Minor League Report: Early season selling

It is still early, but for fantasy purposes the odds  of some of us seeing a chance at a title seems like more of a dream than a reality. I am in two leagues that has already seen some teams go into heavy sell mode, trying to get anything they can for what seemed to be their core players on a playoff caliber team just three weeks ago.

There is an art to the sell. Yes, we see major league teams ship pieces off to get only a couple of mid-level prospects in return. What a lot of people tend to forget, or ignore, is the cost involved in those MLB deals. Millions of dollars of money owed for a handful of controllable players for the next 6-7 years.

I would be willing to guess that most keeper and dynasty formats are keep a certain number with no cost involved, mainly because it is the easiest format to grasp. There are a lot that involve draft picks, salaries, and contracts tied to players, and these leagues can see closer to MLB type deals done that make sense.

I can’t count the number of “I am tearing it all down” trades I have seen that don’t make sense. Sure, you want to rebuild, but everything doesn’t have to go. Stephen Strasburg can be part of your rebuilding effort; no fantasy rebuilding effort should be looking more than two years down the road. Basically, if you are tearing it down now you shouldn’t be doing it to win a title in 2021 – you should be looking at 2019. You don’t need to move him for Michael Kopech who is years away from us finding out if he can even be close to valuable.

You can still build around 28 and 29 year olds. Yes, they will be 30-31 in a couple of years, but that isn’t ancient. If you are looking to buy, the most undervalued asset in a fantasy baseball league is a player that is past their prime, but is still producing, past age 3o.

The only thing I can really beg of you to do is if you do want to sell, negotiate. Talk to all the teams out there that might have a need for someone you are trading away. Don’t target prospects or players you want and zone in on them. When you focus on one team and their players, you might lose out on other teams that will offer you more. Even if it isn’t the Brendan Rodgers you wanted, maybe you can get Nick Senzel and Ian Happ from someone else.

Create bidding wars by letting everyone know someone is on the table. The trade block is your friend. Don’t force deals. You don’t need the prospects ASAP. Force their hand. Every day or week that goes by that they miss out on stats that they could use on the way to their championship run, they will eventually cave if your offer is reasonable.

If you are forced into selling – it isn’t all bad. Now is the time to dig deep and hone in on prospects, which means more clicks for me!

Find Mitch Haniger or Tomas Szapucki now while half of your league is focusing on the MLB waiver wire.

As usual if you have any questions on anything fantasy baseball, feel free to ask about them in the comment section below or on Twitter

All stats are through Sunday April 23.

Redraft Radar

  • Yoan Moncada 2B/3B – White Sox (AAA) (#1)
  • Bradley Zimmer OF – Indians (AAA) (#8)

Nothing has changed here. These two are still the highest of my “in the minors” prospects with 2017 value. They will continue to be here until they get the call. It isn’t a matter of if, but when.

  • Cody Bellinger 1B/OF – Dodgers (AAA) (#24)
  • Jesse Winker OF – Reds (AAA) (#32)

Bellinger has much higher upside, but a much murkier timetable than Winker. Winker has a pretty clear path while Bellinger’s path isn’t all that certain.



Who’s hot

Lewis Brinson OF – Brewers (AAA) (#18)

  • 2017: .370/.400/.652, 3 HR, K: 10 (20%), BB: 2 (4%), 2 SB

He has been at or near the top of prospect lists for a few years now. Brinson has future 20/20 potential with maybe closer to 25/15 which is still pretty valuable.

Hitting in Miller Park for half of his games should be able to help his power output, and maybe in peak season he flirts with 30 homers.

The Brewers have a really nice lineup, and Brandon could find himself in the middle of it for years to come.

A lot of people are calling for a Brinson promotion early this year, but there is no where for him to play. The outfield is pretty packed, and that doesn’t count Hernan Perez getting a start or two there. If Ryan Braun doesn’t get traded, Brinson likely won’t be up until close to July.

Dylan Cease P – Cubs (A) (#50)

  • 2017 (3 starts): 15 IP, 0.60 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, K: 22 (39.3%), BB: 8 (14.3%)

I like Cease a lot; you might be able to tell by that preseason ranking. I wrote about him a few times in the preseason as someone I think is underrated in prospect circles.

That being said: I typically do not invest in players like Cease. He has already had Tommy John Surgery, he is a pitcher, and he is in A-ball.

So far the walk rate is a little concerning, but I am hoping that is a small sample size.

Ryan McMahon 3B/1B – Rockies (AA) (#85)

  • 2017: .391/.446/.688, 3 HR, K: 12 (16.2%), BB: 8 (10.8%), 2 SB

Guess who dealt him in the offseason. Maybe I should tell you what prospects I trade away so you guys can find out who to target yourselves.

I was still believing in McMahon being a solid prospect, but I did drop him from the top half of my top-100 in the 2016 preseason and midseason to the back half of my top-100 this year.

