We start this column with some well-known commodities before diving a bit deeper into the depths of the dynasty league universe in our weekly lap around the minor leagues.
Pirates outfield prospect Gregory Polanco is currently putting up video game like numbers in Triple-A, hitting a scorching .465 with two home runs through his first 11 games. Polanco possesses incredibly quick hands and a keen batting eye, skills that should allow him to hit for a high average and on-base percentage. His power is still developing, but there is plus raw potential in his bat, that if unlocked will make him a superstar. Travis Snider is off to a nice start in the majors, but if he eventually falters and goes back to being, well, Travis Snider, the Pirates won’t hesitate to summon Polanco early this summer.
One of the more impressive starts on the pitching side is that of Double-A Red Sox lefty Henry Owens, who followed up a rain shortened no-hitter with another dominating performance last week (6.2 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 SO). On the season, he’s thrown 12.2 scoreless innings with 18 strikeouts and only two walks. Owens works in the low-90s with his fastball, and can touch the mid-90s when he reaches back for a little more. His changeup is a true out-pitch, and if his curveball gains more consistency, he has the potential to be a top of the rotation starter. Owens will look to cut down on the free passes this year, something that has held him back thus far as a pro. Through two starts, it appears he’s shaken off some of those fleas, although we’ll need a few more starts to see if the gains in control are real.
After missing a team flight and being hampered by a hamstring injury in ’13, it appears Rockies outfielder David Dahl is back to crushing the baseball. Dahl has four home runs through his first 11 games this season for Class A Asheville, showing the promise that made him a top 10 selection in the 2012 draft. Dahl is a five-tool talent that could develop 20-homer power, which will play even better at Coors Field. The window to buy low may be closing, so try and snatch him up in dynasty formats if you can.
The Cardinals have to be pleased by the initial results of Cuban import Aledmys Diaz, who is off to a great start in the states at Double-A Springfield (.375, 4 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 9 RBI, 2 SB). There are a variety of conflicting scouting reports out there on the young shortstop, ranging from utility infielder to above average offensive starter. The Cardinals have a good track record when it comes to player development, and I trust they have done their due diligence in scouting Diaz, which is why I didn’t hesitate to add him in two deep dynasty formats I play in.
Another club with a strong track record in player development is the Mariners, especially pitchers, which is why you should give a long look to righty Edwin Diaz. He’s working in the 93-95 MPH range with his fastball this spring, showing good sink. His slider flashes plus potential, while his changeup continues to develop as he learns to throw it at the same arm speed as his fastball. He’s on a pitch count to begin the season, but should see the kid gloves come off as the year progresses. The early results are encouraging at Class A Clinton (9.2 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 13 SO), and it will be interesting to see how his stuff holds up as he’s allowed to work deeper into games. His ceiling rivals that of fellow Mariners prospect Taijuan Walker, although Diaz is still a few years away from knocking on the door of the majors.
The Mariners also have a pair of promising hitting prospects in outfielder Gabriel Guerrero and third baseman D.J. Peterson, both currently mashing at High-A High Desert. Guerrero, the nephew of Vladimir Guerrero, is hitting .372 with two homers and three steals through his first 11 games. Peterson sits at .310 with a home run through 10 games, but has also committed six errors on the year. While Peterson is probably long gone in dynasty formats, don’t sleep on Guerrero, who has the raw talent to be a star.
Could this be the year Blue Jays lefty Daniel Norris finally breaks out? The former first round pick looks good thus far (11 IP, 9 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 11 SO), and will look to build on his hot start. Norris’ fastball sits in the 91-95 MPH range with good movement. He also boasts an above-average changeup and slider that both flash plus potential at times. His curveball remains a work in progress, but gives him a competent fourth offering. Be a buyer in dynasty formats.
The same break out question can be asked of Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo, who continues to tease dynasty owners. His first crack at High-A hasn’t been an issue, as he’s tormented the league’s pitchers, hitting .375 with a home run and three doubles through 10 games. Even more impressive may be his 12 runs scored, which is most certainly fueled by Nimmo’s outstanding on-base percentage (.489), a skill that’s been consistently solid during his minor league career. Scouts question whether he’ll ever develop anything more than 15 home run power, but if that’s the ceiling, he could still be a highly productive player for those who play in formats that reward OBP.
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