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Eric Cross' Dynasty Notes - Fantasy Baseball News for Elly De La Cruz, Andrew Abbott, Jo Adell, Josh Jung, Spencer Steer and more

Elly De La Cruz - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, Draft Sleepers, Waiver Wire Pickups

In the dynasty world, news and notes articles take on a whole new meaning. Not only are we discussing short-term value with these players, but we need to look long-term as well. A good dynasty manager is like Crazy Eyes from the movie Mr. Deeds. You have to have one eye on the present and one eye on the future. "I wasn't talking to you, Deeds. I was talking to that squirrel over there. [points at a goat]."

So that's what I'm going to do each week with this Dynasty News and Notes article here on RotoBaller. I'll be going around the league, discussing all the notable storylines and players both from a short-term and long-term perspective. Let's get to it.

In this week's report, I'll be discussing plenty of Cincinnati bats throughout the organization, a pair of Rangers on the rise, and much more!

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Fantasy Baseball Dynasty News and Notes

Red Hot Red Stockings

There's a lot to love about the Cincinnati Reds organization top to bottom right now when it comes to the fantasy baseball world.

Of course, we need to start with Elly De La Cruz and Andrew Abbott, Cincinnati's two most recent promotions. Abbott impressed in his Major League debut, tossing six shutout innings against the Milwaukee Brewers.  While Nick Lodolo and Hunter Greene are the crown jewels of this pitching staff, Abbott might not be too far off from them long-term given his elite bat-missing ability that resulted in a 42.7% strikeout rate this season and 35.8% for his MiLB career.

Obviously, everyone knows how good Elly De La Cruz is. Even people under rocks know about De La Cruz's immense offensive upside. It's not very often that a prospect rises to the top 25 overall in my dynasty rankings, but it was warranted with Elly. The only two players with a higher power/speed ceiling are Ronald Acuña Jr and Fernando Tatís Jr.

Over his first three games in the Majors, De La Cruz has already recorded multiple batted ball events over 110 mph, recorded the fasted home to third time in the Majors this season, and cranked his first home run, a majestic blast that you can see below. De La Cruz is an elite dynasty player with legit 40/40 upside if he can keep his strikeout rate in check.

De La Cruz isn't the only exciting offensive rookie up with Cincinnati right now as Matt McLain has been excelling over the last few weeks. After a 4/19 start in his first five games, McLain has slashed .384/.423/.575 over his last 16 games with four doubles, two home runs, two steals, and a respectable 20.5% strikeout rate.

Too many strikeouts were an issue at times for Mclain in the minors, but he improved his approach exponentially in Triple-A this season, so hopefully that continue in the Majors. Long-term, McLain possesses 25/20 upside and could develop into a Dansby Swanson type of offensive performer.

All eyes are on Elly De La Cruz right now, but Spencer Steer has been heating up in Cincinnati without much buzz. Over his last 122 plate appearances dating back to May 7th, Steer is slashing .343/.426/.600 with 10 doubles, five home runs, two steals, a 12.3% walk rate, and a 14.8% strikeout rate. Steer has demonstrated better than league-average marks in zone contact, whiff, and chase rates.

Even with the recent promotions of De La Cruz, McLain, and Abbott, Cincinnati still has plenty of exciting prospects in the minor leagues that make for great dynasty targets. The next two notable names promoted should be Christian Encarnacion-Strand and Noelvi Marte.

If you've been following my top prospects to stash in redraft leagues article here on RotoBaller, you'll have seen me mention Encarnacion-Strand there a few times this season. CES has been mashing all season and currently sports a .349/.408/.711 slash line with 13 doubles and 15 home runs in 39 games. He's overly aggressive in general with a higher chase rate, but that hasn't limited him so far as he's able to limit the strikeouts and put the ball in play with elite quality of contact. This could be a bat that flirts with 40 home runs annually at Great American Ball Park.

As for Marte, he's probably more of a 2024 debut, although a late 2023 debut shouldn't be ruled out either. In 47 Double-A games this season, Marte is slashing .293/.366/.484 with 10 doubles, eight home runs, and 10 steals. Marte really bulked up heading into 2022 and it took him some time to adjust to the larger frame. But once he did, Marte really took off and is a borderline top-10 fantasy baseball prospect once again given his above-average hit tool, solid approach, plus or better raw power, and the fact that he's still running a fair amount.

