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Stock Your Dynasty Farm: NL West Prospect Sleepers

fantasy baseball prospects MLB prospects rookies call-ups

As a self-diagnosed prospect nut, I am constantly reading and looking at young players to gain an edge in my various dynasty, Ottoneu, and deep redraft leagues. It would be a shame if all this work only benefited me, so my friends at RotoBaller would like to present to you my favorite under-the-radar players that I’ve already acquired, or am looking to grab in drafts this spring.

You won’t find any top 100 players, or even club-specific top 10s here, so don’t expect to see names like Wander Franco, Jasson Dominguez, or Tarik Skubal. We’re mining the lower levels for value and looking for guys only your scout’s favorite scout knows about. Shallow redraft leagues need not apply here, we’re going hardcore.

Of course, keep in mind that many of these players will be owned for at least a couple of years before you can expect either MLB playing time or the kind of value jump that turns a non-asset into a real trade chip. Remember to follow @Rotoballer and @RotoballerMLB on Twitter for more juicy tips to help you dominate your fantasy league. Good luck and happy hunting!

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NL West Farm Systems

The National League West has been dominated by Los Angeles for the past few seasons, who show no signs of slowing down. And, unfortunately for fans of the West's other noble franchises, my favorite prospect of this bunch is also projected to wear Dodger blue. However, hope abounds, and this might be the division with the best stable of farm teams from top to bottom.

Colorado is probably the shakiest, but some of that hesitation comes from the fact that any starting pitcher they graduate has to throw at Coors, which German Marquez will tell you really, really is not a fun time.

The Padres have incredible depth, making it very easy to find guys that don't get a lot of press.

The Giants' representative, perhaps poetically, will challenge the Dodgers' for best in the division, and I look forward to the next two seasons of them dueling on top prospect lists before they arrive to the bigs.

Finally, the D-backs have accrued a surprising set of talent. Of the five, I was most pleasantly surprised by how efficiently and effectively they've rebuilt their farm club in the last couple of seasons. If you're mining for your own sleepers, keep Arizona in mind.


Arizona Diamondbacks - Levi Kelly, SP

I’m a sucker for guys with great work ethic, and that appears to describe Kelly, a 2018 eighth-round pick, perfectly. He fell in the Draft thanks to physique concerns, with what was assumed to be little projection and a stiff, violent delivery, but that all changed when he showed up to Spring Training with a completely rebuilt physique. What’s strange is that he didn’t experience a corresponding velocity bump with his new, svelte look. Either this means that his velocity will remain static, which is fine at 90-96 mph, or he’ll get a later bump with more training time and more rest.

To pair with that low- to mid-90s heater, which grades out as slightly above average, he brings an above-average splitter and, the star of the show, a plus slider. The slider has been described by scouts as a “bastard”, sometimes looking like a curve and sometimes feeling more like a changeup. But when his control is on, the pitch is almost untouchable.

He turns 21 years old in May and I’d guess would start out in Class A Advanced. If he comes out hot and forces the organization to push him to Double-A or even Triple-A, it’s not crazy to think he could be used as a bullpen piece with the D-backs as early as September 2020. Regardless, whereas he was once considered a multi-inning, swingman-type could now top out as a second division No. 2 starter or first division No. 3 or 4.

Honorable Mention: Jeferson Espinal, OF; Conor Grammes, SP


Colorado Rockies - Julio Carreras, OF

Carreras is considered to have among the highest upside in the Rockies’ system. He has all of the tools you’d want in a middle-infielder for today’s game; balance in the field and at the plate, dynamite hand-eye coordination and bat control, and the body to grow into above-average power, while maintaining his already plus speed. If this all sounds too good to be true, it’s because for all of Carreras’ considerable tool set, he’s extremely raw as a baseball player.

The biggest problem comes from his swing, which lacks consistency and can devolve into a slap-hit style despite his ability to make strong contact. If this sounds familiar, you might be reminded of Rays’ third baseman Yandy Diaz. Diaz broke out in 2019 when he finally tapped into the obvious pop that was lurking in his body. Watching him hit was like watching a mini-Sammy Sosa try to hit grounders. Once he corrected his bat path, even a little, the power was unlocked. You can’t make a direct comparison between Diaz and Carreras as they are very different players, but they have this issue in common.

Carreras is a dynasty player’s dream: oodles of talent and just as much risk. He’ll be drafted as a lottery ticket, but even a little more production could raise his profile and value. If there’s a guy in this division that I’d put money on being a surprise top 100 inclusion this time next year, it’s Carreras.

