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The Outsiders: Deeper Hitting Prospects To Know for Dynasty Leagues

Welcome the debut of a new recurring piece where I will highlight prospects that should be on your radar in deep dynasty leagues.

For "standard" dynasty leagues, we have RotoBaller's Premium Top 250 Dynasty Prospect Rankings, updated and maintained by our prospect guru Marc Hulet. But for you degenerates who participate in the deepest of dynasty leagues, you always need more of the next big thing. Therefore, I bring you...THE OUTSIDERS.

The Outsiders are MLB prospects currently outside RotoBaller's Top 250 Prospect Rankings. Each week, I will update rankings of players outside the Top 250 that should be on your radar for deep dynasty leagues and highlight some new players that could be showing up on the rankings in the future. My method is to use statistical analysis and in-game video looks of players to project what their future fantasy value could be at the MLB level.

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In the first installment, I'm going to highlight 10 hitters. For the initial Outsider rankings, I'm going to focus on a stats-heavy approach. I have created a fantasy-based weighted average called "Outsider+". This average weighs the production for each hitter that logged at least 100 plate appearances in full-season minor league baseball in 2019.

Here is the first batch of Outsiders to know for dynasty baseball leagues in 2021:

Name Tm. OUT+ OPS+ xwOBA+ EstBRL+ BB:K+ CT%+ Spd+ SB%+ SBO%+
Will Benson CLE 159 185 126 206 105 87 170 145 200
Mason Martin PIT 152 174 126 200 115 91 142 151 96
Niko Hulsizer TB 151 184 126 205 110 87 113 129 64
Kyle Datres COL 147 176 118 146 149 102 173 140 200
Griffin Conine MIA 146 177 120 223 68 80 100 161 19
Luis Castro COL 145 182 122 152 156 105 117 129 92
Kevin Padlo TB 143 159 124 156 156 92 100 136 165
Trey Harris ATL 142 203 114 124 160 116 129 94 90
Daniel Johnson CLE 139 153 117 166 103 99 161 123 200
Terrin Vavra BAL 138 166 118 109 200 115 116 126 151

Included in the Outsider+ (OUT+) average are the following statistical measures. Each stat is league adjusted so that "100" equates with a league-average performance. Each digit above or below 100 represents a 1% deviation from the average. So, Will Benson's 206 Estimated Barrel+ rate was 106% above the average performance in the Midwest League in 2019.

OPS+ a measure of a hitter's overall offensive production, combining on-base percentage and slugging.

Estimated Barrel+ my proprietary quality of contact metric which estimates the percentage of batted balls that were Statcast Barrels. A full write-up on the metric can be found here.

Estimated xwOBA+ takes a hitter's Estimated Barrels, K%, and BB% and estimates his Expected Weighted On Base Average. Measures a hitter's total offensive production in a linear weights method for offensive events. You can read more on xwOBA here.

BB:K+ is the ratio of a batter's walks to strikeouts, to measure a hitter's plate discipline and selectivity.

Contact%+ measures a batter's ability to make contact and put balls in play. Vital for batting average and on base percentage.

Spd+ is the FanGraphs version of Bill James' speed score concept. Measures various factors of a hitter's in-game speed and baserunning ability.

SB%+ is the percentage of successful stolen base attempts. Measures a batter's stolen base efficiency.

SBO%+ is an estimate of how frequently a batter attempts to steal bases. Measures a batter's aggressiveness on the base paths.

Here's a breakdown of each of the first 10 Outsiders.


Will Benson, OF - Cleveland Indians

Why will he be relevant in fantasy:

Primetime power married with productive in-game speed.

Current situation:

Last seen murdering a baseball during Cleveland's minor league spring training. Benson, still only 22, might start 2021 by repeating High-A ball, a level that he really struggled with in 2019. He is unlikely to make an MLB impact this season.


Mason Martin, 1B - Pittsburgh Pirates

Why will he be relevant in fantasy:

Top scale raw power that plays in games.

Current situation:

Rumors abound that Martin hit a home run over 500 feet during the Pirates' minor league spring training. He's one of the most impressive physical specimens in minor league baseball, so the team will likely push him up to at least Double-A to start his 2021 campaign and to how he fares against more advanced pitching.


