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“Alluhring Strategy” Dominating Your Dynasty: Pre-Season Prospect Rankings 1B

dynasty

noun  dy·nas·ty

: a family of rulers who rule over a country for a long period of time; also : the period of time when a particular dynasty is in power

: a family, team, etc., that is very powerful or successful for a long period of time

 

The above definition of “dynasty” by Merriam-Webster implies a dynasty isn’t just a long running process, but one of success AND power. This implication is further driven home if you look at the etymology of the word “dynasty”… (courtesy of Wikipedia)

derives via Latin dynastia from Greekdynastéia (?????????), where it referred to “power”, “dominion”, and “rule” itself.

Whether you participate in a keeper league or dynasty format, the purpose of participating in these leagues is to win. These formats do allow for “rebuilders” to remain engaged and keep the league active all year. Ultimately, the goal is to win, win big, and win consistently, year-after-year.

 

For the 2016 season, I am privileged to cover primarily the minor league and dynasty aspects of fantasy baseball for Major League Fantasy Sports. Whether you play in keeper leagues,or small or large format dynasty leagues, I aim to provide at least some nuggets of interest to take away and help you “dominate.” Smaller leagues or standard keeper leagues might not pay attention to deeper prospects, but keeping up on the Top 100 or so prospects can yield returns as you wheel and deal with the “rebuilding” owner, as well as stash a few potential studs for future use. Large format dynasty leagues are always looking for that teenager with potential five tools to stash. When this prospect shoots up the rankings, you can pat yourself on the back for proving how awesome you are and then proceed to leverage a huge return from those that are now drooling over the potential.

 

This week’s edition will take a look at prospects at 1B. I have found the best way to evaluate prospects is by arranging them in tiers. Once you get past the first two tiers, there isn’t much separation between many of the prospects, and most of it would be subjective. For this reason, my pre-season rankings will be setup in this manner…

 

Tier 1 — Elite Level Prospect

These players have the tools to be perennial All-Stars and franchise players.

Tier 2 — Top 100 Prospect (Potential All-Star)

These players have one or two potential plus tools and should be solid starters with an occasional All-Star appearance the ceiling.

Tier 3 — Future MLB Starter

These players are likely MLB regular positional starters and back of the rotation guys that should be solid contributors.

Tier 4 — Future Depth Players

These are deep league and large format leagues only. They are either 5+ years away from the Major Leagues or only project to be platoon/spot starters.

 


 

First Base

Tier 1

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AJ Reed (Astros)

Bats: Left

Tools: Plus Power, Plus Arm, Above Avg. Hit

Age: 22

ETA: Mid-2016

Season Team G PA HR R RBI SB BB% K% ISO BABIP AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
2014 Astros (A-) 34 150 5 22 30 2 14.7 % 14.7 % .210 .337 .306 .420 .516 .429 174
2014 Astros (A) 34 135 7 21 24 0 5.9 % 23.7 % .256 .314 .272 .326 .528 .383 141
2015 Desert Dogs (R) 11 46 1 6 6 1 13.0 % 17.4 % .154 .258 .231 .326 .385 .317 89
2015 Astros (A+) 82 385 23 75 81 0 15.3 % 19.0 % .292 .385 .346 .449 .638 .464 190
2015 Astros (AA) 53 237 11 38 46 0 11.4 % 20.7 % .239 .383 .332 .405 .571 .429 168

(Stats courtesy of Fangraphs)

 

Drafted #42 in 2014, AJ Reed shot up the prospect rankings last season covering three levels and finishing as the top minor leaguer in HRs, RBIs, Runs, Total Bases, and OPS. He has pretty decent plate discipline for only having one full season of professional ball under his belt and will likely spend at least half the season in AAA getting more reps against lefties. Despite struggling a bit against southpaws, he is currently the best 1B in the organization (including Houston) and should join the parent club at some point in 2016. Once there, expect him to fit right in with the team’s young core and lock up the starting 1B gig for a long time.

