Dynasty Risers and Fallers: Spring Training (2019 Fantasy Baseball)
Kyle Miller provides his risers and fallers so far in dynasty fantasy baseball leagues.
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The first installment of the Dynasty Risers and Fallers series will be focused on player performance, playing time, and long-term outlook through the first few weeks of spring training. Any spring stats come with the obvious caveat of small sample size, but I’m not just looking at stats. It’s important to look for lineup placement, mechanical changes, new pitches, mindset adjustments, and body transformations. No matter how deep your dynasty league, we’ll have you covered each week.
Rafael Devers (3B – BOS)
Devers currently sits at number 58 in FantasyPros Expert Consensus Dynasty Rankings, and there’s a very good chance his ranking will be much higher after this season. Devers is a former top-10 prospect that has a plus hit tool, plus power and is just 22 years old. There’s so much upside for Devers that I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the top 25 in dynasty league rankings. Reports out of Red Sox camp indicate that Devers is in much better shape and is tearing the cover off the ball. He’s hitting .423 with a dinger in 26 Spring Training at-bats so far. Go out and trade for him in dynasty leagues while you still can because he’s primed for a big-time breakout in 2019.
Chris Paddack (SP – SD)
Every time Paddack pitches this spring, Twitter blows up with GIFs, videos, and stats showing his dominance. The 23-year-old starting pitching prospect has a three-pitch mix that features a plus four-seam fastball with high spin rate and great command, a plus Vulcan Changeup, and an improving get-me-over curveball. Last season he had a ridiculous 120:8 strikeout to walk ratio in 89 innings between High-A and Double-A, and he’s done more of the same so far this spring. Fans and fantasy analysts aren’t the only people taking notice of Paddack. He’s performed so well this spring that the Padres are rumored to be considering him for an Opening Day start. That’d be an incredibly large jump for the young pitcher, but if anyone can do it, it’s him. He’s much more likely to start in Triple-A, but he needs to be drafted within the top 200 picks in dynasty leagues.
Matt Strahm (SP/RP – SD)
It didn’t matter whether Strahm was in the bullpen or starting, he was nasty on the bump last season. He struck out 28.2% of the hitters he faced and had a 2.05 ERA over 61.1 innings. That provides us with a nice floor as a high leverage reliever who could pick up holds or saves. Three weeks into spring training, though, I’m shooting for the stars with Strahm because he’s recorded 12 strikeouts in nine scoreless innings. Kevin Acee of The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that, if he can stretch out in time, he’s going to be in the starting rotation to begin the year. He has a starter’s repertoire with four good pitches and was a former top-100 prospect, so I see no reason that he can’t be an effective starting pitcher. Keep an eye on what the Padres are saying regarding his role this spring and you may find a bargain SP in the late rounds of your dynasty league.
Estevan Florial (OF – NYY)
Bobby Sylvester has Florial ranked 41st among prospects in the FantasyPros Top 500 heading into the 2019 season, and I’m equally as excited. He’s a toolsy outfielder that the Yankees are very high on with plus power, plus speed, and a good eye at the plate, which makes him a potential fantasy stud. He’s never played above high-A ball, yet he’s been getting starts in centerfield nearly every other game this spring. That tells me the Yankees are even higher on him than Bobby and I. Guest instructor Willie Randolph said, “Florial reminds me of a young Bernie Williams” earlier this week. Look for the Yankees to aggressively assign him to Double-A this year, and let’s see how quickly he moves through the system.
Carlos Martinez (SP – STL)
If this were about pure talent, there’s no way Carlos Martinez would appear on this list. He’s one of the nastiest pitchers in the entire league, when healthy. The key here is “when healthy.” Martinez suffered lat, oblique, and shoulder strains last year causing him to pitch just 118.2 innings. He’s proven to be durable in the previous three seasons, though, so I was cautiously buying all winter. Then news of shoulder soreness came out in late February. Now that he’s yet to throw a baseball since his injury, he’ll miss Opening Day and there’s extreme uncertainty with his role. Unfortunately, this is not a situation that I’m eager to involve myself in.
Ian Happ (3B/OF – CHC)
After a strong 2017 season (.253/.328/.514, 24 HR, 8 SB in 115 games) many thought Happ was primed for stardom. In 2018 however, he posted high walk rates (good!) and strikeout rates (bad!) but only hit 15 home runs in 142 games. One narrative is that since Happ takes so many pitches, he gets himself into bad counts. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. His Z-Swing% (% of in the zone pitches that were swung at) ranked 125 out 247, making him essentially average in that category. The issue is that he posted the worst Z-Contact% (% of in the zone pitches where contact was made) in the entire league (min. 350 AB). He just couldn’t make any contact with pitches in the zone, which is always going to lead to very high strikeout rates. He’s still only 24 years old so there’s time for adjustments, but I just don’t see an easy fix for Ian Happ’s contact issues. His spring training numbers (.107/.167/.143 0 HR in 28 AB’s) aren’t doing anything to calm my nerves.
Brendan Rodgers (SS – COL)
Rodgers has been on dynasty owners’ radars for years because he’s a middle infielder with pop in the Rockies farm system. He has plus raw power but the hit tool is seen as just average. He got a taste of Triple-A at the end of 2018 but was unimpressive at that level. He’s off to a slow start in spring training this year, so there won’t be any Trevor Story-like promotion for him this season. He’ll head off to Triple-A while Garrett Hampson and Ryan McMahon battle for the 2B spot. With those two and Story ahead of him on the middle infield depth chart, Rodgers’ days as a Rockies prospect seem numbered. Obviously, a lot of the shine comes off Rodgers if he’s not going to be calling Coors Field home.