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Orioles Prospects Analysis - The Manny Machado Trade


Welp, it happened. After months and months and months and months, Baltimore finally traded their franchise shortstop to the Dodgers for a cache of prospects. He’ll be a huge upgrade for a club that has struggled to replace Corey Seager’s production, and an already strong squad gets stronger. In a lot of ways, L.A. lucked out that Baltimore didn’t move him sooner. The price for Machado was ultimately depressed by the fact that the 26-year-old is playing on an expiring contract and figures to sign one of the largest contracts in Major League history over the offseason. Now they get to roll out an additional All-Star when they already controlled their division. Yikes.

Other RotoBaller writers have broken down what the trade means for the Dodgers and Orioles in 2018, but what does it mean for the Orioles beyond? Even though L.A. is only acquiring Machado for what amounts to half of a season, they still paid handsomely. Of course, you wouldn’t know that from looking at the names. Save for the centerpiece of the deal, not even prospect-heads would’ve heard of the other four.

Don’t let their anonymity fool you, there’s gold here. I’m especially partial to Kremer, but I’ll save it for the profile. If you’re a dynasty or long-term keeper league player, you’ll want to know how to value these guys.

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New Orioles Prospects and Their Fantasy Outlooks

Yusniel Diaz, OF

The prize of the trade for Baltimore, Yusniel Diaz is a 21-year-old outfielder who came into the season viewed as the fourth or fifth prospect in the Dodgers’ pipeline. He was considered a good not elite athlete with an advanced approach for his age, very good bat-to-ball skills, and the body to maybe grow into some power. The 2018 season has seen Diaz break out in his second tour of double-A. Over 264 plate appearances, the Cuban has produced six home runs, eight steals, 36 runs, and more walks than strikeouts with a .314/.428/.477 line. Diaz has shown more power and an even better batting eye than expected, and will likely become Baltimore’s top outfield prospect due to his defense and Austin Hays’ struggles this season.

For fantasy purposes, Diaz brings a very well-rounded skill set and can produce a strong batting average from day one. He doesn’t barrel the ball like a typical power hitter, but is an impressive physical specimen that has gotten stronger than expected. Scouts originally pegged him as having average game power, but the career best ISO this season has them now thinking slightly above average, with the ability to hit between 15-20 home runs in his prime. Diaz is athletic and smart enough that double digit steals could be on the table as well. He’s already a top 50 fantasy prospect, and at this point he’s likely to go into 2019 listed among the 15 or 20 best youngsters in the game.

If you’re in a dynasty or prospect-friendly keeper league, Diaz is a must-own. Redrafts can forget him, as the best that can be hoped for is a September cup of coffee so the O’s get a close look at their investment. Diaz’s fantasy upside is significant, especially if the power continues to grow more than expected. If that happens, his ceiling is something like a prime version of Matt Kemp without the steals and a better BB/K rate. But even without, assuming the approach and eye translate a player like Franklin Gutierrez, Jayson Werth, or Aaron Rowand, a valuable role player with a couple of huge seasons peppering a solid career. There’s always a chance he could bust, as is true with all prospects, but Diaz’s skills typically translate well to the bigs.

 

Dean Kremer, SP

And now we enter the “who the heck is that” portion of the Manny Machado prospect return recap. Dean Kremer is a 22-year-old right-handed pitcher who, fun fact, was the first Israeli ever to be drafted in MLB history. The starter was a pretty average college player at UNLV, going 4-5 with a 4.92 ERA. However, the first thing that stands out about Kremer’s pro career isn’t his record or his ERA, but rather his eye-popping strikeout numbers. Seriously, it’s a little insane. In his two-and-a-half professional seasons, the former Rebel has accrued a whopping 256 punchouts over just 197.2 innings as a starter and reliever, good for a K/9 of 11.68.

What’s nuts about that is Kremer doesn’t throw very hard, his fastball usually sitting between 91-93 mph. He also features a good 11-5 curve that he mixes in well and a work-in-progress slider, but the fastball is the oddity. He gets tons of swing-and-misses on it despite its middling velocity, and this is due to the crazy amount of spin he puts on the ball. It moves a ton in the strike zone, although he occasionally gets a little wild with it. Also unlike most pitchers that produce lots of strikeouts, Kremer produces a lot of groundballs and gives up few home runs. This is doubly impressive since he’s spent all of 2018 working as a starter, despite being expected to develop as a reliever. It’s likely that he’ll continue his development as a starter with Baltimore, especially since the O’s farm is fairly shallow in that regard. It’s clear that Kremer was the second piece in the deal after Diaz, and Baltimore required either him, Dustin May, or Mitch White. Kremer is a really interesting arm that deep dynasty leagues need to know about, and could be a diamond in the rough for Baltimore. If he continues to develop and produce at this rate, it’s not unreasonable to think that he could debut late 2019 with a real shot to pick up a permanent spot in the rotation in 2020.

 

Rylan Bannon, 3B/2B

This guy definitely has a family who really wanted him to play a sport with a name like Rylan. Goofy handle aside, Bannon is an undersized corner infielder who makes up for a lack of athleticism and size by swinging the hell out of the bat whenever he steps in the box. The 2017 eighth round pick is a straight hacker who is pretty aggressive at the plate. He’s been rewarded with strong power numbers, including 20 homers across 403 plate appearances in high-A this season. He has solid bat-to-ball skills and can take a walk, but his aggressiveness has caused a pretty dramatic jump in strikeout rate. Unfortunately, his hack-happy swing also leaves him vulnerable to inside pitching, something you can guarantee will be exploited at the higher levels. The problem here is that Bannon needs that hard as hell swing to generate power. If he starts taking juice out of his hacks, it’s likely that the homers become doubles at best, fly outs at worst. There’s certainly the possibility that the 22-year-old makes the kinds of adjustments that allow his approach to play at the higher levels, but it’s most likely that Bannon settles for a utility role at best. If everything clicks, he might have some fantasy value serving as a cheap power option in deep leagues.

 

Zach Pop, RP

The 21-year-old Pop is a true reliever with a violent delivery and an already checkered injury history. When he’s healthy, he brings a strong fastball that sits around 94-97 mph and a dirty slider that can devastate right-handed hitters. He does a decent job locating his pitches despite the delivery and velocity, although the offerings haven’t yet translated to a ton of strikeouts. There’s the skillset of a future high-leverage reliever, but he’ll need to improve his K rate and stay healthy. And remember when a report surfaced that Baltimore’s doctors didn’t like a medical profile? My money’s on Pop. Still, there’s enough arm talent here to take a chance as the fourth guy in a deal. For fantasy purposes, at this point, he’s no more than a lower value lottery ticket in dynasty leagues. He might be interesting next year if he breaks out, but in 2018 he’s not a name you need to know.

 
Breyvic Valera, SS

I won’t waste your time, there’s not much here. Valera is a 26-year-old, glove-first utility infielder who was likely acquired as short-term depth. He has 45 major league at-bats, and the only positive mark is that he’s only struck out four times. Other than a solid approach, Valera has no offensive prowess whatsoever. He might steal a bag every now again, but that assumes that he’ll hit enough to be fantasy relevant. Barring a major disaster in Baltimore that forces him to play more than as a defensive replacement, he won’t.

 

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