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Do These Prospects Matter in Dynasty Baseball? AFL Week 6 - Kala'i Rosario, Grant Pauley, Damon Keith, Trystan Vierling, more!

fantasy baseball prospects MLB prospects rookies call-ups

The Arizona Fall League (AFL) heads into the playoffs this weekend and then will be done, ending one of the most exciting offseason leagues each season, especially in terms of evaluating players. This week will be the final evaluation of any players in the AFL.

Next week, we'll have our last column of the season, featuring prospects who are playing in the various winter leagues going on around the world, so check back in for that!

Look here for insight on potential fantasy baseball dynasty league pickups before they hit and to get to know players as they ascend to the major leagues!

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Top Hitter Prospects

Statistical highlights (through Tuesday, November 7):

 

Hitter Prospect Outlooks: Fantasy Six-Pack

Dasan Brown, OF, Toronto Blue Jays

Considered one of the best prospects in all of Canada in the 2019 draft, Brown was excited to be selected by the Blue Jays in the third round of the draft. He immediately impressed with a .444 on-base percentage and six stolen bases in just 14 games in the Florida Complex League.

Brown certainly suffered from the lost pandemic season as he was more athlete than a polished player, and it showed as he struggled to a .212/.310/.323 slash line in Single-A in 2021, hitting four home runs and stealing 22 bases, but also posting a 32.7% strikeout rate. Even though the contact rate was better in 2022 in 85 games across both A-ball levels, Brown still struggled with controlling the strike zone, striking out 28.3% of the time, though he did slash .283/.383/.420.

This season, Brown returned to High-A and had a similar slash line to 2021, posting a .218/.309/.315 line with seven home runs and 26 steals, reducing his strikeouts, but still fanning 25% of the time. He did have an improved slash line (.274/.342/.397) in the AFL, but he again struck out 30%+ of the time.

VERDICT: Brown is an elite speed guy and can cover a ton of ground in center field, he was one of the youngest players in the 2019 draft, so he is still just 22 for all of next season, but he's not yet played in the upper minors, so he needs to show that first before dynasty owners in any size league worry about him.

Kala'i Rosario, OF, Minnesota Twins

Several unique players and player locations came into play during the truncated 2020 draft. A selection out of high school in Hawaii was certainly one of those, as the Twins picked Rosario in the fifth round of the 2020 draft. He had to wait until 2021 to make his pro debut, but he then showed off some of the positive things and worrying things in his profile, slashing .277/.341/.452 in 51 complex league games, hitting five home runs but also striking out 31.7% of the time.

That high whiff rate caught up to Rosario the last two seasons, though he still showed impressive raw power. Combined between 2022 and 2023 across both A-ball levels, Rosario slashed .245/.345/.440 with 33 home runs over 227 games. He then went to the AFL and struck out 32% of the time but also has been among the league leaders in home runs throughout the year.

The big crescendo moment for Rosario in the AFL was winning last Saturday's Home Run Derby. He hit 25 total home runs, defeating Blue Jays prospect Damiano Pamelgiani 6-5 in the championship round. Rosario absolutely has huge raw power, and he has the arm to be an asset in the outfield, though he's not exactly above average in the field.

VERDICT: The power definitely is impressive, but Rosario has yet to play a game in the upper minors, so no reason to add him right now in anything but the deepest of dynasty leagues.

Jacob Burke, OF, Chicago White Sox

Former Miami Hurricane outfielder Burke was selected by the Chicago White Sox in the 11th round last summer after exploding for a .347/.425/.599 slash line in his final year with the Hurricanes, hitting 13 home runs and stealing 10 bases. Burke hit well in his pro debut, working up to Single-A with a .281/.395/.438 slash line over 27 games.

Burke fought through injuries this season to play 85 games between the White Sox's two A-ball levels, posting a .294/.392/.439 slash line with six home runs and 19 stolen bases. He did post a 9.4% walk rate and 22% strikeout rate as well while playing all of his games in center field.

