My name is Bryan Luhrs, and that handsome guy on the featured picture his me. I have the privilege to contribute to the great content here at Major League Fantasy Sports. Corey asked me to bring a little different element to the site as my passion is with the dynasty format. I am involved in many dynasty baseball leagues, buy my flagship league is Real Deal Dynasty Baseball where we strive to give owners a realistic franchise building experience without the heavy dependence on a message forum for administration. Most of my writing will come from this slant as I will seek to help those out there looking for information on dynasty format leagues and deeper keeper leagues as well as those hardcore owners here at Major League Fantasy Sports looking for that hot prospect to keep on a watch list.
Now I don’t claim to be a scout and I haven’t seen many of these guys play except for in the highlights. I am, however, a dynasty baseball junkie who spends entirely too much time researching players that likely won’t see “The Show” for several years. Fans of hardcore dynasty and deep keeper fantasy baseball leagues are always looking for that next hot prospect. If this describes you, the names “Byron Buxton” and “Archie Bradley” are already household names. Those guys are locked up in all your leagues and you are not likely able to acquire them without wildly overpaying for it. If you are like me, you are looking for that stud hitter or future ace slated to make an impact around 2016 or later. You are not only attempting to “build your dynasty” but, more importantly, you want the bragging rights for finding that deep prospect that becomes a star. Over the next two months, we are going to be looking deeper at possible “high ceiling” prospects at each position that are currently 21 years and under. These are guys that aren’t likely to sniff the majors until mid-2016 or later.
We begin at the natural starting point, First Base. This is arguably the most shallow position when it comes to top flight prospects. There isn’t a can’t miss prospect at any level, but there are some young guys that could be fun to watch develop.
1. Dan Vogelbach, CHC (21)
He’s not one of the “big four” prospects from the Cubs system. He is arguably the “biggest” prospect in the Cubs system. At 21 years old, Vogelbach may be destined to be a DH and might never hit for the Cubs major league team, but I have no doubt that he will hit. He’s doesn’t have much of a glove and doesn’t have any speed, but he has a respectable minor league career slash line. His career slash through 2013 was .297/.386/.515. Due to weak overall depth of 1B at the prospect level, Vogelbach actually ranks as the #4 prospect at 1B by MLB.com. He has broken into the Top 50 overall prospects on many sites. Still, many may not be familiar with this masher because he is buried in a stocked Cubs farm system. Acquire him with confidence in your dynasty leagues. He should reach the majors in mid to late 2016 and will bring you top end power numbers with plus OBP due to an excellent understanding of the strikes zone. He could have a Top 10 1B ceiling if he sticks at the position.
2. Dominic Smith, NYM (18)
The Mets saw something they liked in this kid when they took him 11th overall in the 2013 MLB Amateur Draft this past June. He is only 18 years old, but he already has a smooth swing and a slick glove. In fact, he has potential to be a gold-glove caliber 1B so he is likely to stick at the position. The main concern is whether he will develop the power expected of a corner infielder. He should hit for average, maybe even around .300 on a consistent basis. He has a very polished approach at the plate for his age and experience, but he was a risky 1st round pick due to the potential to never hit for power. I have heard him compared to James Loney. The journeyman 1B is perhaps a great major league contributor, but he is definitely a below average fantasy contributor. On the other hand, I have heard scouts and bloggers consider his potential to be as high as Freddie Freeman or even Joey Votto. This is a fairly wide range that he could fall into and it is really is too early to gauge his progress with only 173 career at bats in the low minors. I would expect him to get a full season of pro ball in this season and give us something to better evaluate his potential. Although, it’s too early to recommend with full confidence, he is a nice stash for those leagues with deep minor league systems. However, we won’t likely to see him called up until late 2016 or, more likely, 2017.
3. Ronald Guzman, TEX (19)
Stop me if you have heard this — Promising young 1B with plus raw hit tools, but questionable power. Believe it or not, we have moved on to a different player. Guzman was signed out of the Dominican Republic as a teenager and has only managed two partial seasons of pro ball, the later due to a knee injury. At only 19 years old and 6’5”, he could fill out his lanky frame to develop plus power, but so far, this is only speculation. Guzman looks comfortable at the plate, like Dom Smith, but has more of the physical attributes to develop the power. I could see 25 bombs a year in his prime, but I am not sold that he will be as well-rounded a hitter as Smith due to a higher swing and miss rate. With the prospect depth at 1B pretty weak, this is a guy that might rise up the charts with a solid full season of low minor leagues under his belt. I think in dynasty leagues, most GMs would be happy with .270 average and 25 home runs per year. This may be his ceiling, but it is one of the higher ceilings for 1B prospects. Bigger risk than Vogelbach or Smith, but a good target in leagues with deep minors. Expect to see him surface in Arlington around mid to late 2016. The Rangers are in no need to rush him due to the off-season acquisition of Prince Fielder. However Prince will likely be a full-time DH in another year or two opening the door for Guzman if he does develop that plus power.
The great thing about writing on the deep prospects is that I can change my opinion as time goes by and attribute it to “development” rather than just being wrong. I imagine that is how a meteorologist will justify their predictions as well. There is no guarantee that any of these guys will pan out, but its fun to pretend we know what we are talking about. Next time we will make a “minors” adjustment, we will be Looking Deeper at 21 and under prospects at the keystone position.