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Eric Cross' Dynasty News and Notes: Rookie Arms, Cincinnati Prospect Bats, and More

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 several exciting Cincinnati prospects, trending major league outfielders, rookie pitchers, and much more.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association including Baseball Writer of the Year, Football Writers of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year and many more! Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!


Fantasy Baseball Dynasty News and Notes

Cincinnati Reds Prospects Making Noise

Well, two in particular. Both Christian Encarnacion-Strand and Matt McLain have been dominating in Triple-A this season and you’ve seen them slowly rise up my Top-25 Prospects to Stash article series here on RotoBaller every Monday.

With another THREE home runs yesterday, Encarnacion-Strand is now up to seven home runs in 10 games with a .432/.468/.935 slash line. I’ve mentioned Encarnacion-Strand in my stash article from a redraft perspective, but I’m even more excited about him for dynasty purposes.

Yes, he’s pretty aggressive and chases outside of the zone too much, but the quality of contact is elite and he’ll have one of the two most hitter-friendly ballparks awaiting him when he reaches the majors.

I’ve comped him to a Pete Alonso-lite and wholeheartedly stand by that. Long-term, Encarnacion-Strand could be a .260-.270 hitter with more than 30 home runs annually. I’m trying to acquire him everywhere I can right now in dynasty leagues.

Another Cincinnati Reds prospect I’m targeting heavily is Matt McLain, who did his best to try and top Encarnacion-Strand’s performance yesterday by hitting for the cycle himself. With the four-hit performance, McLain is now up to a stellar .324/.450/.638 slash line with 16 extra-base hits, eight home runs, and eight steals in 29 games.

He’s also trimmed the strikeout rate from 28.1% to 21.8% while still walking at a lofty 16.9% clip. McLain is rising back up rankings in a hurry right now and just entered my top 50 overall. This is a profile that we could see approaching 20/20 seasons with a high OBP.

As for the other big Cincinnati Reds hitting prospects, I’m firmly in the buy-low camps for Noelvi Marte and Edwin Arroyo if you can. Neither have gotten off to great starts this season, but the skills are there and I’m still very high on both long-term. As for Elly De La Cruz, he obviously will remain inside my top five overall, but the strikeout rate has gone up this season early on and remains a major red flag.

Masataka Yoshida Exceeding Expectations

The Boston Red Sox are playing pretty well lately, and Masataka Yoshida is a big reason for that. With another three hits and a home run on Thursday, Yoshida is now up to an exceptional .317/.400/.548 slash line with 21 runs, six home runs, 24 RBIs, and a pair of steals.

As expected, the contact skills and approach have been elite as Yoshida currently sports an 11.3% walk rate, 9.6% strikeout rate, 21.4% chase rate, 17.5% whiff rate, and an 83% contact rate. That's not overly surprising given his performance in Japan and the scouting reports from evaluators that saw him live. But what has been really impressive is the amount of power he's been hitting for.

Yoshida flashed solid power during the spring and that has carried over into the regular season. So far, Yoshida has a 10.1% barrel rate, 90.3 mph AVG EV, and 48.3% hard-hit rate, along with a .529 xSLG. Are those metrics elite? No. But they're definitely very good and better than I expected.

If Yoshida can be a 20-25 homer guy (instead of 12-15) to go along with a high AVG/OBP and plenty of run production, maybe he can hold top-50 value for the next few years. It's still early, but that's the level we're looking at if the power sticks.

Adolis Garcia Improving

I’m not sure there’s a player who is doubted more than Adolis Garcia. Despite having two straight seasons with more than 25 home runs and 15 steals, including a 27-homer, 25-steal season in 2022, many continue to avoid him given the approach. Yes, Garcia has been overly aggressive throughout the years, but he continues to improve that approach year after year, including here in 2023.

In 2021 during Garcia’s breakout season, he recorded a 73.7% zone contact rate, 35.7% chase rate, 34.2% whiff rate, 5.1% walk rate, and a 32.1% strikeout rate. So while he racked up 31 home runs and 16 steals, many were still rightfully skeptical, myself included.