Tier 2

Bell, Josh

Josh Bell (Pirates)

Bats: Both

Tools: Plus Hit, Above Avg. Power (Raw), Above Avg. Arm

Age: 23

ETA: Early-2016

Season Team G PA HR R RBI SB BB% K% ISO BABIP AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
2012 Pirates (A) 15 66 1 6 11 1 3.0 % 31.8 % .129 .381 .274 .288 .403 .308 84
2013 Pirates (A) 119 519 13 75 76 1 10.0 % 17.3 % .174 .319 .279 .353 .453 .369 131
2014 Scorpions (R) 23 97 0 9 7 2 12.4 % 13.4 % .095 .254 .214 .320 .310 .306 80
2014 Pirates (A+) 84 363 9 45 53 5 6.9 % 11.8 % .166 .364 .335 .384 .502 .403 153
2014 Pirates (AA) 24 102 0 13 7 4 7.8 % 11.8 % .021 .329 .287 .343 .309 .305 86
2015 Pirates (AA) 96 426 5 47 60 7 10.3 % 11.7 % .120 .335 .307 .376 .427 .362 130
2015 Pirates (AAA) 35 145 2 20 18 2 14.5 % 10.3 % .157 .377 .347 .441 .504 .427 174

(Stats courtesy of Fangraphs)

 

Originally drafted to be a center-fielder, Bell became the odd man out as the Pirates have committed to a Marte-McCutchen-Polanco outfield core for the foreseeable future. Bell was athletic enough to switch positions and now has a full year of playing 1B under his belt. Scouts believe in his raw power, but it hasn’t been evident yet through 35 games played in AAA. Regardless, he has hit well at every level and has an advanced approach at the plate, averaging a BB% and K% around 11% over 571 plate appearances in 2015. First Base is wide open in Pittsburgh for 2016 as John Jaso and Michael Morse are penciled in to platoon to begin the season. Expect him to be called up early and keep the job for a long time. If his power developed, he would be in Tier One, but there is no guarantee with no evidence in his first four seasons of pro ball.

Tier 3

 

 

Matt Olson (Athletics)

Bats: Left

Tools: Plus Power, Above Avg. Arm

Age: 21

ETA: Late-2016

 

Season Team G PA HR R RBI SB BB% K% ISO BABIP AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
2012 Athletics (R) 46 197 8 29 41 0 8.1 % 23.4 % .237 .336 .282 .345 .520 .382 121
2012 Athletics (A-) 4 16 1 3 4 0 18.8 % 25.0 % .273 .286 .273 .438 .545 .444 182
2013 Athletics (A) 134 558 23 69 93 4 12.9 % 26.5 % .210 .272 .225 .326 .435 .349 114
2014 Solar Sox (R) 11 46 4 11 8 2 21.7 % 19.6 % .429 .227 .257 .435 .686 .489 196
2014 Athletics (A+) 138 634 37 111 97 2 18.5 % 21.6 % .281 .287 .262 .404 .543 .410 145
2015 Athletics (AA) 133 585 17 82 75 5 17.9 % 23.8 % .189 .311 .249 .388 .438 .376 132

(Stats courtesy of Fangraphs)

 

This is where the rankings get muddled. Reed and Bell are clearly the cream of the crop. I did not rank Byung-ho Park (MIN) because he has significant professional experience in Korea. He may be a rookie, but he’s not a prospect. The next five to six prospects could be listed in any order and it would be tough for someone to argue. I put Olson here because he is the closest to the Major Leagues of this tier. He torched High-A pitching in 2014 to the tune of 37 HRs and an .281 ISO. He took a step back in production at AA last season, but he has a good approach at the plate and should hit enough to play everyday. He can also play the OF and will likely get a chance late in the season if there is an injury to newly acquired Yonder Alonso or their outfield depth. He will strike out over 20% of the time, but will walk nearly as often. If his power translates at the Major League level he could be a future fixture at 1B and could put up one or two All-Star caliber seasons.

