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Fantasy Baseball Dynasty Stock Report: We Don’t Talk About Pratto (2022)

by Eric Cross | @EricCross04 | Featured Writer
Apr 18, 2022

In dynasty leagues, player values are changing constantly and you need to stay on top of these changes in order to be successful long-term. That’s where this dynasty stock report comes in as I discuss four players each week, two on the rise and two falling, both at the MLB level and in the minors as well. This week’s report features a slugging Rockie, a former MVP, a potential ace, and a first base prospect coming off a major resurgence.

CTAs

MLB Riser: Cj Cron (1B – COL)
Usually, when you see the term “riser” used in a dynasty context, it’s often regarding a younger player or a prospect. But not here. If you’re a contending dynasty team, players like CJ Cron are highly valuable to your short-term success while still providing solid long-term value as well. Before he landed in the thin Colorado air, Cron was always intriguing for fantasy purposes given his raw power. However, during his time with Los Angeles, Tampa Bay, and Minnesota, he was more of a tease than anything else. Cron’s two best seasons came in 2018 and 2019 when he had his first two 25+ homers seasons, but he took things to another level in 2021 during his first season with Colorado. Cron racked up 31 doubles, 28 home runs, 92 RBI, and 70 runs scored with a .281/.375/.530 slash line. Every single number I just mentioned, including the slash line, was a career-best mark for Cron with the exception of the 28 home runs.

In 2021, Cron has been one of the hottest hitters in baseball. Even after a 0/4 showing on Sunday, Cron is hitting .297 with seven runs, 10 RBI, and five home runs which are tied for the league lead with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. And since the start of 2021, Cron has slashed .284/.373/.553 with 33 HR, 102 RBI, 77 R, .393 wOBA, .268 ISO, and a 133 wRC+. Here are his ranks among first basemen during that span.

Back to 2022, Cron has recorded a 20% barrel rate and 44% hard-hit rate with an improved chase rate, whiff rate, and zone contact rate. Coors Field is a known offensive booster, especially in the AVG department, and it's done wonders for Cron since he arrived in 2021. Cron will be in Colorado through the 2023 season and should be considered a no-doubt top-10 first baseman and borderline top-5. After Vlad Jr., Freddie Freeman, Matt Olson, and Pete Alonso, you can begin making a strong case for Cron.

MLB Faller: Christian Yelich (OF - MIL)
It's amazing how quickly someone can go from a top-10 dynasty and league MVP to barely inside my top-200 overall. But that's what back and knee issues can do to a talented player like Christian Yelich. Let's take a look at his performance in 2018 & 2019 and from 2020 Opening Day until now.

Quite the difference, isn't it? Obviously, maintaining the pace Yelich was on in 2018-2019 would be difficult for anyone to sustain, but he's really taken a drastic nosedive that nobody saw coming. At least, not to this degree.

When you dig deeper, you'll notice that many of Yelich's quality of contact metrics are still very good. He posted a career-best 55.6% hard-hit rate in 2020 and was still at 48.8% in 2021. The 2022 season so far has been more of the same. However, the biggest issues plaguing Yelich are his groundball rate and strikeout rate. After dropping his strikeout rate down to 23.8% in 2021 from 30.8% in 2020, Yelich is back up over 30% this season and is over a 50% groundball rate for the third consecutive season. Yelich has been too patient at the plate (Yes, that's a thing) and has gotten himself into too many 2-strike counts. Since the beginning of 2020, 30.3% of the pitches he's seen have been in two-strike counts which is partially to blame for the higher strikeout rate.

Is Yelich still a productive Major League player? Sure. But his best days are clearly behind him and I'm not sure he's a serviceable starting outfielder anymore in 12-team mixed leagues given his decreased power/speed blend and lower AVG. Yelich could still be in the .260 range with 15-20 homers and 10-15 steals, but that's probably his best-case scenario moving forward.

Check out our dynasty trade values for all fantasy baseball players >>

MiLB Riser: Daniel Espino (SP - CLE)
For anyone that isn't fully aware of just how damn good Daniel Espino is, you're going to learn in a hurry here in 2022. The Cleveland right-handed pitching prospect is off to a dominant start in his first two Double-A starts, allowing just two earned runs and three hits with a whopping 16 strikeouts (50%). This comes after he struck out 40.5% of the batters he faced in 2021 between Lo-A and Hi-A. For his entire professional career, Espino has racked up 202 strikeouts in 124 innings for an even 40% strikeout rate.

Beyond that mouth-watering strikeout rate, Espino's arsenal is downright filthy. Espino will sit in the mid to upper-90's with his fastball, routinely touching triple-digits with plenty of riding life and offsets that with a plus or better slider with sharp two-plane break, a plus mid-70s curveball with plenty of depth, and an upper-80s changeup that has developed nicely over the last couple of years. That changeup is at least 50-grade and his four-seamer and two breaking balls are plus or better offerings. Espino has also improved his command and control as he's matured as well.

There's a good chance that Espino is the #1 pitching prospect in baseball by the end of the 2022 season once Grayson Rodriguez and Shane Baz exhaust their prospect eligibility. He's a frontline MLB arm and fantasy ace waiting to happen with his dynasty stock rising after every dominant outing in the minors. Espino is already pricey in dynasty leagues, so if you're looking to grab a future top-15 caliber fantasy arm before his price tag reaches that level, your time to do so is running out.

MiLB Faller: Nick Pratto (1B - KC)
The dynasty and prospect stock of Nick Pratto has been a wild rollercoaster ride. In 2018-2018, he was considered a prospect on the rise before a disastrous 2019 season (.191/.278/.310) killed all that momentum and more, dropping Pratto significantly down or off many prospect rankings. But just when it seemed like his prospect shine was forever dulled, Pratto roared back in 2021 with a .265/.385/.602 slash line, 28 doubles, 36 home runs, 12 steals, .337 ISO, and a 15.2% walk rate. Those that held onto Pratto through his struggles rejoiced as the Kansas City first base prospect soared back into the top-100 and even inside the top-50 of some rankings.

However, one massive red flag remains in Pratto's profile: His strikeout rate. Strikeouts have always plagued Pratto, regardless of how his season is going. The best single-season strikeout rate of his career was 25.2% way back in rookie ball in 2017. Since then, Pratto's strike-out rates have been 27.9% (2018, Low-A), 34.7% (2019, Hi-A), and 28.8% (2021, AA/AAA). That rate has continued in 2022 with Pratto striking out 40.9% of the time in 22 spring training PA and 36.5% of the time in his first 12 Triple-A games this season.

The trio of homers and pair of steals look great on the surface, but Pratto's strikeout rate is bound to suppress his AVG in a big way moving forward. On top of that, there's no clear spot for him currently at the Major League level and a more talented hitter in Vinnie Pasquantino is breathing down his neck. If Pratto doesn't curb his strikeout woes a bit, he's going to have a difficult time establishing himself at the Major League level.

I'll end this section with a fun fact. Since the 21st century began, 50 players have a single-season strikeout rate of 30% or higher while recording 500+ plate appearances in that season. Those 50 players combined to hit .224. Outside of a few exceptions that are much better players than Pratto (Judge, O'Neill, Baez), you just can't succeed with a 30% strikeout rate at the Major League level. I'd be looking to sell Pratto in dynasty leagues right now while his perceived value is still high coming off his big bounceback season last year.

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Eric Cross is a featured writer at FantasyPros. You can check out more of his work on his Archive or on Twitter @EricCross04.

Dynasty, Featured, Featured Link, MLB, Prospects