We have finally made it to the final installment on Making a “Minors” Adjustment: 21 and Under Prospects. We have been looking deeper each week at younger prospects that might not be household names yet, but should be on your radar if you are in dynasty baseball or deep keeper fantasy leagues. This week we look at the state of the future American League outfield, highlighting one team in each division. We finish this series just in time for all the farm systems to get injected with new youth as the 2014 Amateur Draft is taking place as I write. Have no fear, we will spend a few weeks breaking down the draft starting next week. For now, 21 and Under OF Prospects…AL Edition.
Toronto Blue Jays
We begin in the American League East. As a life-long Yankees fan, I spend a lot of time reading up on my rival teams in my division. Toronto has recently began to reload the farm system after “emptying the tank” to acquire big name veterans prior to the 2013 season. I have been digging deeper into the Jays farm system as they are my franchise in Real Deal Dynasty Baseball. This league is set up to allow franchises to protect 5 players each season from their host franchise to stash in an extended farm system. D.J. Davis (19) is a premium athlete with an 80 speed rating. This is Billy Hamilton speed. Trouble is over 3 seasons of pro ball his batting average is only .241. He does get some walks as he has a decent approach at the plate, but seems to struggle with breaking pitches as many do at 19. He has enough pop to hit 15+ HRs per season if he can put it all together. His incredible speed tool has been tempered by a high caught stealing rate. Again, in 3 seasons he has 44 SB and 29 CS. The tool is there but its raw. Regardless of his deficiencies as a 19-year-old, he should be stashed in all dynasty leagues as he will be a premium SB and Runs guy starting around 2017.
There is another young OF that I like in the Toronto farms system that might be a little under the radar. Dalton Pompey (21) is tearing up the Florida State League leading the Dunedin Blue Jays to First place. He started his pro career as a 17-year-old teenager and is in his 5th professional season. This year, he is putting it together slashing .321/.397/.478 in just under 250 plate appearances. In addition, he has 18 extra base hits and 21 for 23 in stolen bases. With a plus speed and fielding tool, he could be a potential gold-glove caliber CF for the Jays. If he continues to progress at the plate and cuts down on his strikeouts, he will likely see AA this season and Toronto as soon as 2015 unless Colby Rasmus can get it together. Keep this guy on your radar in dynasty leagues.
Chicago White Sox
We move on to the AL Central. The White Sox have pretty much one of the worst farm systems in baseball. However, it has been a nice two years in signing talent in the south side of Chicago. Everyone knows about the signing of basher Jose Abreu out of Cuba who is already destroying Major League pitching. Quietly, the Pale Hose have added two more talented young OFs. Courtney Hawkins (20) was Chicago’s 1st Round pick in 2012. They were very aggressive sending him to Low A ball right out of high school. He has struggled to make contact with a SO% around 33% over his first 3 seasons. He likely won’t ever hit for average, but scouts consider him to have plus-plus power, plus speed and arm and above average fielder. Even if he never hits for average, he could easily slot into the middle of the order while representing well in RF sometime in 2016.
The prize of the of the 2013, J2 international signings is Micker Aldolfo Zapata (17). This teenager doesn’t have any pro ball stats to speak of, but I have stashed him in every dynasty league I could this year because he projects to be a true 5 tool player with plus-plus power. He won’t see the South Side until 2017 or 2018 but you must keep him on your dynasty radar. The thought of Zapata and Hawkins patrolling the OF in Chicago towards the end of the decade will give a glimmer of hope to White Sox fans that their farm system is back on track.
Now its time for me to redeem myself. Several weeks ago, I wrote a piece on how I was down on Rangers prospect slugger, Joey Gallo. At the time, I was basing my opinion on 2013 stats and video clips that I have researched. His 2014 sample size was too small to change my view at the time. A month later, Gallo is slashing an absurd .330/.471/
.751 for the season in 242 plate appearances while cutting back his strikeout rate to nearly 25%. As I’m eating crow, I’m going to sing the praises of the fut
ure outfield in Texas. Your future OF in the hitter-friendly park in Arlington could well be Nick Williams (20), Lewis Brinson (20) and Nomar Mazara (19). All 3 guys have plus power AND plus fielding. Williams and Brinson have plus speed and Williams has a plus hit tool. I’m not going to hound on this again, but they all strike out a ton. Brinson actually struck out an eye-popping 191 times in 2013 eclipsing Joey Gallo. These guys are young and can improve their contact and pitch recognition. If so, this will be a deadly OF field starting as early as 2016. Brinson and Mazara could easily be 30+ HR threats in Texas. OF future is bright in the heart of Texas.