My minor league prospect rankings are finally in the books. There were numerous players listed that will make solid impacts this season, as well as those that are still a few seasons away from making their presence felt throughout the baseball world. The next few weeks, I’ll be sticking to minor league players, but looking at those that should provide solid additions due to their ADP in 2019. A few players will be taken early into drafts, but a majority will either be late-round fliers or undrafted that can be snagged off the waiver wire. This week, I will be focusing on MiLB corner infielders in “That’s Amore!” MiLB Corner Infield ADP Gems.
Nate Lowe – 1B Tampa Bay Rays
ESPN ADP: 513
Yahoo! ADP: Undrafted
Fantrax ADP: 453.3
2018 Minors: .330/.416/.568/27 HR/102 RBI
There’s no question Lowe is primed to bring the power to Tampa Bay. Currently, Ji-Man Choi looks to have first base locked to start the season. However, the 27 year-old Korean has spent parts of three seasons (LAA,NYY,MIL,TB) in the Majors, and has yet to make a lasting impression. This is largely due to playing time. He’s been in the MLB pipeline since 2010 as a 19 year-old, and he will finally get a shot and opening the season as a starter in Tampa. Where does that leave Lowe? Nothing leads me to believe that Choi will hold down the starting position for an entire season. Only two of his eight minor league seasons were enticing, and I wouldn’t be shocked if we see Lowe as early as June. The Rays are going to have issues manufacturing runs, let alone via the long ball, and Lowe possesses great power. 2018 saw him move through A, AA, and AAA proving his ability to hit at each stop. One of my main concerns from the 2016 13th round pick are strikeouts. He only totaled 90 through 482 at-bats, but his K% jumped significantly from 17% (A) and 15% (AA) to 27% (AAA). I’d suggest seeing Major League-ready pitching attributed to the spike in strikeouts. It’s safe to think his K% in the Majors will be around 25%-30% through his first season. Still, he will have time to get acclimated to Major League-ready pitching starting the 2019 season in Triple-A, and adjustments will be made.
When it comes to drafting Lowe, he’s easily a player that could be passed on and added when he’s called up. Still, if you’re looking for a late-round flier, he could be a steal assuming his power bat is fruitful immediately upon his arrival to Tampa Bay. From watching video, you can see the power generated in his swing. One thing I picked up immediately was how wide he gets when striding. Couple that with starting his hands chest-high, and bring them back, you can see the long time it takes to generate his swing. This can cause him to be out in front of offspeed pitches, but rest assured when he makes contact the ball will go a long way. I can see the organization trying to shorten his stride early into the season to help counteract the ability of Major League-ready pitching getting Lowe out in front of offspeed pitches.
Once he gets his call, he’s going to see everyday at-bats. There’s no way Tampa would bring him up without seeing him play everyday. That being said, once he’s ready, he’s going to bring the power I’ve mentioned numerous times. If you have the patience, and roster spot, to hold onto him until he’s called he’s a solid power-bat to hold onto. If you’re going to look another route and snag him off the waiver wire, this is another option. However, after last season’s tear, all fantasy owners know about Nate Lowe. The question is whether you are going to gamble on being able to grab him off waivers if you don’t draft him in the later rounds of your draft.
Bobby Bradley – 1B Cleveland Indians
ESPN ADP: Undrafted
Yahoo! ADP: Undrafted
Fantrax ADP: 885.57
2018 Minors: .224/.308/.466/27 HR/83 RBI
The question with Bradley isn’t “if”, but rather “when?” He’s been on of the Indians’ top prospects since 2015, and his raw power is what made Bradley the Indians’ third round pick in 2014. In December, the Indians acquired Jake Bauers, from Tampa Bay, with the intention of having him be their starting first baseman. There’s no doubt Bauers is an athletic first baseman that has already spent time in the outfield in the Majors, but strikeouts were a major concern during his rookie season when he struck out a 32% clip. Where does this leave Bradley? Looking at the Indians’ outfield, there is little-to-no power coming from all three outfield positions. Michael Brantley has since left for Houston via free agency leaving the Indians with Greg Allen, Leonys Martin, and Tyler Naquin to man the outfield. Realistically, once the Indians realize they can’t afford to go all season with 69 career home runs between the three starting outfielders, I see Naquin being the odd man out. Thus, Bauers moves to a corner outfield spot, and Bradley gets the call to man first base. Still, there can be a platoon between Allen and Naquin.
What do I expect to see from Bradley? Bradley is your throwback, prototypical power-hitting first baseman. He’s going to knock the cover off the ball, hit for a low average, and strikeout a ton. There’s no question he’s going to get his fair share of home runs playing in Cleveland, but the strikeouts will pile up. That being said, I see him being a waiver wire addition when he’s called up. Of course, you could take a late-round flier on the slugger, but I’d be more set on carrying an extra pitcher that can make an impact, while waiting for Bradley to get his call.
From watching video, Bradley possesses an uppercut swing that gets long as he tries to drive the ball. There’s not a lot of movement in his stride, but he tends to run into trouble trying to hit every pitch out of the ballpark. Still, he does draw walks more than you would expect looking at his strikeout total, and he does have a good sense of the strike zone. Personally, I think the Indians need to work on his swing mechanics. They can easily try to get his swing more level without hindering a great amount of his power. By doing so, I believe he could catch up to pitches he’s fooled on, and cut down on his strikeouts while gaining a higher number of line drives into the gaps. Bradley is still a work in progress, but his raw power, and fact he’s hit 20+ home runs each year since 2015, leads me to believe he could be a sneakier late-round pick, or waiver wire add, in 2019.
Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. – 3B Toronto Blue Jays
ESPN ADP: 52
Yahoo! ADP: 46
Fantrax ADP: 46.71
2018 Minors: .381/.437/.636/20 HR/78 RBI
There’s no doubt in my mind or anyone’s that Vlad Jr. is going to hit. Early into his career, the question is whether or not the Blue Jays will have ducks on the pond when he drives the ball out of the ballpark. As of Sunday night, Guerrero Jr.’s ADP was at the end of the third round throughout all fantasy draft outlets. He’s scheduled to miss at least three weeks with an oblique injury, and while this could see him fall a few rounds later, I highly doubt this will be the case as most fantasy owners have Guerrero Jr. high on their draft shortlist. In a way, this gives the Blue Jays a pass as they were going to use the service clock on Guerrero Jr.’s arrival to Toronto. Still, he’s going to be owned in all leagues, and he has to be the favorite to win the American League Rookie of the Year award. If you’re in a keeper/dynasty league, there’s no question he’s a safe draft option in correlation to his ADP. My question to you, as a fantasy owner in redraft leagues, is whether or not the Blue Jays team has enough players to get on-base to warrant drafting him toward the end of the third round? I’ve seen projections of 27 home runs and 91 RBI. While I believe the home runs will be there, I find it hard to believe he will be able to top 85 RBI. This has nothing to do with his potential, but rather the Blue Jays inability to get on-base as they finished the 2018 season with a .312 OBP (22nd in MLB).
What can we expect from Vladimir Guerrero Jr.? He possesses a quick, violent swing that has a clear path through the strike zone and direct to the ball. There’s no questioning his raw power, and he makes it look effortless as he drives the ball to the outfield. It’s hard to say he has any downfall, but for the sake of argument, he possesses average speed at best. I don’t seem him stealing many bases, but that category isn’t something we really care about when we are targeting him for power. After service time, the question remains as to playing time. Toronto is set to open the season with Brandon Drury at third, and nothing leads me to believe he’s going to hold the position long enough to keep Guerrero Jr. in the minors long past the service time target date. Even then, Drury has yet to accumulate 100+ at-bats since 2016 and 2017 when he had 461 and 455 respectively as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Drury possesses neither power, nor speed, and let’s face it, the Blue Jays will want to sell tickets and memorabilia. In keeper/dynasty leagues, there’s no argument drafting Vlad Jr. early into the drafts. However, I’d suggest tempering expectations in redraft leagues only due in large part that the Blue Jays are headed for another 80+ loss season.
Nick Senzel – 3B Cincinnati Reds
ESPN ADP: 223
Yahoo! ADP: 346
Fantrax ADP: 239.14
2018 Minors: .310/.378/.509/6 HR/25 RBI
Early into the 2018 season, Senzel looked to be heading to Cincinnati. Season-ending surgery to a fractured index finger put his arrival on hold, and 2019 is the season for Senzel’s arrival. Early into Spring Training, Senzel looks to be heading to Cincinnati as the Opening Day centerfielder. Third base, shortstop, and second base all seemed locked up, and early on, Senzel looks comfortable playing center. While he doesn’t possesses the ideal range and speed of a true centerfielder, he possesses the athleticism to get the job done for the time being. His ability to generate great bat speed, and make consistent contact, will play greatly in Cincinnati. He’s isn’t the fastest runner, but his high baseball IQ could lead him to double-digit stolen bases. I’ve always compared him to a bigger version of Alex Bregman, and I haven’t seen anything to change my mind.
Where do we draft Senzel? Early on, Senzel’s ADP sees him in the middle of the 18th round in 12-team leagues. This seems like an ideal spot as playing time doesn’t seem like it’s going to be an issue as long as he in fact is the starting centerfielder. If they make announcement that he will start in Triple-A, I can see his ADP falling deeper into the late rounds. Still, he should have a chance to reach 20+ home runs in his rookie season, and the Reds should finish top-15 in RBI, while finishing better than their 2018 18th rank in total runs. They did finish 2018 top-10 in OBP, so the chances will be there for him to score runs as well as drive runners in.
What should we expect from Senzel? Again, 20+ home runs is realistic, and I could see him scoring 70 runs while driving in 70 runs. This would be a solid stat line for a player taken in the later rounds of drafts. Watching video on Senzel, his quick swing is evident in nearly every at-bat. He lets the ball get to him, allowing for his bat speed to spray line drives to all part of the field. He doesn’t strikeout often, and he draws walks playing into his great understanding of the strike zone. I was a big believer in Senzel heading into last season, and moving into 2019, he’s a player I will be targeting in everyday draft, and I’m already trying to figure out ways to keep him in my keeper leagues.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore on Thursday March 7th, 2019 from 8pm – 9:30pm EST for the Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show. Call in number is 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. You can listen live on blogtalk, majorleaguefantasysports.com, or download the podcast on I-Tunes or any Android podcast app. This week we will discuss Starting Pitching for fantasy purposes.
Be sure to check out our Sunday night show March 10th from 8pm to 9:30pm EST. They will cover the Outfield.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Cole Freel live on Sunday March 10th, 2019 from 8-9:45pm EST for episode #144 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. You can listen live on blogtalk, majorleaguefantasysports.com, or download the podcast on I-Tunes or any Android podcast app. Our topic this week is the Outfield for fantasy purposes.
Our guests this week are Joe Iannone and Bilal Chaudry. Joe is a writer for majorleaguefantasysports.com and his articles publish every Sunday. Bilal is the 2-time defending MLFBC champion and a frequent radio guest.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Show Episode #167, 6/23/2019 Host Brian Roach, Jr., Co-Host Cole Freel, Guest Kevin Bzdek
Major League Fantasy Baseball Show Episode #169, 8/4/2019 Host Cole Freel, Guest Joe Iannone
@brandonziman You are more than welcome Brandon. You were a fantastic writer and a joy to work with. As we move through a very big transition for us hopefully we can continue to work with one anither.