Deep Thoughts by Paul Hartman

I took a jump into the deep end this year, starting up a 30-team dynasty league — and it really is a whole different world down there. Much like AL and NL Only leagues, it’s not only a struggle to field a respectable lineup, but it is incredibly difficult to handle any injuries that may happen. If you lost Yasmani Grandal in a 14-team league, you could simply grab Miguel Montero or Francisco Cervelli and not feel any significant loss over the 15 days that he is on the DL. In deep leagues, you’re left with Martin Maldonado or Jose Lobaton and feeling unsure whether you want them to get playing time or not.

This weekly feature will attempt to help find deep free agent targets to not only cover injuries, but to be a potential future help to your fantasy squad. While these articles will not be for those in standard leagues, some of the names may still be of interest to you if you are. I will also feature an AL-Only and NL-Only deep prospect to pay attention to each week. My sincere recommendation to everyone is, if you have played this game for a long time, take the plunge into a very deep league. It really is a lot of fun.

Here’s a look at this week’s targets:

Waiver Wire

Phil Gosselin, 2B, Arizona Diamondbacks: While shallower leagues raced for Brandon Drury after the A.J. Pollock injury, in deep formats Gosselin is all that’s left to target for added at bat potential in Arizona. Gosselin can hit for average, but he doesn’t offer a lot of anything else. He’s also a little further down the Diamondbacks depth chart, but he can play 2B, 3B and LF meaning there just might be some playing time available for him if others falter or get hurt. Gosselin is a career .285 hitter over parts of three seasons, and mashed during spring to the tune of a 1.100 OPS. If you squint, it’s not hard to imagine him getting consistent playing time; at least for a few periods of time this year.
Currently owned in 7% of Fantrax and 0% of CBS & Y! leagues

Jake Barrett, RP, Arizona Diamondbacks: Sticking with the Diamondbacks, Barrett finds a spot here after winning a bullpen spot out of spring training. He already found a way into Arizona’s first two games, pitching a shutout inning in each. Barrett has a great fastball/slider combo, but has been plagued with control problems since he was taken in the 3rd round in 2012. Something clicked in spring training where he walked just 1 in 11 innings while striking out 15. The stuff has always been there, and if Barrett took a step forward with his control he has the potential to be a late innings high strikeout reliever. And that, my friend, has value.
Currently owned in 6% of Fantrax and 0% of CBS & Y! leagues

Ryan Rua, OF, Texas Rangers: Rua started at first base against a LHP this week and looks to at least get the short end of that platoon going forward. That eligibility, fortunately will help ease the sorrow that comes along with having to roster him in the first place. All kidding aside: Rua has some intriguing power and beat out four other players to win the backup LF position out of spring training, hitting .404 with a .649 SLG. The problem is that now he has four other players breathing down his neck, so he must produce to not only get any kind of at bats, but also to keep his position on the 25 man roster.
Currently owned in 1% of CBS, 0% in Y! & 8% in Fantrax leagues

Johnny Barbato, RP, New York Yankees: Barbato is the AL version of Jake Barrett; a young reliever who broke camp with the big league club who has some long-term late inning potential. Barbato had a 13-1 strikeout to walk rate in spring training and struck out three in his first appearance this year. He also hit a batter as he also struggled with his control at times. With Chapman out of the picture for the first month, Barbato may even see the odd opportunity for a hold in a stacked Yankees bullpen. 
Currently owned in 4% of Fantrax and 0% of CBS & Y! leagues

Trade Targets

Austin Hedges, C, San Diego Padres: Hedges is known as a defense-only catcher, and his 2015 debut did little to change that opinion as he hit .168/.215/.248 over 137 big league at bats. The worst part of that for fantasy owners is the 137 at bats, causing him to lose minor league eligibility in many leagues. Fast forward to 2016 and Hedges finds himself back in the minors after the Padres traded for Christian Bethancourt, who will serve as Derek Norris’ backup. Don’t misunderstand though: Hedges is the Padres catcher of the future and is second in line – not third. He simply needs to play regularly and wouldn’t have that opportunity in San Diego.

Fortunately for fantasy owners it’s not just the glove that Hedges has going for him, as his recent work with hitting coach Alan Zinter is paying huge dividends. Over 17 spring games, Hedges hit .394/.450/.667 with an 18% K rate after last year’s 28% mark. If Hedges can continue to make progress in AAA while the Padres flounder in the NL West, a Norris trade becomes a foregone conclusion. At that point Hedges becomes the #1 catcher and a decent play for deep leagues.
Currently owned in 2% of CBS, 0% in Y!, and 12% in Fantrax leagues

Drew Hutchison, SP, Toronto Blue Jays: Chances are good that Drew Hutchison is gone in many AL-Only and deep leagues, despite that he’s opening up the season in Buffalo. Similar to Hedges, if his owner needs the roster spot though, he makes for a great buy-low opportunity. Over two seasons in Toronto Hutchison has a career 2.92 K/BB ratio along with a 4.00 xFIP. This all points to an arm that can be immensely valuable in these formats; if not this year certainly next.
Currently owned in 4% of CBS, 1% in Y! & 23% in Fantrax leagues

Prospects

Jahmai Jones, OF, Los Angeles Angels: I think the fact that the Angels have such a poor system has kept Jones in relative obscurity since being drafted in the second round of 2015. He signed right away and went on to steal 16 bases with a pair of home runs over 40 games in rookie ball. The 18-year-old center fielder has five-tool potential and could find himself in A-ball by seasons end. Not all deep leagues have a deep minor league systems, but if you’re looking past the top 150-200 prospects for potential break out players, Jones makes for an excellent grab.
Currently owned in 6% of Fantrax and 0% of CBS & Y! leagues

K.J. Woods, 1B, Miami Marlins: I’m concerned about the strikeouts, but Woods did hit 18 home runs last year mostly as a 19-year-old in A-ball. He is a big boy and has a ton of power, but I wouldn’t necessarily speculate on him in leagues that roster less than 200-250 prospects. If he can show some improvement on his K rate, the fact that he has some strike zone knowledge and can take his share of walks means there is some potential for a big league bat. I’d classify this as very high risk, but in some leagues that’s all you can hope for.
Currently owned in 4% of Fantrax and 0% of CBS & Y! leagues

 

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Paul Hartman
Fantasy Baseball player since 1987. Creator of Fantasy Assembly, yet just fortunate enough to be a part of it.
Paul Hartman

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