Burke has strong defensive instincts that should allow him to play center, though his raw speed is more above-average than plus in covering the outfield. He could be a top-tier defender in a corner if he were moved there. He was able to show more power in the AFL, with three home runs in 22 games, but it came at the expense of a 30% strikeout rate.

VERDICT: The contact skills and defense are above-average with Burke, who profiles well as a fourth outfield type from the right-hand side, akin to what Kevin Pillar did in Atlanta this past season. Not really a guy that needs to be rostered unless he takes another step forward to become a starter in the outfield.

Michael Trautwein, C, Cincinnati Reds

The Reds selected the lefty-swinging backstop Trautwein from Northwestern University in the 13th round in 2021. Trautwein had shown well behind the plate in the MLB Draft League for Williamsport, answering several questions teams had about his glovework at catcher.

In the last two seasons, Trautwein has spent the majority of his time behind the plate, but he's also logged time in both corner outfield spots defensively. In 2022, Trautwein missed a lot of time due to injury, playing just 41 games across both A-ball levels, struggling to a .173/.250/.240 line with a very high 38% strikeout rate.

Trautwein split his 2023 season between High-A and Double-A, slashing .248/.360/.384 with a 12% walk rate and 26% strikeout rate over 87 games. The Reds sent Trautwein to the AFL to focus on his receiving, as he played all of his games behind the plate, slashing .217/.333/.435 but also catching 35% of those who attempted to run against him.

VERDICT: Trautwein is a prototypical backup catcher profile, with a bat that wouldn't roster anywhere but catcher. He's a strong "real life" player, but for fantasy, you can let him be.

Graham Pauley, 3B/OF, San Diego Padres

A strong athlete at Milton High School in Milton, Georgia, Pauley went to Duke and suddenly was faced with the pandemic taking away his freshman year. He made up for it, posting a .400 on base with 25 extra-base hits in his draft season with the Blue Devils before showing his athleticism by stealing five bases in 17 Cape Cod League games as draft preparation/showcase. The Padres snagged Pauley in the 13th round last summer.

The impact of the bat was immediate in his pro debut, as Pauley reached full-season ball, combining to hit .276/.403/.476 with four home runs and six steals while posting a 21/17 BB/K rate in 32 games. This season, he opened the year in Single-A but finished the year with 20 games in Double-A. Overall, he slashed .308/.393/.539 with 23 home runs and 22 stolen bases.

Pauley has shown soft hands in the infield and a strong arm in the outfield, allowing the Padres to play him at second, third, and both corner outfield spots as a pro. He spent his time in the AFL evenly split between third and corner outfield, finishing among the league leaders with five home runs and 20 runs batted in.

VERDICT: Pauley's discipline at the plate and his combination of above-average power and speed make him a very intriguing fantasy prospect. He should absolutely be owned in deep leagues and owners in mid-sized and shallow leagues should be watching how he responds to playing a full season in the upper minors in 2024 to add him quickly.

Damon Keith, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers

Keith fits a profile that the Dodgers do very well developing - an athletic, well-built player who has either struggled to some degree at a major college or has shown well at a college that's not in a Power Five conference. After a strong 2021 season for California Baptist, the Dodgers selected Keith in the 18th round of the draft that summer.

As expected, Keith showed well in complex ball, hitting .333/.454/.551 with a home run and two stolen bases in 23 games. The Dodgers split his time in 2022 across both A-ball levels, where in 119 combined games, he hit .277/.411/478 with 17 home runs and five steals. Keith opened the 2023 season back in High-A Great Lakes, and many figured he'd move quickly to Double-A.

Except he didn't. Keith struggled to make consistent contact this season in the Midwest League, striking out at a 33% rate and powering out just 11 home runs and 33 extra-base hits in 106 games. The Dodgers hoped time in the AFL would allow him to get back on track, and Keith did find his power stroke, with a .507 slugging, but he continued to strike out at a 32% rate.

