Diamonds in the Rough

Diamonds in the Rough

Written By: Matt Heckman
Follow Him on Twitter: @Heckman_Matt115
Follow Prospects Worldwide on Twitter:@ProspectsWorldW


Each season several top 100 prospects make their MLB debut. Commonly, dynasty players look at the top 100 lists and aim to draft the players near the top of that list. However, most of the top rookies each season are not found at the top of those lists. That is not to say that Adley Rutschman is not a generational talent, dynasty players should not ignore players who are farther down the prospect lists. It is particularly important to pay attention to players who are close to the MLB or have limited big-league competition ahead of them. A perfect example is Jonathan India in 2021. The Reds middle infield was weak heading into the season and despite not even ranking in the top 137 prospects on Fangraphs, India was the winner of NL ROY. Additionally, Kyle Lewis in 2020 was an unranked player heading into the season that won AL ROY. This article looks at a few players outside of the top 50 on most lists that could have a starting big-league gig early in 2022 and need to be on all dynasty players’ radars.

1. MJ Melendez – C Kansas City Royals

2021 Minor League Stats:

GPAVGSLGHRBB%
123.288.6254114.1

Many of you probably read the description for Melendez and are confused as to how he could play every day in the “bigs”. The Royals do have one of the best catchers in baseball after all in Salvador Perez. This is true, but the Royals have not been shy about using Melendez in the OF or at 3B. They believe that he is athletic enough to play out there and they don’t exactly have a star-studded OF. In addition, it is not uncommon for catchers to play less than most other starters. Perez caught 124 games last season which is excellent, but he is not getting any younger and to save his legs the Royals might look to use him as more of a DH or even at 1B if Carlos Santana struggles. This opens the door for Melendez to potentially play about 50 games at catcher even with Perez. Bobby Witt Jr. will likely be up shortly after the 2022 season begins, but Melendez could be used as a placeholder at 3B if the team wants to play him over Mondesi or Dozier. I think that it is unlikely that Melendez is at 3B too much, but I think he could see 5-10 games there. Also, he can be used as a DH for the Royals. Melendez has a bat that can do serious damage and the Royals should try to get it in the lineup as much as possible. I do not think it is unlikely that he gets 25 games at DH and then another 25 games in the OF playing over the likes of Hunter Dozier, Kyle Isbel, and Michael Taylor. These predictions are keeping in mind that Melendez could struggle as a rookie. If he is hitting, well there is no way that the Royals will not manage to keep him in the lineup. All in all, you are looking at a minimum of 105 games played for Melendez and I think it is likely he will play even more. With catcher eligibility, he should be on the radar of every dynasty player and the upside is well worth a shot. He hit over 40 home runs in the minors last season with a strong walk percentage and good bat-to-ball skills, Melendez could be the next star nobody is talking about.

2022 MLB Prediction:

GPAVGSLGHRBB%
118.249.4852410.8

2. Jose Miranda-2B/3B Minnesota Twins

2021 Minor League Stats:

GPAVGSLGHRBB%
127.344.572307.1

After the season Miranda had last year in the minors, it is a miracle he has not flown up rankings across the industry. He hit .344 with 30 home runs and people have barely batted an eye. Miranda can produce consistent contact while providing enough power to hit 25 home runs in the “bigs”. His fielding might not be the best, but that only impacts fantasy if it is bad enough to hold him out of the lineup. The Twins are in a weird position with their roster. They were expected to perform better last year but ended up playing poorly and selling off their best pitcher in Jose Berrios. Rumors have arisen that the team is looking to trade away Josh Donaldson. This move would no doubt result in the playing time for Miranda to skyrocket. He would become the starting third baseman and play every day. Even if Donaldson stays, the DH spot is far from locked down. Trevor Larnach and Alex Kirilloff figure to get the first opportunities to hold down LF and DH, but if one of them struggles, Miranda could see himself occupying either role. He also could play a lot of second base with Luis Arraez penciled in as the starter there. Arraez is a fine player but is far from spectacular. He posted a 103 wRC+ last season and might be best served as a utility infielder rather than an everyday starter. The Twins should prioritize getting Miranda’s bat in the lineup. If they do this, he could be an instant starter at 2B/MI for your team with how thin the position is. Miranda has a way higher ceiling than Luis Arraez who could over 460 at-bats last season. Given this, I think that the Twins will prioritize getting Miranda into the lineup daily.

