Why aren’t there any italic predictions? Or underlined predictions? Or just plain regular predictions?
What are semi-bold dynasty predictions?
It means that many of these predictions will not help your fantasy team this year—I say that not trying to be arrogant. I’ve seen so many bold predictions articles where none of them come true that saying any one of mine will seems like something Steve Zissou would do. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, dynasty predictions have just as much to do with prospects as they do with major leaguers. Below you’ll find modestly extreme predictions about players from MLB, MiLB, and NCAA. Enjoy.
1. Andrew Vaughn will go back-2-back in Golden Spikes Awards;
Vaughn Also Hits in Double-A in 2019
I know…I know…why is it bold to say that the 2018 Golden Spikes Award winner will win the 2019 Golden Spikes Award? Because it’s never been done. The award that is bestowed upon the NCAA’s best player has been around since 1978 and nobody has ever taken home two before jumping to the MLB draft. Vaughn was actually the first non-draft-eligible winner since Jim Abbott in 1987. Am I painting a clear enough picture for you? If not, I’ll spell it out: Vaughn is putting together perhaps the best collegiate career…ever. My guess is he goes No. 3 to the Chicago White Sox in the 2019 MLB draft, who will recognize the impressive hitting skill he possesses and he will make his debut in High-A. I’m predicting he’ll breeze through High-A before the minor league season ends.
2. Vidal Brujan will be called up in September
I know the Rays are generally conservative when it comes to developing their talent, but there are just some guys (and the Rays have two this year) that will force even their hand as they try to compete with the Yankees and the Red Sox in 2019. The one that will make it to the majors this season is Vidal Brujan. The slight-built, uber-talented, 21-year-old second baseman has all the tools. What is going against him is that he might start the season in High-A, a league that he dominated at the end of 2018 to the tune of .347/434/.582 with 4 HR and 12 SB in just 27 games!
There is a chance that Brujan has a repeat performance in his first 20 or so games, and the Rays have to promote him to Double-A before June. If that is the case, he has to pretty much hit and run with his hair on fire and the Rays have to keep pace with the Sox and the Yankees for Brujan to get the call. This is what makes predictions bold.
3. Julio Urias Starts 18 Games for the Dodgers
This is just as much about the lack of health in the overall Dodgers rotation as it is about Urias’s health. I was thinking about making this 20 starts, but I’m not sure the Dodgers would even let him start 20 games even if he had a spot in the rotation coming out of spring, due to coming off a major shoulder injury. I don’t think Urias only pitches in the rotation though. I think for at least a month (whether that is in April/May or an August/September) Urias is used as a long reliever, racking up Ks for two innings twice a week. However his role works out, if you own Urias in a dynasty league, it’s all gravy. He’ll be potent regardless of his role in 2019, as he’s shown in spring so far with his velocity and his newfound aggressiveness in pitch sequencing and location.
Unlike The Highlander, it’s a good thing you don’t have to kill Josh Hader to become him—there doesn’t have to be only one. I don’t know about you, but when I heard that Josh James was out of the running for the rotation, I got excited. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love it if James became a No. 2 quality starter that just mowed guys down for five or six innings—sort of like the Dr. Jekyll side of Robbie Ray. But I wasn’t disappointed when I learned he wouldn’t get the chance to do that in 2019 because I’ve been following James for the last two years and I just don’t see that in him. I see Hader in him—and lots of it. Look at what James did as a reliever last year between Double-A and the majors:
|James as a Reliever in 2019||IP||ERA||WHIP||BB||K||K/9|
James was used exclusively as a starter in Triple-A last year before being called up as a swingman for the Astros. I believe that if James becomes a reliever, his future lies somewhere between these two sets of stats. Sure, it is a very small sample size, but combined with his limited success as a starter, I think this is a reasonable jump. We’ll know soon enough as James is on the MLB roster and is too good not to pitch. Since he doesn’t have a rotation spot, he’ll start in the bullpen. Get excited.
5. Jo Adell Struggles for the First Time
Jo Adell is a remarkable talent—let’s get that clear. He just happens to be 19 years old and facing Double-A pitching. So far, Adell has lived a charmed life in the minor leagues, crushing fastballs to the tune of a .302 average with 25 HR in two seasons as a teenager. That started to end with a late call-up to Double-A, where he was challenged for the first time in his career. In 17 games with the Mobile BayBears, he hit .238/.324/.429, which actually isn’t that bad. It gets a little worse when you see he had a 31% K-rate. I expect this to continue through half of 2019 before any adjustments that will have to be made start to bear fruit. All-Star games are still likely in his future, I just do not believe he is the type of talent that is almost ready to join the majors, which is what you’d have to be to dominate Double-A.
