With the World Series now over, Hot Stove coming to the MLB Network on November 3rd, and the MLB Winter Meetings within sight, Fantasy baseball offseason trade fever is setting in. Let’s break away from the Top 50 Fantasy Prospects articles and address other prospects that you should target in trades this offseason.
This article is about those prospects that have not caught the full attention of Fantasy owner or aren’t fully appreciated for their real value yet. We’ll confirm the facts that some of the more avid prospect watchers already know, but for the most part these prospects are on the verge of being part of the next group of hot names. They need to be targeted during this offseason, before they officially explode and become overpriced or completely unavailable
Corey Seager, SS/3B, Los Angeles Dodgers
Seager’s development is comparable to that of Red Sox prospect Mookie Betts, who was an afterthought until he started hitting in High-A. Then he continued hitting in Double-A, through Triple-A and now in the majors. Seager started differently, in that he’s been a hyped prospect since he was selected in the first round of the 2012 draft. Seager’s 2014 was like Betts’; he started hitting and he never stopped. His power has always projected to be respectable, but what makes Seager an elite prospect is his plus-plus hit tool, just like Betts.
In 2012, when Seager was drafted at age 18, he had average power and an average to slightly above average hit tool as a third baseman, which made him a promising but not elite prospect. That all changed in 2014 as a 20-year-old. In 80 games at High-A Seager batted .352 with 18 home runs. Then he was promoted to Double-A, and he kept hitting, batting .345. When Seager combined an elite hit tool with well above average command of the strike zone, .380 and higher on-base percentages and 20-plus home run power, scouts drew comparisons to Adrian Beltre. He has gone from a nice player known more for being Kyle Seager’s brother, to one of the elite young prospects in the game. That is why he is a trade target this offseason. This winter meetings period is when you need to make a very strong offer for Seager, or you will potentially lose out on the next Fantasy star.
Tyler Glasnow, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates
Glasnow, like Seager, is not an unknown, not even close. Glasnow is only 21 years old, but he has 365 strikeouts in 274 innings pitched – which is simply insane – and he has never had an ERA over 2.18 – also insane. My podcasting partner, Ian Riley, preached this guy’s talent throughout 2014. It has gotten to the point that I am unsure if I am writing about Glasnow because he deserves it or to appease/shut my partner up: probably both.
Glasnow is already a Top 30 prospect. He entered 2014 as a talented pitcher with a 95 MPH fastball and in need of some refinement to his secondary offerings – his changeup and curveball – the curveball being a plus pitch when he commands it. He did that in 2014, racking up 157 strikeouts in 124.1 innings. The next step in his development is to be recognized as one of the best pitching prospects in the minors, and in mid-2015 a promotion to Pittsburgh will loudly make that kind of statement. If things fall right he could surpass Gerrit Cole as the Pirates’ ace of the future. However, if he cannot develop consistent command of his plus curveball, he will have difficulty advancing to dominant Fantasy pitcher status.
A plus breaking pitch or change-up is required to be a dominant Fantasy pitcher.
The moment writers and analysts start talking about Glasnow this March he will be untouchable in Fantasy leagues. As with Seager, make a serious offer with talent going to your league mate and he will be attainable. If not, you will lose any reasonable chance to get the next 220 strikeout right-hander.
D.J. Peterson, 3B, Seattle Mariners
I don’t know if it is because he plays for the Mariners organization, but Peterson doesn’t get anywhere near the kind of buzz that lesser prospects like Stephen Moya and Michael Taylor do. Peterson projects to be a .280-.290 hitter with 30 home run power and was ranked as the Mariners number two prospect by Baseball America. After batting .297 with 31 doubles and 31 home runs he should never be mistaken for a diamond in the rough. Savvy Fantasy owners know who this guy is, but he isn’t hyped like a potential star. One down side, he may have to move to first base. He could manage two or three years at third base if given the opportunity, but with Kyle Seager playing there now, Peterson could be forced to move across the diamond right away. That would reduce his Fantasy value, but it doesn’t explain the relatively quiet buzz surrounding a prospect with his tools. Take advantage this winter.
Blake Swihart, C, Boston Red Sox
I never recommend that a Fantasy owner target a catcher. I despise them with all the heat of a Nevada sun in July. But I am also a lawyer’s son, and that means I am open to compromise, willing to change my mind; my morals and principles are flexible. With Swihart, I feel like I need to bend my usually hard and fast rule a little bit.
Scouts and analysts, like ESPN’s Keith Law, believe the rumors that Swihart is the least available Red Sox prospect, which is no small statement. Mookie Betts and Henry Owens are theoretically available, but Blake Swihart isn’t? If the Marlins ring the Sox about Giancarlo Stanton and ask for Swihart, do the Sox hang up? I doubt that anyone is THAT untouchable, but you understand my point.
Like Seager and Glasnow, Swihart isn’t an unknown, but the buzz surrounding him falls short of what you normally hear about an offensive minded catcher. That is likely to change next spring, when rumors that he could break camp as the starting catcher start to surface. In 2014, Swihart hit 13 home runs while batting .293 at Double-A and Triple-A.
A talented switch-hitting catcher, who is going to stay behind the plate and is that close to the majors is valuable and currently under hyped. You can still sneak up on Swihart owners and solidify your catcher spot for the next five years.
Clint Coulter, C, Milwaukee Brewers
I must be high on caffeine and sugar because I am about to write up two catchers in the same article; back to back no less, but Coulter deserves some ink.
Like other offensive minded catchers, Coulter is a physical specimen whose bat should play in the outfield or at first base if he can’t handle catcher. He is 6’3”, 222 pounds and reminds me of Jayson Werth, who also started as a catcher before transitioning to the outfield. Coulter struggled in 2012 and 2013, before putting it together in A-ball in 2014. His above average power tool translated into 22 home runs and a .410 on-base percentage, while his quick bat led to a .287 batting average. The Brewers try to put every offensive draft pick they have at catcher hoping they stick, and for now Coulter is their best chance to make it happen. It failed with Brett Lawrie, but worked with Jonathan Lucroy.
Coulter has the fallback of being a solid third outfielder with 25 home run power if he can’t manage the defensive side of catching, and he has the upside of being a Top 5 offensive bat behind the plate if everything clicks. Coulter isn’t as well known as Swihart or Seager so he should come cheaper, but don’t tip off your league mates that he is your target. If they compare scouting reports with his 2014 stats, you may end up spooking the other owner. I suggest you try to include Coulter as a toss in or a sweetener. In three years, he could end up being the best part of the deal.
David Dahl, OF, Colorado Rockies
Dahl has five tool potential and the benefit of playing his home games at Coors Field. Another prospect with a plus hit tool (are you starting to notice a trend here?) that could result in 20-plus home runs to go with 20-plus steals and potentially above .300 batting averages.
In 2014, Dahl hit 14 home runs and 41 doubles, stole 21 bases and batted .299 as a 20-year-old in High-A. That puts him in the same class as Corey Seager with similar numbers, skill set and age. David Dahl doesn’t play the infield, but he also has not received any of the hype that Seager has.
Dahl is far enough away from the majors and has flown under the radar enough to make him attainable despite being on the cusp of Top 25 prospect status. When targeting prospects in the offseason, the goal is to get them before the industry anoints them as the next big thing, and Dahl fits that description perfectly. Now is the time to buy in to his stock.