Here Come the Prospects: Mets and Nationals

When it comes to fantasy baseball, not all prospects are created equally. In keeper leagues and dynasty leagues it’s important to have strategies around your prospects; you don’t want to just randomly grab a Top 10 or 20 prospect and hope for the best.

Along with skill, knowing a player’s ETA is key. Is the player advanced enough to help in 2016… or is he headed for a 2019 debut? Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is a talented dude but he’s not likely to visit the Great White North until 2020. Chicago (AL) drafted Carson Fulmer in 2015 with the eighth overall pick but he’s considered advanced enough to perhaps help the club in ’17. And then there’s Colorado’s Trevor Story, who has turned the Jose Reyes soap opera and strong spring into a ’16 starting gig.

As a result, your strategy around acquiring prospects should vary. If you’re grabbing a guy earmarked to help in 2017 or later, you should look at them like a stock — an investment that you hope to see increase in value before you cash out (either by adding to your active roster or by trading for an opportunity to win sooner). You also have to consider if you’re truly committed to a long-range prospect and willing to commit a roster spot to someone who may not help for three or four years — if at all. Prospects with a ’16 or ’17 should be viewed as players that can be valuable (albeit potentially inconsistent) contributors to the current makeup of your roster at a reasonable cost.

Over the course of the next few weeks we’ll have a look at the expect time frames for key prospects in each organization. So far we’ve looked at:

Pirates/White Sox
Indians and Tigers

New York Mets

2016 Sleeper: Gavin Cecchini, SS: The brother of Garin Cecchini, Gavin has turned himself into a nifty little prospect, although he’ll never be a huge impact guy. The middle infielder is a solid defender and could play either shortstop or second base in the majors for the Mets. At the plate, he projects to hit for a decent average and his done an excellent job tightening up his approach and currently has more walks than strikeouts in triple-A (12-11 BB-K). He’ll never hit for much pop or steal a ton of bases so his offensive value is mostly tied to his ability to get on base.

2017 Stud: Amed Rosario, SS: OK so the 2017 might be a bit of a stretch but I truly believe Rosario is advanced enough to be ready before the middle of next year if the club can find a place to play him defensively. I’ve been ranking him more aggressively than most for the last three years or so and he broke out in ’15. His success has continued in high-A ball this season. He has a ,300 average and is showing increasingly more pop. He could be a 15-15 (HR-SB) down the road.

Long-term Investment: Wuilmer Becerra, OF: The R.A. Dickey trade with Toronto could get a lot more ugly for the Blue Jays even as Travis d’Arnaud loses some of his shine as a potential impact catcher. Becerra has overcome an ugly hit-by-pitch to his face in the low minors to develop into a strong offensive player. Currently in high-A ball he’s hitting more than .370 after breaking out in low-A ball in ’15. He hasn’t hit for a ton of power yet but he projects to hit 15-20 homers in the future. Investments in the draft and the international market have given the Mets an embarrassment of riches in the lower minors.

Washington Nationals

2016 Sleeper: Andrew Stevenson, OF: The Nationals are likely to receive contributions from top prospects Lucas Giolito and Trea Turner in 2016 but neither qualifies as a sleeper. As a result I’m going to go off script and suggest Stevenson — a brilliant defender in center field who has done nothing but hit as a pro (unexpectedly well). Playing in high-A ball right now, he’s hitting .341 with more walks than strikeouts (13-10) and 10 steals. He may not be long for high-A ball, which is why it’s not that hard to envision him reaching the Majors in 2016 — even as a 2015 draft pick.

2017 Stud: Erick Fedde, RHP: A first rounder of the Nationals in 2014, Fedde’s pro debut was delayed until 2015 thanks to Tommy John surgery in college. But that also goes to show how highly regarded he was prior to the injury. Despite his 4.91 ERA, the right-hander has pitched well in ’16 in high-A ball with 28 Ks and just seven walks in 22 innings. He has the stuff to develop into a solid No. 2 starter for the Nationals.

Long-term Investment: Victor Robles, OF: An ultra athletic player, Robles also has premium makeup to go along with an advanced approach on the diamond. He plays an outstanding center field and understands his strengths and weaknesses as a hitter. Robles will never be a big home run guy but if he continues to develop on this same path he could be a star. Through 22 games in low-A ball he has a .474 on-base percentage, a .351 batting average, and 11 steals.

Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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Any catcher to keep an eye on for this season? I only got Wilson Contreras and Gary Sanchez but those sound like “break glass in case of injury” types. Contreras could be up in June I think…