People will get excited that he has the future potential of hitting in Coors. I would be very surprised if that ever happened at this point.

McMahon is more likely to be moved in a trade if the Rockies are still contending. Nolan Arenado is blocking him at third, and Ian Desmond signed a five-year deal to play first. The outfield is already jam-packed with MLB players, and they have a prospect that is closer, and better, than McMahon in Raimel Tapia.

Assuming his career doesn’t happen in Colorado, McMahon should routinely be able to hit 20 homers with peak years maybe getting up to 25. The average is probably where he will suffer because of a high strikeout rate that has been in the high 20s for most of his minor league career. That isn’t a freakout level, but if you aren’t going to hit 30 homers, I don’t want to see your strikeout rate near 30 percent.

Brett Phillips OF – Brewers (AAA) (#92)

  • 2017: .283/.345/.547, 4 HR, K: 20 (34.5%), BB: 5 (8.6%), 0 SB

Phillips is hot right now with three homers in the past four games. A few years ago when he was in the Astros organization he looked like he had 20/20 minor league potential, but there appears to be a change in his approach as he starting striking out more in what seemed like an intent to sell out for more power.

He is still striking out a lot, but at least when he is connecting it is working out well.

If I owned Phillips I might use this as an opportunity to get someone to buy back into the top prospect he once was and flip him before his stock plummeted. Also, now he is playing most of the season in Colorado Springs – possibly the best hitters park in all of baseball.

A.J. Puk P – Athletics (A+) (#97)

  • 2017 (4 appearances): 15 IP, 3.60 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, K: 27 (45%), BB: 4 (6.7%)

Puk is putting up some pretty crazy numbers working spot starts and bullpen stints.

Last season, working in a similar short start capacity, he piled up some nice strikeout numbers as well, better than I thought he was going to do, but it was as an advanced college arm pitching short stints in short season ball.

I wasn’t super high on him coming out of the draft because I didn’t think he had super high upside, and that is the only kind of pitcher I want to invest in coming out of the draft.

I can’t decide if I think Puk is a buy, sell, or hold right now based on what he is doing. I think buy because he is putting up some great strikeout numbers and has that top-10 pick pedigree. Sell because he is doing it in short stints and you might be able to get someone to not notice and pay up for a top pick from last year’s draft. Then hold because… well, I don’t know what to really think.

Tyler Mahle P – Reds (AA)

  • 2017 (4 starts): 26 2/3 IP, 0.68 ERA, 0.45 WHIP, K: 27 (30%), BB: 5 (5.6%)

Mahle gets added to the long list of players that realized I just traded them away to then go out and do something amazing.

Mahle threw a perfect game Saturday and struck out eight. Mahle threw a no-hitter last season as well.

I had him as one of my preseason sleepers but I still don’t see Mahle as a great prospect even at his peak, even though he does have a no-hitter and a perfect game under his belt.

Mahle should be a safe prospect that in a deeper leagues carries more value to become a fourth or fifth fantasy starter. I see his future as a 7-8 K/9 pitcher with solid ERA and WHIP. He might be more valuable as a trade piece if he has another one of these great outings that people will get excited and you can throw him in instead of a high upside prospect.

Luis Urias 2B/3B/SS – Padres (AA)

  • 2017: .350/.418/.650, 2 HR, K: 9 (13.0%), BB: 7 (10.1%), 0 SB

Urias was a bit of a darling in the prospect community last year as he got called up to AAA for a brief appearance at just 19 while spending most of the year in high-A.

Urias is now just 19 and off to a hot start in AA with a surprising two homers already. Urias is a hit tool first prospect that lacks power so it is nice to see a few homers early on. I don’t see him ever being more than a 10 homer guy.

He can play all over the infield and that versatility will help him in his career. The hope is he can be a .300 hitter at the major league level because he doesn’t offer much anywhere else, although at just 19, maybe he can develop more power – I just wouldn’t count on it.

Checking in

Week 2

  • Jose Berrios gave up his first earned runs of the year while striking out five in five innings.
  • Michael Kopech struck out five in four innings, but walked three batters.
  • Brent Honeywell had a rough start in AAA. He only struck out one and gave up three earned over six innings.
  • Chance Adams posted an unexciting five strikeouts in five innings with only walked one.
  • Kyle Funkhouser bounced back from the rough start the week before with nine strikeouts in 4.2 innings.

Week 3

  • Juan Soto has brought his average up to .400 with seven hits in his last four games.
  • Mike Soroka saw a dip in the strikeouts (four), but only allowed one hit in five innings.
  • Carlos Rincon hit his sixth homer on Sunday and is hitting .340, but is still striking out a ton.
  • Ti’Quan Forbes has had three multi strikeout games and no homers since the last post. He is still hitting above .350, but the early success might be a hot streak and not a new trend.
  • Cedric Mullins hit his fourth homer and had his first multi strikeout game of the season, but is currently on the minor league DL.

 

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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.
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