Playing For Next Year — More Bench Bats to Consider

Yesterday, I discussed five bench bats to consider adding in your keeper league if you’re playing for next year. Why not fill your entire roster with cheap flyers who could make for great keepers next year if they win a starting job? Let’s continue those names with another four.

Mickey Moniak | PHI OF

Heading into the season, Moniak was ranked as the team’s 19th best prospect. His scouting grades suggest no standout skill, but perhaps a respectable batting average and some stolen bases. His minor league track record almost matches those grades. Through 2019, his HR/FB rate never reached double digits. He was still knocking extra-base hits that resulted in a decent .187 ISO though, so one could hope some of those doubles and triples eventually become home runs.

That’s exactly what happened this year, as his HR/FB rate jumped to 12.6% at Triple-A, while his ISO barely increased. That’s still not an exciting level of power, but at least it gets him closer to league average. His FB% has increased every season so perhaps he’s attempting to tap more into his power. Unfortunately, the solid Hit grade he received hasn’t actually translated into a good batting average and more fly balls isn’t going to turn that around.

Moniak has stolen as many as 15 bases in the minors, but he attempted a steal a bit less frequently at Triple-A this season. His Sprint Speed is slightly higher than the league average, so it’ll entirely depend on his willingness to steal at the MLB level. I don’t see a whole lot to be excited by here, so he’s a consideration strictly if you’re collecting potential keepers, but he should remain near the bottom of your list of candidates.

Jose Barrero | CIN SS

Sooo, Barrera was ranked as the Reds best prospect and 27th overall, meaning he’s very likely already rostered in your keeper league, depending on its depth. Just goes to show you how much I keep up with prospects since I never heard of him. Being in an AL-Only keeper league also means my knowledge of NL prospects is even more limited! Barrero was recalled on Sep 10 and has made two starts since, so he’s clearly not going to impact fantasy leagues this year.

By his scouting grades, the 23-year-old has both power and speed, which is the combination we salivate over. Just as important is his 60 Field grade means he’ll have a longer leash if he hits a slump as he’ll still be contributing defensively. He also won’t need to switch positions, keeping him at a premium middle infield spot.

Through 2020, the power we were promised never appeared. His HR/FB rate peaked at just 6.7% with a .156 ISO. But then 2021 came around and he was a whole new hitter — his HR/FB rate rocketed to 15% at Double-A and then even higher to 21.7% at Triple-A, with .181 and .288 ISO marks at each of those levels as well. For a young prospect who was supposed to possess such power, I take this breakout seriously. Even more impressive is that he was able to increase his walk rate and essentially maintain his strikeout rate along with that power spike.

Barrero also swiped 16 bases in the minors this year and stole low-to-mid teen totals in 2018 and 2019 as well. That makes him a potential all-around contributor and a great target when searching for keepers.

Colton Welker | COL 1B/3B

Any time a Rockies prospect is recalled, I take notice. Welker, the team’s eighth ranked prospect, isn’t playing enough to warrant a roster spot in shallower leagues, so if you’re in a shallow keeper league, he might be available for the taking.

Welker’s scouting grades don’t suggest a ton of power or any speed, but that power could be optimized by his new home park. Similarly, that 55 Hit grade looks even better with Coors Field at his back.

Welker hasn’t shown a whole lot of power in the minors. His HR/FB rate has remained in the high-single digit to low-double digit range, while his ISO marks have ranged from .150 to .190. Normally, I wouldn’t pay much attention to a prospect with no speed and mediocre power, but I will if he’s on the Rockies.

Welker does make pretty good contact, keeping his SwStk% below 10% during every minor league stint except in 2018 at High-A. That’s an important skill given how productive a ball in play is at Coors Field. Perhaps the upside here is some Justin Turner-like years.

Kyle Isbel | KC OF

It was a surprise when Isbel won the starting right field job in Kansas City to open the season. But after five hits in his first two games, he recorded just four more before ultimately being demoted back to the minors toward the end of April. He’s back now, but the Royals have a multitude of alternatives, so his playing time is no guarantee.

He entered the season as the team’s fourth ranked prospect with scouting grades not exceeding 50 anywhere except his Field grade. His minor league track record is decent enough and one that looks a little more exciting from a fantasy perspective than a real baseball one, although the latter will depend on how his defense actually rates.

He has shown averageish power with a below average fly ball rate, but he has kept his SwStk% below 10% during his last two minor league stops, while his strikeout rate has hovered just over 20%. So he’ll put the ball in play, which could boost his home run total.

The more interesting part of his profile is his speed. He stole 22 bases at Triple-A this year and 24 back in 2018. Perhaps combined with his power, it adds up to a potential 15 homer and 20 steal guy. That’s valuable and doesn’t come with a whole lot of hype.

Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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1 year ago

Jose Barrero was known as Jose Garcia before changing his name this season to honor his late mother.