If you’ve read Prospects Live before I’m sure you’re familiar with our organizational top 30 prospect lists. Those lists and the subsequent top 100 fantasy list do a fantastic job of diving in and telling you how to value players that still have their rookie eligibility. But what about those in limbo who have just crossed the 130 at-bat threshold? Or those who spent too much time on the big league roster? Where do they slot in? What’s their fantasy outlook?
I gathered some interesting 25-and-under bats that lost their eligibility in 2018 or slightly before but still haven’t broken through. These are the type of dynasty assets that can be acquired on the cheap. Recency bias is real and none of these players are eligible for prospect lists. I’ve separated them into catchers, infielders and outfielders. They are in no particular order. Enjoy!
Age: 24 (2/24/95)
.181/.288/.269, 2 HR, .088 ISO, 59 wRC+, 35.9 K%, 7.1 BB%, 1 SB - MLB
At 24, there’s still plenty of hope for the Orioles catcher of the future. Sisco has shown an ability to hit for average in the minor leagues with above-average minor league contact rates while also posting above-average walk rates. He lacks power at present but catchers are notorious for developing late and I’m betting on 15+ homer pop in the future here. Baltimore has no reason not to develop Sisco at the big league level in 2019, and he is a worthwhile gamble in two catcher leagues as there’s enough upside here to be a top 15 catcher.
Age: 24 (7/14/94)
.269/.378/.395, 7 HR, .126 ISO, 107 wRC+, 13.8 K%, 13.8 BB% - AAA
The former Cardinals catcher of the future is now the Diamondbacks catcher of the present after coming over as part of the Paul Goldschmidt deal. The former third baseman has a strong defensive reputation behind the plate, but his defense did take a step back last year and the Cardinals elected to play Francisco Pena more when Yadier Molina went on the disabled list. Offensively the plate skills are plus and he will take a walk, but he hits the ball on the ground too often for someone with 20-grade speed. Kelly is nothing more than your second rostered catcher for fantasy this season, but there is some batting average upside here. If Kelly was eligible for the Diamondbacks list I would slot him eighth directly behind teenage shortstop Geraldo Perdomo.
Age: 23 (6/15/95)
.224/.255/.420, 5 HR, .196 ISO, 84 wRC+, 31.5% K, 2.7% BB- MLB
With the flurry of transactions for the Mets this winter I’ll forgive you if you forgot about former first rounder Dominic Smith. As a matter of fact, I’d bet that Dom himself is glad you forgot about him, because normally first basemen that slug .380 in Las Vegas aren’t remembered for the best reasons.
Coming into 2018 nobody questioned the hit tool with Smith, and three straight seasons hitting over .300 will make sure of that. The big question was the projected power output, and it’s becoming more and more clear that he might not have enough power for the position. What’s more alarming though is the complete erosion of his plate skills, as the strikeout and walk rate regressed in the wrong directions. He’s always been aggressive but he was flashing some power before that. The power and patience need to return in 2019 or Smith is in serious trouble. The presence of Pete Alonso and others makes it difficult to see where Smith fits in. He appears to be noticeably slimmer early on in 2019, and it looks like his best hope is he either learns to play left field or he holds down first base until Alonso is ready. Dom Smith would rank fifth for me on Jason Woodell’s Mets list.
Age: 22 (2/27/96)
.259/.357/.514, 18 HR, .255 ISO, 125 wRC+, 31.8 K%, 11.7% BB, 5 SB - AAA
Take a look at that age. Barreto has the distinction of reaching the big leagues at 21 years old which isn’t something that happens very often in the age of suppressed service time and teams maximizing cost-controlled years. As a teenager in the Blue Jays system, Barreto possessed advanced plate skills and the speed and instincts to potentially steal 30 bases from the six. Since the trade he’s filled out and added more power, but it’s come at the expense of the stolen bases and the approach. Now Barreto is an aggressive second baseman with burgeoning raw power that draws some similarities to Twins second baseman Jonathan Schoop. If Barreto can get his contact rates back towards his Blue Jays days (80%) as opposed to the 65 percent range like it is now, he will be a threat for 30 big flies. The Jurickson Profar acquisition likely sends Barreto to the new Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas. Not exactly the place you want to be to work on your plate skills. Barreto would be my third ranked A’s prospect behind the pair of front-line lefties.
