In the spirit of March Madness and our Draft kit’s Organizational Top 10 Fantasy Prospects series, I thought we should include a supplement breaking down the best of the bubble players that were considered but eventually fell short. I have titled them; the “Just Missed List.”
One reason some prospects didn’t make their organizational Top 10 list is that their team had a system filled with Fantasy viable prospects. Another reason is that while an organization may have a weaker overall system, some “just missed” players lack the tools to be Fantasy relevant. A third reason is that a prospect may actually have the tools but the likelihood of ever realizing his potential is too low to qualify them for the Top 10. These last two are the most common reasons and make for the toughest decisions when it comes to “Prospecting.” Often times you will see these types of prospects ranked highly in non-Fantasy focused publications but our standards are different and therefore my rankings will be different.
For those March Madness bubble teams that ended up in the NIT, we feel for you. Here are 10 prospects that are worth keeping an eye on but “Just Missed.”
1. Billy Burns, OF (8-30-89) A’s: Combines a great K/BB ratio with plus speed (40-plus SB potential) to be an intriguing future lead off hitter. No power in his game. ETA: 2014/2015.
Why he missed the Top 10: His lack of power and the belief of some scouts that he is a fourth outfielder put in to question whether he ever makes a Fantasy impact. He is noteworthy and made the “just missed list” because now that he is in the A’s organization, Burns has a path to the majors that could lead to 40-plus steals as soon as 2015. Worthy of a minor league spot in your Fantasy organization because he could be in the majors soon, but falls slightly short of the A’s top 10. Very close call.
2. Rafael Bautista, OF (3-8-93) Nationals: Plus defender and base stealer with elite speed and a good approach at the plate. Shows potential to be a full time leadoff hitter with 50-plus stolen base potential. ETA: 2018
Why he missed the Top 10: The Nationals have a strong system filled with players that have above average tools on the bump or at bat or on the base paths. Besides a tough Top 10 to crack, Bautista also lacks power potential and still has a lot of development in front of him. Put him on your watch list.
3. Rafael Montero, RHP (10-17-90) Mets: Montero’s elite command, poise and feel for pitching has resulted in impressive stats that outshine his average tools. He has SP4 caliber stuff, SP3 level pitching ability. ETA: 2014.
Why he missed the Top 10: Fantasy worthy players need to not only make the majors but be above average. Montero’s only above average tools are his command and feel for pitching. You can dominate minor leaguers with his profile but it is a low percentage bet to expect a prospect to consistently do that year in and year out in the majors. He is a solid waiver wire Fantasy player and could potentially be a consistent two-start option, but, you can find them on the waiver wire.
4. Ryne Stanek, RHP (7-26-91) Rays: With a live fastball that gets up to 98 mph and an inconsistent out pitch (slider), Stanek has the makings of an SP2/3 starter if he can put it all together. Scouts question whether he’s a starter or reliever, but the package is intriguing. ETA: 2016.
Why he missed the Top 10: The Rays have a strong system with a lot of players with above average tools that Fantasy owners can dream on. While Stanek’s arm is live his secondary pitches are inconsistent and his future roll is in doubt. When you’re making difficult decisions between prospects it is difficult to use a spot on a future middle reliever. He is worth a spot on your Fantasy system depending on what you have and he is definitely worth keeping an eye on if he doesn’t make your squad. In some other organizations he probably would have made the Top 10.
5. Trevor May, RHP (9-23-89) Twins: Has a solid average fastball, a strike out change-up and a potential out pitch curveball. May gets plenty of strikeouts as well as fly balls. His change-up and overall repertoire remind me of James Shields but with significantly less command, crucial for major league starting pitchers. He’s an SP4 that you can dream on. ETA: 2014.
Why he missed the Top 10: May’s secondary pitches make him an intriguing prospect but if you have an average fastball you need plus command in order for it to play up. As things stand now, May will need to rely on his smarts or improve his command to reach the 170K threshold and it is very difficult to be consistently Fantasy dominant with that profile.
6. Junior Arias OF (1-9-92) Reds: Arias has 30-plus stolen base speed and above average raw power. The tools are easy to dream on, but his inability to make consistent contact makes it unlikely he becomes a regular. ETA: 2017.
Why he missed the Top 10: Normally tools like Arias’ would make him a cinch for the Top 10, but when scouts ignore the tools and come to the conclusion that a physical talent like Arias is unlikely to make it as a regular, then his contact issues must be severe. That kind of problem is unlikely to be solved with experience. If he had 90 steal potential like Billy Hamilton it would be one thing but his other tools don’t make up for the concerns.
7. Joely Rodriguez LHP (11-14-91) Pirates: Has a 95 mph fastball from the left side with good movement. He has an extremely intriguing arm but a disappointing lack of a strikeout secondary pitch.
Why he missed the Top 10: Rodriguez is not a strikeout pitcher, in spite of his unique velocity, due to the lack of a strikeout secondary pitch. He doesn’t currently show promise that he will develop one either. Groundballs are great for the ratios but Fantasy owners need the K’s. Still, 95 mph from the left side is intriguing to say the least.
8. & 9. Vic Black, RHP (5-23-88) & Jeurys Familia, RHP (10-10-89) Mets: Both have above average fastballs to go with above average swing and miss breaking pitches. They also both struggle with command and at best, end up as closers, at worst, middle relievers. ETA: 2014.
Why they missed the Top 10: In Fantasy Baseball you don’t pay for saves, and by extension, you shouldn’t use a minor league roster spot on relievers that may not get the chance for saves. Craig Kimbrel, sure. Black and Familia are not Kimbrel. Michael Fullmer made the Mets Top 10 because his fastball/slider mix is just as good if not better, and while the bullpen seems to be Fullmer’s future, it is not set in stone. SP3 upside with closer as a fallback is why Fullmer made it and both Black and Familia missed.
10. Ty Blach, LHP (10-20-90) Giants: Blach is the definition of a crafty lefty. He throws four average pitches, all for strikes and all wherever in the zone he wants in any count he chooses. He knows how to pitch and his command is well above average. ETA: 2016.
Why he missed the Top 10: Fantasy owners demand above average performance in order for players to be relevant and it is very difficult to expect that from average to below average tools. Blach has the feel, smarts and command to be Fantasy relevant but without a major league track record it is very difficult to recommend a guy like Blach for your minor league system and any team’s Top 10. It doesn’t mean he isn’t worth watching and as he gets closer to the majors, worth a spot in your Fantasy minors system. I recommend going for more upside/higher ceiling players until the Blach types are close to contributing at the major league level. I always want a few AAA players in my minors for double starts and streaming when they do get the call.