Dynasty Grinders Class-A All-Star Bats

Using our scoring system, I pulled all Class-A hitters stats from MILB.com to find out who has been dominating the league.

Just 10 of the top 50 hitters there are owned, including three by Hydra – Yoan Moncada, Bobby Bradley and Jorge Mateo.

TBD was the only other owner with more than one – Eloy Jimenez and Josh Ockimey.

The Cleveland Indians feature seven players in the top 50:

  • Greg Allen
  • Tyler Krieger
  • Nathan Lukes
  • Bobby Bradley
  • Yu-Cheng Chang
  • Connor Marabell
  • Francisco Mejia

Add those prospects to Bradley Zimmer, Clint Frazier and a handful of pitching prospects and the Indians are setup for a very successful future.

This is the farm system of a team that just won 14 games in row and sits 6.5 games ahead of the Detroit Tigers, in first place of the American League Central division.

Thanks to 40 doubles, yes 40, Brian Mundell has 20 more total bases than Eloy Jimenez, who is 2nd.  That, plus just 48 strikeouts = future major league hitter.

He was drafted out of college in the 2015 draft and at 22 years old could speed through the Rockies farm system.  It is also very likely that an American League team would love to have him as a DH.

HLR’s Travis Demeritte has hit 20 home runs but also has 105 strikeouts.  He has already served an 80-game suspension after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance and the Rangers moved him to 2B with Adrian Beltre and Joey Gallo ahead of him.  But now with the rise of Rougned Odor and Jurickson Profar back, it could be a while before Demeritte finds a spot with the Rangers.  It wouldn’t surprise me to see him dealt at the deadline or this offseason.

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What’s Going On Down in the Minors?

We are getting close to the Super Two deadline, which FanGraphs explains here.  That means that teams will start calling up some of their more talented prospects from the minor leagues.  I went and got all the stats from MILB.com from all AA and AAA leagues and used our scoring system to calculate which players were having the best seasons.  I then downloaded the list of all players from Fantrax to see which of these players were owned and by who (whom?).

Starting Pitchers

There are 46 pitchers with at least 300 points scored between AA/AA compared to 39 MLB pitchers. Beach Bum (Daniel Mengden, Zach Eflin, Josh Hader -67th pick in rookie draft) and Long Ball to LF (Jameson Taillon – 28th, Chad Kuhl, Joe Musgrove – 69th) each had three minor league pitchers make the list

Teams With 2

Teams With 1

Musgrove, Mengden, Herrera, Jason Wheeler, Ben Lively and Aaron Wilkerson have been impressive in both AA and AAA.

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Batters

Making 300 points the cutoff again, I found 34 hitters in the Minor Leagues compared to 57 in the Majors. TBD owns four of the top 36 bats – Peter O’Brien, Tyler O’Neill – 187th, Willy Adames – 115th and Matt Chapman – 130th.

Teams With 2

Teams With 1

Healy, Mancini, Nicky Delmonico, David Washington, Hunter Dozier and Mike Yastrzemski have had success in both AA and AAA this year.

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The first big “sell”…

Yesterday, I pulled the trigger on a 14-piece trade that could succinctly be described as the first “sell” move of 2016. That is to say, the first trade aimed toward improving a team in the future more so than the present.

The deal, agreed to with the Preseason Double Stuffs, is outlined and analyzed by third parties right here.

First things first: though there are a bunch of pieces in this trade, many of them are superfluous. Some guys went to the Double Stuffs that would have been cut from my end to make room for new guys and I received one player back that they would have cut. In my mind, the deal was this:

I sent 1B Miguel Cabrera ($71), SP Sonny Gray ($49), SP Nick Tropeano ($1), C Carlos Ruiz (free agent) and a third round pick in 2017 for LF/RF Jorge Soler ($14), prospects CF Brett Phillips, CF/RF Ian Happ, 1B Cody Bellinger, and a first round pick in 2017.

Right out of the gate, my decision to sell was really pretty simple: my team is last in record, last in points, and has two major injuries (Carlos Carrasco and Tyson Ross) that make digging out of that hole extremely difficult. If those two guys are healthy, I’m not selling yet (and frankly, my team is probably significantly better to the point that selling parts hasn’t even entered my head).

Our championship bracket allows only four teams in, so I saw my team as being in a deep hole five plus weeks in and needing to jump 12 teams to get into that bracket. That’s a tall order, particularly without the pitchers I mentioned before for at least a few more weeks (I’m not sure Ross makes it back this year, but who knows?).

When I ultimately decided to sell and set out to do so, I’m pretty sure I told everyone I spoke to that I wanted multiple pieces for any of my impact players. And my preference was to check multiple boxes. By that, I mean a minor league piece, a major league piece, a draft pick piece, and/or an auction cash piece. I didn’t need all four, but I wanted a multi-faceted return.

