Note: This article was written specifically for those in long-term keeper or dynasty leagues. Re-draft leagues need not apply.
Let’s go back to this past March. It’s the day of your fantasy baseball draft. You’ve got all your spreadsheets and research ready to go, and you’re 2 Stellas in. Let’s do this.
1st pick comes up towards the end of the first round. You take Josh Donaldson. We wrap around to the second, and you’re feeling feisty this year, so you take Madison Bumgarner to anchor down your rotation. You’ve got your big bopper and your ace. Now you need someone who can contribute steals and help out across the board so you go with Starling Marte. Boy…you might as well crack that champagne now! You’re feeling great after 3 rounds. What could possibly go wrong this season?
If this was you in March, and you play in one of the aforementioned long-term leagues, then you are more than likely in a position to sell everything that isn’t nailed down right now. I personally find myself in this position in one particular league. Ok, more like 2 leagues. Ok, fine. I’m selling in like…most of my leagues. Shut up. LEAVE ME ALONE.
Some of you got hit with the injury bug…that ol’ sneaky, son of a….deep breaths. Some of you just drafted poorly. Dansby Swanson in the 10th seemed like a good idea at the time. Some of you just got unlucky, and well…there’s no fantasy article I can write that breaks down bad luck.
But! What I can write is a word of encouragement. A piece to lift up all of us who find ourselves out of the race. Like literally 100 HRs and RBIs behind the leader out of the race. You see, while I always want to win leagues, I get enjoyment out of rebuilding the whole thing. It’s fun to haggle, negotiate, and ship off my older veterans for the promise of a better tomorrow. Just call me the White Sox of my fantasy baseball league!
Now, when it does come time to sell, we all know it’s important to actually set yourself up for future success. Don’t just trade Nelson Cruz for some Joe Schmo. Shoot for the moon, son! More importantly, go get YOUR guy that you believe can make an impact in 2018 and beyond.
With that being said, here are a few of my favorite guys and this particular seller’s targets down the stretch…
HERE AND NOW…CURRENT MLB HITTERS TO TARGET
Yoan Moncada. Just kidding. Moving on.
2B/(maybe eventually) SS Ozzie Albies, Atlanta Braves
As a Braves fan, this could come across as a homer pick, but he’s been tearing up the minors at the ripe age of 20, and now everyone is on board with the guy. Or should be at least. And rightly so! He absolutely blistered his way through the minor leagues and posted a ridiculous 67 R/9 HR/41 RBI/21 SB line in AAA Gwinnett this year. He’s really developing some nice pop to go along with his already notable speed, and that’s great because nobody likes a one-trick pony in fantasy.
He’s young and still developing, so stay tuned as to what his floor might be. I see a future 15 HR/40 SB guy. Some have conjectured that he will eventually give us peak Ian Kinsler-type numbers. Some say there’s an Altuve-like player in that 5’8” body, but I don’t see him developing the monster power that Altuve has shown so far. Either way, Albies should be a stud.
This past week, Brandon Phillips was shifted over to third base to make way for the youngster, and Dansby Swanson had to get the training wheels put back on. The Braves looked somewhat in it at the break, which was cute, but we all know they aren’t going anywhere this year. Like the Mets, they have absolutely no reason to NOT find out what this kid can do at the major league level. He should get plenty of reps with the big league club rest of season.
Albies is one of my favorite targets this season. He’s got the skill set to be a top 5 player at his position within the next year or so, and this may be a chance to buy somewhat low on him. The price will be up there, no doubt, but it only grows from here.
OF Bradley Zimmer, Cleveland Indians
I was mistakenly not that enthused by this guy when he was first called up this year. I saw a guy who did a lot of things well but not one thing great. However, sometimes we end up looking foolish chasing the elite production in one or two categories and miss the guys who contribute above average in every category. Zimmer is the latter.
He has been nothing short of great for the Tribe this season with a 30 R/8 HR/37 RBI/13 SB line to go with his .282/.345/.464 triple slash. That triple slash especially is far better than I projected before the season. Also, the high strikeout percentage that usually plagues young hitters when they first get called up has actually decreased from his 29.9% at AAA earlier this year (now at 26.7%).
He’s adapted quickly to the big leagues, and he appears to have locked down a starting OF gig for the forseeable future in Cleveland. I see Zimmer having a ceiling in the 25 HR/30 SB range with consistent 20/20 seasons well within his skill set. He’s got an exciting power-speed combo that is very valuable in our game.
