Travis Sherer’s Dynasty 25 Under 25, Part 2
Now I know how the makers of Caddyshack and Speed feel.
I didn’t plan on writing a sequel to my Dynasty Top 25 Under 25, but there were so many questions, comments and requests from the first, that I felt it necessary to keep going. Also, the whole point of writing the first one was to finally mix both young MLB players with prospects in a list that would be an exercise in valuing all baseball players under 25. Imposing rules that would limit the player pool (such as no minor leaguers) and make it easier for me to write, but it would not be as unique or informative for you. With that being said, there are still a number of players I considered who didn’t make the list: Brett Honeywell, Kyle Wright, Brendan Rodgers, Ramon Laureano, Seranthony Dominguez, Nomar Mazara, Ian Happ, Jack Flaherty, Bryse Wilson.
Let’s talk process again. Unlike other Top 25 under 25 articles that are bound to come out in the next few weeks, this one is different. It is specifically geared for managers in dynasty leagues, and it answers just one question: Who has the most trade value? If I were evaluating a one-for-one trade between any two players on this list, who would I take regardless of roster needs? The more highly ranked player.
Let’s just hope there is a little more Caddyshack 2 in this post than Speed 2. Here we go.
50. Yoan Moncada, 2B, Age: 23
How far we have fallen. Three years ago, Yoan Moncada was in the top 10 of this list. But discipline and contact issues have derailed a once very promising career. There are a few names on this, the second installment of this list, that are on their last chance. We might as well start off with the poster boy of last-chance prospects. It’s hard to believe he’ll only turn 24 in just a couple of months, but Moncada is entering his third year of service. He’s a vet now. There aren’t excuses for hitting .235 anymore. There aren’t excuses for getting caught stealing 33% of the time and only running 18 times in 149 games with his speed. There aren’t any excuses in a 33% K-rate to the tune of 217 while hitting just 17 home runs and 32 doubles. There are no excuses for Moncada. There’s only hope, and even that has faded.
49. Amed Rosario, SS, Age: 23
Amed Rosario is on a short leash. He has to be better than he was in 2018 to stay on this list. He has to be better than he was in the second half of 2018, when it all “clicked” for him. After the all-star break, the young shortstop slashed .268/.302/.383 with five homers and 18 stolen bases. The speed numbers are great, but there needs to be more power if Rosario is going to best Elvis Andrus’ first seven seasons. He’s got to touch a power with a .400 slugging percentage and a .270 average that show he could be more than a one-dimensional player.
48. Royce Lewis, SS, Age: 19
Let’s talk pet peeves. One of mine is projecting hitting ability onto young players based on nothing but swing mechanics and reputation. It happens a lot and it’s one of the reasons I am slower to come around to Royce Lewis than most. It’s not that I see something that makes me think he won’t be a good hitter, I just am of the school that believes that good hitters…hit good. Lewis’ first pro season in 2017 was nothing special, but it wasn’t terrible either: .279/.381/.407. At 18-years-old, that is a good start, but it isn’t something that would separate him from the pack. Mickey Moniak had similar numbers to in his first year. To his credit, Lewis took a step forward in 2018. Some power showed up — he hit 14 dingers between A and A+. He also showed a willingness to take a free pass against better pitching, but he still has a long way to go. Many potential “five-tool” players fizzle out before realizing their potential in any one of the five. Just ask Bubba Starling.
47. Nathaniel Lowe, 1B, Age: 23
I had to sneak another first baseman into the top 50. Why? Because Nathaniel Lowe represents the kind of power/approach first basemen you should be targeting with your minor league spots or stashing on your major league roster. Lowe has the potential to hit .280 with 30 HR and get on base 40 percent of the time. That is essentially what Paul Goldschmidt does. The Rays were so impressed with his 2018 performance that they traded away Jake Bauers to make room for him. It’s still too early to see if Lowe lives up to the hype, but there are fewer than a handful of first baseman prospects who have the potential to be this well-rounded — and that is what is going to separate your team from the fray at this position.