 

Dominic Smith (Mets)Smith, Dom

Bats: Left

Tools: Plus Field, Above Avg. Hit

Age: 20

ETA: 2017

 

Season Team G PA HR R RBI SB BB% K% ISO BABIP AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
2013 Mets (R) 3 8 0 2 4 0 25.0 % 0.0 % .667 .667 .667 .750 1.333 .870 452
2013 Mets (R) 48 198 3 23 22 2 12.1 % 18.7 % .120 .346 .287 .384 .407 .372 131
2014 Mets (A) 126 518 1 52 44 5 9.8 % 14.9 % .067 .321 .271 .344 .338 .321 95
2015 Rafters (R) 14 60 1 8 6 0 20.0 % 16.7 % .149 .432 .362 .483 .511 .452 177
2015 Mets (A+) 118 497 6 58 79 2 7.0 % 15.1 % .112 .351 .305 .354 .417 .361 133

(Stats courtesy of Fangraphs)

Dom Smith has been an enigma thus far in his pro career. His amateur career suggested he might have at least above average power, but there has been ZERO evidence of this in his three season in minor league baseball. Scouts still like his hit tool along with his plate control that could translate to a perennial .290 – .300 avg in the Major Leagues. Although 1B is the only position he is suited for, he is a gifted athlete and should should be an excellent fielder. Smith would shoot up this list if he shows any inkling of power this season, otherwise, a corner infielder with no power will likely become a journeyman.

 

Bobby Bradley (Indians)download

Bats: Left

Tools: Plus Power, Above Avg. Hit

Age: 19

ETA: 2018

Season Team G PA HR R RBI SB BB% K% ISO BABIP AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
2014 Indians (R) 39 176 8 39 50 3 9.1 % 20.5 % .290 .425 .361 .426 .652 .484 192
2015 Indians (A) 108 465 27 62 92 3 12.0 % 31.8 % .259 .352 .269 .361 .529 .401 153
2015 Indians (A+) 2 9 0 0 0 0 11.1 % 22.2 % .000 .000 .000 .111 .000 .080 -60

(Stats courtesy of Fangraphs)

Now we come to the first of four big power bats. I list Bradley first because he has the best tools of the group. He has 35 HRs in his first 650 career plate appearances. He does work the strikes zone very well for a 19 year old, however, his long swing has created a ton of whiffs. He will need to improve on his +30% K rate in High-A before Cleveland considers moving him up to AA. That being said, he knows what he is doing at the plate and with his approach, and with enough reps he will reach base enough to keep his OBP over .350. He needs more seasoning due to his age, experience, and swing mechanics, however, Cleveland could use a 1B sooner rather than later. Barring a struggle in the upper levels of the minors, Bradley should be ready to take over as early as 2018.

 

Cody Bellinger (Dodgers)imgres

Bats: Left

Tools: Plus Field, Above Avg. Power

Age: 20

ETA: 2018

Season Team G PA HR R RBI SB BB% K% ISO BABIP AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
2013 Dodgers (R) 47 195 1 25 30 3 15.9 % 23.6 % .148 .287 .210 .340 .358 .339 102
2014 Dodgers (R) 46 212 3 49 34 8 6.6 % 16.5 % .174 .381 .328 .368 .503 .381 120
2014 Dodgers (R) 5 21 0 2 0 0 4.8 % 23.8 % .050 .200 .150 .190 .200 .191 19
2015 Dodgers (A+) 128 544 30 97 103 10 9.6 % 27.6 % .274 .314 .264 .336 .538 .372 130

(Stats courtesy of Fangraphs)

Bellinger burst on the scene in 2015 with 30 HRs and 103 RBIs in High-A. His 150 strikeouts were a bit alarming and his power doesn’t project at 30 HRs in the Majors. That being said, he is at least average at all the tools and could even shift to the OF if needed. He doesn’t appear to have any mechanical issues with his swing, so he should be about to cut back on the Ks, improve his contact rate (68.7% in 2015), and hit for an average around .270-.280. He is still a sleeper at this point and a good stash in large format (30 team) dynasty leagues, as he should be ready to play in LA by 2018 and be a solid contributor.

