To The Victor Victor Go The Spoils

really wanted an excuse to use that headline. This post isn’t directly about Victor Mesa Jr. and Victor Victor Mesa, although I will be referencing their scouting reports. Also, there’s a fun pun-ish connection between the headline and my conclusion. Layers!

I’ve already botched this intro. Let’s pretend I wrote a normal paragraph laying out today’s topic is a cogent manner. Oh! The topic is “y’all too &@%*ing crazy about prospects.” Proceed.

On Monday, the Marlins officially signed Victor Mesa Jr. and Victor Victor Mesa. Victor Squared received a $5.25 million bonus while Victor Prime landed a cool $1 million. Bucking all manner of sense, Victor Squared is actually the older brother. He’s 22 and basically seen as major league ready. Victor Prime is 17. He’ll require refining in the minors.

The Marlins opened the piggy bank for the brothers for a couple reasons. They mostly passed on big bonus targets during the current international signing period, leaving them with a large war chest. It’s a use it a lose it system, and there won’t be any other premium targets available between now and the end of the period. In a real MLB sense, the Mesas look like solid role players with some upside for more. Let’s turn to Kiley and Eric.

On Victor Squared:

[His speed] is in the 65-70 range on the 20-80 scale, and he’s a 60 runner in games as he was in the past, while his arm remains above average… Mesa hit some balls out to his pull side during batting practice, showing 50-grade raw power, but he has a linear, contact-oriented swing that we think will lead to below-average power output in games. There’s no question he can hit, defend, and add value on the bases, but there’s real doubt about the game application of his power. In aggregate, it looks like an average to slightly below-average offensive profile on an above-average defender at a premium position. Scouts think Mesa is a low-risk, moderate impact prospect who should be ready for the big leagues relatively soon… expectations are more of a solid 1.5- to 2.0-win type player.

On Victor Prime:

Victor Mesa, Jr. ran his 60-yard dash in the 6.9 second, which is average. He also showed a 55 arm and a linear swing geared more for contact. He’s 17, so there’s still room to project improvement based on maturing physicality, but he’s currently a tweener with hit and throw being his only above-average tools — and some scouts lower than that on the hit tool.

Again, these scouting reports aren’t exactly glowing. Both players probably have a big league future, but it’s less clear that they’ll ever meaningfully contribute to a contender. The Marlins were right to use their resources acquiring these players, but it probably isn’t worth all the hullabaloo.

Here’s the M. Night twist. You were waiting for this, right?

Prospects like the Mesas are useful to real baseball clubs. Their utility is far more dubious for fantasy owners, even in the deepest formats. In one of my 20 team leagues, “Victor Mesa” has been owned for about a year (as to which Mesa this refers, I have no idea). That’s a roster spot that could have been used on Max Muncy, Tony Kemp, or Niko Goodrum. All three along with many other similar talents were available as waiver pick ups during the season. None of them carried the same risks. Before he can provide any fantasy production, Mesa has to sign (check), perform in the minors, and adjust to the majors.

While there is certainly a time and place for rostering lotto tickets like the Mesas, it should be done as part of a diversified portfolio. Too often, I see owners go all in on teenage prospects. Three years of interminable rebuilding later, they leave the league only to be replaced by a new owner. Noob Saibot decides to rebuild the rebuild, slicing off all the near-majors players for shiny teenagers. The cycle repeats.

Meanwhile, the victors continue to soak up cheap value by packing Victors onto the back end of their roster then shipping them out for proven major league talent. Noisy mistakes, such as selling too soon on a 17-year-old Vladimir Guerrero Jr.* obscure the dozens of failed deals from the rebuilder’s perspective. And one Vladito does not rehabilitate a broken roster. Functionally, if you want to transition from rebuild to contender, you probably have to trade your Vladito. And guess who has the firepower to make that trade with you? It ain’t the rebuilders. It’s the owners who amassed piles of major league talent.

*I drafted Guerrero as a 15-year-old then traded him for a first round pick prior to 2017. I believe I used the pick on Sean Doolittle or Patrick Corbin. Whoops.

Ultimately, fantasy baseball is about having fun. For some, simply dreaming on riding a wave of prospect breakouts to a forever contender is enough to sustain happiness. Personally, I need to be making meaningful start/sit decisions in September to be happy. That’s why my dynasty roster frequently finishes the season with zero prospects. Don’t believe me? Check it out (we keep 28 at no cost, draft 17).

You can follow me on twitter @BaseballATeam

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Mike D
Mike D

Roger that