VERDICT: Keith has a lot of similarity to James Outman's profile, though he swings from the right side and has a tick less speed/defensive ability. The profile can play in the majors, but he's likely a power bench bat or a platoon bat on the short side. Only those in deep leagues need to worry about him right now.

 

Top Pitcher Prospects

Statistical highlights:

 

Pitcher Prospect Outlooks: Fantasy Six-Pack

Trey McGough, RP, Baltimore Orioles

McGough was drafted by the Pirates in 2019 in the 24th round coming out of Mount St. Mary's University. The lefty made 18 relief appearances in his pro debut, with a 3.86 ERA over 37 2/3 innings along with a 41/9 K/BB rate. He then transitioned to a starting role coming out of the pandemic.

In 2021, he tossed 113 innings between High-A and Double-A, posting a 3.19 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and a 90/25 K/BB rate. The Pirates waived McGough after a 2022 season where he tossed 17 2/3 innings with Triple-A Indianapolis, with a 3.06 ERA and 1.08 WHIP before having Tommy John surgery.

The Orioles jumped on the ability to snag the 6'3" lefty, and he spent most of 2023 rehabbing from his surgery but did make seven appearances across four levels, tossing 20 2/3 innings with a 3.05 ERA. He was used exclusively out of the bullpen in the AFL, posting a 3.00 ERA over 9 innings, posting a strong 12/3 K/BB rate.

VERDICT: Pre-injury, McGough was a guy who offered a four-pitch mix from the left side with all four pitches ranking as average but none as plus. He has previously shown plus command, which could allow that arsenal to play up as a backend starter. Watch his role and his recovery to start the season, but he could potentially work into the bullpen mix in Baltimore this year.

Trystan Vrieling, SP, New York Yankees

Part of a very talented 2022 Gonzaga rotation, Vrieling had hoped to raise his profile to a potential first-day draftee after a dominant 2021 in the Cape Cod League, but he struggled to a 4.91 ERA over 80 2/3 innings for the Bulldogs, which dropped him to the third round, the 100th selection overall, with the Yankees.

As he was ramping up in spring training to potentially find his way to the upper minors by the end of the 2023 season, Vrieling suffered a fracture in his right elbow. He missed all of the 2023 regular season, meaning the AFL would be his only live action this year. While his overall results, 5.06 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, and four home runs allowed in 10 2/3 innings, may not inspire, Vrieling was able to strike out 15 batters.

The 6'4" righty has the type of frame to add healthy weight, and his physical profile is one that the Yankees have done well adding velocity to over the years. He already has two breaking balls that flash plus in his cutter and curve. If he can bump his velocity up to consistently working in the 92-95 range with even average command, he could become a mid-rotation profile.

VERDICT: The injury definitely kept Vrieling's stock down for now, but there's upside here that could be intriguing. No need to roster him yet, but keep an eye out for how he begins the 2024 season.

Andrew Moore, RP, Cincinnati Reds

After impressing at Chipola College, the 6'5" Moore struck out 42 in 24 1/3 innings in the MLB Draft League before the Mariners selected him in the 14th round of the 2021 draft. The righty reached Single-A in his pro debut, though the numbers were certainly less than impressive, with a 6.98 ERA over 19 1/3 innings of relief, walking more than he struck out.

In 2022, Moore took another step in his performance, with his fastball sticking in the upper-90s and touching triple digits along with an added level of break to his breaking ball. This generated ridiculous swing-and-miss rates, allowing him to finish the season with a 4.29 ERA in 42 innings, but also 73 strikeouts over that time. The Mariners moved Moore at midseason along with Noelvi Marte, Edwin Arroyo, and Levi Stoudt for righty Luis Castillo.

Moore struggled with injury this season, making just 14 total appearances, though the strikeout rate was elite, with 29 strikeouts in 18 2/3 innings. He did see more tougher hitters in the AFL, posting a 4.91 ERA and 1.64 WHIP, with a 7/4 K/BB rate.

VERDICT: Moore has potential backend reliever stuff, but he has yet to pitch in the upper minors, so stay away for now until he has a steady role in a major league bullpen.