 

Josh Naylor (Marlins)images-1

Bats: Left

Tools: Plus-Plus Power

Age: 18

ETA: 2019

Season Team G PA HR R RBI SB BB% K% ISO BABIP AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ BsR Off Def WAR
2015 Marlins (R) 25 105 1 8 16 1 3.8 % 10.5 % .092 .352 .327 .352 .418 .368 130

(Stats courtesy of Fangraphs)

Freshly out of high school, Naylor is already Miami’s top hitting prospect due to his enormous raw power. It isn’t fair to judge him on his meager pro stat line, but scouts have compared his potential to that of Prince Fielder. Dynasty League owners need to be patient, however, as his power is raw and based on arm strength, not bat speed. That will likely need to develop to truly reach his lofty potential. He will need to improve his overall approach at the plate and take a few more pitches or he will get eaten up in the upper levels. That being said, the Marlins (and dynasty owners) drool over the thought of having him and Stanton in the lineup at the same time. He is a below average fielder and DH might be a better fit, but unless the NL goes to DH, he will need to man 1B to stay in the lineup. I wouldn’t expect to see him in the Major Leagues until at least 2019.

 

images-1

Rowdy Tellez (Blue Jays)

Bats: Left

Tools: Plus Power

Age: 20

ETA: 2018

 

Season Team G PA HR R RBI SB BB% K% ISO BABIP AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
2013 Blue Jays (R) 34 141 2 10 20 1 10.6 % 18.4 % .137 .278 .234 .319 .371 .329 105
2014 Blue Jays (R) 53 218 4 26 36 3 8.7 % 12.4 % .131 .315 .293 .358 .424 .366 125
2014 Blue Jays (A) 12 49 2 6 7 0 14.3 % 20.4 % .143 .433 .357 .449 .500 .437 176
2015 Rafters (R) 21 91 4 12 17 1 7.7 % 22.0 % .195 .339 .293 .352 .488 .376 127
2015 Blue Jays (A) 68 299 7 36 49 2 8.0 % 18.7 % .148 .346 .296 .351 .444 .366 130
2015 Blue Jays (A+) 35 148 7 17 28 3 9.5 % 18.9 % .198 .293 .275 .338 .473 .375 143

(Stats courtesy of Fangraphs)

When it was apparent that the Jays weren’t going to be able to sign their top draft pick in 2013 (Phil Bickford) then GM, Alex Anthopolis, threw a ton of money at their 30th round pick that no one else would touch due to signability concerns. The gamble paid off. Tellez took the money and has been raking at every stop along the way. His only projectable plus tool is power. He has had solid approach at the plate thus far, resulting in an over .800 OPS in A and High-A, nearly 80% contact rate, and a surprising .289 avg. in 2015. With a little more discipline at the plate and improved bat speed, he could be a potential All-Star. He’s only, 20 but he should be on the radar of all dynasty owners.

 

Casey Gillaspie (Rays)imgres

Bats: Both

Tools: Plus Power, Above Avg. Hit

Age: 23

ETA: 2017

Season Team G PA HR R RBI SB BB% K% ISO BABIP AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
2014 Rays (A-) 71 308 7 27 42 2 13.6 % 21.1 % .148 .321 .262 .364 .411 .360 129
2015 Rays (R) 2 7 0 0 0 0 0.0 % 28.6 % .000 .000 .000 .143 .000 .112 -31
2015 Solar Sox (R) 23 99 2 7 5 1 10.1 % 16.2 % .090 .211 .191 .273 .281 .263 54
2015 Rays (A) 64 268 16 37 44 4 10.4 % 16.0 % .252 .275 .278 .358 .530 .403 155
2015 Rays (A+) 13 45 1 3 4 0 8.9 % 20.0 % .122 .161 .146 .222 .268 .240 51

Stats courtesy of Fangraphs)

The last two in Tier 4 are both in the Rays system. Neither are a sexy pick, but they could both be solid contributors at the Major League level. Gillaspie is an advanced hitter, despite less than two full seasons of pro ball. This is due to extensive experience in college which he used wisely to develop a balanced approach at the plate. He has plus power potential which should translate to 20-25 HRs in the Majors. Combine this with an 80% contact rate and decent plate discipline, and a .280+ annual average is attainable. He should be ready to take over 1B duties for Loney in 2017 when James Loney becomes a free-agent. He should be a solid fantasy contributor in every category, except speed. He will be a good guy to plug-in-play when he gets the call.