Last year was more of the same with plenty of power and speed along with similar chase, whiff, and zone contact rates, but Garcia did drop the strikeout rate a few ticks. Now in 2023, he’s improved those metrics significantly across the board.

Year Zone Contact Contact Chase Whiff BB K SwStr
2022 73.4% 68.6% 37.3% 33.5% 6.1% 27.9% 16.7%
2023 81.2% 73.9% 26.0% 28.4% 7.9% 21.3% 12.1%

These are all tangible and notable improvements that Garcia has made this season. And the best part is that he hasn't sacrificed his immense power in order to improve his contact skills and approach, as often can be the case. In fact, Garcia has the best hard-hit rate of his career thus far at 50.6% and has already cranked eight home runs through his first 127 plate appearances. With these improvements, it's time to start believing that Garcia is here to stay as a top-100 dynasty player.

Daniel Espino Having Surgery

Unfortunately, it’s going to be a bit longer before we see Daniel Espino back in action. The electric right-hander is undergoing anterior capsule repair on his right shoulder, which will keep him out of action for the next 12-14 months. The track record with this surgery isn’t exactly promising, with the only success story being Julio Urias that I could find.

So, what should you do if you have Espino in dynasty leagues? Well, it really comes down to league depth. I’m still settling on an exact ranking but Espino will definitely still be top-150 overall, likely in the 125 range. Given his immense upside, he still warrants a ranking like that in my eyes. So, if your league rosters that many prospects or more, I’d recommend holding if you’re okay with waiting until 2025 for him to contribute in the majors.


Dynasty Quick Hits

After a rough first outing, Josiah Gray has really turned his season around, rattling off five straight starts of at least five innings with two earned runs or less. He’s been frustrating to roster over the last few seasons but made an adjustment to his arsenal this season, throwing fewer four-seamers while adding a cutter that he’s been using around 14% of the time.

The decreased fastball usage has been huge as Gray’s four-seamer recorded a .305 BAA and .742 SLG and allowed a whopping 24 home runs last season. Definitely encouraged by the changes and results this season.

It wasn’t the greatest of debuts for Brandon Pfaadt and Gavin Stone, but don’t be concerned too much with one start. The issue for both really comes down to inconsistent command. Pfaadt limits walks well and can miss bats with his slider and changeup, both of which had a 40% whiff rate in his debut. The command has been spotty all season, and that caused him to serve up four home runs in the start after allowing 28 in 29 starts last season.

Stone has always been able to miss bats with his changeup, but the slider and overall command haven't been as consistent as I would like. Overall, both of these guys have bright futures as high-end #3 starters, so don't let these rough debuts alter your value of them.

Bryce Miller on the other hand had a fantastic debut the day before Pfaadt and Stone. Yes, it was against the Oakland Athletics, but you have to be impressed with six shutout innings and 10 strikeouts, allowing just two hits with zero walks. Miller was very fastball-heavy in this one. This was to no surprise as he has one of the best fastballs in baseball, grading as an easy 70.

Offsetting the fastball is a cutter, slider, and occasional changeup, with the slider grading as above-average to plus. Ignore the underwhelming stats in Double-A this season and focus on the profile. Miller is electric and probably has a higher upside than Pfaadt or Stone. He's an easy buy in dynasty leagues right now.

I'm starting to sour on Andrew Vaughn a bit. That's not to say he's not a solid hitter, but I'm really beginning to question if he has that next level to unlock that makes him a top-10 fantasy first baseman year in and year out. Vaughn continues to hit the ball fairly hard with a 45.9% hard-hit rate and 10.6% barrel rate, but he hits the ball in the ground too often and only has a trip of home runs to his name as we begin to near the 1/4 mark of the season.

His zone contact and whiff rates have also taken a step back this season. At this point, I'm valuing Vaughn as a .270/20 type of hitter and not expecting the .280/30 bat that I once thought was possible. He's more of a top-150 dynasty asset than a top-100 one.

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