2022 MLB Prediction:

GPAVGSLGHRBB%
127.275.455206.1

Bryson Stott- SS Philadelphia Phillies

2021 Minor League Stats:

GPAVGSLGHRBB%
112.299.4861613.3

Bryson Stott had an excellent year across three different levels with the Phillies. After being drafted as a very high floor, low ceiling prospect Stott has transformed in the eyes of many scouts. While the Phillies have a lot of money invested in their infield, dynasty players should keep in mind who is running things in Philadelphia. This is a city that has been starved of winning and Dave Dombrowski is going to do everything in his power to accomplish that. Although Didi Gregorious is penciled into the starting SS role, he was one of the worst SS in baseball last season. Dombrowski has already publicly said that he told Stott to show up to Spring Training with the intent to win the starting job. Another possibility is trading Jean Segura. If the team cannot move Gregorious’ salary, they may trade Segura for an OF or reliever and ask Stott to fill the hole at second. With two potential chances to earn an opening day lineup spot, Stott should be on all dynasty player’s radars. While he likely won’t hit for a lot of power in the “bigs”, Stott will provide in several other categories. In dynasty roto leagues he could be especially useful. He will likely hit for a high average while producing good walk rates that will help his OBP. He can also steal a few bags which will be useful. He likely never will be a star unless he changes his swing to unlock more power, but he could provide very similar results to the Phillies current second baseman Jean Segura (albeit it walks more with a slightly lower average). Not only was Stott excellent in the minors last season, but he also dominated the AFL this year which should help continue his momentum right into Spring Training. 

2022 MLB Prediction:

GPAVGSLGHRBB%
98.271.413109.7

4. Elehuris Montero- 3B Colorado Rockies

2021 Minor League Stats:

GPAVGSLGHRBB%
120.278.5292810.6

Often in fantasy, the most important word is opportunity. When you look at the Colorado Rockies, their infield screams of opportunity. Ryan McMahon and Brendan Rodgers are the only two guaranteed for playing time. CJ Cron is likely to play DH, leaving the other two spots completely up for grabs. Montero was sent to Colorado as part of the Nolan Arenado trade after struggling for St. Louis in 2019. Montero seemed to put to rest any concern over him and proved that those 2019 struggles really could be attributed to injury. Throughout the 2019 season, Montero battled wrist injuries which helps explain his disappearing power from that season. Montero rebounded in 2021 hitting 28 home runs across AA and AA while batting for a reasonably high average despite a very average BABIP. He has excellent power and has shown a strong ability to get the ball into the air. If Montero gets the chance to play 3B or 1B in Coors Field, watch out because the ball could be flying out all over the yard. An important development for Montero is his maturity at the plate. Scouts were afraid that Montero often did not see enough pitches, but that seems to have changed as he was able to walk over 10% of the time during 2021. The path to playing time is not the most obvious, but in terms of upside Montero has more than anybody else in the Rockies system. I believe that he will quickly overtake Connor Joe and Colten Welker and play every day for Colorado in 2022. He is a very cheap and widely available player for dynasty players to keep on their radar for 2022 and beyond!  

2022 MLB Prediction:

GPAVGSLGHRBB%
107.259.452176.9

5. Juan Yepez -1B/3B St. Louis Cardinals

2021 Minor League Stats:

GPAVGSLGHRBB%
111.286.5862711.8

The introduction of the DH in the National League is a game-changer when it comes to evaluating prospects. Now, assuming that the rule change is passed, fielding will not be as essential, which will be great for fantasy players. Juan Yepez was excellent in the minor leagues for the Cardinals last season. He mostly plays first and third but has shown the ability to man a corner outfield position if needed. His fielding is below league average, but the DH could make that irrelevant. Back in 2019, Yepez made it a point to adjust his swing to get the ball in the air more often. While this did not translate to instant success in 2019, he stuck with the changes through the 2020 season and took off in 2021. Hitting the ball in the air over 45% of the time. Yepez backed up his strong bat-to-ball skills with good plate discipline and could be a legit on-base/power threat for the Cardinals. There is little debate that Yepez will hit once he reaches the majors, it is just a matter of finding a lineup spot for him. There are a few holes that can be easily seen in the Cardinals lineup, Yepez must prove that he is ready to face big-league pitching. Paul Dejong has struggled to hit over the past few seasons and so while he could DH, it is more likely he only plays SS for his glove. Yepez could fill in at 1B when the Cardinals want to get Goldschmidt off his feet, but Yepez will likely have to beat out Lars Nootbaar for the DH spot. If Yepez can do that he could provide great dynasty value for players as power and on base, type players tend to perform well in most scoring settings.

2022 MLB Prediction:

GPAVGSLGHRBB%
102.253.456188.1

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