Two months into the minor league season forces one to consider a lot of preseason rankings. Looking back at my personal fantasy top 100, Yordan Alvarez (25), Dylan Cease (41), and Brendan McKay (88) were too low. Meanwhile Xavier Edwards (34), Khalil Lee (58) and Austin Beck (97) were too high.
While I’ll look to rectify that once midseason lists roll out in a month (we’re basically waiting for July 2 signees), in the meantime we can shift our attention to sussing out some names that have buy low windows for one reason or another.
At this point of your season, there should be some clear divisions in your standings. It’s time to seek out the owners who are going for it in your dynasty league and see if they’re willing to sell some prospects at a discount for some win-now players. Or if you were quick to a pop-up prospect (Jarren Duran, Zac Gallen, Lolo Sanchez, etc), maybe flip one of them for some names that were established in the preseason but have been struggling and are now cheaper.
Because They’re Struggling
Forrest Whitley, RHP (HOU) - We have to get a couple of obvious ones out of the way. Whitley recently landed on the IL with shoulder soreness. That’s a good thing! It gives us something to point to for why he has a 12.21 ERA and more home runs allowed (9) in 24.1 IP this year than his entire professional career (7). Whitley entered the year as the unquestioned top pitching prospect in baseball and we expected him in the Houston rotation by now. I’m not expecting his value to drop to 50 cents on the dollar, but it might be down to…80 cents? Because of his proximity and skill, it doesn’t matter where you are in your contention window, you should make a play for him. Don’t let the numbers scare you.
Royce Lewis, SS (MIN) - I’m hoping to get looks at the former top pick next week when he visits Tampa so I could see what’s been plaguing him. He’s hitting .225/.289/.333 in High-A with 2 home runs and 10 steals. If you have a Baseball Prospectus subscription, here’s a good piece by Keanan Lamb on what he’s noticed from his live looks. I’ll let you dive into the details, but if you can’t, Lamb posits that it’s two specific mechanical flaws. Like Whitley, this is a strong buy low window for a universal top 10 prospect entering the year. Reports indicate Lewis is a strong makeup guy which usually insinuates they’ll work hard to figure out how to fix flaws. And sometimes, you just have to give the benefit of the doubt to the pedigree.
Jazz Chisholm, SS (ARI) - This is the riskiest bat in this list. Chisholm’s numbers have been very rough. He has a 34 K% and is hitting .169/.282/.427 in 49 games at Double-A. OK, time for the good news. His .179 BABIP is in the bottom two percent in the minors. He’s hitting for a ton of extra-base hits (.258 ISO), a trend that’s continued as he’s climbed the minors. He’s got an excellent 44 Hard Hit% according to Rotowire’s Leaderboards. And to top it off, he’s three years younger than his average competition. He was one of nine minor leaguers I said could be the top prospect in baseball one day. There are significant strides to make for Chisholm to right the ship, but the twitchy shortstop has a lot of underlying factors favoring him.
Sherten Apostel, 3B (TEX) - My love for Apostel is no secret. His blend of power and elite on-base skills are an attractive fantasy skill set. My fervor for him landed him 85th on our preseason list, undoubtedly an aggressive ranking. On the season, his .732 OPS is uninspiring. But you’d be ignoring his stretch of three weeks.
There’s still time to buy in because his start to the season was that poor. But another month and he’s likely going to be harder to buy. Send out some inquiries and see if you can’t make him a throw in. Just hope your leaguemates don’t follow me on Twitter.
Because They’re Injured
Michael Kopech, RHP (CHW) - The perfect scenario for buying Kopech is if his owner is near the top of the standings and has an obvious hole in his lineup. If you can offer something to help him now and get Kopech back, I’d do it. The sweet spot to buying in on a player that had Tommy John surgery is about eight months or so after surgery. An owner won’t sell immediately after surgery because usually they’re insulting low ball offers. But wait too long until the player starts throwing off a mound and now the end is in sight and price goes up. Kopech is in this sweet spot. I don’t expect him in 2019, but he should be ready to compete for a major league spot in 2020. He’s still a top 10 pitching prospect and has elite stuff.
Estevan Florial, OF (NYY) - This blurb is maybe one week too late, but what the hell. Florial returned to High-A on Monday after dislocating his wrist in March. Florial, who I still sincerely believe has No.1 prospect upside if it all clicked, has had a rough go of it the last couple of years between injuries and poor performance. Florial last left off as someone who needed to improve his pitch recognition on breakers inside the zone. The speed and power and a semblance of plate approach is there. He’s a risky prospect that could just as soon be off the top 100 as inside the top 25, but at his price he’s the type of buy low flier you aim for.
Eric Pardinho, RHP (TOR) - Pardinho’s throwing off a mound in extended spring training as he recovers from an elbow injury in his throwing arm. He’s yet to make his 2019 debut, leaving his value static or potentially a tad bit depressed. He’s a precocious 18-year-old waiting to make a full-season debut after his really strong performance in the GCL last year as a 17-year-old, which I cannot stress enough how big that was. Pitchers so far away from the bigs are a dangerous investment, and Pardinho doesn’t debut until 2022 at best. But he has the ability to remain a top 100 prospect from now until then and only climb higher.
Julio Rodriguez, OF (SEA) - This one will be the hardest to pull off in this tier, and I debated whether to include him at all. Rodriguez has been on the shelf since mid-April with a hairline fracture on his left hand after a hit by pitch. My reasoning is this: He was 11-for-31 in nine games with a 5/4 K/BB and three doubles in the Sally where he’s the second-youngest player in the league. If he kept up that hot start through now, he’d be a top 25 prospect. Buying Rodriguez is investing on someone who likely isn’t cheap, but isn’t anywhere near his peak value yet. Buying low doesn’t always mean for pennies on the dollar.
Michel Baez, RHP (SD) - Baez’s value tanked last year after he lost velocity on his fastball and his stuff as a whole regressed. This recommendation is based on his early showings after his return from right shoulder inflammation. According to Austin Hartsfield who covers the Double-A Sod Poodles, Baez’s velocity is back to the 95-97 range and holding in games. Remember that the 6-foot-8 monster was an easy top 100 prospect when he had his stuff in 2017. His trio of pitches that have flashed plus (FB/CB/CH) lay the foundation for a mid-rotation stalwart with upside for a tick more.