Zimmer will be a solid contributor across the board, and that makes him a building block for teams wanting to compete down the road. He doesn’t put up the gaudy power numbers and hopefully that nets you a slight discount, but don’t be afraid to pay up a little for this guy. He will make it worth your time.
OF Manuel Margot, San Diego Padres
How quickly we forget the top prospects of yesteryear when the shiny new toys show up. Margot spent a chunk of time earlier this year injured, which was just enough for him to be pushed aside while fellow rookies Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger cranked out dongs. Don’t sleep on Margot, though…you ho. Get my flow?
Post-injury, Margot is now on pace to finish with a 12 HR/20 SB season. That stolen base mark isn’t the sexy number that a lot of pundits projected pre-season, but he’s looking like he will certainly contribute down the stretch in the elusive steals category. Playing time certainly isn’t an issue, and we know the talent for 30-40 SBs a year is still there either way.
What’s interesting about Margot is the 8 HR he already has this year. No one projected more than 5, and while most of those homers came right out of the gate in April, we can’t deny that even 10 HRs a year would only boosts Margot’s stock further. If he can become a 10 HR/40 SB guy who hits between .270-.280 ever year, then we’ve got a guy here! A real guy, ladies and gentlemen!
Bottom line…rejoice in the fact that Margot has put together a quietly nice year. Not many people are talking about him right now, and it’s the perfect time to add him in a long-term league. Savvy owners should play hardball with you, but if you believe in the speed like I do, I’m sure you will work something out.
CURRENT MLB PITCHERS TO TARGET
P Luis Castillo, Cincinnati Reds
HAHA GOT YA! That’s not the Reds’ Luis Castillo. That’s former Florida Marlins second baseman Luis Castillo IDIOTS. Here’s the one I’m talking about…
If bandwagons were actual things you could get in and ride around, I would be in the front seat of Castillo’s and Paul Sporer would be the conductor. Castillo is posting a rookie stat line of 2-4/3.56 ERA/1.19 WHIP/51 K in 48 IP, which looks pretty ok. In today’s juiced ball era, in fact, that’s better than your average Kyle Hendricks. It looks even better when you consider he’s doing this as a rookie in the launchpad that is Great American Ballpark.
What really has my jimmies rustled, though, is that Castillo has great tools including a fastball capable of triple digits with some nasty off-speed stuff that can really fool hitters when they’re looking for the heat. Right now, the book on him is that his fastball is too straight though. When hitters catch up to it, that ball is leaving the yard. If he can develop some movement on it, as well as sharper control in general, he could really become a valuable piece of the Reds rotation for many years to come.
I will contradict myself a little here and say that pitching prospects scare the heck out of me. So much can and will go wrong. That being said, I like Castillo, but I wouldn’t overpay. Know what I mean? I would try to target a young bat and try to throw Castillo in as part of the package. He’s got the tools to be worth it.
P Zack Godley, Arizona Diamondbacks
This is an interesting one because he’s 27 years old and finally breaking out. This isn’t your typical prospect. However, he has posted an undeniably great 5-4/2.86 ERA/1.00 WHIP/96 K in 94 1/3 IP in another hitter-friendly park. What pops out to me the most is his sexy 9.16 K/9 and 2.77 BB/9. I literally wrote “SEXY” in my notes next to those numbers. He is inducing tons of groundballs right now and limiting the longball, which is really going to set you up for success when you pitch in a place like Chase Field. Also, he’s taken big steps forward with his cutter and curve this season to give him a full repertoire, and so these numbers look fairly sustainable.
After two mediocre starts against Atlanta and Washington, Godley has posted back-to-back quality starts against St. Louis and Chicago respectively. He blanked both of the latter opponents, and now looks right back on track here in the second half. You can call for regression and you wouldn’t be totally wrong, but just know that the strikeout numbers have been similar to this mark in the minors previously, and it looks like we have a full-on late bloomer.
Godley is a tough nut to crack moving forward. He is 27, so his window of usefulness is right now. If you are trying to acquire him for the future, do it now because we don’t know how long this can last. Remember. 27. Don’t overpay, but there are far worse targets than Godley especially if you think you have the team to compete as soon as next year.