Without divulging private conversations, I can tell you that almost every team I spoke to was balking at that. Draft picks were being viewed at a premium and most teams seemed unwilling to offer more than one prospect in return.

The obvious question is: does waiting a while longer change that? If in the next month a contending team suffers a few injuries, do negotiations change? Probably. The flip side of that is, with Gray coming off three rough starts, he could conceivably just be broken and worth nothing in a month’s time. He’s suffered some velocity decreases recently and he’s a little guy, so that’s worrying. Personally, I think he’ll be fine. He’s a top-20 pitcher two years running and $49 for that type of performer is a bargain. But still, there’s a chance that he’s broken and the risk of waiting to find out just didn’t seem worth it.

Side note with regards to approaching Gray with trepidation: I don’t trust a word Billy Beane says and if Gray does end up getting traded this season, I think most logical destinations sting his value. Going to the Dodgers isn’t so bad, but the Red Sox? I don’t like that.

It’s also possible that a month from now, two or three other teams see the walls close in on their 2016 and enter the market. I’d rather just be the first buyer.

Anyway…

I look at this deal as getting five pieces back that check three boxes: minor league piece(s), major league piece, draft pick piece.

In Phillips, Happ, and Bellinger, I see three top-100 prospects — Phillips and Happ are, at least in my mind, top-50 types — that are relatively close to the majors. In our minor league draft, these guys went 25th, 57th, and 104th overall. MLB.com ranks them 29th, 72nd, and 97th on their prospect list. Baseball America says 57th, 87th, and has Bellinger way up at 54th. Lists are what they are. Take them or leave them, whatever.

I don’t need these guys this year, so not debuting until 2017 is fine. Coupled with my recent addition of Clint Frazier, it’s conceivable that I have an entire outfield in 2017-18 that costs essentially nothing.

The low cost of prospects and the freeing up of over $100 of budget is an added bonus of this deal. In that sense, I could argue that my fourth box, auction cash, was checked as well. The Preseason Double Stuffs are now well over budget for 2017, which means there’s $100+ worth of cuts floating out there. Look at the Rocky Mountain Oysters as well. That team is also well over budget for 2017. It’s too early to put too much stock in future budgets, I think, but what I’m getting at is, next year, I could have a shot at buying Miggy back, or at least buying back a few players that add up to Miggy because other teams will be in a position where they’re forced to make drastic cuts to keep those high salaried players.

As for Soler, he’s still just 24 years old and ZiPS/Steamer project him for a .322/.319 wOBA the rest of the season. Coming into the year, ZiPS pegged him for a .333 wOBA and 17 homers. Playing time is a major concern for him, obviously, but a player with those numbers is useful. Maybe he gets sent down to AAA to get regular at-bats, maybe he gets traded, who knows? I think he’s a gamble worth taking. As Jonny pointed out in reviewing this deal, if we did our auction a year earlier, Soler likely goes for $30-$40 based on his performance the year prior, age, and upside. I mean, Byron Buxton went for $32 and his wOBA at the major league level is .066 points lower than Soler’s (small sample size, I know).

The last piece coming my way is a first round draft pick which, if the season ended today, would be fifth overall. Of course, adding Cabrera, Gray, and even Ruiz to improve the catching situation a bit likely improves the Preseason Double Stuffs enough to worsen that pick — perhaps significantly. The pick could end up anywhere. Either way, I’ve now secured myself two picks in the top-16 and four in the top-32, so when our minor leagues expand by five slots, I’m in a more favorable position. (Aside: I’ve got a 3rd rounder that I’d like to attach a useful player to in exchange for a 1st or possibly 2nd rounder, so get in touch if that’s something that might interest you.)

So where does my team go from here?

Offensively, a week from now I get Alex Rodriguez back and he slides into a UT spot, effectively replacing Cabrera in my lineup. He’s a lesser hitter, but I’m not sure the gap between them is going to be super noticeable given our head-to-head format. ZiPS says there’s a .042 difference in wOBA between them the rest of the way, which is significant but not disastrous.

My offense has a lot of similar, productive players — Nick Markakis, Corey Dickerson, Michael Saunders, Mike Napoli — that have made choosing a daily lineup difficult. I’ve had points on my bench instead of in my lineup a few times just from the coin falling on heads instead of tails, essentially. A fringe benefit now, I suppose, is having fewer choices and being able to just ride a core group of players. I’m only thinking of this now, it certainly wasn’t a driving force in doing a deal.

My pitching, which was supposed to be my strength, is probably going to suck, but it has sucked already anyway. As of today, I’ve lost more points to home runs allowed than any other team and I’m dead last in net pitching points by more than 100. Eventually Carrasco and hopefully Ross return and there’s a lot of positive regression due — the last I checked, my SPs’ HR/9 was somewhere north of 1.70 which just isn’t a thing that happens — but ouch.