Niko Hulsizer, OF - Tampa Bay Rays

Why will he be relevant in fantasy:

Big-time raw power combined with the ability to get on base makes him a future MLB run producer.

Current situation:

Traded from the Los Angeles Dodgers to the Rays in a deadline deal that sent RP Adam Kolarek to the Dodgers. Hulsizer is 24 and would be pretty old for a repeat of High-A ball, so I believe that the Rays will send him to Double-A to see if he sinks or swims. Hulsizer has been a productive bat all over the globe, so look for more of the same in 2021:


Kyle Datres, 2B/3B - Colorado Rockies

Why will he be relevant in fantasy:

He winds up being a bit of a fantasy grab bag. Datres is an athletic player who gets on base, hits the ball hard at times, steals some bags, and plays multiple positions.

Current situation:

Already 25 years old, Datres is a prospect who will have to prove himself quickly once minor league ball starts back up in a couple of weeks. Look to see if he struggles against advanced pitching or if his athleticism is enough to carry him to the Show.


Griffin Conine, OF - Miami Marlins

Why will he be relevant in fantasy:

Left-handed bat that pounds the ball enough to earn full-time at-bats in a run-producing slot in the middle of the order.

Current situation:

The son of Mr. Marlin himself, Jeff Conine, Griffin was traded to the Marlins in the 2020 trade deadline deal that sent Jonathan Villar to Toronto. Now entering his age 23 season, it will be imperative to get game reps against better competition in the upper levels of the minors to see if he can work out a plate approach that can be relevant at the MLB level. The power is already there:


Luis Castro, 1B/3B - Milwaukee Brewers

Why will he be relevant in fantasy:

Great approach, gets on base plenty with enough pop to punish mistakes.

Current situation:

The former California League MVP elected free agency from the Rockies following the 2019 season and landed with the Milwaukee Brewers. He'll start the year in Triple-A Nashville, where he will have to start raking immediately in order to get some consideration for the Brewers MLB roster this year. Defensive versatility might help him some on his quest. Timely hits like this one won't hurt his cause either:


Kevin Padlo, 1B/2B/3B - Tampa Bay Rays

Why will he be relevant in fantasy:

On-base ability, feel for the barrel, and some defensive versatility makes him a great strategic fit with the Rays.

Current situation:

Already had a brief cup of coffee with the big club this April. This suggests the team trusts him enough to utilize him early in a season where they plan on competing. He's going to ride the Durham-Tampa shuttle this year, so don't bank on fantasy relevance yet. However, he's got a sneaky good profile for an organization that is able to squeeze value out of this exact player type.


Trey Harris, OF - Atlanta Braves

Why will he be relevant in fantasy:

Contact ability and plate approach means his bat stays in the lineup with enough pop and speed to turn in some bonus fantasy production.

Current situation:

Harris secured a non-roster invite to Braves' spring training this offseason, but he seems to be ticketed to Gwinnett. He's going to have to hit to stay in the team's plans, but this former 32nd-round draft pick has done nothing but hit throughout his minor league career. It's the kind of bat that can just force its way into a lineup in the event of some injuries or poor performances from the active roster.


Daniel Johnson, OF - Cleveland Indians

Why will he be relevant in fantasy:

The power/speed profile that's always enticed us gets a shot in the barren wasteland that is the Cleveland outfield.

Current situation:

Johnson managed a five-game look with the big club last summer, but he didn't last long in MLB spring training this spring. However, Cleveland's outfield situation remains a bit of an unholy mess. It's easy to see the team taking a flier on Johnson's speed and athleticism and see if he can blossom in his age-25 season on the biggest stage.


Terrin Vavra - SS - Baltimore Orioles

Why will he be relevant in fantasy:

Versatile infielder who can really get his bat to the ball knows how to work counts and has a good knack for stealing bases.

Current situation:

Vavra is currently assigned to High-A Aberdeen to start the 2021 season, but if he performs well, look for him to move up at least one level this year. Look for him to do a little bit of everything well, including playing a solid shortstop defensively. The big development would be if he turns loose some more aggression at the plate, turning some line drives into long flies as he continues to physically mature.

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