Mike’s Top-50 Fantasy Baseball Prospects Scouted: #45-41
Yesterday marked the first of ten pieces breaking down my top-50 baseball prospects scouted in 2014. Today’s installment features a trade deadline acquisition whose already made his MLB debut, a Cardinals pitcher having success in Triple-A, a pair of Mets prospects and a multi-million dollar Rangers international free agent. At ROTOscouting, our motto is, “Fantasy Baseball Fueled By Baseball Scouting”. In living up to this, any and all future prospect and player lists published here will have a fantasy baseball slant.
In a first attempt at perfecting the process, I sat down with my scouting notes in the hope of creating a top-20 prospect list of players scouted in 2014. The result? 54 names and the need to expand the list to 50 players.
Because this list is meant for the dynasty fantasy baseball player, it’s important to have a basic system for separating fantasy value from MLB value.
1. Review scouting notes on baseball prospects from the ballpark.
2. Review statistics and level movement in 2014.
3. Run a basic 5×5 auction value calculator using statistics from the 2013 season
4. Compare peak projections for each player and match it actual production of a MLB player at the same position. This will yield a fantasy baseball peak dollar value.
5. Assess a $1 penalty per full season minor league level not completed (MLB = $0, Triple-A = $1, Double-A = $2, High-A = $3, Single-A = $4, Short Season = $5)
6. After final dollar values were totaled, the information was used in a 50-man mock draft. Most picks were made in order of value, but I did stray on occasion.
Mike’s Top-50 Baseball Prospects Scouted: #45-41
45. Edwin Escobar, LHP, Boston Red Sox (MLB)
Age 22 / MLB ETA = Debuted 2014
2014 Stats: 138.1 IP, 4.94 ERA, 161 H, 116/45 K/BB
A late season look at Escobar was more impressive than his pedestrian 2014 line. Topping out at 93-mph with a pair of diving off-speed pitches plays well if able to command the entire arsenal. The left-hander’s body is maxed out with little room for physical growth, so improvement has to come from repetition and technique. Just 22, he already has three average-to-above pitches and present feel leaves room to add a cutter to complement a straight fastball. With “pitchability” being en vogue, Edwin Escobar has the potential to develop into a third starter if things break right. If he ends up a 4/5, then he’s a replacement level 5×5 performer.
44. Gavin Cecchini, SS, New York Mets (AA)
Age 20 / MLB ETA = 2016
2014 Stats: 465 AB, .247/.328/.378, 40 XBH, 10/14 SB
At the park, it’s easy to scout Cecchini and come away unimpressed. He has no loud tools and presents as a grinder with a high baseball IQ. And while every organization wants players similar to the Mets shortstop prospect, few invest high first round picks in a similar scouting profile. However, the Mets are a mess at shortstop and Gavin Cecchini did reach Double-A in 2014. Plus, 40 extra base hits is more present power than expected at this point in his development. MLB shortstops with the ability to bat .240 with 10 home runs and 10 stolen bases had positive 5×5 value in 2013. At any other position except catcher, Cecchini’s offensive profile wouldn’t be nearly as valuable. Fortunately for the shortstop, few baseball prospects have the defensive chops to stick in the middle infield.
43. Tim Cooney, LHP, St. Louis Cardinals (AAA)
Age 23 / MLB ETA = 2015
2014 Stats: 158 IP, 3.47 ERA, 158 H, 119/47 K/BB
Cooney is a command/control left-hander with four decent pitches. In person, the arsenal played down on a blustery April night, but a Memphis coach in the stands mentioned he had more in the tank. Hits allowed are a concern as Tim Cooney’s command needs to sharpen to limit strikeouts and cut down walk totals even further. If this doesn’t happen, a high WHIP will crater whatever value he does have, leaving him a replacement level starter in 5×5 formats. Entering 2015, he’ll be ready to join a MLB rotation somewhere, but it probably won’t be the Cardinals given the talent there already. The best hope of Cooney breaking through is to be traded to a lesser team in the off-season. In 2013, Orioles pitcher Miguel Gonzalez was worth $1 with a 3.78 ERA and 1.23 WHIP. When fewer pitchers than hitters accumulate positive values, the ability to scoop Tim Cooney (ROTOscouting Report) on the cheap helps keep costs down.
42. Jairo Beras, OF, Texas Rangers
Age 19 / MLB ETA = 2018
2014 Stats: 389 AB, .242/.305/.342, 25 XBH, 5 SB
A high risk, high reward talent, Beras has the physical tools to excel among his peers. Listed at 6-feet-5 inches and 178 pounds, his size is impossible to ignore on the baseball diamond. However, his current game plays small as Jairo Beras is limited to left field, yet has a flat plane swing with no understanding of lift. In game action, he pounded ball-after-ball into the ground. Even so, the ball exploded off the bat leaving the right-handed hitter an interesting project with a high risk of flaming out at the upper levels. In 2013, Matt Joyce was worth $3 in actual value even though he batted just .235 with 18 home runs and seven steals. And while this wouldn’t be an ideal outcome for Beras, the profile can still have value even if he doesn’t develop fully like many other baseball prospects.
41. Dominic Smith, 1B, New York Mets
Age 19 / ETA 2018
2014 Stats: 461 AB, 271/.344/.338, 28 XBH, 5/9 SB
Smith’s power outage in Single-A has been dissected a million different ways in 2014. Fact is, one home run in an entire season from a first base prospect is bad news regardless of how it’s spun. In multiple looks, Dominic Smith (ROTOscouting Report) lacked explosion stemming from a bad body. However, his hit tool has potential and it’s enough to prop up the profile for now. Plus, first baseman James Loney had more value than one would think in 2013. At .299 with 13 home runs and three stolen bases, the Rays first baseman chipped in $9 in value — enough for a corner infield or utility role, raising his value among baseball prospects.
16 Sep 2014 / Mike Newman /
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