We released our Top 100 fantasy list yesterday, complete with blurbs on everyone to give context as to why they rose or dropped from their preseason list spot. As Matt mentioned in our accompanying podcast, lists are a snapshot in time. Those snapshots sometimes expire quickly and even just a day after publishing I guarantee the three of us would change some rankings.
Here’s a chance for us to make a pitch for changes in the list. Below you’ll find a name from each of us that we think should have been ranked higher. Got anyone you think should have been higher in our list? Leave a comment below and let us know.
Jordan Groshans (45th on T100, 26th by Eddy) - Injuries suck. Not just for the obvious reasons, but because the time missed tends to start eating away at a prospect’s value. It’s understandable; you don’t really have room to climb when you’re not on the field. Jordan Groshans is currently suffering from this effect. A stress injury to a bone in his left foot has had him on the shelf for almost two months and there’s still no timetable for his return.
So why am I touting a guy who has played just 23 games this year? Groshans impressed me a lot at the plate in his short time, especially when taking into consideration the conscious changes he’s made. In this excellent FanGraphs article, Groshans talked about understanding that he didn’t need to come in and be as aggressive as he was last year. Lo and behold, his BB% jumped to 13 percent from seven percent last year in rookie ball. He also quieted his leg kick and learned to start using all fields more. These changes have been producing fast results, as he hit .337/.427/.482 early on (.433 BABIP caveat).
That a 19-year-old is taking to instructions so well and able to put into practice what he’s learning is very encouraging. He’d have been in High-A had it not been for the injury. If an owner is not as attached, jump in there and scoop him up because Groshans has the upside to climb higher than his spot on our Top 100.
Alec Bohm (55th on T100, 32nd by Matt) - The third overall pick in the 2018 draft; Bohm had a difficult introduction to pro ball as he struggled to drive the ball while missing time after fouling a ball off of his knee. We had our guys on the ground watching Bohm last season, and the reports weren’t great. He was a guy caught in between, struggling with his timing and making an unhealthy amount of weak contact. The right-handed hitting Bohm was hitting the ball on the ground to the right side too much; and the numbers checked out. During his 40-game sample in 2018 Bohm had a staggering 58% ground ball rate with an equally troubling 27% pull rate. He finished 2018 with a .252/.335/.324 slash line with zero homers.
This year it’s a different story. Bohm has climbed from Lakewood through Clearwater and up to Double-A Reading while also appearing in the Futures Game. He’s earned his promotions and has a cumulative .325/.397/.532 line with 10 homers. He’s looking more like the player scouts loved on the Cape, and the player that hit .339/.436/.625 as a junior at Wichita State. The plate skills here are elite for a guy with plus-plus raw, and his strikeout rate has remained steady at 14 percent despite the vastly different production from 2018 to 2019.
There are still many ways a long-limbed power hitter can go as he develops, but the most reasonable outcome for Bohm is something along the way of a 50/55 hitter with 60/65 power. He’s going to fill out and he’s still leaner than you would expect for someone with 70-raw pop. There are some questions about whether third base is his long term home or if he has to move to first. I think he can be good enough at third to stick there, and should be ranked closer to the 32nd ranking I gave rather than the 55 overall rank.
Nick Solak, 2B Rays (79th on T100, 58 by Ralph) - The Rays love versatile players and Solak fits that mold. He plays most of his time at second but sees regular work in the outfield. This is fantasy however, does his defensive versatility really matter? Yes, and here’s why, his defensive flexibility paired with his skill set might earn him an everyday gig in a burgeoning lineup. If there’s one characteristic the Tampa organization values in a player its versatility, and Solak has shown that on both sides of the ball.
I love players that walk at a high rate, it’s a bias that has been reinforced over the years. On base skills, and that ability to grind out at bats and make pitchers work leads to opportunity and that in turn leads to success. It’s the sign of a smart hitter. Certainly not an earth shattering concept in the least. Solak has shown plus on base ability since his days at Louisville, and that has continued throughout his professional career. He’s started to show slightly above-average in game power in 2018 and is enjoying his first .200+ ISO in 2019 (thanks Triple-A Juicy Balls). Another case for everyday playing time are his splits, his OPS vs righties and lefties is about even (.849 OPS vs RHP - .802 OPS vs LHP), and that’s a checkmark for the non-platoon board.
He hasn’t run much this year (3-for-5), but he’s clocked 60 run times, and coming into 2019 had stolen 42 bases on 53 attempts. To summarize, Solak has on base ability, power, speed, no split issues, and multi-position eligibility. Oh, and did I mention he’s in Triple-A? He’s essentially a better version of Brandon Lowe, and with Lowe’s inflated BABIP and split issues (50 K% vs. LHP), he might cut into his playing time. To put that into perspective, at the time of writing this Lowe is the 11th ranked second baseman for fantasy on the Razzball Player Rater.
The argument against Solak is simple: he lacks flair, there’s no plus power or double-plus speed. It’s a second base/corner outfield profile, and at 24 he’s a tad on the older side. To top it all off he’s sandwiched between Lowe at the MLB level and Vidal Brujan now at Double-A Biloxi. I get it, but I don’t feel it. I was the highest rank (58) by 30-40 spots, and I think a rank of 60-65 overall bakes in the risk enough. A top five fantasy second baseman at peak doesn’t seem all that far-fetched with his combination of skills. I’ll settle for the top 10-15 as his most realistic outcome, but ultimately a player owned and started in all dynasty formats.