Here Come the Prospects: Rangers and Athletics

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 is likely to turn the Jose Reyes soap opera and a 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 the Dodgers/Padres, Giants/Rockies and Diamondbacks/Angels.

Rangers

2016 Sleeper: Nomar Mazara, OF: Just 20, Mazara could nonetheless be an impact player in 2016 if the opportunity presents itself. The young outfielder also has to convince the club that he deserves playing time over another stud outfield prospect, Lewis Brinson. Impressively, Mazara opened ’15 in double-A as a teenager and hit quite well, which earned him a promotion to triple-A late in the year. He has 30+ home run potential in a full big league season.

2017 Stud: Dillon Tate, RHP: A 2015 first-rounder, Tate could move swiftly through the Rangers system, which doesn’t have a lot of impact pitching depth. Originally a college reliever, the right-hander has doubters over his ability to stay healthy as a starter due to his delivery and slight frame. If he can remain a starter, though, he has the stuff to be an impact, front-line starter. He reached low-A ball in his debut but should open 2016 in high-A and should reach double-A by the end of the year.

Long-term Investment: Eric Jenkins, OF: Texas’ hitting prospects tend to be known more for their ability to hit the ball a long way than anything else. The ultra-athletic Jenkins stole 28 bases in 31 tries during his debut — just 56 games. He also has the raw skills necessary to develop into a premium defensive center-fielder. Although power is not his stronger tool, Jenkins does have the potential to hit lots of doubles and triples, thanks to the gap pop in his bat.

Athletics

2016 Sleeper: Sean Manaea, LHP: Injuries have haunted Manaea through both his amateur and pro career, causing him to slip in the draft and to lose development time over the past three seasons. He made just 14 starts last year but struck out 90 batters in 74.1 innings. The southpaw opened some eyes in Athletics camp this spring after coming over in a trade with the Royals during the offseason. He has the skill to develop into a No. 2 or 3 starter for Oakland if his body holds up.

2017 Stud: Matt Chapman, 3B: Veteran journeyman Danny Valencia will open the year as Oakland’s third baseman but Chapman should be a permanent fixture by the end of 2017. He won’t make fans forget Josh Donaldson but he has the potential to hit 30+ home runs and produce some strong on-base percentages despite the fact he’ll likely hit for a low batting average. Chapman and first base prospect Matt Olson could eventually pair up to make Oakland Coliseum look very small.

Long-term Investment: Dakota Chalmers, RHP: The organization has done a nice job of amassing an impressive group of hitting prospects but the pitching depth is somewhat thin. Beyond Manaea, Chalmers has perhaps the next highest ceiling — although at 19 he’s much further away from realizing his full potential. He can currently tickle the upper 90s with his fastball and could see his potential skyrocket once he polishes his secondary offerings.





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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jsman25
6 years ago

Hey mark, quick question. In a 4×4 dynasty. Who do you like better, Brendan Rodgers or Alex Reyes?