Undervalued Fantasy Baseball Targets for Dynasty Rookie Drafts
Y'all have heard of the names Kris Bryant, Byron Buxton, Rusney Castillo and Yoan Moncada. They're the guys that make picking at the top end of a dynasty rookie draft easy. It's after that where things start to get a little murkier.
If you're in a deep league, you will eventually get to a point where you're staring at names and playing the game, "Baseball player or exotic drink?" While it's fun to imagine what a "Manuel Margot" or a "Touki Toussaint" would taste like, it's not exactly the most highly-recommended strategy.
Below is a list of a couple of guys that aren't likely to go within the first two rounds of your rookie draft, but are still solid targets assuming you are in a large-roster league. Once you get past these guys, your guess is as good as mine, but I hear a tall Rymer Liriano goes down smooth after a hard day. Let's get to it.
Michael Conforto, OF, New York Mets
Conforto wasn't the 10th overall pick last year for nothing -- dude can rake. He validated this thought by jumping straight into low-A ball and posting a .396 wOBA. Because he's most likely to play a corner outfield spot, his value is higher in leagues that don't specify which outfield position a player occupies.
Conforto will most likely start this year either at low-A again or up at high-A, so he's not yet knocking down the door of the majors. However, he checked in as the 41st overall prospect on Keith Law's Top 100 list, largely for his bat. The offseason Michael Cuddyer signing shows the Mets are totally DGAF'ing on defense, which could speed Conforto's ascent through the minors even more. He's a safe pick with his high-OBP and power potential, so I'd have no problem with taking Conforto relatively early on.
Trea Turner, SS, Washington Nationals
You could make an argument that Trea Turner shouldn't be on this list as he is a fairly well-known asset. However, I was recently in a draft with teams that had already acquired most of the top minor-league prospects, and Turner still was not selected until late in the second. That's under-the-radar enough for me.
Does your league emphasize speed? Great. Turner stole 30 bases in 78 minor-league games last year. In an on-base percentage roto league? Superb! He had a .447 on-base percentage in A-ball with the Padres last year. That was coupled with a .529 slugging percentage and a .369 batting average to make me drool a completely appropriate amount. Brudduh whaled in his first partial professional season.
Aaron Judge, OF, New York Yankees
Aaron Judge is similar to Turner in that you could argue he shouldn't be on this list because most dynasty owners know of him. I'm including him, however, because he is almost criminally under-appreciated. The exception here would be The Dynasty Guru, which ranked him 270th overall, ahead of most minor-league prospects.
Last year was Judge's first season of professional ball, and Judge murked pitchers wherever he went. He rose from rookie ball all the way to high-A by the end of the year, mashing 21 home runs in 669 plate appearances. He also had a walk rate of 17.5 percent at high-A ball, meaning you can probably count on him for a solid on-base percentage once he reaches the majors.
At each of the three levels he played last year, Judge had a wOBA of .390 or higher. ZiPS projects that if he were to play in the big leagues this year, he would have a .312 wOBA despite never having played double-A or higher. His 6'7, 230-pound build limits his speed, but the young man's power is real. Bring a helmet if you're sitting in the outfield at Yankee Stadium when he makes his debut.
Daniel Robertson, SS, Tampa Bay Rays
If you decide to draft Daniel Robertson, make sure you draft this Daniel Robertson. There is another Daniel Robertson who plays for the Los Angeles Angels who is 29 and decidedly less swoon-worthy than the one who now plays for the Rays.
This Robertson just turned 21 a few days ago and was the centerpiece of the trade that sent Ben Zobrist to Oakland. In his age-20 season, Robertson was able to post a .310/.402/.471 slash at high-A ball. He belted 15 home runs in 642 plate appearances to go with 37 doubles. He should go long after guys like Conforto and Turner, but he can still provide some serious value given his draft slot.
Anybody on the Houston Astros
Last year, after the MLB Draft, I wrote about how the Houston Astros were the clear-cut winners. They ended up taking a giant dump on that by not signing Brady Aiken, but the offensive prospects they landed are still looking pretty sweet.
They planted Derek Fisher, a sandwich-round pick, in low-A, where he produced a slash of .303/.378/.408 with a .366 wOBA in 172 plate appearances. This was coupled with 17 stolen bases, making Fisher a solid pick. I still wouldn't rank him the highest among that draft-class, though. That honor would go to A.J. Reed.
Reed is a bit limited because his position is first base, but he has the power to back it up. Reed played at both low-A and A ball last year. In both locations, he had at least 135 plate appearances while posting a slugging percentage of .516 or higher. The lower of his two wOBA's was a .383 mark in A-ball. The presence of Jon Singleton makes you wonder where Reed fits in with the big-league club, but that's not a huge concern right now. I'd just get huge bats, and Reed is certainly one of them.
The sneaky value here might be J.D. Davis. Davis, in all likelihood, will not be selected in your draft. I'd keep your eye on him, though, because if he starts 2015 off hot, he is a must-add. He played at the same levels as Reed and actually had a higher wOBA in A-ball at .397. Davis is a solid third-basemen who hit 95 on the bump when he was a pitcher at Cal State-Fullerton, so this could help speed his track to the majors. Again, I wouldn't recommend drafting him, but he is a guy who needs to at least be on your radar as 2015 begins.
Nick Burdi, RP, Minnesota Twins
Looking for a reliever that can contribute within the 2015 season? That, my friends, may end up being Nick Burdi. The Twins' second-round pick last year throws, by my scientific guesstimation, 170 miles per hour, which is usually good. He made it all the way to high-A last year after the draft, and he could see time in the big leagues by the end of the year. His 38 strikeouts in 20.1 minor-league innings show he should not be long for that world.
There are two problems with Burdi. First, the Twins already have Glen Perkins, who is pretty dope himself. This limits Burdi's short-term value to leagues that count both saves and holds.
Second, relievers suck. They are the kickers of fantasy baseball and should not exist. But, if you can snag a guy like Burdi (who went undrafted in my aforementioned experimental draft) in the final round, you could be in store for some seasons of stupidly good bullpen numbers down the road.
Alex Reyes, SP, St. Louis Cardinals
Last year, Reyes was in his age-19 season, playing A-ball in the Cardinals system. As a 19-year-old prospect in his second year of professional baseball, Reyes averaged 11.28 strikeouts per nine innings in 109.1 innings pitched. That is grossness in the form of numbers.
Sure, he still has control issues (5.02 walks per nine that season), and he's a long way from the big leagues. But if you're looking for a guy that's going to rack up the K's each time he's on the mound, you should be willing to at least take a chance on Reyes.
Eduardo Rodriguez, SP, Boston Red Sox
Eduardo Rodriguez skews more toward the major-league side of things as he will most likely start the year with Triple-A Pawtucket. He brings the immediacy, but he also brings the age as he will turn 22 on April 7th.
Rodriguez checked in as the 29th-ranked player on Law's prospect list and for good reason. He has posted a FIP in the mid-3.00's almost every stop on his journey despite starting in the Orioles system at the age of 17. That's a solid track record, and the fact that he's knocking on the doorstep of the majors should make him even more intriguing.