Honorable Mention: Helcris Olivarez, SP; Aaron Schunk, 3B


Los Angeles Dodgers - Luis Rodriguez, OF

The easy choice in this system is 19-year-old outfielder Andy Pages, who has amassed a sort of cult following among prospect hounds in recent months, but I’ll go off the book a bit. July 2 signings can either get overlooked or overdrafted, but Rodriguez is one of the rare talents that is well prepared for immediate success. Signed for $2.67 million out of Venezuela, the outfielder has consistently performed against older competition and will be tested as one of the few guys who will play all of 2020 as a 17-year-old.

Despite almost always being one of the youngest guys on the field, Rodriguez looks like a mature hitter at the plate. He is patient, sprays the ball to all fields, and has shown plate discipline far better than his age would suggest. There’s a potential plus hit tool with a natural swing that creates loft, which allows for him to tap into every bit of his raw power, which comfortably projects for average to above-average.

The ingredients for a .280 average with 25 homers and 10+ steals are here, and you don’t even have to squint or fix anything glaring like you’d expect from someone his age. Also, he’s already 6-foot-2 and 175 pounds, meaning that a shot at adding plus power to his plus hit tool exists. Again, you have to be really careful with the natural hyperbole that comes from J2 signings, but Rodriguez has something around a five percent chance of becoming an uber-prospect. That’s worth a valuable dynasty league pick.

Honorable Mention: Michael Grove, SP; Ryan Pepiot, SP


San Diego Padres - Owen Miller, 2B

Another player that has become a popular hip pick, Miller is a classic underdraft that lacks physical tools but makes up for it with pure baseball savvy. Since being selected by the Padres in the third round of the 2018 Draft, the 23-year-old has done nothing but hit, compiling a robust .307/.367/.441 with 17 homers and nine steals in 805 at-bats across three levels. He brings a minimalistic swing, which encourages a very high rate of contact by keeping the bat in the zone for as long as possible. He’s shown a strong eye at the plate, keeping his K% below 16% at every stop while drawing walks at a reasonable clip.

Today, the biggest issue with his value is, frankly, from a fantasy standpoint, he’s boring; he’s not crazy athletic, doesn’t have a plus tool, isn’t a major defensive presence. He’s just … fine. But fine in dynasty league baseball can become very valuable.

The knock on Miller coming out of Illinois State was power, but he drove 13 homers in 507 at-bats at Double-A last season. As a minor note on my philosophy in dynasty drafting, I elevate guys with above-average and better hit tools when it comes to power expectations. The speculated juiced ball that may have had an impact in MLB’s recent home run revolution has also fueled a rise in the value of prospects once considered to have suboptimal pop.

Guys with less raw power, but better hitting mechanics, are driving the ball with greater force because, simply, they’re making better contact. Think of Luis Arraez of the Twins, who never hit more than three homers at any level of the Minors, and hit just six total from 2014 to '19, suddenly driving out four in just 326 at-bats. That may not sound like a lot, but when your batting line is .334/.399/.439, it’s basically free from a value perspective.

With that context, if the league average-ish power Miller showed from Double-A holds, it’s very possible that we see a slight bump in power at Triple-A and the MLB level. If this all stays true, Miller could end up as the kind of utility bat who may never hold a consistent starting spot with San Diego or anywhere else, but can still contribute, at a minimum, at least a league-average clip. If you’re in a deeper league or you have plenty of bench/Minors spots, Miller can be the kind of high-floor Jon Berti/Jeff McNeil utility bat that is incredibly valuable.

Honorable Mention: Hudson Head, OF; Luis Gutierrez, SP


San Francisco Giants -  Luis Matos, OF

I’m cheating a bit here, as you may see Matos listed among the Top 10 in San Francisco in prospect lists as they come out, and you may even see him get some honorable mention love in Top 100s, but he’s young and just obscure enough to make me feel good about sharing what I like about his upside. When it comes to Giants prospects, only Joey Bart and Marco Luciano have the kind of raw tools to compare to the 18-year-old Matos.

Of all the players on this list -- and those for the other divisions -- Matos might be the safest bet to appear on a Top 100 list at some point in the future. Before an in-game collision prematurely ended his 2019 season, Matos was displaying elite bat speed, plus speed, and encouraging growth in plate discipline and pitch selection. Add in his potential for plus-plus power and maturity, and you have the tools necessary for an uber-prospect just below the level of a Top 50 or better prospect.

There are real concerns that keep him from being considered one of the game’s best, including major swing-and-miss issues and a current lack of breaking ball recognition. He needs to work hard to change his approach, but this is partially a bet on the skill of San Francisco’s coaching staff to drag the most out of Matos' tools. Players that will play most of 2020 at the age of 18 usually don’t have plus power and plus speed projections, and that alone makes Matos worth the investment.

Honorable Mention: Tyler Fitzgerald, 2B/SS; Seth Corry, SP

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