The Fantasy Football season is at the must-win stage and Fantasy Hockey season is starting to round into shape, while Fantasy Basketball is what it usually is – a snoozefest. What I want to discuss as we prepare for the snow to fall is Fantasy Baseball…because the hot stove season is not only a time to be thankful, it is also a time of giving that keeps right on giving. Speculation about where the big free agents will sign makes headlines while trade rumors swirl and deals start to happen. Trades at this time of the year almost always involve major leaguers for prospects. Teams that are trying to win now are trading with teams that are trying to re-build for the future, and when you have that mix, then we are talking prospects.
It’s still early in the hot stove season but we have already had a few trades with meaningful Fantasy prospects changing organizations. Let’s break down the prospects and the impact of the changes on their future values.
Boston Red Sox Receive:
* RP Craig Kimbrel
San Diego Padres Receive:
* SS Javier Guerra
* OF Manuel Margot
* LHP Logan Allen
* INF/OF Carlos Asuaje
The prospects of consequence in this trade are shortstop Javier Guerra and multi-tool outfielder Manuel Margot. Both of these prospects were in the middle of the Boston Red Sox Organizational Rankings for 2016 and will now be at the very top of the San Diego Padres’ list. Utility man Carlos Asuaje is a lottery ticket who showed some exciting potential in 2014 at age 22, a little old for the level to be bullish on him, but enough to be intriguing. LHP Logan Allen isn’t currently on the prospect radar, but he’s a lefthander who throws strikes and has a chance to be a SP3/4 and an innings eater, especially in Petco Park against National League lineups.
Manuel Margot OF, (9-28-94)
ETA: Sept 2016/ June 2017
I ranked Margot seventh in my 2015 pre-season Boston Red Sox Organizational Prospect Rankings, a notch below the big timers that the Sox system is known for. He is a plus athlete whose most impactful tool is his speed, but there is power potential there and his defense will help his chances of becoming a full-time major leaguer. He has a similar ceiling to ex-teammate OF Rusney Castillo but profiles closer to Seattle Mariner OF Leonys Martin with a ceiling like OF Lorenzo Cain. The move to Petco Park and the National League should speed up his matriculation to the majors and his chances of providing meaningful stolen base totals.
Javier Guerra, SS, (9-29-95)
Guerra “just missed” my Boston Red Sox Prospect Organizational Rankings in 2015 because he was only 19 years old, but he had some of the best tools of any infielder in their system. In 2015, he broke out with 15 home runs, seven stolen bases, a batting average of .279 and a .778 OPS in High-A. His defense is gold glove caliber, enhancing his overall value, but his speed is below average, which will put pressure on the power to continue to progress for Guerra to be a plus Fantasy shortstop. In Petco Park, he has a ceiling of 18-20 home runs and a .270-.285 batting average, but the concern is that he is a .265 batter with 10-12 home runs. He is worth owning but not worth targeting in trades because he lacks an impact power ceiling. I saw Guerra play at Fenway Park in the summer of 2014, and he didn’t stand out at that stage in his development. He was young and has improved since, but he didn’t flash “star” to me at that time.
Carlos Asuaje, UTL (11-2-91)
ETA: August 2016/ April 2017
Asuaje broke out in 2014, with 11 home runs, seven stolen bases and a .310 batting average. He did that in Class-A and High-A as an elder statesman (22 years old), which minimizes his performance, and he wasn’t able to build on it in 2015 at Double-A. He has some power and limited speed, but he is serviceable at three defensive positions. His utility player profile should get him major league at bats eventually, but he needs to develop more power to be Fantasy viable. Utility man Ryan Rua developed late for the Texas Rangers, so Asuaje has some hope, but so far he hasn’t performed like Rua did for the Rangers. Asuaje is worth monitoring but he isn’t worth rostering except in leagues with extremely large minor league rosters.
Logan Allen, LHP (5-23-97)
Allen lacks plus stuff but he has the intangibles that could lead to him becoming an innings eater as a dreaded “crafty-lefty.” His velocity doesn’t wow scouts and he doesn’t offer a swing-and-miss secondary offering, but his command and poise could keep him a starter. Allen isn’t worth a roster spot because of his low ceiling and current distance from the major leagues, but don’t completely forget about him; he has a chance to be a streaming option.
Los Angeles Angels Receive:
* Andrelton Simmons
Atlanta Braves Receive:
* LHP Sean Newcomb
* C Jose Briceno
* RHP Chris Ellis
LHP Sean Newcomb and OF Manuel Margot are the headline prospects to be traded so far this hot stove season, and with Newcomb going from the American League to the NL, his Fantasy owners have benefitted the most so far this winter. RHP Chris Ellis has some potential as an innings eater while C Jose Briceno is a catcher so he is what he is.
Sean Newcomb, LHP (6-12-93)
ETA: August 2016/April 2017
Newcomb is a big-bodied lefthander with mid-90s velocity and the potential for three plus pitches with a breaking ball that should be a swing-and-miss pitch at the major league level. His stuff makes him worth targeting in trades, especially now that he will be twirling the seams in the NL East. He struck out 168 batters in 136 innings across three levels in 2015, and with his repertoire he can be a 180K-200K starter for Fantasy owners.
Chris Ellis, RHP (9-22-92)
ETA: August 2016/June 2017
Ellis lacks the difference-maker stuff Fantasy owners like to see, which also puts his ability to remain a starter in jeopardy, but his sinking fastball and serviceable breaking pitch could result in an innings eater SP3/4. Innings eaters have a spot on Fantasy teams but he isn’t worth a minor league roster spot. His career projects to be as a waiver wire streamer or middle reliever.
Seattle Mariners Receive:
* RP Joaquin Benoit
San Diego Padres Receive:
* RHP Enyel De Los Santos
* INF Nelson Ward
Neither Nelson Ward nor Enyel De Los Santos were ranked by me or Baseball America in our respective 2015 Prospect Rankings. Ward was left off because of his lack of a stand out tool and De Los Santos because of how young he was and how much development he still has ahead of him.
Enyel De Los Santos, RHP (12-25-95)
De Los Santos has some flash and the potential to be an impact Fantasy player, but it is a long way away with a lot of development to get there. His fastball currently sits in the low to mid-90s, while his curveball and change-up have both flashed the potential to be plus offerings. He is currently tall and lanky with good command and clean mechanics, so there is good reason to believe that he will be Fantasy viable eventually.
International players who sign during their teen years take a long time to develop and require a lot of patience from Fantasy owners, but Miguel Sano, Rafael Devers, and Felix Hernandez owners are happy they waited. De Los Santos doesn’t profile to be on that level at this stage of his development, but he has above average potential and could burst on to the prospect scene in 2016 or 2017. It is my Dynasty league philosophy that every Fantasy minor league system should carry a few long-term project prospects and Enyel De Los Santos deserves a spot on that kind of roster. If you don’t believe in that strategy or don’t have the patience to wait, then check back in the middle of 2016 and see how his development is coming along.