Troy Taylor, RP, Seattle Mariners

Taylor originally went to Long Beach State out of high school, but after the 2020 season, transferred to Cypress College in 2021. He threw well in the MLB Draft League that summer, drawing a selection by the Mariners in the 20th round. Taylor instead went to UC-Irvine, where he was moved to the bullpen and had a strong year before the Mariners selected him with their 12th-round pick in the 2022 draft.

Taylor did not pitch in 2022, instead making his pro debut this year, throwing 45 1/3 innings over 40 appearances with a 3.38 ERA and 1.15 WHIP between both A-ball levels. He posted a 62/21 K/BB ratio. Taylor has had a tremendous AFL with Peoria, throwing 10 1/3 innings with a 1.74 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and 12/2 K/BB ratio.

Taylor works with a high-carry fastball that sits 95-96 and can touch 98 while pairing it with an average slider. When he's locating the pair, they play off one another well and generate plenty of swing-and-miss and weak contact. So far, as much as anything, his fringe-plus command has been his most impressive tool on the mound.

VERDICT: Taylor is a very impressive arm that could quickly move into a bullpen role due to his advanced command. He doesn't have backend raw stuff, but if he can command it well, that could be in his future. As with most relievers, leave him be for now, but the command could make him a solid choice for ratios once he reaches the majors.

Anthony Hoopii-Tuionetoa, RP, Texas Rangers

Coming out of high school in Hawaii, the Minnesota Twins selected Hoopii-Tuionetoa in 2018 but chose not to sign. After a year with Pierce College, he was selected by the Rangers in the 30th round, and he signed. The Rangers held him back from making his pro debut in 2019, and then he lost the pandemic year, which meant that he didn't make his pro debut until 2021. The righty spent 2021 in the complex, striking out 38 over 22 2/3 innings.

Hoopii-Tuionetoa spent the entire 2022 season in Single-A, posting a 3.09 ERA and 1.33 WHIP over 36 appearances and 43 2/3 innings. He kept home run rates low (only 2 allowed) and had a strong 67/20 K/BB ratio. This season, he struggled through injury, making just 19 appearances across both A-ball levels, tossing 24 1/3 innings with a 2.96 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and 25/7 K/BB rate. He's yet to allow a run in the AFL, pitching 9 2/3 innings with a 10/3 K/BB rate.

The 6'2" righty has a mid-90s velocity that has a late jump along with a sweeping breaker. When he can locate the secondary well, his fastball plays up to generate swing-and-miss and weak contact, but he's often been a control-over-command guy, which has allowed the fastball to be hit hard.

VERDICT: Hoopii-Tuionetoa has fun stuff to dream of for a potential strong reliever in the Rangers' bullpen. He still has not pitched in the upper minors, so he's not really a guy that needs to be added quite yet.

Jack Perkins, RP, Oakland Athletics

Coming out of high school in Indiana, Perkins was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 39th round. He chose not to sign and instead to attend Louisville. After just 48 innings over his first three seasons with the Cardinals, he transferred to Indiana, where he was put into the Hoosier rotation, striking out 91 over 83 innings. The A's drafted Perkins in the fifth round of the 2022 draft.

The Athletics moved Perkins into a bullpen role immediately during his pro debut, tossing 10 innings over six appearances, with a 2.70 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, and a 14/2 K/BB ratio. He then moved back to the rotation this season, pitching 107 2/3 innings between High-A and Double-A. He posted a 4.10 ERA and 1.40 WHIP with a 93/47 K/BB rate. He's pitched completely out of the bullpen in the AFL, throwing 12 1/3 innings over 10 appearances without a run allowed, with a 15/6 K/BB ratio.

Perkins has an elite fastball that works in the mid-90s out of the bullpen, touching 97-98, with excellent late movement. He has a hard slider and a hard cutter. The combination is a bullpen combo of pitches, as he goes hard with all three pitches, but he struggles with command with more length in games, making the bullpen an excellent future destination for his stuff.

