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New Faces in Baltimore - ETAs on Fantasy Prospects

The trade deadline has finally passed, but the real work is just beginning for fantasy owners. Sifting through the prospects dealt is hard to do, as most fantasy players do not have the time or opportunity to see these players, and instead have to look and project from stats to date. That is where we come in and offer owners a head start on the major pieces with an idea of when they will make the team.

A few notes before jumping in: all prospects have risk and even the top players might not make it to where the industry thinks. There is no such thing as a can't-miss prospect, but there are safer darts to throw than others. If owners add a player, and he starts to struggle, there is a mixture of patience and action needed. Be willing to sit with a prospect, but if the bench is short, be ready to move on as well.  On the other hand, the best players dealt to Baltimore might not even be on this list.  

The other piece, playing with the Orioles is an unusual situation, as the young teams might struggle and therefore limit overall production.  The upside is young players get chances, but without good context might not be great fantasy options early in their career.  And yet, if owners can wait for production, this is a great system to keep following in the next few years. With that, jump right into to your 2020 fantasy prep with us today. 

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Moving to Baltimore

Yusniel Diaz (OF, BAL) - ETA: late 2018/early 2019

Starting right at the top of the haul, Diaz is the “best” prospect that the Orioles acquired in their many deadline deals. Diaz came back in the package for Manny Machado and is the highest ranked prospect on lists as well, slotting into the number one spot on MLB Pipeline in the Baltimore system. 2018 has been a good campaign for the slugger, as Diaz had been crushing Double-A pitching before the trade, with a .314/.428/.477 slash with six homers and more walks than strikeouts. While perhaps not a five-category contributor with some question about his ability to steal bases, the speed is enough to make his at least a league average defender with a good arm.  Diaz, if all goes to plan, will be the Baltimore right fielder for years to come.          

BALLER MOVE: Diaz is the player to add from this deadline if owners can keep him on a minor league list until next season, but perhaps is owned in all those leagues already. A power hitter playing in Baltimore, with good average and bat skills, should be a top fantasy contributor someday. While maybe not a top three round pick, top five would be a good target once he hits his prime.  For next season, when he should get the chance to take the starting role, this is an excellent target for an OF3.  That being said, this is not a player to go get immediately, as his stock will be higher now than in a few months.


Jean Carmona (SS, BAL) - ETA: 2020

Perhaps the Orioles added their next Machado at the deadline, and while not ready to make that direct comparison yet as the player is still in Rookie Ball, this is the upside that Carmona has flashed. While some publications have him not making the Major League roster until 2021, there is little reason to think that the front office does not push this player to get him into the lineup sooner than later. And yet, the batting line this season is a bit underwhelming with a .239/.298/.406 slash line, with four homers and three triples. A switch-hitter with power from both sides, the raw tools are there, and if he can put everything together, this could be an offensive force at shortstop. The other good news is that he will play all of this season at the age of 18, and this means that he could be in the majors as a 20-year-old, which means the speed will play better earlier in his career.   

BALLER MOVE: If Diaz is the “safe” prospect to stash, Carmona is the high-risk but high-impact pick to look at for fantasy teams. Owners will have to wait, even if he takes longer than expected, but the wait should be worth it. This is a 15/20 projection which puts him into a good class at the position. While the Machado comparison is overblown but needs to be made with the team context, this could be the power-hitting shortstop with a glove to replace the former face of the franchise.


Dillon Tate (RP, BAL) - ETA: mid-2019

Tate is listed here as a reliever, as that is where he looks to fit best with his profile. That being said, when the Orioles are starved for starting pitching, he could easily stay there, but owners should be more excited by the bullpen opportunity. If he is a starter he looks like an SP4, and with that park, might not be worth it to add in fantasy leagues. While he does not give up a ton of homers, with a 0.76 HR/9 at Double-A this season, the K rate sat at 8.17 K/9 over that same time. Not a good combination for Camden, and while perhaps over-selling that point, this is key for fantasy owners to keep an eye on to evaluate moving forward. He does look to have three plus pitches with the fastball being the best to date. He does give up a decent amount of flyballs with a close to 40 GB% over a few levels, and more importantly, as he has moved up the ladder, there have been fewer grounders.

BALLER MOVE: If Tate is a starter in Baltimore, owners should let others take that risk, but if a reliever, this could be a sneaky play. While he does not throw like Jordan Hicks, that could be the best profile to watch as a starter who added velocity with a move to the pen. He needs to miss more bats with that stuff, but a closer in Baltimore still has fantasy value, even with a shortage of saves to be had.


Jean Carlos Encarnacion (3B, BAL) - 2021

Could this signal the changing of organizational approaches in Baltimore? After avoiding international signings for years, the front office went out and got a player they could have signed for $10k a year ago. While not an international signing anymore, there is still some interest to see how he does in that system, and the tools give him a good shot to be a productive fantasy player. The bat has played well at Single-A Rome with a .288/.314/.463 slash. Even more, a quarter of his hits have been doubles, and he has added in 10 bombs in 361 AB. While still young, and in the low minors, this profile looks better than the current 50 grade that MLB has put on his bat. Perhaps not a 60, but above average at the very least. The top tool according to scouts is his arm, which means that third base should be his spot in the Bigs.

BALLER MOVE: Another player to wait on for fantasy owners, Encarnacion might not have the fantasy upside of Carmona but should be an excellent second division player with the Orioles. With the profile, this looks like a Jason Kipnis type, as in most of the power plays out in doubles, but there could be a 15+ homer season in there as well. Good bat, good arm, and this is a reasonably safe fantasy prospect.  


Brett Cumberland (C, BAL) - ETA: 2019

Ah, the fantasy catcher, the only position where league average production might be elite for owners. Cumberland is not going to make a splash with the bat, and could be a .220 hitter in the bigs, but is a good enough catcher and has enough pop to make this play. The other thing is that he is one of the closer players to the majors, so owners looking to next year as a priority should keep an eye on this player. At High-A, Cumberland slashed .236/.367/.407 with 11 homers. That OBP should give owners hope that he will be able to stay involved even with the swing-and-miss numbers to date. Even more, for a 23-year-old, he has been playing behind his age in some effects, but that is not unusual with catchers as the defensive work is critical to development. Also, 40 runs in 82 games is good production, and that should carry him to 60 or more in a split role in the bigs.

Baller move: With the catcher position weak across the board and the top prospects already held, Cumberland could be the safest pick on this list, and the most available. Only the 30th ranked prospect in the Orioles system according to MLB, he should play better than that in fantasy leagues. While catchers play less in the majors due to the defensive wear and tear, Cumberland should be a cheap, but safe play that will offer runs and homers, even if the average is below par.


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