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“Z-Mans Thoughts” Prospect Preview: Outfielders Looking for Playing Time

Happy Opening Day! A national holiday for all. As the season starts today, we will also begin to look at prospects. Over the next 11 weeks I will go over multiple prospects at different levels. While the drafts have been completed, the prospect work never ends. This week we begin looking at prospects that will start at AAA or at the MLB level, but will not be getting full playing time to start the season. This week we will take a look at Kyle Tucker (OF, HOU), Tyler O’Neill (OF, STL) and Alex Verdugo (OF,LAD).

Kyle Tucker

Kyle will be starting the 2019 season in AAA. Which of course will be better for him to get full playing time at AAA than being a bench bat in the MLB; it was a little disappointing to hear he will not make the opening day roster. It was a tale of two levels last season for Tucker and they were very opposite:

Team G PA HR R RBI SB BB% K% AVG OBP SLG
AAA 100 465 24 86 93 20 10.30% 18.10% 0.332 0.400 0.590
Astros 28 72 0 10 4 1 8.30% 18.10% 0.141 0.236 0.203

Obviously it was a small sample size in Houston being only about 20% of his season, but it was still less than what was anticipated. If/when Kyle can get his chance, I would be all over him and I think he will show what he truly can do at the highest level. If he got a mostly full season, I would expect to see around a .260 AVG with power/speed combo. Depending where he would hit in a loaded Astros lineup would help determine runs and RBI’s but that lineup is strong enough that he can contribute in both no matter where in the lineup.

Fantasy Outlook: If you are in a redraft league, I would not do more than add him to my watch list. When he comes up I would jump on him. In a keeper league, I would consider adding him as a bench bat and holding him–especially if I have a deep bench. You may have to wait a while, but if he produces like a top prospect should, then he can develop possibly into a keeper. If your league does prospect drafts or is a dynasty league then Kyle is most likely already owned. You may be able to trade for him at a discounted rate since he is starting in AAA. Either way, if you can afford to trade for him it can play out long term.

Tyler O’Neill

Tyler is the only player this week that is starting the season at the MLB level. He is still under rookie eligibility despite being in the majors last year. He had exactly 130 at bats, and you need to surpass 130 to graduate from rookie status. Tyler O’Neill rookie of the year 2019? I could see a path to where it can happen, but I am not predicting it on opening day.

Between AAA and MLB, The Greek God of Forearms (not sure if that’s his real nickname, but let’s roll with it) had 35 HR with a .258 AVG. I think he can definitely repeat those numbers long term. Tyler profiles as a middle of the order power bat, and he is going to drive in a lot of runs. The only thing stopping him from repeating those numbers will be playing time. The Cardinals are a deep team and a stacked outfield. In the past they have been known to roll with the hot hand in their lineups. If Tyler can get off to a hot start and hold onto the starting job it can pay off big time.

Fantasy Outlook: Going into the drafts this year I had Tyler ranked at #60 OF surrounded by Billy Hamliton at #59 and Brett Garnder at #61. If he can play out this season, I can definitely see myself moving him up in ranks within the top 40 OF and possibly higher. In a redraft league, I would consider taking Tyler in the later part of the draft as an OF5 or a bench bat. Until the season gets rolling, we won’t know what kind of playing time he will get. In a keeper league, you can probably get him in the mid- later part of the draft with the same mindset of OF5 or bench spot. Long term if he can keep the playing time, then I think he can become a highly ranked outfield option especially with the power potential. In a dynasty league, the price may be highest here. Though the highest price should not cost nearly close to an arm and leg.

Courtesy of The Athletic

Alex Verdugo:

Alex Verdugo could quite possibly be one of the more frustrating prospects to own going into 2019–not because of his talent, but because of the Dodgers roster construction. Verdugo has been on the cusp of MLB playing time since 2017. In the past two years Verdugo has gotten a taste of MLB, but never gotten to take a bite. During the off season, the Dodgers traded away Puig and Kemp. So we all thought Verdugo was FINALLY going to get his chance to start. Then they went and signed A.J. Pollock and crushed our dreams.

Coming into his age 22 season, one “problem” with Verdugo’s value is that he does not have a tool or multiple tools that will stand out for fantasy right away.  The good news is that he is still only 22 and can keep developing those tools. Verdugo is a solid player.  But he is not a tool shed stu–and that’s perfectly fine. Last year in AAA he hit .329 AVG with 10HR and 8SB. I definitely would not count on having an average that high, but the counting stats could be in the same range. I would think more DJ LeMahieu (.276 AVG 15HR and 6SB) production is a decent expectation for Verdugo if  he got full playing time this season.  The positive in favor of Verdugo is that A.J. Pollock does not have the best health record.

Fantasy Outlook: I currently have Verdugo ranked #63 OF surrounded by Dee Gordon #62 and Byron Buxton #64. Currently he is close to Tyler O’Neill, but I would rather have O’Neill based on playing time; therefore O’Neill can rise higher than Verdugo for 2020. Verdugo has not shown the ability to steal many bases.  The only time he stole more than ten in a season was 2014 and 2015. This could potentially hurt Verdugo’s value and ability to climb ranks unless he can drastically improve his power. In redraft leagues I would not be targeting Verdugo at this point, but would have to assume if anyone in that outfield goes down for a long period of time that he would be the one called up. In a keeper league, I would not draft him either and I would take a wait and see approach even when he gets the call up to the majors. In a dynasty league, if you are a fan of his, then I wouldn’t blame you for owning him and there is plenty of time for him to keep developing. At this point though, with past production in the minors, I would not be marking him as a corner-stone or building block for my franchise. I think there are better options.


Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Brian Roach, Jr, and Cole Freel live on Sunday March 24th, 2019 from 7:30-9:45pm EST for episode #146 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. This will be our first LIVE Major League Fantasy Baseball draft show. The boys will be doing a play by play while Kevin Bzdek is drafting in MLFB1. We will be taking live calls from the league owners as well.

Our guest this week is Kevin Bzdek. Kevin is a writer, editor, league mate with majorleaguefantasysports.com, and will be the live drafter.

Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Cole Freel, and Kyle Amore live on Thursday March 28th, 2019 from 9-10:30pm EST for episode #147 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. This is our OPENING DAY special. Cole and Kyle will discuss the latest happenings in the world of MLB and fantasy.

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Grew up playing baseball since I could hold a bat. Played baseball through high school and college. Somehow became a Yankee fan even though I grew up in a Boston based family. From Connecticut, attended Western Connecticut State University and studied Financial Management. Also self proclaimed: Biggest Casual Curling (sport not workout) fan, so hit me up all your burning curling questions, because I know you have them

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