3 Prospects To Sell In Dynasty Leagues (2021 Fantasy Baseball)
Ordinarily, I’d do my best to limit this list to players who had yet to make their big league debut. Those are the players I mostly associate with the word “prospect.” However, the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the 2020 minor league season and therefore we don’t have much information on how most prospects faired last year. Luckily, the three names below all maintain their prospect eligibility entering 2021.
The analysis here is pretty straightforward. Arozarena’s price is never going to be higher than it is this offseason. 10 homers in 20 playoff games will do that. Including the postseason, Arozarena swatted 17 homers in 43 games and nearly led the small-market Rays to a World Series victory. There are a lot of reasons to be excited moving forward, and Baseball America recently ranked him as the 17th best prospect in the sport. I expect him to have a successful major league career. The question becomes what kind of return can we get by trading him at his peak?
First, let’s look at his history, because contrary to popular belief Arozarena didn’t actually come out of nowhere. In just 92 games between Double-A and Triple-A in 2019, he hit .344/.431/.571 with 15 homers and 17 steals. This came as a 24-year-old, but production is production. Then he posted an .891 OPS in 19 games for the Cardinals. When Arozarena got to the Rays in 2020 his launch angle jumped from 5.6 to 9.2 during the regular season. This could be what led to the power eruption, and since we’re living in the Golden Age of player development, we should be willing to buy into mid-career changes like this.
If there’s something to nitpick about Arozarena’s profile it’s that almost all of his regular season success came against fastballs. That type of trend is something pitchers are going to notice. It’ll be up to Arozarena to adjust back. Fantasy managers are currently banking on it considering he has an NFBC ADP of 58th overall since December 1st. This means that he’s still going within the top-60 picks months after the World Series ended. His power-speed profile will be valuable for fantasy purposes, but the nature of his small sample makes him volatile entering ’21. Float him name out there and see what the offers are like.
I also discussed Sanchez in the second-year primer for pitchers, and I came away from that deep-dive less excited about him than I wanted to be. As a starting pitcher who has already had success in the majors, Sanchez’s dynasty value should be strong right now. The 22-year-old posted a 3.46 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP in seven regular season starts. The perception around him is even higher, however, as three of his first five outings lasted seven full innings. Additionally, his two worst starts were his last two, well after the collective baseball hive had fallen in love with his talents.
Those talents include a scorching 98.5 mph fastball and exceptional command. He was also able to limit the damage done on batted balls during his rookie season, but I question whether his low strikeout rate will leave him without much margin for error moving forward. Similar to my thoughts on Dustin May, it’s just hard to invest in starting pitchers without strikeout upside. Not only are strikeouts an actual fantasy stat, but the ability to get a hitter to swing-and-miss is generally an indicator of future success. Sanchez has a lot of fans after a successful MLB debut. One year from now, if the data continues to show that his strikeout upside is limited, Sanchez’s value will likely be lower than it is today.
It didn’t happen for Adell last year. The Uber-talented 21-year-old just wasn’t ready, and the results show. Adell was overmatched by his first taste of big league pitching, hitting .161 with a .478 OPS in 38 games. The Statcast data was even less encouraging, as Adell ranked in the bottom 1st percentile of hitters for expected batting average and whiff rate. Not even his defense rated out well. He clearly needs more time in the minors.
While a 38-game sample shouldn’t send you trading him for a bag of baseballs, it’s at least worth floating his name to your league mates and seeing what the market is like. Ordinarily in fantasy sports we advocate for buying high and selling low. Well, sometimes selling low isn’t such a bad thing. I’m making up numbers here but let’s saying that today Adell is worth 80% of what he was this time last year. By January 2022 that could be 50% if he has another disappointing season.
Lastly, I want to note that this isn’t the first time Adell has been challenged by a new level. He reached Double-A in 2018 but went on to post just a .429 OPS in 17 games. In 43 games in Double-A in 2019 he dominated with a .944 OPS. Then he struggled upon advancing to Triple-A. There’s a learning curve with each new level, and Adell is talented enough to figure out the big leagues. That being said, I’m alright with “selling low” after a disastrous major league debut in the hopes of avoiding the next Byron Buxton.
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