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“Z-Man’s Thoughts” Prospect Preview: Boom or Bust Outfielders

The game of prospecting is a gambling game. I am not a gambling man, but man do I love prospects. If you play this game long enough you will experience highs and lows of prospects. You will have the highs of taking and holding onto Kris Bryant or another player out of the draft and it panning out. You will also have lows. One for example is banking on Gordan Beckham being the next best thing to come out of college. Not all prospects pan out, and some prospects take longer to develop than others. There is no perfect formula, but we will all celebrate when we got it right and forget when we get it wrong.

This week we will come back to the outfield position. Last time we visited outfield, we talked about outfielders that were ready to contribute at the MLB level. This week we will look at three outfielders that either become fantasy studs, or prospect busts. These guys are Estevan Florial, Drew Waters and George Valera. None of these guys are expected to see major league time in 2019, but we can hope they raise their prospect stock for 2020.

Courtesy of Getty Images/Michael Reaves

Estevan Florial (OF NYY)

Scouting grades according to MLB.com: Hit: 45 | Power: 55 | Run: 65 | Arm: 65 | Field: 60 | Overall: 55

Estevan Florial was signed by the Yankees in March of 2015, and has developed into a talent full of tools and potential. In his first season of pro ball, Florial hit 7 HR and had 15 SB with an average over .300 in 57 games. From that moment on people started dreaming about the potential this outfielder possessed. The biggest flaw that has always been in Florial’s game has been strike outs. He has had a K% above 20% at every level and he averaged around 25%. Of course strike outs are a part of the game now, and a strike out percent north of 20 is not as alarming as a few years ago, but you would still like him to bring that number down. The hype train really started to gain ground after his 2017 season between A and A+ ball with  a .298 AVG 13 HR 23 SB 77 Runs and 57 RBI. These counting stats also came with a massive 36% strikeout percent though. Dynasty owners started dreaming of the next top player to come through and one that played in Yankee Stadium in a few years. This earned a 2018 prospect ranking in the top 50 at number 45. Then in 2018, Florial took a step back. He hit only .228 AVG 4 HR 13 SB 50 Runs and 30 RBI. Such a drastic drop off from the year before has owners jumping off the ban wagon and steering clear of him in 2019.

Coming into 2019 I was going against the currant and buying shares of Florial. I would buy back in, and be willing to forget 2018 if it worked out. This of course was until he hurt his wrist and does not have a timetable currently to return. As of right now I will hold my shares of Florial and see what happens when he comes back. His ETA is 2021, but depending how Florial comes back that may affect the date. Along with the strike outs and the injury, one note against Florial is playing time. The Yankees have Stanton and Hicks locked up for the foreseeable future, and you know they will do everything to not let Judge reach free agency. Unless there is a trade or one of the OF moving to full time DH, it can be hard to see where Florial gets a chance.

Drew Waters (OF ATL)

Scouting Grades according to MLB.com: Hit: 50 | Power: 50 | Run: 60 | Arm: 60 | Field: 60 | Overall: 55

Waters is a 20 year old switch hitting outfielder in the Braves system. He was drafted in the second round of 2017 and had a breakout of last season. In about 500 plate appearances Waters hit .271 AVG 9HR 23 SB 72 Runs and 39 RBI. Now of course we would like to see some more power, but I think that number will increase to at least get close to 20 at peak. There is potential of a 20/20 type production if Waters can continue to improve and develop. Of course it is not all sunshine and rainbows for Waters, there is swing and miss in his game. Though not as much as Florial’s. Waters has consistently mid 20% k% and a below 10% BB rate. I would like to see some of that balance out a little bit, but that can come in time and adjustments. A more realistic expectation for Waters is Christian Yelich…in Miami. Now that is not bad at all, but a decent average home runs in the teens and around 20 stolen bases.

Even though Drew Waters is not even the top outfield prospect in his own system (#2 behind Christian Pache) I would be targeting and buying all the shares I can get of Waters. I actually like him as a fantasy player better than Pache. Waters is currently starting the 2019 season in AA, so there could be a chance to see him next season. There is a path to see Waters in a significant role starting next year. Markakis has an option year next year to where he can move to a bench role at the age of 36. Or if the Braves let him go, then they can accelerate the timeline similar to what the Braves did with Acuna last year. The Braves future is looking bright and Waters will be a big part of that.

Courtesy of MLB.com

George Valera (OF CLE)

Scouting Grades according to MLB.com: Hit: 55 | Power: 50 | Run: 50 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50

George Valera is an 18 year old outfielder drafted on July 2nd 2017 with the Indians. He is clearly the highest risk in this group. In fact he has only had 22 plate appearances in his professional career, but these tool grades are too great to ignore for an 18 year old. Valera’s season last year was cut so short due to a broken hamate bone in his hand. There has been no update on his progress, but with the injury happening in June of last year there should be a good chance of seeing him play this season.

If you’re a dynasty owner that does not mind waiting some years and are willing to take a chance then Valera is your guy. With already being the teams number 5 overall prospect, it can be easy to imagine the Indians building around Valera along with Ramirez and Lindor. As for building a fantasy dynasty, depending on how deep or knowledgeable your league is, then you can get Valera for little to nothing. Even if someone owns Valera, I cannot imagine him costing too much as he is so far away and has little to no track record.

Conclusion

Each of these guys possess big potential, but with great potential comes equal or greater risk. To recap, Florial is the guy that has the biggest track record, but coming off a disappointing season last year and is currently recovering from an injury. Waters has one full season under his belt and is in the midst of a breakout between last season and hoping to continue this season. Valera is the the guy with the biggest risk as we said, but has the most value to gain. At this moment I would be buying Waters. I think he will reach the majors first and could be a future keeper for fantasy teams in years to come.


Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Brian Roach, Jr, and Cole Freel live on Sunday April 14th, 2019 from 8pm-9:30pm EST for episode #151 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 Kevin Bzdek. Kevin is a writer, editor, and league mate at majorleaguefantasysports.com.

Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Cole Freel, and Kyle Amore live on Thursday April 18th, 2019 from 7:30-9pm EST for episode #152 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. Cole and Kyle will discuss the latest happenings in the world of MLB and fantasy. They will take a look back on the previous few days and a preview of the coming weekend. Including spot starts, bullpens, offense, and minor league players.

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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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