Age: 25 (4/7/93)
.239/.319/.408, 6 HR, .168 ISO, 95 wRC+, 28.6 K%, 9 BB%, 3 SB - MLB
Bote was the Cubs 18th-round pick in the 2012 draft. Generally regarded as little more than organizational depth, something clicked in 2017. Bote made a swing change and began unlocking some power. He hit 14 homers while in Double-A, which doubled his previous single-season high. He had a flair for the dramatic during his big league cup of coffee in 2018, and flashed his raw pop and ability to take a walk. He needs to elevate the ball more though. His near 30 K% and high groundball percentages put a serious cap on the offensive ceiling. His biggest obstacle is the depth chart, and Bote seems ticketed to Iowa to begin the season due to the Cubs depth. He’s only rosterable in dynasty leagues of 20 or more teams due to his role as a bench player.
Age: 24 (1/11/95)
.214/.319/.393, 3 HR, .179 ISO, 96 wRC+, 26.8 K%, 9.4 BB%, 2 SB - MLB
Hand, forearm and shoulder injuries limited the former top prospect to only 49 games with the Phillies last season, but the Mariners thought highly enough of him to get him as part of the return for Jean Segura. Crawford’s glove, ability to take a walk, and overall athleticism make him the Mariners shortstop of the future. There’s a touch of power and speed upside here, but his contact rate has dipped below 70 percent during his brief Major League time. He needs to make more consistent quality contact to be anything other than a deep league play. If you’ve ever wondered what Kolten Wong could do if he played shortstop, it’s your lucky day!
Age: 24 (12/14/94)
.232/.307/.376, 5 HR, .144 ISO, 68 wRC+, 31.7 K%, 8.9 BB%, 1 SB - MLB
In 125 career Triple-A games McMahon owns a .337/.379/.577 slash line with 25 homers. He cracked the Rockies’ opening day roster last season but was never really given a chance for steady playing time and bounced back and forth from Albuquerque in order to work on his defense at second and third base. The added versatility puts McMahon in position to win the second base job in camp, but it looks like Garrett Hampson is the early front runner for that job. Nolan Arenado’s record-breaking extension makes the long term outlook for McMahon that much murkier. It’s a frustrating situation but in dynasty leagues I’d hold him. The hard hit rates show budding pop, but he just needs to make more consistent contact.
Age: 24 (10/24/94)
.235/.306/.416, 16 HR, .181 ISO, 88 wRC+, 28.3 K%, 7.7 BB%, 1 SB
The former top prospect spent his entire age 23 season as the starting first baseman for the Texas Rangers. He didn’t hit like a first baseman should, posting below average offensive numbers across the board, but some modest power gains in the second half show some growth and a chance at fantasy relevance in 2019. His long levers and overall inexperience led to his 28 K%, and he’s sat somewhere around 18 to 20 percent for his minor league career so he should improve there in 2019. Guzman is a name to file away in 20-team leagues, but anything more than that and he’s likely rostered.
Age: 23 (6/22/95)
.254/.303/.500, 9 HR, .246 ISO, 114 wRC+, 40.1 K%, 4.9 BB%, 2 SB- MLB
O’Neill destroyed Triple-A pitching last season as he hit .311/.385/.693 with 26 homers in only 64 games. The power output carried over to the big leagues as he hit one homer for every 14 at-bats in St. Louis. He’s more athletic than you think and is a plus runner that can cover some ground in the outfield. The problem? A 40 K%. The Cardinals are trying to win and also have committed to Fowler as the primary right fielder (can you do both?) so it’s not the ideal situation for the King of the North because he has nothing left to prove in Triple-A. The only way you can learn to hit big league pitching is in the big leagues. He’s the best defensive option available to them in right, and at the moment is also the backup centerfielder. Inconsistent playing time for a guy with contact issues isn’t ideal. I had O’Neill as a top 20 dynasty prospect and I truly think there’s 40-15 ceiling here.
Age: 24 (9/6/94)
.311/.389/.574, 10 HR, .263 ISO, 170 wRC+, 24.1 K%, 10.6 BB%, 4 SB - AAA
It’s easy to fall in love with the shiny new toy in the Bronx these days, and with all the love being shown to Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar and Luke Voit, I wonder if the fans have any left for Frazier. They should because as soon as Frazier entered the organization he was the Yankees farmhand you wanted to roster in fantasy. Frazier sustained a concussion after a spring training collision with the outfield wall and started the 2018 season on the disabled list. He rehabbed and was called up to the Bronx a few times, but on July 19 he played his last game after symptoms flared up again.
When healthy Frazier has one of the quickest bats in all of baseball. His offensive game revolves around his plus raw power, strong batting eye, and plus speed. His contact rates have hovered around 70 percent in the big leagues which will put a cap on the hit tool and limit the power output. Frazier could have a David Dahl type bounce back if he can stay on the field. If he were currently prospect eligible he would easily be the number one Yankees prospect.