VERDICT: Perkins struggled in Double-A this season as a starter, so it wouldn't be surprising if he heads back to that level to open 2024 as a reliever, but with his stuff, he could ascend quickly, and Oakland has an excellent bullpen situation for him to potentially find himself in high-leverage innings. Keep an eye on him for now, but no need to add him.

Check back again next week for more evaluations and look behind the numbers!



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Saquon Barkley - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News, DFS Lineup Picks

Top Landing Spots For Saquon Barkley In Free Agency: 2024 Offseason Outlook

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley is one of the most talented players in the NFL. The superstar running back has had at least 960 rushing yards in four of six career seasons, including back-to-back years. The former Penn State star has struggled with injuries in his career. He missed at least three games... Read More


Blake Corum - Fantasy Football Rankings, College FB, RB, NFL Draft Sleepers

Early Look At The 2024 RB Rookie Class For Fantasy Football Dynasty Leagues

The 2024 rookie running back class isn't as good as last year's class. After two running backs were picked in the top 12 in 2023, some analysts are projecting there won't be a single running back picked in the first round. There's no clear-cut number one like Bijan Robinson was last year. Rankings are fluid.... Read More


Dak Prescott - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News, DFS Lineup Picks

Biggest Positional Needs for All 32 NFL Teams - NFC East Edition

Following the 2023 NFL Season, it's quite easy to make the argument that every fanbase for each of the four teams in the NFC East is disappointed with how the season went. The Eagles imploded in the last two months of the season. Hard. The Cowboys got blown out at home in the first round... Read More


Malik Nabers - Fantasy Football Rankings, College FB, WR, NFL Draft Sleepers

2024 NFL Mock Draft Round 1 Predictions (February Update) - Picks from All 32 Teams

That first dreaded Sunday of the year without football arrived and there's no doubt many of you all across the country needed something to fill the void over the weekend. Have no fear, NFL Mock Draft Season is here! While we are still about seven months away from official 2024 NFL action, the good news... Read More


Marvin Mims Jr. - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL DFS Picks

Fantasy Football Dynasty Sleepers Heading Into 2024: Undervalued Wide Receivers

With the 2023 NFL season officially in the books, it's time to turn our attention to the future. The weeks before the 2024 NFL Draft are a busy time for fantasy football managers in dynasty leagues as they wheel and deal in an attempt to improve their position during the offseason. Often, certain players will... Read More


josh allen fantasy football rankings NFL injury news DFS lineup picks

Biggest Positional Needs For All 32 NFL Teams - AFC East Edition

The AFC East was expected to have three teams vying for a playoff spot -- the Bills, Dolphins, and Jets -- but only two of them were able to accomplish those goals. The Jets were forced to pivot very early in the season when star quarterback and offseason acquisition Aaron Rodgers tore his Achilles in... Read More


Jordan Love - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Targets, NFL Injury News

Biggest Breakouts of the 2023 NFL Season: Quarterback

The value of quarterbacks in the fantasy football realm has never been higher. Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, Jalen Hurts, and Lamar Jackson are or have been in the MVP conversation more often than not. The next generation of signal callers are all pushing to have their names listed among the best. First, they have to... Read More


Raheem Mostert - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, Waiver Wire Pickups

Fantasy Football Dynasty Sleepers Heading Into 2024: Undervalued Running Backs

With the 2023 NFL season officially over, it's time to turn our attention to the future. This pre-draft time is a busy one for fantasy football managers in dynasty leagues as they wheel and deal in an attempt to improve their position during the offseason. Often, certain players will go under the radar in dynasty... Read More


Kirk Cousins - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

Biggest Positional Needs for All 32 NFL Teams - NFC North Edition

The NFC North featured two playoff teams - the Packers and the Lions - from this past season. This division looks to be one of the strongest in the NFL. Detroit is already seen as a Super Bowl and major NFC contender. The Packers started to take steps toward that last season. With the expected... Read More