A little background on my home league before we dive into today’s post would be a good thing, as it is a custom Yahoo! league. It is a keeper 6×6 format with total bases and holds being the extra categories and with on-base percentage rather than batting average. The league is a snake draft, despite my best efforts to change it. Sporting the normal positions plus two catchers, CI and MI, as well as two OF positions in addition to individual LF/CF/RF slots and two utility options, it is a deep league.
There are eight pitcher slots without a starter or reliever distinction, six bench spots and potentially two disabled list slots. Without even counting the DL, there are 29 roster spots for 13 teams, plus a 10-man prospect list. Think of it almost as Ottoneu and 40-man rosters, but this league has been going on since 2008. The focus here will be on some of the prospects I’ve been able to acquire and my plan for each of them this season. Much like real baseball, if you own a prospect then you and only you can call him up and control him. There is a maximum of five keepers and a cost increase of value with each keeper based on rounds, so you cannot hold onto a Mike Trout player at the 29th round value forever.
Joc Pederson – CF
Given the distinction between each of the three outfield options, a center fielder who can hit is a real treat. If that same CFer can also hit with power and steal — and Pederson’s 30-30 season in Triple-A last year seems to prove that he can do it all — it seems as though Pederson could have a very strong fantasy season. Factor in his excellent walk rate he is virtually an ideal player in my league. With Matt Kemp no longer block his path, I’m counting on Pederson breaking camp with the Dodgers. Assuming he does so, I’ll be using one of my last picks to call up Pederson so I get him at incredible value.
Gregory Polanco – RF
While Polanco wasn’t called up until the second week of June, he nonetheless did flash some of the minor league success in the bigs. He cracked seven home runs in 312 plate appearances while nabbing 14 bases, though he was caught five times. A weak triple slash of .235/.307/.343 was disappointing and his .272 BABIP was surprising given his mix of speed and 49.5% ground ball rate. Polanco did have a slightly elevated infield fly rate at 11.6% versus a 9.6% league average, though pop up rate tends to normalize around the 500 PA mark. I have the option of calling up Polanco or letting him sit on my prospect list and I’m leaning towards letting him stay on my list. Steamer projections are within the realm of a 20-20 season so I may call him up mid-season if he gets off to a good start.
Jorge Soler – RF
The trend of national league outfielders continues with Soler! He got a cup of coffee in the majors at the end of 2014 and posted a .292/.330/.573, though a .339 BABIP certainly helped fuel that. Even in just 97 PA’s Soler flashed his home run power five times and he hit a collective 20 home runs across four levels last year. Presuming the right field slot in Wrigley is his, I think I’ll also hand the keys to my RF to Soler. Our own Kiley McDaniel wrote up Soler — among other top Cubs prospects — this past October and I can’t wait to see what Soler can do given 500+ PA’s.
Jake Marisnick – CF, RF
In our league Marisnick has lost his rookie eligibility and will have to be called up at some point this season in order for him to stay on my team. Of the four outfielders listed thus far he has the most questions as his low walk rate and less-than-ideal power don’t carry a ton of weight with our league settings. One thing Marisnick does have is a fair amount of speed. Though he stole just 11 bases last season in the big leagues, he did have an additional 24 in the minors. Unless he has some sort of breakout I’ll probably wait til the final day to call him up.
James Paxton – SP
Allow me to say that I adore Paxton’s stuff. His fastball is great, his knuckle-curveball is grand and his cutter and changeup are both solid pitches as well. That being said, his control is a bit iffy and there are injury concerns as well. As much as I like Paxton, I feel like the prudent move is to take a wait-and-see approach with him.
Noah Syndergaard – SP
While Syndergaard may have the potential to be the best starter on the Mets, he’ll probably have to wait for some time to get his shot in the big league. With a number of starters ahead of him on the depth chart, it would probably take a seriously impressive spring training or an injury to move Syndergaard up. Until official word comes down from the club regarding where he’ll be pitching, it’s hard for me to justify burning a year of his rookie eligibility in my league. I’ll probably wait to call him up just to maximize his value to me.
You can catch David spouting off about baseball, soccer, esports and other things by following him on twitter, @davidwiers.