Age: 23 (5/3/95)
.287/.325/.461, 6 HR, .174 ISO, 110 wRC+, 20.9 K%, 5.2 BB%, 5 SB
It’s been a bumpy ride for the ninth overall selection in the 2013 draft, as the talented outfielder has battled injury after injury thus far in his pro career. In fact, 2018 was only the second season in his career that he was able to play in over 100 games. Meadows reached the big leagues last season with the Pirates before getting sent to Tampa as the centerpiece of the deal for Chris Archer.
Meadows was a consensus top ten prospect prior of the 2017 season but dropped down to the 40-60 range for 2018 due to his inability to stay on the field. Nobody is questioning the tools here as Meadows has a plus hit tool and an above-average power and speed combination that have turned him into a very interesting speculative add in the middle rounds of your 12-team league, but that comes with considerable health risks. Meadows is polished enough that he could hit .270 and flirt with twenty homers and stolen bases if he gets enough run.
Age: 25 (8/21/93)
.251/.363/.435, 10 HR, .184 ISO, 113 wRC+, 30.2 K%, 13.9 BB%, 11 SB - AAA
The former Virginia Cavalier was the 37th overall pick in the 2014 draft by the Astros. His pro career to this point has been a bit of a mixed bag, as he’s posted strong power and speed numbers, but the rest of his game around those “glamour stats” has questions. Fisher joins a long list of former Cavalier hitters with heavy groundball tendencies, joining guys like Jake McCarthy, Matt Thaiss, Ernie Clement and others that have come out of Charlottesville with groundball rates near or above 50 percent. Fisher owns a 53 percent groundball rate for his career this far. That needs to change if he’s going to fully tap into that plus raw power. His career contact rate at the big league level is only 57 percent so that also needs to change.
Despite all of this we’re still looking at a guy who owns a career OBP over .370 in the minors, and has over 100 steals and three seasons over 20 homers to his name. Despite his plus speed he’s limited to left field due to a poor throwing arm and overall defensive abilities. The move to left puts even more pressure on the bat though. The emergence of Kyle Tucker complicates things even more for Fisher as he is no longer the first man up if the Astros need outfield help. He needs a trade, but if you’re in a dynasty league I’d hold if you can. There’s still some upside here, and if he was prospect eligible he’d rank fifth on the Astros list.
Age: 24 (11/4/94)
.294/.351/.431, 9 HR, .137 ISO, 104 wRC+, 10 K%, 6.8 BB%, 4 SB - AAA
Calhoun was the primary return in a deadline deal that sent Yu Darvish to the Dodgers. Throughout his minor league career Calhoun has displayed the rare ability to hit for power while having a strikeout rate around 10 percent, which is incredible in this day and age. Unfortunately he hasn’t hit for power in the big leagues yet while seeing his strikeout rate jump to a still manageable 20 percent. He also has the ability to post strong batting averages. Calhoun has zero speed and is a negative on defense so it’s difficult to find a spot for him on the Rangers roster that also includes Shin-Soo Choo. He may not have much impact in 2019 but is a name to watch. He needs to be rostered in all 12-team dynasty leagues. I’m still in. His 82 percent career contact rate and ability to lift the ball is an appealing offensive profile.
Age: 24 (12/29/94)
.224/.256/.354, 6 HR, .130 ISO, 65 wRC+, 23.2 K%, 3.9 BB%, 6 SB
Fowler recovered nicely from a freak knee injury he suffered in Chicago as a member of the Yankees, and put up a combined 10 homers and 19 stolen bases between Triple-A and MLB. He’s an aggressive guy who won’t walk much so he likely is a better fit near the bottom of a big league lineup, but he does have 20/20 upside if Oakland commits to him as their everyday centerfielder. The emergence of Ramon Laureano complicates things a bit, but Fowler has more consistent production throughout his minor league career. He’s another guy to wait and see on. There’s a chance he can win one of the outfield jobs out of camp. Being another year removed from surgery can only help.
Age: 24 (2/4/95)
.302/.352/.495, 11 HR, .194 ISO, 119 wRC+, 18 K%, 6.8 BB%, 21 SB
I can’t quit this guy, although it seems like the Rockies have. Despite his skills, Tapia was only given 27 plate appearances over 25 games last year for the Rockies despite David Dahl missing half the season. That says a lot right there. I still love the batting average upside here, and combined with modest power and above-average speed and Coors Field is a worthwhile flier. We never say this but I can’t wait for the Rockies to trade Tapia so he can get a chance somewhere else. He has nothing left to prove in the minor leagues and it’s time to see what this kid can do in the big leagues. He’s out of options, so the Rockies have no choice but to keep him on the roster or risk losing him.