The not so top prospects.
It’s always fun to speculate the breakout guys. But, what about the top prospects you may want to start shying away from? The sample sizes we will be evaluating are pretty small at this point. The amount of published information on starts or scouting reports so far are also hard to find at times. The best we can do is check out some stats and consider: Is it time to try to sell high on this guys prospect value?
There are some really interesting top prospects who have not really lived up to top prospect expectations to start the year. Let’s look at a few.
Sheff checks a lot of boxes in things I like in a prospect. First of all, he has some pretty decent size. Secondly, he has a close proximity to the MLB and a large sample of minor league numbers to look at, which have some really encouraging numbers to consider. My one worry about Sheffield is
his walk rate. In 2017, it was perfectly fine, 3.1 BB/9 is A-OK for this guy. In 2018 it crept up to 3.9 BB/9, but H/9, HR/9, and K/9 all made substantial improvements, so I can deal with the BB/9 creeping up. His first game this year? He struggled to work in the soze, and when he did, he got hit. Sheff put 5 guys on base via the walk in just under 5 innings of play, also giving up 3 base hits (2 of which left the yard) and recording only 1 K. He was solid in Spring Training, so chalk this up as just a blip on the radar, but if the trend continues, don’t be afraid to try to sell high on him. TINSTAAPP, so if you can sell high on him and add another in his stead, it may be quite the savvy move.
Recommendation: Strong hold.
J.B. barely makes the cut on MLB’s top 100 prospects, coming in at #68. J.B. put up a really nice line in 2018, reaching as high as AA. Bukauskas did not far so well to start the year. For the record, in Spring Training, J.B. pitched 12 innings giving up only 1 ER, 6 K, 8 BB (yuck) but striking out 18. That’s encouraging. Going 2.2 IP in your 2019 MiLB debut, giving up 8 H, 8 ER, 3 BB and K’ing only 2? Not so encouraging. Again, it’s a 1 game performance, but if the trend continues it will be time to check in on what may have changed.
Recommendation: Sell! Too much competition in that farm system, too many other promising arms to replace him as a minor league guy you stash.
I am a big Allen fan. I had him pegged as a guy who should make a substantial number of starts in the big leagues this year. Sadly, Allen has had not one, but two very rough outings at AAA so far. All I can think is Allen must really like living in El Paso, because he’s not pitching like he wants to
leave. His debut ended with 2 IP, 4 H, 6 ER, 4 BB and only 2 K. His second game didn’t go much better, going 3 IP, allowing 7 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, but striking out 5. His K/9 is nice still and he hasn’t given up a home run, but he’s been far too hittable and struggled to be in the zone. Hopefully he can right the ship soon.
Recommendation: Hold. ETA hasn’t really changed, He’s a big lefty that can eat innings with a nice K rate.
How I felt about Allen coming into the year applies to Widener also. They were guys I felt like were some solid under the radar prospects who had shots to contribute early and provide good value (kind of like Lucchesi last year). In his 2 starts he’s totaled 8 innings pitched while giving up 16 hits, 10 ER, and (shockingly) no walks. His K rate hasn’t been there, he’s not walking guys, and he’s only given up 1 long ball. He’s just gotten hit (a lot). Of the 16 hits allowed 10 have been singles, which is solid. I’m not sure what’s going on here, but Widener is talented enough (and Arizona needs pitching badly enough) that I do still expect to see him up this summer.
Recommendation: I’d say sell, but I’d wager you aren’t getting much for the guy (I’d be surprised if you were even before this poor start). I’m still optimistic he can turn it around, but if there’s another promising arm you like, don’t be afraid to sever ties here.
That’s it, folks. No real shocking news here. It’s surprising to see how some guys just start rough. Each of these pitchers are talented enough to really turn it around. Rough start or not, I’d stick with my guys this early, but J.B. and Widener were low enough in my own rankings for me to go ahead and sever ties for a guy like, let’s say, Matthew Liberatore.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Brian Roach, Jr, and Cole Freel live on Sunday April 7th, 2019 from 8pm-9:30pm EST for episode #150 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. We will discuss spot starters for the coming week, plus a weekend update, and look ahead to next week.
Our guest this week is Bryan Luhrs. Bryan has been a writer with majorleaguefantasysports.com for 6 years, and is the owner of Real Deal Dynasty Sports.