46. Mike Soroka, SP, Age: 21
Soroka was higher on this list before his recurring shoulder issues. He is supposed to take the mound again this week, but nagging shoulder injuries to a pitcher are directly correlated to long-term value, in my opinion. If Soroka is healthy, he’s probably ranked 10 spots higher. He seems like the kind of pitcher who is destined for long-term success. He has legit stuff with room to improve and fantastic command. Outside of the shoulder issues, there isn’t a thing to dislike about him. He has good size and effective velocity. He skyrocketed through the Braves’ minor league system, making his big league debut after just 65 starts in the minors. He may not be a punchout pitcher, but that won’t matter, as he has a knack for keeping batters off the bases. It’s not just a lack of walks that makes him effective, it is inducing soft contact by being creative with his pitch movement and control.
45. German Marquez, SP, Age: 24
Has German Marquez found something special? It’s difficult to say. As of right now, Marquez is so highly talented that after a great second half to 2018, he has to be included. But I want to be clear: I don’t trust him. To me, Marquez is like that millionaire tech CEO your daughter brings home for dinner. Sure, he’s rich and he makes your daughter happy — there’s a lot of potential there. But none of that matters when you learn that he met your daughter and your wife at the same time, and guess who he hit on first?
What I’m saying is there are initial concerns with Marquez that, no matter how good he has been since, can never be erased. Most importantly is that Colorado has never had an ace! Never! Sure, the Rockies have had pitchers put together good single years now and then, but nobody has made a career out of it. Playing in Coors is detrimental to both hitters and pitchers — that is the reason you don’t see too many Rockies on this list. Also, I share the concerns of our fearless leader, Nick Pollack, in his top 40 pitchers article. However, Marquez’s new curveball and slider sequencing elevated his performance and that can be repeated. I really hope it is, because it would be nice to see Colorado have an ace for once in its existence.
44. Jose Berrios, SP, Age: 24
A 24-year-old with a season of 200+ strikeouts has to be on this list. If there weren’t warning signs, he’d be a lot higher though, given his experience. The problem is Berrios has thrived off of having essentially a two-pitch repertoire — and one of those pitches is a fastball that does not have elite velocity. He also has a mostly great but inconsistent curveball and a pedestrian change that he never uses. The fact that he has been able to get by with such limited weapons is impressive, and begs the question of just how good can he be if he further develops that change.
43. Franmil Reyes, OF, Age: 23
At this time in 2020, Franmil Reyes will either be in the first 25 of this list or not on it at all. The definition of a boom-or-bust player — everyone could hear the boom coming from Reyes’ bat at the end of 2018. A shortened leg kick, a quicker path, and a more selective approach produced an eye-popping .315/.383/.537 with 10 HR, and respectable K (22&) and BB (9%) rates in 53 games to close out the season. So who is the Real Reyes? We’ll know soon enough. Throughout the minor leagues, Reyes was a little swing happy, even if it didn’t produce gaudy K numbers by today’s standards. His minors career did, however, profile as one that would likely get too swing happy versus major league pitchers before his recent adjustments. I suppose it is possible that he’s a mix between the two profiles and ends up being a .250 hitter that Ks 29% of the time and walks seven or eight percent of the time while hitting 30 HR. There is value in that player, but not on this list.
42. Brendan McKay, 1B/P, Age: 23
A two-way player, Brendan McKay has more of a chance to catapult in these rankings than anyone. Right now, this ranking is based mostly on his pitching results, which are impressive. The No. 4 pick in the 2017 MLB Draft sailed through three levels of the minors in his first full season as a pro to the tune of:
Whatever McKay ends up being, he will be pitching. Whether or not he helps at the plate could be decided this year. So far, it has not been very impressive, but scouts still remark that he hasn’t been given a full opportunity to hit. That will happen in 2019. The Rays have said they plan on using him both ways. If he can vastly improve upon his minor league slash of .214/.368/.359, he’ll shoot up this list in 2020 before aging out. Despite lackluster hitting so far, one thing does pop out, and that is his patience. McKay works himself into counts and often produces a K or a BB. That is a good sign early on. He’ll still likely be on the list even if he can’t hit because his four-pitch mix and advanced control will be useful in the majors. If everything goes right, I dream of a Josh Hader who can hit — that’s probably not what other people (like the Rays coaching staff) dream of for him if everything goes right, though.
41. Harrison Bader, OF, Age: 24
This is awkward. I made fun of Harrison Bader in the first segment of this list to prove a point. I apologize because the Cardinals’ outfielder slashed .264/.344/.422 with 12 HR and 15 SB. A potential 15/15 outfielder is valuable in just about every league and deserves to be on this list, especially if he can potentially hit .270. As long as Bader can produce that line, there will be a spot for him in St. Louis, as he is a decent defender. That said, Bader is one of the few players on this list where the present is likely as bright as the future — and you may need to squint a little, but there is no need for sunglasses. People in Seattle know what I’m talking about, for reasons other than baseball.
40. Kyle Tucker, OF, Age: 22
Bader’s ceiling is likely Kyle Tucker‘s floor. Maybe the best prep hitter in the 2015 draft, Tucker has done nothing to discourage that, slashing .288/.357/.493 in his four minor league seasons since being drafted. What is most encouraging, however, is the power Tucker has grown into. In 220 games the past two seasons, Tucker has hit 49 home runs and 60 doubles. There is potential here for a 30/15 outfielder with a decent average.
39. Jose Peraza, 2B/SS, Age: 24
Do I believe in Jose Peraza‘s breakout 2018? Kinda. I mean sure, he could be a .280 hitter who goes 15/15. I think what’s more likely is that he’s a .280 hitter who goes 10/25, which is to say he’s just about as valuable as he was in 2018. I don’t see him tapping into a previously unknown source of power, but I will freely admit I have been wrong about that before. One thing is for sure is that hitting for a decent average is in his toolbox. With his speed and his ability to make contact, Peraza should be on the basepaths enough to make him a starter in your fantasy league.
38. Danny Jansen, C, Age: 23
Danny Jansen‘s potential represents something rare: a catcher who doesn’t hurt you in anything. He has the capacity to hit .280 with 15-20 HR in a Toronto lineup packed full of hitters, or at least it will be soon. At just 23, Jansen showed tremendous plate discipline with just a 17.8% K rate. If I were a betting man — and I am — I’d bet that Jansen hits better than his 2018 mark of .247 by at least 15 points. He had a recent low .274 BABIP during his debut. I say recent because it’s hard to know what his baseline is after fixing his vision between the 2016 and 2017 season. After getting his eyes “done,” his average mark has been roughly .333. I’m guessing it’s somewhere in the middle.
37. Keibert Ruiz, C, Age: 20
Catchers are not very well represented in the top 50 because right now, and there are really only three that I feel confident will be different than the rest of the all-swing, mostly-miss, interchangeable group of 26 major league catchers not named Buster Posey, J.T. Realmuto and Gary Sanchez. What makes these three different is their ability to get on base. They may not have huge power, but they have the chance to all be professional hitters. Ruiz is just 20 years old and already holding is own in Double-A. In 2018, he slashed a respectable .268/..328/.401 with 12 HR in 101 games. What is special about Ruiz is he could actually be the starting catcher for the Dodgers by 22. His bat, which has the potential to be a 70, is almost good enough, and his receiving/defense is just about ready too.
36. Mackenzie Gore, SP, Age: 20
At 20, Mackenzie Gore is the only left-handed or right-handed pitcher with real experience in the minor leagues at Rookie, A or higher who hasn’t recently had Tommy John surgery. Sure there are other young pitchers with as much promise (SP Hunter Greene of the Cincinnati Reds organization), but none equaling Gore’s performance:
The teenage Padres farmhand had a more difficult transition going to Single-A, but blister issues could have been the root of it all, so his overall appeal stays the same. He’s one of only five or six prospects with a reasonable chance to end up as a No. 1 starter in the majors. Sure, there are others who can and probably will become an ace, they just need to make larger strides to get there. Gore is the youngest of these potential aces, and he’s on the list because he has the potential for four plus pitches. He has a traditional repertoire (fastball, changeup, curveball, slider) with velocity in the mid-90s, but it’s his command that sets him apart.
35. Jo Adell, OF, Age: 19
The sky is the limit for Jo Adell. It’s hard to be critical of a 19-year-old who has already risen to Double-A. I believe Adell is going to fall on some lists this year, however, as he works through facing tougher pitchers all season in Mobile. My guess is people will see that he didn’t get promoted and think there is something wrong. Now, let me be clear, I think Adell will hit this season — somewhere around .265/.335/.450 with about 20 HR. Will that be good enough to earn him a promotion to Triple-A? I doubt it. There is no reason for the Angels to fast track him to the majors if he isn’t absolutely dominating at any single level. It’s best for him to refine his approach (which, at a 31% K-rate, absolutely needs to happen) before facing better competition. This will not be a lost year, or a year of regression, for the highly talented teenager. Instead, it will be one where he learns how to be a better player and uses that to blow up in 2020.
34. Alex Kirilloff, OF, Age: 21
Few prospects have the kind of hit/power tools to match Alex Kirilloff. We’ll know a lot more about how good both of those tools are when he faces tougher, Double-A pitching to start 2019, but there is already a lot to like out of this lefty. He shows a respectable walk rate (6.8) and K-rate (15.33) for such a young age. If those, along with his slashes (.348/.392/.578) continue at a higher level, he could easily jump up 15 spots by 2020, just in time for him to be stuck in the minors two weeks before making his debut that April/May. Most prospect lists like Adell more because the power/speed potential is greater. Not me. I’ll go for the guy with the better plate discipline and ability to get on base with slightly lesser power.
33. Rafael Devers, 3B, Age: 22
What were you doing at 20 years old? Studying for classes? Going to parties? Working an entry-level job for minimum wage? You probably weren’t slugging .482 against big league pitching. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Only about a 15 20-year-old players in MLB history have accomplished such a feat in a season where they played more than a handful of games. It is an impressive pool of historical players with last names like Ruth, Musial, Williams, Foxx, Gehrig, Kaline, Mays, Mantle, Ott, Rodriguez, Griffey, Soto and Acuna.
Rafael Devers had trouble adjusting to the big league pitchers’ adjustments, but the chances are, given his talent, he will bounce back. Devers had a career low BABIP in 2018, so it’s only natural that there will be some reconciliation in 2019. The only problem is that he plays third base, which right now is saturated. He could move to 1B, which would be a boon for him because there is .275/.360/.540 potential here with 25+ dingers. It probably won’t be this year, but it’s not far away.
32. Bo Bichette, 2B, Age: 20
The son of an MVP runner-up, Bo Bichette set the world on fire in 2017 with numbers that looked like his dad’s at Coors Field. In 2018, Baby Bichette had to face tougher pitching and it slowed him down a little. It’s likely that he’ll adjust and his numbers will rebound, as he’s shown the capacity of a 65-hit tool with slightly less power. He doesn’t have the range to stay at short in the majors, but a move to second will make him one of the better-hitting second basemen out there.
31. Willy Adames, SS, Age: 23
I know I said Willy Adames was going to be No. 26 in the first group of 25, but I simply couldn’t get that far. The three infielders above him simply have too high of a ceiling to be placed behind him. It took a couple of months, but Adames showed he was one of the best young shortstops out there in 2018. His overall stat line is nothing to write home about, but that is only because his 26 games before the all-star break (.216/.263/.341) weighted it down. When he came back from the break, however, he took off:
|Adames Post All-Star||59||.305||.383||.435||9||5|
That’s a third of a season with an .800 OPS at 22 years old. I’ll take that. I’m not sure if he has the capability to hit 20, but I think he might, which makes a potential 20/15 middle infielder a possibility. The only problem is he might not be a SS by 2021 when Wander Franco comes to town. Still, if get gets moved to 2B, the bat and the speed will play. There is certainly growing room for swing and contact rates, but I’d bet they do with more at-bats.
30. Jesus Luzardo, SP, Age: 21
The secret is out by now. Everybody knows who Jesus Luzardo is. They know he’s had Tommy John, and they know it did not affect his stuff in the slightest. They know he’s got a plus slider, a plus change-up and plus control. They know he’s undersized. They know he made Mike Trout look foolish last spring. They know he could start the season Japan with the A’s as the team’s ace. They also know he could spend the first month or two of the season in the Pacific Coast League, proving that despite its hitter-friendly reputation, his underwhelming four-game stint was a blip in an otherwise dominating minor league career.
|Luzardo (Rookie through AAA)||150.2||2.53||1.04||35||177|
29. Edwin Diaz, RP, Age: 24
It does seem odd that the best closer is also the youngest closer. Edwin Diaz turned in the top performance of any closer in 2018. And just before he turns 25, he moves to the National League. The move should make for easier competition, despite Diaz having more trouble against five NL opponents in 2018 than the rest of the AL. Diaz’s elite fastball/slider combo might be the best among relievers and certainly ranks high amongst all pitchers. While relievers are fickle, Diaz is in about as good of a position for the future as possible. With two years of production from the closer role, he’s proven he shines while closing the door. He’s the most valuable closer in the game.
28. Vidal Brujan, 2B, Age: 21
Let’s have some fun. I’m going to give you a stat line of a current second baseman in the majors when he was 21 and in High A:
|G (High A)||AVG||OBP||SLUG||OPS||HR||SB||K||BB|
Need another hint? He’s the best second baseman in the league. That was Jose Altuve in 2011. In 2018, Vidal Brujan, also an undersized second base prospect, was 20 years old and played half the games in High-A and posted the following line:
You should be trying to draft this man before it’s too late. And just so you know, it’s almost too late.
27. Adley Rutschman, C, Age: 21
So far, the consensus No. 1 pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, Adley Rutschman has separated himself from the rest of the field by being maybe the best defensive and offensive catcher in the country. Why isn’t he above Andrew Vaughn? Because even though Rutschman is a lock to stay at catcher and very likely going to be a solid hitter as well, Vaughn is all-bat and has maybe one of the best eyes we’ve seen since Joey Votto. Back to his days as an Oregon State Beaver, some have been quick to slap a Buster Posey comp. I’m not there yet, but he is on his way:
|2019 so far||.343||.540||.800||1.340||5||15||8|
Posey’s junior year at Florida State was a breakout, to put it mildly. He was always a selective hitter who could get on base, but in the year before he was drafted, he found his power stroke. It seems like Rutschman is heading in that direction, with a pair of homers in his first eight games this season. If he reaches 18-20, he shoots up this list anywhere from six to 10 spots.
26. Fernando Tatis, Jr., SS, Age: 20
Not having a Padre on the first 25 was probably the biggest point of contention of those who commented. Fernando Tatis Jr. is certainly a great prospect to own, even one of the best, but I am more cautious about him than most. He has a harder road ahead of him to become more than a power hitter. There’s swing-and-miss issues, he hasn’t hit above .286 at any level and he’ll be playing half his games in Petco Park, which won’t be doing him any favors. He certainly could overcome these hurdles, but I’m not going to ignore them. I get it, he’s young, so there is a lot of time to develop, but comparing his performance so far against guys similar to his age (Juan Soto/Franco/Brujan) is telling. Those prospects showed a penchant for both plate discipline and ability to hit for average in their teenage years. There is reason to be optimistic: he’s got a ton of power potential and at times, he’s shown a penchant to take walks along with his strikeouts. Also, if he can stay at SS or play 2B, he’ll provide an upside few possess. If he has to move off those two spots — which would only happen if he keeps getting bigger — his value drops dramatically.
Top 25 Under 25
25. Miguel Andujar
24. Adalberto Mondesi
23. Victor Robles
22. Andrew Vaughn
21. Julio Urias
20. Casey Mize
19. Keston Hiura
18. Luis Severino
17. Ozzie Albies
16. Nick Senzel
15. Gleyber Torres
14. Eloy Jimenez
13. Josh Hader
12. Wander Franco
11. Forrest Whitley
10. Walker Buehler
9. Corey Seager
8. Cody Bellinger
7. Andrew Benintendi
6. Carlos Correa
5. Shohei Ohtani
4. Juan Soto
3. Ronald Acuna, Jr.
2. Vladimir Guerrero, Jr.
1. Alex Bregman