Let’s take a look some statistics from Class A from some of the top OF prospects of the past 5 years.
Can you guess who these players are? Player A is Mike Trout, Player B is Byron Buxton, Player C is Andrew McCutchen, Player D is David Dahl and Player E is Wil Myers. All Trout has done is develop into the best player in baseball. Andrew McCutchen is the reigning NL MVP. Byron Buxton continues to be the #1 prospect in baseball (or certainly in the top 3) and Wil Myers, traded from Kansas City to Tampa Bay, has become a big bat in the Rays lineup. So, what is the future for David Dahl? Through 28 games at Class A ball, Dahl has 8 HR, 9 SB, and a 0.276 batting average. After a 2013 that was cut short due to injury, it appears this once elite prospect is back on track. I am recommending owners in dynasty leagues look to add him this month, as I think time is running out to grab him before owners realize what they have.
Coming out of high school and into the 2012 draft, Dahl was considered one of the top OF prospects, yet he never rated at the top of a very deep OF list. Dahl’s speed rated him behind Byron Buxton, while his power graded up behind Courtney Hawkins. His defense, with a strong arm and the potential to play CF at the MLB level, rated him along with Buxton. In terms of skill set at the time of the draft, Albert Almora rated out ahead of Dahl. A commitment to Auburn may have been on a few GM’s minds, but Dahl was selected #10 by Colorado, the 3rd OF off the board (Buxton went #2 to Minnesota and Almora #6 to the Cubs).
Dahl immediately hit the ground running in rookie ball, to the tune of 9 HR, 12 SB and a 0.379 average in 67 games. He also scored 62 runs and drove in 57. Based on this performance it would look like Dahl could have been on the fast track to the MLB, but a torn hamstring ended his 2013 season. Thus far in 2014 he has done nothing to show that he has not returned successfully from the injury and regained his development track.
So, what do scouts think Dahl could develop into? Perfect Game lays out the comp to Steve Finley. Finley, a 19-year MLB OF, began his career as a 5-8 HR, 20-30 SB player. His power developed around age 31, when he hit 30 HR. He would end his career with 7 20+ HR seasons, hitting 304 career HR while swiping 320 bases (14 seasons with double-digit steals). As this YouTube highlight video shows, Dahl has a nice lefty swing, good gap power, and speed around the bases.
Rotoscouting.com’s Mike Newman saw Dahl in a possible Johnny Damon mold. The recently retired Damon played 18 years in the MLB, hitting 235 HR (12 double-digit seasons) and stole 408 bases (16 double-digit seasons, and ten 20+ seasons).
I think fantasy owners would be happy if Dahl developed into Damon or Finley or a combination thereof. His power appears thus far to be ahead of the other players in the table, however Altoona is a nice park to hit in so his numbers may be slightly inflated. If the Rockies use him at the top of the lineup he may be given a green light to run more, meaning more SB than HR. Many years of double-double HR and SB are in his future.
As Paul mentioned his in Gambling on Prospects piece, run, don’t walk to the waiver wire or trade offer page, and make a play to land Dahl. His hot start to 2014 could mean a promotion to AA. And while his path to Denver may be slowed slightly by an already young OF in place (Carlos Gonzalez, Charlie Blackmon), it will not take much further development to move ahead of players like Drew Stubbs and Brandon Barnes, and make noise for some at-bats in the thin air of Coors Field.