, and general prospect lists that are published?” Glad you asked!
First and foremost, this column is dedicated to the deep dynasty manager. If you’re in a 18 team league, or rostering 30+ minor leaguers, then this is your spot.
Secondly, and I don’t want to honk my horn (toot toot) but in year 1, we had a pretty solid track record of recognizing some names that have risen in value entering this season including: Kyle Manzardo, Yainer Diaz, Evan Carter, Justin Dirden, and Will Benson.
With that said, let’s get to this week’s prospects…
Player of the Week: SS Aeverson Arteaga, SFG, High A
Stats: (6 games) 8-22, 3 HR, 1 double, 9 RBI, 7 runs, 0 SBs
Arteaga jumped on radars in 2021 after putting up a 123 wRC+ in the newly formed Complex league, demonstrating some power (9 HRs, .208 ISO) along with advanced fielding prowess at shortstop. There were evident holes in his games but given his youth (18 years old as a pro), a few analysts (myself included) anticipated his performance at the next level. 2022 produced some more prospect goodness, as Arteaga sported a .270/.345/.431 in 565 plate appearances along with double digits in homers and steals. But there was still serious strikeout concerns and those concerns have mostly come to fruition this season. Arteaga was, maybe aggressively, promoted another level to High A and has seen his K rate remain above 25% while his SwStr stays around 15%. The difference between last year and this year? Better pitching means worse hitting outcomes; now at a more advanced level, Arteaga’s incredibly high BABIP has fallen well under league average, while his average plate discipline hasn’t helped his on-base numbers.
— Eugene Emeralds (@EugeneEmeralds) July 28, 2023
So why bother including him here? Because he’s still exceptionally young; he’s only logged 16 PAs vs. a pitcher younger than him and he’s shown some slightly better discipline, with some months under 50% Swing rates and contact rates varying between 67 – 75%. The profile shouts similarities to a certain Tigers SS but that combination of advanced defense, projectable power and age is worth a roster spot, especially if you’re looking for cheap pieces as part of a rebuild. 2024 may be the first time we see Aeverson repeat a level, which could actually be a huge benefit to his overall maturity as a pro hitter.
Honorable Mention: OF Owen Caissie, CHC, AA
Stats: (5 games) 6-18, 1 HR, 3 doubles, 5 RBI, 5 runs, 0 SBs
While Jackson Chourio is making headlines with his revival post-“tacky ball” in the Southern League, Caissie is another top prospect who clearly has benefitted from the change. Caissie is a young hitter who seems to strike out a touch more than ideal but he hits the ball hard and has a swing that naturally lofts pitches. While his Cubs colleague, Pete Crow-Armstrong is a more complete hitter and more athletic fielder, Caissie is showing up in big ways at only 20 years old. He’s not an unknown, but it may be possible that he’s a bit undervalued. It’s definitely worth reaching out to your league mate and seeing if you can advance your rebuild by acquiring the young Canadian.
Pitcher of the Week: SP Robby Snelling, SDP, High A
Stats: (1 start) 6 IP, 0 ER, 4 hits, 0 BB, 9 Ks
Snelling continues to demonstrate “pitchability” as he journeys through the Padres farm system. While he doesn’t have an overwhelming fastball and even his breaking ball is debated whether it’s plus or merely average, Snelling has been able to throw strikes and limit hard contact, which typically are the two main areas of concern for teenage pitching prospects. When you add in league context (the Low A California League skews hitter-friendly) and his ability to generate above average whiffs, you start to get the picture of someone who could raise their floor even if their ceiling is a bit capped by lack of explosive stuff.
As you probably could tell, I’ve been looking at this week’s list of prospects through the lens of a rebuilding team in dynasty. As we stand about 6 weeks out from standard league playoffs, and a couple weeks from trade deadlines, it’s a good time to evaluate and identify trade targets that will either amass value quickly in 2024 or help your team progress. I think Snelling falls into the former; if his performance continues at his age, he’ll enter 2024 as the Padres 3rd best prospect. While he’s unlikely to boost his fastball velo to move into top 100 lists, I still think he possesses middle of the rotation ability, it’s a question of whether San Diego (or potentially another team, considering how trade-happy A.J. Preller can be) will be able to coax along the pitch mix needed for Snelling to succeed at the AA level and beyond.
Honorable Mention: SP Brant Hurter, DET, AA
Stats: (1 start) 6 IP, 2 ER, 3 hits, 2 BB, 7 Ks
Listen, I know Detroit’s recent pitching history is checkered but I think Hurter is a great example of an arm that doesn’t have to be electric to be effective, and therefore needs less development than others. The almost side-arm delivery along with his ability to change speeds is “Deceptive Lefty 101”. Due to his more league average age to level, there’s nothing much to project here but Hurter seems like he could be promoted now and be replacement level as a back-end starter if not better. I definitely see Hurter breaking camp in 2024 as a member of the rotation and providing good ratios as a groundball pitcher with good command, I think he’ll provide surprisingly good value to dynasty managers.