6. Wander Franco is in Triple-A in 2019
Wander Franco, on the other hand, is the type of talent that is almost ready for the majors—at 18 years old. It’s easy to look at Franco’s lack of a track record and say that “he’s only been good in Rookie, so slow down.” To that I will say if you slow down on Franco in dynasty leagues, he’s going to pass you by. It’s not just the results that are staggering with this kid, it’s how easy they seem to come to him. I’ve read quite a few reports that say they didn’t see him challenged once in 2018, which is quite a feat considering he was the youngest player in the Appalachian League and won the MVP. This is the same league that featured Alec Bohm, Nolan Gorman, Jarred Kelenic, Trevor Larnach, and Jordan Groshans. A few of those other prospects went on to hit well in Single-A last season. It’s safe to say that Franco will cruise through Single-A. The question really is just how high above there he gets. I think he’s in Durham.
7. Manny Machado‘s New Norm is a Top 8-10 3B
Is it possible that Manny Machado puts together a top-five season or two for a third baseman in the next 10 years with the Padres? Sure. He probably will. I don’t think it will be the norm. In fact, I think he’ll be closer to No. 10 than No. 5 on positional rankings starting in 2020. Going to San Diego has that kind of impact. Even if he didn’t go to San Diego, Machado is near that ledge around No. 5 for his position. Who is going to be better than him?
|5.||Vladimir Guerrero, Jr|
Additionally, Miguel Andujar, Eugenio Suarez, Josh Donaldson, Matt Chapman, or Matt Carpenter could outperform him any given year. We’re already talking about a player who has only had one .900 OPS season despite being in the league for six years—and it just happened to be in a contract year (go figure). If anybody is susceptible to seeing a downturn in offensive production by moving to cavernous Petco Park, it’s Machado. Just look at his numbers going from a hitter’s park in Baltimore to the pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium. I don’t expect his .273/.338/.487 like he did in LA…actually maybe I do. After all, those are almost exactly his career averages.
8. Daulton Varsho Does His Best Jason Kendall
For those of you unfamiliar with baseball in the late ’90s and early 2000s, let me paint a picture: Imagine having a catcher who was capable of slashing .332/.428/.511, hitting 15 home runs, and stealing 20 bases. Basically, what I am saying is imagine you have Andrew Benintendi—at catcher. That is what Jason Kendall was for six years with the Pittsburgh Pirates. I know you’re asking, “Why isn’t this guy in the hall of fame?” It’s simple: he didn’t play for the Yankees. I’m not actually saying Kendall should be a hall-of-famer, but there should have been more of a discussion. The guy was a freak. There might not be another catcher like him ever, but for some reason, when I see Daulton Varsho, I see shades of Kendall:
|Varsho (Age: 21)||80||.286||.363||.451||11||19|
It sounds crazy. A catcher who can hit for average, hit for power, and steal bases? He also had reasonable walk (8.8%) and strikeout (20.8%) rates. As far as backstops are concerned, the sky is the limit for this kid in the Diamondbacks organization. He’ll likely start the season in Double-A, and he is in the top five prospects I will watch this season.
9. Shohei Ohtani Struggles in May, Then Makes Us Forget He Can Pitch Too
Things are going swimmingly in Ohtani’s rehab. So well, in fact, that Angels manager Brad Ausmus publicly said that they’re not going to speed his rehab program up because he’s doing so well. Is Ohtani back May 1? I’d say probably. I think it takes him 20 or so games to get his timing back. Despite the fantastic results, Ohtani’s swing was a work in progress all of 2018. He made a handful of adjustments coming over from Japan, which resulted in a .285/.361/.564 slash with 22 HR and 10 SB in just 104 games. If we remove one month due to injury, that puts him at about 140 games remaining, so even if he struggles for a whole month, he’ll still have nearly 20 games more hitting than he did in 2018. He might not hit .285 this year, but I see improvements in both power and speed. A .270 average with 25/20 isn’t out of the question here, and would cement his value as a top contributor going into the 2020 season…when he will pitch too.
Neither one of these guys figures it out in 2019. Both hit below .250. One will probably lose his job. And by this time next season, neither will be mentioned in the top 200 players on anybody’s list. Sure, there will be moments—maybe even whole months—where one or both of these guys show exactly what they are capable of. Unfortunately, the baseball season is sixth months long. Moncada could reasonably go 20/15 next year and Buxton could steal 30 bases, if the White Sox and the Twins are patient enough to keep them in the lineup hitting .240. By next spring they will be fighting for their starting jobs. My guess is in three years one of them figures it out at age 27 or 28. The other will be a cautionary tale.
Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire