Fantasy Baseball Prospects Report: Do Yankees have room for Gleyber Torres?
Gleyber Torres is off to a nice start, and the Yankees have a need at third base. Could a promotion be forthcoming? Our Scott White looks at the top five prospects to stash in Fantasy Baseball.
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You may have noticed the Yankees have a need at third base. Intended starter Brandon Drury is out indefinitely with severe migraines, and while replacement Miguel Andujar has some prospect appeal in his own right, he's a defensive liability and batting just .225.
What you may not have noticed is that top prospect Gleyber Torres, who was expected to split his time between shortstop and second base at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season, has started seven consecutive games at third base.
He's also hitting well, prompting speculation he could be on his way to the majors. And while his removal from the lineup Monday ended up being for a back issue (just a day-to-day thing), a special date that would make his promotion easier to justify is just around the corner.
So where does he rank among the top five prospects to stash?
Five on the verge
(These are the prospects most worth stashing in redraft leagues.)
Ronald Acuna, OF, Braves
2017 minors: .325 BA (557 AB), 21 HR, 44 SB, .896 OPS, 43 BB, 144 K
2018 minors: .175 BA (40 AB), 1 HR, 1 2B, 1 SB, .558 OPS, 6 BB, 15 K
April 14 came and went, and still no Acuna, delayed by a slow start at Triple-A. He's largely a victim of bad fortune, having idled for 10 days prior to his first minor-league game. If not for the lengthy delay, he probably would have picked up where he left off this spring, looking like the best player in baseball with a .432 (19 for 44) batting average, four home runs and four stolen bases. This early in the season, it'll take only a couple big games to correct his stat line, so the announcement could still come quickly. He started slowly at each of his three minor-league stops last season – not to mention spring training itself – but once he gets going, he has few weaknesses offensively and could be a five-category stud from Day 1.
Gleyber Torres, SS, Yankees
2017 minors: .287 BA (202 AB), 7 HR, 7 SB, .863 OPS, 30 BB, 47 K
2018 minors: .366 BA (41 AB), 1 HR, 1 SB, .923 OPS, 2 BB, 8 K
So here's what manager Aaron Boone recently had to say about the prospect of promoting Torres to play third base:
"Possible, yes. Likely? Not necessarily."
OK, so that's not much to go on, but Boone can't say much, really, given that Wednesday marks the first day Torres can come up without costing the Yankees a year of control. To avoid a legal battle, they have to play it like Torres hasn't earned a promotion yet. Boone added that the Yankees want to make sure Torres' swing is in a good place so that when he comes up, he can stay up. It seems to be in a good place.
So I'm moving him ahead of the more proven and equally exciting Jack Flaherty for now. The path to the big leagues is clearer for Torres, and there's always a need for an offensive-minded shortstop in Fantasy. With the way his power and plate discipline picked up before his elbow injury last year, I think the 21-year-old is on a path similar to Carlos Correa, and the pedigree would seem to support it.
Jack Flaherty, SP, Cardinals
2017 minors: 14-4, 2.18 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 148 2/3 IP, 35 BB, 147 K
2018 minors: 2-0, 2.77 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 13 IP, 2 BB, 16 K
Flaherty's second Triple-A start wasn't the gem his first one was, but it was a quality outing and certainly no reason to second guess his stashability. Armed with a new two-seamer that moves the opposite direction from his breaking ball, he opened eyes with a couple big strikeout efforts late in spring training and then struck out nine over five one-run innings in a spot start for Adam Wainwright during the first week of the season, so he's clearly ready. It's just a matter of one of the Cardinals' starting five stumbling or suffering an injury.
David Dahl, OF, Rockies
2016 majors: .315 BA (222 AB), 7 HR, 5 SB, .859 OPS, 15 BB, 59 K
2018 spring: .274 BA (62 AB), 5 HR, 4 SB, .915 OPS, 4 BB, 15 K
After getting off to a 4-for-9 start at Triple-A Albuquerque, Dahl missed a week and a half with a stomach bug before returning Tuesday. It's frustrating but ultimately nothing compared to the rib injury that cost him virtually all of his 2017 season. Still, he has had to regain weight, so it's reasonable to assume he'll need a few games to get back to the form he showed at the end of spring training, batting .362 (17 for 47) with five homers and four steals over his final 18 games. No outfield openings on the horizon, but eventually, Dahl will force his way into the picture. And with Coors Field to call home, he offers five-category potential.
Nick Senzel, 3B, Reds
2017 minors: .321 BA (455 AB), 14 HR, 14 SB, .905 OPS, 49 BB, 97 K
2018 minors: .233 BA (43 AB), 1 HR, 1 SB, .631 OPS, 3 BB, 11 K
After opening the minor-league season at second base, Senzel moved back to third base for a three-game stretch, fueling speculation that he'd replace the injured Eugenio Suarez as soon as the Reds could bring him up without forfeiting a year of team control. But that day came and went, and since then, Senzel has moved back to second.
"The most important thing is to make sure we're all convinced that he is ready to be here and playing productively," Reds general manager Dick Williams said Monday. "Bringing a guy like that up, you want him to come and stay. You want it to be more dictated by his performance and confidence as opposed to being dictated by the situation here."
So... basically what the Braves have said about Acuna, and the Yankees about Torres. Like Acuna, Senzel has gotten off to a miserable start, and unlike Acuna, he can't point back to a brilliant spring performance. He was a monster after a midseason promotion to Double-A last year, though, and if the whispers have already started, it won't take much to get him to the bigs.
Five on the periphery
(These are some other prospects doing something of note.)
Victor Robles, OF, Nationals
2017 minors: .300 BA (430 AB), 10 HR, 37 2B, 27 SB, .875 OPS, 37 BB, 84 K
2018 minors: .385 BA (13 AB), 2 SB, .851 OPS, 2 BB, 1 K
Few were under the delusion Robles could make the club out of spring training, but he still got drafted late in some Rotisserie leagues in the hope Michael Taylor would have less luck on batted balls and forfeit the center field job in short order. Well, Taylor has been predictably awful in the early going, but Robles won't be replacing him anytime soon, not after hyperextending his elbow diving for a pop fly April 9. An MRI Monday revealed no tear, but his absence figures to measure in months, so unless you play in a true keeper league, where Robles' elite pedigree counts for more than anything he will or won't do this year, you can turn your attention to other stashables.
Mac Williamson, OF, Giants
2018 spring: .318 BA (44 AB), 4 HR, 2 2B, 1.060 OPS, 1 BB, 13 K
2018 minors: .514 BA (35 AB), 6 HR, 3 2B, 1.737 OPS, 7 BB, 5 K
Williamson might be a higher-priority stash than even Senzel if he wasn't a 27-year-old with plenty of stink to his name already. He looked like a different player this spring – a product of retooling his swing with the same private hitting coach who made Justin Turner what he is today – and has played out of his mind so far at Triple-A Sacramento. Hunter Pence is in the final year of his contract, coming off a disappointing season and off to a 10-for-50 start, so if there's any rumblings about the Giants making a change, you'll want to act fast.
Josh Naylor, 1B, Padres
2017 minors: .280 BA (439 AB), 10 HR, .761 OPS, 43 BB, 84 K
2018 minors: .395 BA (43 AB), 6 HR, 1.328 OPS, 9 BB, 6 K
Naylor is a hefty dude who seemed unlikely to break through anywhere but first base, but he's trying his hand at left field now that Eric Hosmer is locked up long-term. And if the first couple weeks are any indication, the Padres will have every incentive to find a spot for him. A former first-round pick of the Marlins, Naylor was all potential, no results during his first three minor-league seasons but appears to have unlocked his power stroke, already boasting two two-homer games. Defensive limitations have sunk good prospects in the past, but this one's stock is rising.
Brendan McKay, 1B/SP, Rays
2018 minors (as hitter): .438 BA (16 AB), 1 2B, 1.167 OPS, 11 BB, 2 K
2018 minors (as pitcher): 0-0, 3.60 ERA, 0.60 WHIP, 5 IP, 1 BB, 8 K
Shohei Ohtani's two-way success casts McKay's own ambitions in a new light. While he won't have a professional stint in Japan to back him up when the time comes for the big club to make a decision, he has so far demonstrated he can navigate both hitting and pitching, living up to his reputation as an on-base machine while missing bats with a baffling three-pitch arsenal. I have my doubts he can sustain it all the way to the majors, but having the luxury of committing later makes him a higher-probability prospect than most.
Eric Lauer, SP, Padres
2017 minors: 6-8, 3.30 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 122 2/3 IP, 36 BB, 132 K
2018 minors: 2-1, 3.00 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 18 IP, 6 BB, 19 K
Joey Lucchesi wasn't the only deceptive lefty to pile up strikeouts with a low-90s fastball in the Padres system last year. Lauer performed the same trick, though he was a little more hittable overall. He has a deeper secondary arsenal but not the plus pitch Lucchesi's churve has turned out to be. Already off to a good start at Triple-A, he may be the first up should an opening develop.
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