Ottoneu: Prospect Hitters That Might Be Worth Rostering for 2024

Rostering minor leaguers in any Ottoneu format is super fun. It’s fun because you get to take a chance on a player. Build your roster now in order to plan for the future. Isn’t that what so many real-world teams are doing? Yet, it can be cumbersome to hold onto a player for a few years while paying them a $1 or more in salary when you really don’t know when and even if they will pan out.

A few months ago, I was up against this very challenge. Rostering Jack Leiter was exciting. He was a college pitcher with a lot of hype and talent and now a minor leaguer who has held onto both of those traits. But, I needed to try and quantify how much he would be worth in a few years. His MLB ETA isn’t until this season and likely the end of this season. Looking for a range of reasonable salary expectations, I used ZiPs’ 2024 and 2025 projections to get a sense of how to value Leiter in a few years. My analysis concluded that Leiter would likely only return somewhere around $4 in 2023 and that’s if he meets the higher end of likely outcomes. I was paying $6, too much for this year, so I cut him.

Rostering Leiter at $6 doesn’t make sense for 2023. But now that he is back on the waiver wire, should I attempt to re-roster him for $1? In order for that to make sense, two things need to happen. First, he needs to return over $1 of value in 2023. Second, he needs to return over $1 of value in 2024 and pass through arbitration untouched at the end of the 2023 season. Only then is he worth selecting for a $1. In this analysis, I’ll look at the players who are most likely to pass through those qualifiers. Choo! Choo! All aboard the hypothetical train! Here’s a map of our journey:

Step 1: Take a deep breath. A lot of assumptions are going to be made here. This is not an exact science. Please, do not rush to your player page and start auctioning off these players at these exact prices. Use these values as a jumping-off point.

Step 2: Grab a pool of minor league players who have not yet debuted from “The Board” with a Future FV value greater than or equal to 30 and subset it down to players with a “Current Level” not equal to “MLB”.

Step 3: Download ZiPs 2024 projections for the players in Step 2 and calculate their Ottoneu FanGraphs points totals based on those projections.

Step 4: Add those players into the auction calculator’s outputs, sort by rPTS, and see what the value is for players in that same rPTS area. Keep in mind, player value is altered by positional adjustments.

This process ultimately tells us what these players’ auction value could be if they play to their full zips projections in 2024 and the league looks identical to this season’s (2023) player pool. It tells us how much they should be valued for next year.

Out of the 271 prospects I downloaded from the board, 242 had a “Current Level” other than MLB. Of those 242, only 60 have been projected by ZiPs for 2024. Of those 60, only 15 (but number 1 on the list kind of doesn’t count) end up with a positive projected value in 2024. Here they are:

Projected Prospect Value for 2024
Name rPTS Pos aPOS Dollar Range
Masataka Yoshida 769.2 LF $20.33 $22-$26
Christian Encarnacion-Strand 749.0 3B $12.55 $18-20
Anthony Volpe 719.9 2B $15.03 $15-$16
Andy Pages 680.8 RF $20.33 $13-$15
Endy Rodriguez 633.2 C $24.10 $12-$14
Colton Cowser 650.6 LF $20.33 $11-$12
George Valera 640.4 RF $20.33 $9-$10
Noelvi Marte 656.7 3B $12.55 $5-$6
Michael Busch 655.3 DH $12.55 $5-$6
Matt Mervis 638.9 1B $14.73 $4-$5
Ceddanne Rafaela 609.9 CF $20.33 $4-$5
Elly De La Cruz 623.6 SS $14.55 $2-$3
Jordan Westburg 614.8 2B $15.03 $1-$2
Addison Barger 599.7 2B $15.03 $1-$2
Zac Veen 582.5 RF $20.33 $1-$2
*Ottoneu FanGraphs Points Leagues
**ZiPs projections

Now, it’s very, very possible that this process excluded some highly touted prospects. Hopefully, I was clear enough with my process that you can hypothesize as to why they were left out or replicate a version of this for yourself. This is not a top draftable prospects list. I repeat; This is not a top draftable prospects list. For example, where is Jordan Walker? Well, ZiPs doesn’t necessarily project Walker to be roster-able in 2024. Here’s where the Cardinals prospect stands in this process:

Jordan Walker Prospect Value Comps for 2024
Name rPTS Pos aPOS Dollar Range
Josh Lowe 539.1 OF $19.28 -$4.58
Jordan Walker 538.8 RF $19.28
Adam Duvall 537.6 OF $19.28 -$4.79
*Ottoneu FanGraphs Points Leagues
**ZiPs projections

Now, to see why Walker falls out of a roster-able projected salary, let’s look at his 2024 ZiPs projections compared to a couple players high on this list, Colton Cowser and Christian Encarnacion-Strand:

Prospect Comp by ZiPs
Christian Encarnacion-Strand 523 136 28 4 29 34 9 4 1
Colton Cowser 525 124 27 1 16 66 14 8 3
Jordan Walker 491 117 26 3 14 39 7 11 3
*Ottoneu FanGraphs Points Leagues
**ZiPs projections

You can see why Cowser has more projected value in 2024, but you can also see how this system has some flaws. Walker has already been creating a lot of buzz in Spring Training and many might look at that 2024 projection and scoff. Projecting players who haven’t appeared in the MLB yet is hard. Time is money and if I had more of it, I would go about the valuation a little more scientifically. Rather than comparing rPTS and suggesting a value range, it would be interesting to iterate through runs of the auction calculator, each time removing the player the minor leaguer would be replacing and determining value from a more believable player pool. I think I’ve gotten close enough for now. Roster any of the players listed above for $1, make it through the end of the 2023 season arbitration without their salaries increasing, and you have a good chance at value in 2024.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Joe Wilkeymember
1 year ago

“Second, he needs to return over $1 of value in 2024 and pass through arbitration untouched at the end of the 2023 season.”

First, if he returns more than $1 of value this season, this condition is not necessarily required, you’ve already returned value on him. On the other hand, let’s say he doesn’t play in the majors this year. He will still cost at least $2 in 2024 even without arbitration, so he will have to return at $2 in 2024 plus justify the cost of a roster spot this year. This is very team-dependent. If you have enough depth that your 40th roster spot is not needed to meet games played/innings pitched caps or you are so far out of the running that depth is not useful, using a roster spot on a $1 player you are counting on generating future value may be valuable. Otherwise, there is always inherent value in a roster spot, even for a below replacement level player, if you’re in the running for a money spot. If you’re going to fall short of games/IP at a position, even a 2 PT/G or 2 PT/IP is better than nothing.

Joe Wilkeymember
1 year ago
Reply to  Lucas Kelly

I guess it’s just the wording then, it’s worded the same as the 2023 statement, so I assumed they meant the same thing, i.e., returning the same value.