Prospects to Sell in Dynasty Leagues (Fantasy Baseball 2020)
The lifeblood of dynasty leagues in fantasy baseball will always be prospects. However, unlike fantasy football dynasty leagues, in which rookie drafts feature players drafted by NFL teams with clearer outlooks (unless you play in a devy league), a dynasty baseball league requires the ability to identify talent that may not see the big leagues for multiple years, if ever.
It’s important to remember that player development is not always linear. There are countless stories of players who find their careers derailed due to injury or poor performance only to see their careers revived later. Justin Turner was a middling prospect with some utility value before a swing change made him into a perennial All-Star. Max Fried, the No. 7-overall pick in the 2012 MLB draft by the Padres, lost some luster after undergoing Tommy John surgery which cost him most of 2014 and 2015. Coupled with the injury were questions that he didn’t have the command or a third pitch necessary to get right-handed hitters out and may be destined for the bullpen. San Diego dealt him to the Atlanta Braves.
If you spent a first-round pick on Fried in your 2013 rookie draft, you would have had to wait six years for a return on that investment because he did not deliver on the promise of his projections until 2019. Turner played more than a decade of professional baseball before breaking out. They are Cinderella stories. For every Fried or Turner, dynasty league waiver wires and the backend of many benches are littered with prospects who ultimately failed to deliver on their promise.
It’s always possible that any prospect you trade away or drop could always figure it out someday. The following names are just as likely to show up on many “buy” prospect lists as they are in this “sell” article. Nonetheless, these five prospects saw their stock fluctuate a bit last season, and if your confidence level has wavered in any of them, now is the time to sell.
Jazz Chisholm (SS – MIA)
Chisholm became a hot topic when the Miami Marlins traded Zac Gallen to acquire him from the Arizona Diamondbacks at the deadline last season. Many were surprised the Marlins would give up on a pitcher like Gallen, especially one who had already demonstrated a strong ability to get big league hitters out. Gallen had debuted earlier in the year, posting a 2.72 ERA in seven starts and striking out 43 in 36.1 innings. Chisholm was Arizona’s top prospect and the highly-touted shortstop rose up boards after a promotion to High-A saw his OPS rise from .783 to .966 while maintaining the same power/speed combo that had many scouts declaring he could provide a 20/20 floor in the majors one day.
Unfortunately, a deeper look at the stats reveals an unsustainable .443 BABIp during his 36 game stint at High-A. In 2019, Chisholm struggled with contact in Double-A, and his hit tool suggests that he’s who may struggle to ever hit over .250. While he did improve after the trade, his inconsistent hit tool has many wondering if this will be Lewis Brinson 2.0 in Miami rather than the second coming of Tim Anderson. There’s always risk in trading away a dynamic athlete like Chisholm, but Chisholm may turn out to be a better athlete than a baseball player. You may be able to fetch a more reliable asset in a trade with an owner enticed by the upside of Chisholm’s athletic skills.
Nolan Gorman (3B – STL)
Gorman has light-tower power, and he was arguably the premier slugger of the 2018 MLB draft. Unfortunately, his lofty swing path makes it harder for him to hit the high heat and sliders inside on his hands. This gets compounded by a near 40% pull percentage, which results in a lot of swings and misses (31.7% K-rate last season in High-A). This much trouble making contact at the lower levels doesn’t bode well long term, but the power potential makes him an attractive target. Many owners will ignore swing and miss tendencies and pay up for power given how young players like Joey Gallo and Pete Alonso have succeeded in fantasy leagues, but those two were anomalies.
Carter Kieboom (SS – WAS)
Kieboom remains a top-20 prospect despite going 5-29 during his brief call up last season with 16 Ks in just 39 at-bats. Washington will almost certainly give him an extended look this year, but further struggles could depress his stock to the point where he won’t fetch the same return that he could now.
Kieboom’s best minor league season came last year in Triple-A, where he hit a solid .303/.409/.493 line, but that got boosted by a career-high .362 BABIP. Still, Kieboom has always maintained a good average and OBP with some power. Marcus Semien’s 2019 season (.285/.369/.522 with 33 HRs and 10 SB) might be Kieboom’s ceiling, and it’s a good one. That said, his value right now as a top prospect remains high, and now might be the best time to move him in case extra playing time this year proves him to be as underwhelming as the next prospect on this list.
Brendan Rodgers (INF – COL)
Rodgers’ call up was highly anticipated last year, and many owners in redraft leagues dropped plenty of FAAB to acquire him ahead of his debut. He’s another power/speed prospect, but with the added advantage of calling Coors Field home, Rodgers struggled to assert himself over Ryan McMahon and Garrett Hampson, and he hit a lowly .224/.272/.250 with a 33.3% K-rate; that was with a .347 BABIP, no less. Granted, Rodgers only earned 81 at-bats across somewhat sporadic playing time before he tore his labrum, requiring surgery in June.
A former top-12 prospect in all of baseball, Rodgers remains very well-regarded in many baseball circles. Like with most of the names on this list, he could one day become a perennial All-Star. However, his struggles with recognizing pitches at the big league level make him a prime sell while his prospect status remains high, especially if you’re concerned that another year of him not living up to his potential will significantly devalue his stock.
Mitch Keller (SP – PIT)
Keller was slated to join Jameson Taillon atop the Pirates’ rotation in the aftermath of the Gerrit Cole trade. Unfortunately, Taillon continued to battle injuries, Keller got blown up in 11 starts (7.13 ERA), and the entire Pirates organization crashed and burned in 2019, which culminated in the firing of team president Frank Coonelly, general manager Neal Huntington, and manager Clint Hurdle. New team president Travis Williams spent his career in the NHL, and Derek Shelton replaces Hurdle as manager. Shelton has enjoyed success working as an assistant coach for various small-market teams, and while there promises to be a change in culture, it remains to be seen what the organizational philosophy will be.
In short, the situation in Pittsburgh has been turned upside down, and it’s unclear how Keller fits into that. What savvy dynasty owners will know is that Keller’s bloated, small sample size ERA was accompanied by a much shinier 3.19 FIP and a 12.19 K/9. Additionally, he suffered from a ridiculously high .475 BABIP. Keller has a strong minor league track record, so someone will surely be interested in acquiring him on the cheap. A shrewd owner could potentially parlay that desire and the aforementioned underlying numbers into fetching something closer to peak price. The uncertainty surrounding the organization and the fact that Keller is still working on an effective third pitch to pair with a mid-90s fastball and strong curve all make Keller as enticing of a sell as he is a buy.