Strategy Session – Prospecting for Prospects

A lot of highly touted prospects begin the year in the minor leagues, but make an impact by the end of the season. If you know where to look and you are willing to be patient, you can take advantage of prospects.

For example, Jay Bruce was very highly touted coming in to 2008, but the Reds didn’t call him up until late May (probably to prevent him from becoming a Super Two player down the road). However, when he did come up, he made a big impact, smacking 21 homers. Those of you who were patient with Bruce received an infusion of power starting in late May – almost as if you acquired a power hitter for free.

Francisco Liriano is another (rather extreme) example of when patience pays off. Back in 2006, Liriano began the season in the bullpen, and many fantasy players gave up on him, despite his solid performance out of the pen. Those who were patient were rewarded with 16 phenomenal starts down the stretch. Of course, most youngsters aren’t able to perform at the level that Liriano did, but many of them can make a positive impact on your team.

The key to prospecting is figuring out what players are likely to be called up, and what players are not. For example, Jason Heyward is one of the best prospects in the game, but is very unlikely to make it to the majors this year. Meanwhile, Matt LaPorta is on the brink of a call-up, and could provide immediate value once he makes it to the show.

Furthermore, unless you play in a particularly deep league, you should understand that very few prospects may a huge impact in fantasy leagues right away. Often times even highly touted prospects fail in their first stint in the majors (remember Cameron Maybin in 2007 with Detroit?), and just aren’t worth stashing away. You have to find guys who are both on the cusp of major league action, as well as likely to have some impact when they do make it. Players like this for 2009 include LaPorta, Jordan Schafer, Tommy Hanson, Colby Rasmus, Michael Bowden, Andrew McCutchen and Dexter Fowler.

Prospects can add a lot of value to your team, but don’t get caught up in overvaluing what could be rather than what actually is.

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Lucky Strikes
14 years ago

This article ties in nicely to our 12 team mixed keeper league that allows each team to carry over one minor league player without any MLB service time without using a contract. The key then becomes finding the perfect minor league player that might have an impact in the upcoming season (I carried over Longoria last season, which worked out well!).
Assuming Wieters is #1, which 5 minor league players do you see having the biggest fantasy impact in 2009. I plan to carry over Rasmus and have Carrasco as an option. Laporta, McCutchen, and Schafer are all on rosters already, but is there anyone else you’d recommend?

14 years ago
Reply to  Lucky Strikes

I love leagues with rules like that. And I think it’s an excellent way to get a clear advantage (like by selecting Longoria…).

Wieters is definitely #1 in my mind. Too bad Schafer is taken, I like him a lot. I think the answer depends on the state of your team – are you looking to compete in 09, or wait until ’10? If you want to wait, you could take a guy like Jason Heyward – really good, but very far away. I assume you’d rather avoid this route and try to nab him during the 09 season (or after it).

I definitely like Colby Rasmus. I’m less high on Carrasco, although his benefit is his proximity to the majors. Here are some pitchers I like (in no particular order):

David Huff, Neftali Feliz (probably a bit further away), Vince Mazzaro (low risk, lowish upside though), Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill, Tommy Hanson, Brian Matusz, Nick Adenhart

And some hitters (again, no particular order):

Lars Anderson (may not contribute much, if anything, in 09), Austin Jackson (same as Anderson), Reid Brignac, Elvis Andrus (if you need speed), Justin Smoak, Gaby Sanchez (should get a lot of playing time, although his upside is limited), Tyler Flowers (also a bit further away), Jason Donald (especially if Utley is out), Brett Wallace, Dexter Fowler.

Hope that helps!