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Prospect Values and Strategies

There are plenty of pieces written on the subject of values every offseason.

You can draft player A in round two or you can get this guy in round 10 and all it costs you is a few homers and a few batting average points!”. Or just the opposite; avoid taking a player early when there are five players just like him going five rounds later.

Here is your prospect version of those same articles you will see. 

You probably already know this, but the prospect world is a completely different animal than the majors. For the majors there are pretty much two things to worry about. Playing time and certainty of outcomes. For example, “really risky” could hit .220 with 25 homers but has the .270/35 homer upside compared to someone like Kyle Seager who is going to hit about .270 with 25 home runs year in and year out.

The thing with most, maybe all, of those articles for dynasty leagues is that they are geared toward redraft leagues. 

With prospects you have that same worries, plus the players ETA to the majors, potential longevity, ability to stay at a certain position, potential organizational roadblocks, and probably a half-dozen other things.

So what are you getting out of this article? Some potential values in your upcoming drafts, whether that be a completely new start-up or just a supplemental draft for a league that you have had going for a few years.

This can also be used for offseason trading. Maybe the difference in a top-five short stop and a particular short stop that people are sleeping on isn’t that much outside of a delayed ETA. 

This will be a position by position series for the offseason. Some positions will be more helpful than others just because of the depth and the players at the position. Not commenting on a player doesn’t necessarily mean I like or don’t like them, just maybe that I think his perceived value falls in line with what he can actually do.

If you have any questions on any players feel free to ask about them in the comment section below or on Twitter

If you have any questions or players at a position I haven’t gotten to yet also leave them in the comment section below and I can do some digging and maybe they will be included when I get to that position.

Next week will be part one of the series starting with the catcher position. Stay tuned on Friday’s for our positional prospect rankings. For now I will dig into some prospect strategy.

Last year I went in-depth and looked at the success rates of Baseball America top-100 prospects. There are flaws with what I did, but it was mainly a use to show how often prospects fail. Looking  back, I never really translated it into a strategy. Here is how I go about prospect strategy in different leagues.

Take a peak at the article linked above for some background information before you read on. Much of it might be understood, or you might think it is common knowledge, but trust me, there is a lot of interesting stuff in that post.



Small minor league systems (75 or less)

Smaller minor league systems usually mean smaller leagues. For this let’s just assume 12 teams and five keepers per team. 

What should you be looking to do with this type of league? You want someone who is going to be elite or near elite. Sure, having someone like Logan Forsythe (solid player and startable on pretty much every team) is nice, but is waiting 3-4 years worth “alright” in a shallow league. 

For me the answer is no. I want someone who is going to be a top-100 player in this format. Typically you can usually find the Forsythe types on the waiver wire anyway. 

If I have five minor league keepers I want three of them to be top-30 type prospects then fill out with true high upside types. The guys who show elite power or speed but have major holes, typically issues with making contact – these high upside types you can usually get cheaply in this format and you can cycle through them if it gets to the point where it looks like one of them isn’t going to cut it.

I only want to invest in young, short season or A-ball types, upside pitching in this format if they have truly elite pedigree and potential. These guys are few and far between.

Medium (75-150)

Here we get a little bit more where safety matters. If you can tell me that I have a 50/50 shot that this will become a startable player I am interested.

I still want to build around the high-end types, but who doesn’t. If we are assuming a 10 man minor league system I would look to a breakdown of five top-50 guys, five to eight “safe” guys, and then I want to fill out with the 16-19 year olds with upside. Those are the guys that, if you get them cheap, are going to help you win titles for years. 

I do want to say that investing more than half of your system into these young J2 type signings is not the best idea. Esteilon Peguero, Adonis Cardona, Joel Araujo, Phillips Castillo. Heard of those guys? They were some of the top international signings from the 2010 season. It is a huge risk, but it can also pay off in a huge way if you get in early.

Deep (more than 150)

Say you’re in a league where everyone keeps 15-20 minor league players, maybe a 20 team league. Top-50 type prospects in these leagues tend to be like gold. The guys who invested in Kris Bryant are going to be competing for a title for a while, while those who invested heavily in Byron Buxton are probably freaking out. If you are lucky enough to land 4-5 top-50 guys in a 20-team league, sometimes it pays to trade those guys. I have seen Buxton for Strasburg type trades for people buying prospect hype.

Lets assume 20 teams and 15-20 minor leaguers.

  • In this format, if you can, I would try to set up about 25% top-100 players. The guys that you can use as trade chips or that can help you for years to comes.
  • Another 25-50% for the guys who are safe. They are going to make the majors, and they are going to be ownable in a league this deep. They probably aren’t going to win you titles but they aren’t going to bring the roster down.
  • From there we are filling in with high upside guys. You also want to have a few players that you can easily churn through if some prospect gets on a crazy hot stretch and is available on waivers. 

Proximity to the majors is important here. Players have the most value when they are about to make a major league debut. Prospect hype is real, and even when that boring prospect you own gets the call people will be interested.

All formats

In all of these formats, don’t be afraid to sell the future for the present. The mystery box is always more interesting than what you know. But a lot of times you might not realize that you would love if that mystery box you are holding turns into that player that you already know.

And while major league teams will trade high-end players for one or two prospects, you want more for your fantasy team. MLB teams have the added aspect of cheap contracts and expiring contracts. Fantasy leagues have that too, but if I had to guess, more don’t use contracts and salaries.

Get, at a minimum, two 0r three really good prospects for your aging stars. These prospects succeed at a 50% rate if you’re lucky. Realistically, if you get three guys, you’re lucky if more than one pans out.

 

Don’t forget to check out our prospect rankings starting this Friday along with my prospect articles posted every Tuesday until rosters expand in September.

 

Visit fantasy rundown for additional fantasy articles and prospect rankings.

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Andy Germani
I am a lifelong Pittsburgh sports fan and a graduate from Penn State. Baseball was my first love and I still play to this day in an adult baseball league. I always love helping people with their questions on Twitter so feel free to follow me and ask questions.

One comment on “Prospect Values and Strategies

  1. I’ve been a part of one of those Buxton for Strasburg deals and I can say I’m glad to be free from Buxton!!!

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