Like I said, I do expect Gray to get it together, so not having him around when/if that happens will sting some. Tropeano would have been useful, but he was still likely a match-up play, as his 4.90 FIP and 1.71 HR/9 (with just a 13% HR/FB rate) alludes. And hopefully one or both of Blake Snell and Jake Thompson find their way into a major league rotation this summer anyway.

I’m also not sure at this juncture if there’s another big move in the pipeline. And by that, I mean whether or not Johnny Cueto ($60) or Joey Votto ($70) will get moved.

On Votto, I suspect he will not. He is available, but I never had it in my plans to purge both he and Miggy, so the offer would have to be compelling. He’s greed protected in 2017 by virtue of being one of the 30 highest paid players, so he’ll get his $2 raise to $72 and be perfectly keepable as an offensive anchor.

Selling Cueto, on the other hand, is a more likely option, if only because pitchers are pitchers and in the sense that they are all ticking time bombs, it doesn’t necessarily make sense for them to get closer and closer to going off on a roster that isn’t competing. But I really don’t like losing. I want to keep competing. With Cueto, who is the 7th best starting pitcher based on points per start as of this morning, my team can at least compete weekly, even if it’s futile in the grand scheme of things. Without him, my pitching floor is terrifyingly low until Carrasco comes back. And I’d absolutely love to have him back as a staff ace in 2017.

(So as I was looking up Cueto’s points, I noticed that he’s second overall in points for starting pitchers. He’s also started eight games, while most have started just seven. Anyway, Clayton Kershaw is predictably number one. He’s also started eight games. But get this: Kershaw has 128 more points than Cueto. 128! In the same number of starts! Jose Altuve is the top scoring hitter and he’s 113.4 points behind the Dodgers’ ace. My goodness, Clayton Kershaw is not of this Earth. He is so good that I am going to end this post that has absolutely nothing to do with him on a note about him.)

Trade: Rocky Mountain Oysters | Capital City Ironmen

Rocky Mountain Oysters sends: CF Clint Frazier (minors), 1B/2B/SS Ryan Flaherty (FA)
Capital City Ironmen send: 2B/3B Martin Prado ($4), SP/RP John Gant (minors)

Jordan’s thoughts: I love this deal for Dusty. Martin Prado has been good. He fills two positions that makes Prado’s floor look a bit higher. Prado is decent enough to fill in the utility role as well. John Gant is an interesting prospect, he’s close to the majors, he’s a pitcher, could he make the jump? Sure! Or maybe not, whatever.

Clint Frazier is tough to lose, he was a prospect on my target list on the draft, and post draft, but he does not appear to a transcendent talent. He’s 21, he’s primed, but he could still be another away. Frazier could turn into a replacement level fantasy outfielder, or be a decent one, who knows. I know that’s such a cop out with prospects, but that is the point of their value in fantasy is it not?

Prado could go on for 3-4 years being useful to various teams. Frazier could go on to be anywhere from nothing to extremely useful for a whole career. How do you weight that value? This trade marks the first one that I can recall that a betterish prospect gets traded for something for today. Sure Gant’s value is there somewhere, but that’s like trading lottery one cost slightly more, has better odds, but either one ultimately could be worth more. Is Bailey selling already?

Andrew’s thoughts: When I acquired Chris Coghlan a while back, it was in part to give myself the flexibility to do something like this eventually. At the time I thought my pitchers would be healthy and team competitive, so I didn’t anticipate trading a vet for a prospect, but here we are.

For the Oysters, Prado should be a good, inexpensive piece. Prado’s the definitive boring but productive player and starting at $6 in 2017, he’s got a couple years of good value left in him. Dusty can slot him into two positions, freeing up the versatile Josh Harrison to slide around elsewhere. What this move really does is boost his second utility spot, since he no longer has to play match-ups and lineup cards with guys like Sean Rodriguez, Ben Paulsen, and Ryan Howard.

He’s been absolutely lights out lately, including a streak of five straight games with multiple hits. But I also expect some regression from him, as he’s currently sporting a .440 BABIP that’s led to a .398 average and a .433 on-base percentage. He should still be good the rest of the way, but this was a good opportunity to sell at his peak.

For me, I feel like getting a top-25 prospect in all of baseball is a big win in a year where I’m struggling to score points. In February, Baseball Prospectus pegged Frazier as the 23rd best dynasty league prospect, slotted between Rafael Devers and Austin Meadows. Frazier was the 39th guy off the board in our minor league draft and I remember thinking at the time that it was too low. Some guys that went ahead of him that I don’t think should have: Tim Anderson, Willson Contreras, Brady Aiken, and Anthony Alford.

With Prado gone, I can plug in either Coghlan, Chase Utley, or Howie Kendrick at 2B and shouldn’t see too precipitous a drop.