 

Jake Bauers (Rays)images-1

Bats: Left

Tools: Above Avg. Hit

Age: 20

ETA: 2017

 

Season Team G PA HR R RBI SB BB% K% ISO BABIP AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ BsR Off Def WAR
2013 Padres (R) 47 188 1 22 25 2 7.4 % 16.5 % .092 .331 .282 .341 .374 .339 102
2014 Padres (A) 112 467 8 59 64 5 10.9 % 17.1 % .118 .347 .296 .376 .414 .364 128
2015 Solar Sox (R) 18 76 2 5 8 0 11.8 % 18.4 % .149 .294 .254 .342 .403 .343 106
2015 Rays (A+) 59 249 6 33 38 2 11.6 % 13.3 % .166 .291 .267 .357 .433 .374 142
2015 Rays (AA) 69 285 5 36 36 6 7.4 % 14.4 % .128 .307 .276 .329 .405 .337 105

(Stats courtesy of Fangraphs)

Bauers might be a better pure hitter than Gillaspie, but he doesn’t have the upside. His mechanics are textbook, but the lack of power will limit his impact as a 1B. The aforementioned James Loney has had a decent career as a one hit-tool wonder. He is a good trade candidate over the next two seasons and should find a niche as a professional hitter, but is unlikely to unseat Gillaspie as the Rays future at 1B. He is borderline Tier 4, but is a safer bet because his hit-tool should translate better than some of the power hitters listed below.

 

Tier 4

Trey Mancini (Orioles) – The signing of Chris Davis puts a damper on his prospects. Presumed to be the 1B of the future, it is possible that Baltimore doesn’t buy into his fantastic 2015 season. He may have been hurt, but being a “righty” and power flash may be a mirage. The boy can hit and has an advanced approach to the plate with an 85% contact rate and .375  OBP last season.

Sam Travis (Red Sox) – A fantastic 2015 campaign puts him on the map, but a lack of projected power limits him as utility player at the Major League Player.

DJ Peterson (Mariners)  Once a plus power and plus hit prospect, DJ was befuddled by AA pitching last season and has altered his swing. Potential is there, but he has fallen from a Top 50 prospect to barely hanging on to Top 200. Cautiously optimistic he figures things out.

Dan Vogelbach (Cubs) – Plus power and good plate discipline. Blocked by Rizzo and DH only profile is holding him back from a chance with the Cubs. Pray for Trade!!!

Chris Shaw (Giants) – Plus power and Bat Speed is worth keeping tabs on this 1st year pro. He is raw but can field enough to stick at 1B and stay in the NL regardless if the DH ever happens.

 

 


Bryan Luhrs
Major League Fantasy Sports
Writer & Contributor
Real Deal Dynasty Sports
Owner, League Developer & Executive Commissioner

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Our guests this week are Joe Iannone, Lou Landers, and Kyle Amore. Joe, Lou, and Kyle are all writers with www.majorleaguefantasysports.com. Lou and Kyle are also the hosts of our Thursday night show called Major League Fantasy Baseball Weekly which airs live from 8-10pm EST every week.

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Major League Fantasy Baseball Weekly: Join Lou Landers and Kyle Amore live on Thursday March 31st, 2016 from 8-10pm EST for episode #7 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Weekly. We will discuss player positions and help prepare you for the coming draft season. This will run every Thursday as a live broadcast that will take live callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. This week we will discuss everything fantasy and MLB related in the N.L. Central.

Our guest this week is Calvin Martin, Jr. Calvin is the commissioner of Major League Fantasy Baseball 3 and solid contender in our leagues.

Come join a lively debate!

Faith, Family and Fantasy Sports.These are the three words that best describe me. I am a faithful husband and father of 6 amazing children. I work to earn a living, but I live for every precious moment I can spend with my family and a passion for sports.

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