Grading the Dynasty Grinder Minor League Systems

First, this is my first and probably my last attempt at writing for Dynasty Grinders. Since I retired I’ve had more time on my hands and over the last month I’ve dived into each and every Grinders minor league systems. There were a few reasons for the deep dive in the minor league systems:

  • I wanted to learn more about the minor league systems
  • Prepare myself for the upcoming draft
  • Educate myself on the other team’s minor league rosters for possible trades

Finally, as I was going through each team, I’m convinced there are the “haves and the have-nots” and I want to even the playing field. I’m hoping those at the bottom will be motived to do better. I also realize that some owners have different ideas how to manage their teams and I understand that too. My life experience tells me “Knowledge is Power”. The ultimate goal is to make the Dynasty Grinder league better and more balanced.

I’m no minor league expert and I have used a few web sites to grade each minor league player that is on our rosters. Additionally, some teams have players on their roster that weren’t ranked because I couldn’t justify giving them a star. Remember they are minor league players and could be late bloomers. There is a high probability that I’m full of crap, which is probably the case. Column “2018 MLB Ready” below means players could be breaking into the MLB this year. The teams are ranked from the best to worst.

The Key

3 Stars = Elite MLB Player
2 Stars = Solid MLB Player
1 Star = Average MLB Player

#1 HLR

Loaded, more than loaded………………………. Lead by Vladimir Guerrero, if you’re looking to trade for prospects HLR is the place to go. Beware HLR is a hustler and values his prospects and in a few years his team is going to be killing it. Hustle is going to win many championships if you believe in building from the bottom up. The only downside is HLR only has one prospect who might make the majors this year, he’s a good one too, Willie Calhoun. Minor League score 50.

2018 MLB Ready

  • TEX OF Calhoun, Willie

3 Star Players

  • ALT SP Allard, Kolby
  • NYM UT Alonso, Peter
  • TOR 3B Guerrero Jr., Vladimir
  • LAD LF Heredia, Starling
  • MIN SS Javier, Wander
  • DET SP Manning, Matt
  • PHL RF Ortiz, Jhailyn
  • MIL LF Harrison, Monte
  • TB LF Sanchez, Jesus
  • HOU RF Tucker, Kyle

#2 TBD

Almost the top minor league team, it was very close that’s for sure since the Joey Wentz trade. TBD was going to drop Brian McCann anyway, good for TBD. The rich get richer in my opinion………………………. TBD’s minor league team is stacked with Eloy Jimenez, who is a year away, and Walker Buehler, who could be the NL Rookie of the Year in 2018. TBD probably has the best 2018 MLB ready players, led by Buehler and Lewis Brinson. TBD’s experience evaluating minor league talent is unquestionable. Minor league score 49.

2018 MLB Ready

  • BAL RF Hays, Austin
  • MIL CF Brinson, Lewis
  • HOU SP/RP Paulino, David
  • MIL SP Woodruff, Brandon
  • STL SP Helsley, Ryan
  • LAD SP Buehler, Walker

3 Star Players

  • CHC SP Albertos, Jose
  • MIL CF Brinson, Lewis
  • CHW LF Jimenez, Eloy
  • LAD SP May, Dustin
  • DET SP Perez, Franklin
  • LAD SP Buehler, Walker
  • BAL RF Hays, Austin
  • Alt SP Wentz, Joey

#3 IL4W

IL4W was only one three-star pitcher away from being the top minor league squad. IL4W team is led by strong pitching with Michael Kopech, Braxton Garrett and Cal Quantrill. IL4W has the best group of minor league pitching in the league. IL4W also has young Kevin Maitan who found a new home in Anaheim. IL4W has help on the way this year with Alex Verdugo and Victor Robles, who are projected to be fantasy stars. HLR, IL4W and TBD’s minor league systems are killing it and the rest of us wish we had ¼ of the 3-star prospects they have. I tip my hat to all three teams. Minor league score 47.

