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Post-Hype Draft Values for Fantasy Baseball

Alek Thomas - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, Draft Sleepers, MLB News

In fantasy sports, we're always chasing the young, upstart prospect. It's why the ADPs for guys like Anthony Volpe and Jordan Walker have been climbing in recent weeks. However, the consequence of this is that other talented young players often get forgotten about.

Today we're going to try and rectify that. However, we're also going to expand the definition of "post-hype" a bit.

When you think of a "post-hype" player, you often think of a young player who failed in his first attempt in the big leagues but remains immensely talented. Guys like Jarred Kelenic or C.J. Abrams might come to mind. But today we're going to think of players who were once hyped and are now no longer, which means you may see some older players listed below as well because I think they still have some juice in the tank and could provide value at their ADPs.

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Let's dive in.


Keibert Ruiz - C, Washington Nationals

Keibert Ruiz was once a big-time prospect for the Los Angeles Dodgers, so when he failed to meet expectations in his first major league season, it became easy for people to say, "If the Dodgers got rid of him, there must be an issue." However, I think that's an oversimplification.

Ruiz was a career .301 hitter in the minor leagues. He has an elite contact profile with just a 10.6% career minor league strikeout rate and just an 11.5% strikeout rate so far in the majors. He pulls the ball 50% of the time, which we like to see, and has a 40% groundball rate, which isn't overly concerning, especially since Ruiz was shifted against 82.3% of the time, which was good for 54th in all of baseball. The shift was particularly impactful against Ruiz, likely because he didn't see it nearly as much in the minor leagues. He had just a .300 wOBA against the shift but a .355 wOBA in non-shifted situations.

Ruiz is not going to hit for power. In fact, I don't feel comfortable projecting him for more than 10 home runs; however, I do think the batting average will be a plus for fantasy managers and my .271 projection is conservative in my eyes. He will benefit from another year in the majors and the banning of the shift and should get all the at-bats he can handle in Washington.


Andrew Vaughn - 1B/OF, Chicago White Sox

The outfield experiment is finally over for Vaughn, and we shouldn't underestimate the impact of that. Having to learn a new position while also adjusting to hitting against major league pitching is an exceptionally hard task and one that no doubt took a toll on Vaughn's ability to hit the ground running with the White Sox.

Still, the 24-year-old held his own in his first two major-league seasons, hitting a combined .255/.315/.414 with a .730 OPS, 32 home runs, 124 RBI, and 116 runs scored in 261 games. He also made clear strides between his first two seasons with his hard-hit percentage increasing from 47.3% in 2021 to 48.6% in 2022, which was good for 90th percentile in major league baseball. His wOBA also went up from .306 to .327 in 2022, and he has a strong understanding of the strike zone.

Now that he figures to see fulltime at bats at his natural positon and hit in the middle of a strong White Sox lineup, we should see yet another jump for Vaughn.


Luis Garcia - 2B/SS, Washington Nationals

Luis Garcia got his first crack at the major leagues when he was 20 years old, and he did a pretty damn good job, hitting .276 in 40 games. However, he also had a free-swinging nature which came back to bite him in the following years. He's recently posted a 53.5% swing rate and 40.8% chase rate, which are both high marks that lead to a low on-base percentage.

However, Garcia has also proved all he can in the minors, hitting .306/.368/.554 with 21 homers in 364 games at Triple-A over the last two seasons. He showed solid gains in his strikeout rate last year and posted a 7.5% barrel rate, which is solid for a middle infielder. He won't give you more than a handful of steals and is unlikely to hit more than 10-15 home runs, but he should be in the lineup nearly every day for Washington and is just 22 years old.


Alec Bohm - 3B, Philadelphia Phillies

Heading into last season, I wrote a deep dive on the changes Alec Bohm was making to his swing. That article got me an FSWA nomination for Best Fantasy Baseball Article and also a soft spot in my heart for Bohm. However, the changes also worked. Bohm hit .280 last year, cutting his strikeout rate by almost 10% and increasing his flyball rate by almost 8%. He also pulled the ball more and was a little bit more aggressive, which saw his contact rate go up over 5%.

