Here’s Your Fantasy Baseball Prospect Update
The hardest part about creating “Top Prospects” lists is that the second you hit “publish” there’s always something you want to take back.
With that in mind, let’s use the 2013 season’s first Prospect Pendulum to take a look at eight different players on my Top 150 list who I know I ranked way too high or too low on my initial take.
Hindsight is always 20/20, but let’s take a look at what I’d change if I could make my list all over again. My original Top 150 rankings are listed next to each player name.
ON THE UPSWING
Nolan Arenado (3B, COL) – 31
Arenado was expected to make a Fantasy impact last season yet spent the entire year in the minors, so I understand the apathy expressed by some to a certain extent. But when you ignore the hype and just focus on Arenado’s skill set, he becomes a 22-year-old with a plus hit tool who just posted better than league-average offensive stats in Double-A. Arenado might not be a future star but he’s a safe bet to be a productive Fantasy player at Coors Field, and I shouldn’t have ranked him 10 slots lower than the likes of Mike Olt.
Yasiel Puig (OF, LAD) – 66
Ranking Puig was essentially a hedge, as no one really had enough information on the Cuban specimen to know exactly where he should rank. Puig crushed pretty much everything in his path this spring, demonstrating more than enough ability to begin the year in Double-A. I’m not going to overreact to a handful of meaningless at-bats, but there’s no doubt that what Puig showed was impressive and he’s about 30 spots too low at his current ranking. If the hit tool can play at a 50 or 55, he’s a monster.
Robert Stephenson (SP, CIN) – 85
I’m trying to figure out exactly how I justified ranking Stephenson below the likes of James Paxton, Justin Nicolino or Jake Odorrizi; it was a mistake. I suppose I just wanted to see or hear more on Stephenson before shooting him up my rankings. He received rave reviews in most preseason reports and his upside is closer to the group of young pitchers I have ranked about 20 spots higher. He’s still young and likely won’t even reach Double-A this season, but there’s plenty of stud-in-the-making potential here.
Brandon Maurer (SP, SEA) – NR
Maurer would’ve made my list had I gone to a Top 165, as he was one of my very final cuts. Seeing as the Mariners were impressed enough to start him in the majors, it’s clear I made an error in judgment here. Maurer isn’t a future ace but he’s more than just a back end guy, and he could end up with acceptable stats for a No. 3 starter while pitching in cavernous Safeco. The wins might be hard to come by right away, but Maurer can contribute in ERA, WHIP and Ks right now.
Francisco Lindor (SS, CLE) – 34
Lindor is a very good prospect who could be a special defender and top-of-the-order hitter, but he’s overrated in Fantasy circles. I’m embarrassed to say I got sucked into groupthink here, and Lindor ranking lower than this didn’t pass the eye test when I ran through my lists. Unfortunately, defense and makeup don’t count in Fantasy, making Lindor’s only relevant plus tool his ability to hit for high averages. He’s definitely a Top 100 name, but he should probably be 30-40 slots lower.
Casey Kelly (SP, SD) – 57
Kelly is following the Padres’ developmental plan to a tee, requiring Tommy John surgery just as he sits on the cusp of a major league role. You can’t blame me for ranking Kelly here pre-injury, as he’s your prototypical No. 3 starter with stuff that can play up in Petco Park. Now that he won’t throw a baseball again until 2014, though, I don’t think he’d make my Top 150, although he’d likely find himself amid the next 50 names. Between his modest ceiling and now his injury history, Kelly’s star has faded considerably since his Boston days.
Zach Eflin (SP, SD) – 126
I love Eflin, but this is a bad rank. Prospect analysts are people too, and this is an example of me wanting to beat the rest of the world to the punch on a player I really like. I think Eflin is a stud and I’m snatching him up in (very) deep dynasty leagues where I can, but he doesn’t deserve to be listed ahead of players who might make the majors this season. Keep Eflin in mind as you hunt for dynasty sleepers this season, but realize that he should probably rank around 50 slots lower on a Top 200.
John Lamb (SP, KC) -- 142
Lamb is an excellent example of why you can’t assume pitchers will return to full health after Tommy John surgery. After missing most of the past two seasons, reports on Lamb have been very negative thus far, citing a decrease in velocity, lack of stuff and spottier command. There’ still time for Lamb to regain some of what he lost, but it sounds like he doesn’t even remotely resemble the No. 2 SP prospect label he earned in 2011. Tommy John recovery rate might be high, but a pitcher’s recovery is not a given.
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