Further away from the Majors are prospects like Cam Collier, Edwin Arroyo, Carlos Jorge, Hector Rodriguez, Leonardo Balcazar, Chase Petty, Ricardo Cabrera, Lyon Richardson, and Connor Phillips. And frankly, all of them are strong buys in dynasty leagues right now. Arroyo has been struggling a bit this season, but had a great showing in 2022 and can be acquired for a reasonable price tag given the struggles this season. As for the rest, the arrow next to each of their names is pointing upwards, so grab some stock now before their price tags continue to rise throughout the remainder of the 2023 season. It's not inconceivable to think that each name here could be a top-100 overall fantasy prospect by the end of the season.

Last but not least, I want to go back up to the Major League level for the bearded wonder, Jake Fraley. While he hasn't played much against southpaws, Fraley is mashing right-handed pitching to the tune of a .295/.382/.483 slash line and seven home runs. Overall, Fraley is showing a great approach with an 11.2% walk rate, 17.8% strikeout rate, 22.4% whiff rate, and 84.7% zone contact rate, but the quality of contact is below average, specifically his 84.4 mph AVG EV and 29% hard-hit rate. Given the poor QoC metrics and his struggles against LHP limiting him a bit overall, I'd probably look to sell high in dynasty leagues right now if possible.


Texas Bats on the Rise

After hitting just .204 with a .235 OBP and 38..2% strikeout rate in 102 plate appearances down the stretch last season, Josh Jung has taken a massive step forward this season. In 248 plate appearances this season, Jung is slashing .293/.343/.511 with 12 home runs, 38 RBI, and 43 runs scored.

Jung's quality of contact metrics have been top-notch this season with an 11.8% barrel rate, 91.9 mph AVG EV, and a 50.3% hard-hit rate. All three of which are in the top-24% of hitters this season. While Jung remains an aggressive hitter in general, he's made incremental improvements with his approach this season, improving his walk rate, strikeout rate, whiff rate, and chase rate this season. Jung has also increased his contact rate 4.5%.

The third base position falls off quickly after the top handful of names and Jung is already looking to establish himself in that second tier as a borderline top-50 overall dynasty player.

Ezequiel Duran has provided sneaky value this season for the Texas Rangers. In 155 plate appearances, Duran has racked up seven home runs and three steals with a .322/.374/.531 slash line. None of this has been fluky or overperformance either as Duran is currently running a .303 xBA and .537 xSLG to pair with a 10.2% barrel rate and 49.1% hard-hit rate.

While there might be some AVG regressing moving forward given Duran's 76.8% zone contact rate and 39.1% chase rate, the power/speed blend (90th percentile sprint speed) is legit and could have Duran pushing Top 100 value if he can continue to start regularly.


Dynasty Quick Hits

Bryan De La Cruz has quietly been one of the best hitters in baseball over the last month. In 129 plate appearances since May 4th, De La Cruz is slashing .342/.403/.553 with six doubles, six home runs, and two steals. On top of that, De La Cruz has been showing a better approach of late with a 10.1% walk rate and 17.8% strikeout rate.

After spending the first two months in Triple-A, Jo Adell was recalled by the Angels on Thursday. This feels like Christopher Morel part 2 to me given the upside he's shown at times in the past and how he was mashing in Triple-A this season. However, Adell still strikes out way too often but did trim his strikeout rate to 29.3% this season with a 10.7% walk rate. However, given the immense struggles he's shown at the Major League level in the past, I'm more in the "Wait and see" camp with Adell before I consider buying back in. And if you currently roster him and he has a hot week upcoming, I might look to sell, similar to what I recommended with Morel a few weeks ago.

Entering the last day of May, Joey Wiemer was slashing an uninspiring .187/.249/.329. But luckily Milwaukee stuck with him as Wiemer is now on an 8-game hitting streak, in which he is slashing .482/.563/1.000 with five doubles, three home runs, and a pair of steals. Wiemer has always been a bit streaky given his higher whiff and chase rates, but the power/speed blend should allow him to flirt with or exceed 20 home runs and 20 steals annually moving forward. He's already up to eight homers and nine steals this season.

If you play in an OBP league, Ryan Noda has been a hidden gem this season. But nobody has really noticed because the Oakland Athletics have been absolutely terrible this season. In 212 plate appearances, Noda has a lofty .415 OBP with seven home runs. He's showing impressive quality of contact metrics (15.6% BRL, 91.6 mph AVG EV, 45.8% HH) while walking 19.8% of the time as well. Noda's patience and 38.1% whiff rate have also led to a higher 33% strikeout rate though. If he can trim the whiff and strikeout rate overall, Noda could really cement himself as a top-200 player.

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