If we remember that he's 26 years old and is a former top prospect with tons of pedigree, then we should begin to feel a bit more confident that these changes are a sign of actual growth for Bohm.

He had 71st-percentile max EV and 67th-percentile HardHit%, so he isn't below average in terms of pop. He also had a top 2% xBA, which jives with the high batting average player he was in the minor leagues. I think another season that pushes a .280 batting average with 15+ home runs in a good lineup is achievable, which makes Bohm a good fantasy bargain as a corner infield target who could help provide a batting average cushion with chip-in counting stats.


Kris Bryant - OF, Colorado Rockies

Yes, I told you some of the players on this list would be on the older side.

Injuries have caused us to forget about Kris Bryant over the last few years, but the 31-year-old appears to be healthy after being limited to just 42 games in his first season in Colorado. While we think of him as injury-prone, remember that this is a player whos played at least 144 games in every season but two during his major league career.

Bryant was also really good when he was on the field last year, hitting .306/.376/.475 slash line with five home runs, 28 runs, and 14 RBI. Colorado tends to boost batting averages and Bryant's .338 BABIP was right around his .335 career BABIP. He also posted a career-low 14.9% strikeout rate with just a 21.5% whiff rate and 24.2% chase rate, but we could look at all of those as small sample sizes.

Even though he no longer hits the ball as hard as he will still be productive in batting average and power and, after recovering from plantar fasciitis, should have a handful of steals with the new MLB rules coming into play this season.


Alek Thomas - OF, Arizona Diamondbacks

I'm going to borrow from Jon Anderson here because he wrote up Thomas a few days ago and I think it paints a good picture of why Thomas is a solid post-hype player. Jon wrote:

Thomas was one of the most-hyped prospect debuts of the 2022 season. It went pretty poorly for him, which is why that's hard to remember. In the Majors, he hit just .231/.275/.344 with eight homers and four steals across 411 PAs. The good news was the low strikeout rate (18%), but the bad news was the bad barrel rate (3.8%).

Over the last two seasons, Thomas has slashed .315/.395/.555 with 22 homers and 18 steals in 626 PAs between AA and AAA. He was one of the Diamondbacks' top prospects but was overshadowed mightily by Corbin Carroll and Jake McCarthy last year.

Thomas is the only outfielder on the currently 26-man roster who can play center field, so that's where he'll likely be for the vast majority of the time this season. His ability to provide chip-in speed and home runs while hitting in a young and improving lineup is worth remembering.


Zach Eflin - SP, Tampa Bay Rays

When you get the biggest free agent contract given out by the Tampa Bay Rays, it's worthy of attention. The Rays are known to make adjustments to get the most out of their players, so it's exciting to think of what they can get out of Eflin, who has shown flashes of strong stuff during his time in Philadelphia.

In particular, it seems like Tampa Bay will want him to rely more on a curveball that got a 20.8% swinging strike rate and 32.9% CSW in 2022. It also allowed a .153 batting average against, even with a .310 BABIP. It's been an elite pitch for a long time, and I think Eflin is now with an organization that can maximize the effectiveness of his repertoire.

If this is a team that can make Jeffrey Springs and Drew Rasmussen into strong starting pitching options for fantasy, I can only imagine what they can do with Eflin.


Michael Fulmer - RP, Chicago Cubs

Michael Fulmer has been a darling this offseason ever since Greg Jewett of Reliever Recon tabbed him as "this year's Daniel Bard." After having Tommy John surgery in 2019, Fulmer moved to a full-time relief role and saved 14 games for the Tigers in 2021 while posting a 2.97 ERA in almost 70 innings.

He also added the ever-popular sweeper this offseason and was dominant in the spring (before his final outing) posting eight scoreless innings with eight strikeouts and only five baserunners allowed. The Cubs invested enough in offense over the offseason (Dansby Swanson, Cody Bellinger, Trey Mancini) that they should at least remain competitive in games, which could lead to ample save opportunities, even if the Cubs are not going to be playoff-bound.

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