2018 AND BEYOND…MINOR LEAGUE HITTERS
SS Brendan Rodgers, Colorado Rockies
The #3 overall pick in the 2015 draft has done nothing but hit this season as he has combined to post a 62 R/18 HR/59 RBI/2 SB line across two levels (A+, AA). He went full-out cyborg in 222 plate appearances at A+ this year posting a .400/.419/.700 triple slash before he got moved up to AA Hartford. He struggled at first, as most prospects do making the jump to AA, but he has started to find his footing in Hartford as well. Beast mode has re-commenced for the Yard Goats shortstop. I will never get tired of writing Hartford Yard Goats.
Rodgers is currently the #7 prospect on Baseball America’s midseason prospect rankings, and that’s in large part because of his well above average hit and power tools. Could have something to do with that triple slash mentioned above too, but I don’t know. He’s only 20 and doesn’t project to land in Colorado full-time until 2019, so definitely have some patience here. The price will only increase as the hype swells from here, so now is the time to get Rodgers at a somewhat reasonable rate. Remember. This is a good hitter with power who will eventually play half his game at Coors Field. I shouldn’t have to write anything past that, but I just did.
C Francisco Mejia, Cleveland Indians
The #18 prospect on the aforementioned Baseball America rankings is currently the top catching prospect in all of baseball. And that isn’t just because of his defensive skills. His hit tool is off the charts with a projected 70 rating to go along with above average 45 game power. Bottom line: this guy can hit.
In AA Akron this year, Mejia has posted a 40 R/10 HR/38 RBI to go along with a very nice .317/.369/.517 triple slash. He has hit over .300 since the start of the 2016 season, and he is still a very young man. Just imagine what he’s capable of once he gets to Cleveland under the tutelage of Yan Gomes! I’m sure they’ll discuss effective batting techniques over a nice bottle of cachaça and a bag of limes. But I digress…Mejia currently leads the entire AA Eastern League in batting average, and I cannot stress enough that he is a catcher. We all know what a dumpster fire catcher is currently, so do yourself a favor and jump all over this future beacon of light backstop. The hype train has just now left the station on Mejia, so now is the time to buy. If he keeps hitting like this, the Indians could be toying around with him as their starter at some point early next year. Sorry, Yan Gomes.
PITCHING PROSPECTS! DUH DUH DUHHHHH……
P Alex Reyes, St. Louis Cardinals
You know who Alex Reyes is. Or at least you should if you seek out fantasy baseball articles. He’s currently one of the top, if not the top, pitching prospect in all of baseball. He had his season end before it even got started by having Tommy John surgery this past spring, but that doesn’t take away from what he was doing before the injury. In a short stint with the big league club in 2016, Reyes posted a 10.17 K/9 with a miniscule 1.57 ERA in 46 innings of work, which had owners salivating heading into this season.
The already inherent risk of investing in a pitching prospect is doubled with Reyes now that he has had TJ, but time will soon tell if he can regain his elite form. Tommy John recovery can take up to 16-18 months before pitchers really get back to their old tricks, so don’t fret if the results aren’t stellar at first. Patience is key with Reyes. On a positive note, has started throwing from 60 feet as of last month, which puts him slightly ahead of schedule in his recovery. The reason I put him here is because his price tag may never be lower. He’s injured. He’s out of the public eye at the moment. He isn’t getting a chance to add to his value. Now is the time to pick him up via trade.
P Sixto Sanchez, Philadelphia Phillies
I swear to you that he isn’t just on here because of his name. Kind of. Anywho, Sanchez moved all the way up to #47 on the Baseball America rankings last month. That’s mainly due to the fact that as an 18 year-old at Low-A Lakewood, he has posted a 5-3/2.41 ERA/0.82 WHIP/64 K mark in 67 IP. He has improved both his K/9 and BB/9 marks every season as a professional and continues to grow by leaps and bounds every year.
Like Luis Castillo, he already has the makings of an elite fastball and has a changeup that isn’t too far behind. Sanchez is a deep dynasty league add considering that he’s still a teenager and won’t be up in Philly for another 2-3 years at least, but the peripherals are there to suggest that we’ve got a future star in the making. If you have deep dynasty rosters, I would try to make a move for him now. Again, as with the other pitchers on this list, do not overpay for a guy who is literally 12 years younger than me. Forget I said that last part. Oh god, I feel old.
So that’s it, folks. A few names to think about when you begin your quest to rebuild for next year and beyond. This is far from a comprehensive list, but it should get the wheels turning. Remember, the important thing is to acquire those guys you believe in, and search for those bargains to get the most bang for your buck. Hope you aren’t selling in too many leagues because that means you suck.
Give me a follow on Twitter @jakebridges03!
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