2018 MLB Ready

  • PHI UT Alfaro, Jorge
  • KC SP Skoglund, Eric
  • LAD CF Verdugo, Alex
  • WAS RF Robles, Victor

3 Star Players

  • OAK LF Armenteros, Lazaro
  • MIA SP Garrett, Braxton
  • CHW SP Kopech, Michael
  • OAK SP Luzardo, Jesus
  • ATL SS Maitan, Kevin
  • SD SP Quantrill, Cal
  • MIL RF Grisham, Trent
  • WAS RF Robles, Victor
  • LAD SP Sheffield, Jordan

#4 Long Ball

Long Ball =’s Ronald Acuna, the favorite to become 2018 NL Rookie of the Year. Acuna ripped through three levels of the minors and AFL, there’s no doubt Acuna is ready to be a MLB All Star. Sean Reid-Foley has a 97-mph fast ball with a competitive edge. Long Ball also has some nice power coming up with Bobby Dalbec and pure hitter Bo Bichette just a couple of years away. Minor league score 37.

2018 MLB Ready

  • MIL SP Ortiz, Luis
  • CHC C Caratini, Victor
  • STL OF O’Neill, Tyler
  • ATL OF Acuna, Ronald

3 Star Players

  • ALT CF Acuna, Ronald
  • WAS SS Kieboom, Carter
  • TOR SP Reid-Foley, Sean
  • WAS RF Soto, Juan
  • SD SS Ruiz, Esteury

#5 Night King’s Undead Army

The Night Kings have the best pitching prospect in the game, Alex Reyes, but coming off TJS surgery. They also have eight two-star prospects. MLB ready players include Hunter Dozier, who will probably start the season with the Royals but playing time will be a question. Kyle Zimmer also has a chance to break camp with the Royals. Why did The Foundation change their name? Just to confuse me?????? Minor league score 36

2018 MLB Ready

  • KC 2B Dozier, Hunter
  • STL SP Reyes, Alex
  • KC SP Zimmer, Kyle
  • CHW RP Fulmer, Carson

3 Star Players

  • ATL SP Anderson, Ian
  • BOS SP Groome, Jason
  • BAL 3B Reyes, Jomar
  • STL SP Reyes, Alex

#6 Senior Squids

Not an earth shattering minor league roster. After the 2016 season the Squids reconstructed the minor league roster and concentrated on pitching. Hoping the likes of Honeywell, Alcantara, Duplantier and Whitley will be the foundation of his team for years to come. News broke recently that Mariner prospect Eric Filia was suspended 50 games for a second positive drug test. Filia hit .326 at Modesto in 2017 and won the Arizona Fall League battle title with a .408 average. Hopefully he gets his drug addiction taken care, and get back on the field and bring a world championship to Seattle. It’s kind of weird evaluating my own team, feel free to throw me under the bus. Minor league score 35

2018 MLB Ready

  • CIN LF, Winker, Jesse
  • TB SP Honeywell, Brent
  • SD RF Renfroe, Hunter
  • MIA SP Alcantara, Sandy
  • TB SP De Leon, Jose
  • CHW RP Vieira, Thyago

3 Star Players

  • TB 3B Lowe, Josh
  • SEA RF Lewis, Kyle
  • MIA SP Alcantara, Sandy
  • ARI SP Duplantier, Jon
  • HOU SP Whitley, Forrest

#7 Beach Bum

The Beach Bums have a balanced minor league team with lots of up and coming MLB talent, led by Gleyber Torres. Torres is slated to bat ninth and play 2B for the Yankees, who have the best line up in the majors. The Beach Bums have quite a few minor players that will hit the majors this year, especially with Oakland A’s. I’m a big fan of A J Puk who has huge K upside. The Beach Bums also have Austin Meadows who is #17 on MLB’s prospects and could make the Pirates roster if Andrew McCutchen is traded (ed. note: he was!). Minor league score 33

2018 MLB Ready

  • OAK SP Puk, AJ
  • OAK SP Holmes, Grant
  • NYY SS Torres, Gleyber
  • PIT CF Meadows, Austin
  • MIN SP Gonsalves, Stephen

3 Star Players

  • PHI 2B Kingery, Scott
  • PIT CF Meadows, Austin
  • OAK SP Puk, AJ
  • PHI SP Sanchez, Sixto
  • NYY SS Torres, Gleyber

#8 Team Hydra

Hydra has a very strong group of 2-star minor leagues, which include Corey Ray if he can find his stroke after a sub par 2017 season. Hydra’s strength is his MLB ready prospects. Francisco Mejia and Jorge Mateo both will make strong pitches for regular playing time this year. Additionally, Daniel Volgelbach will be fighting to win the 1B job with the Mariners, who adds lots of pop if he can do it in the majors. Minor league score 29

2018 MLB Ready

  • SEA 1 Vogelbach, Dan
  • CLE C Mejia, Francisco
  • OAK OF Fowler, Dustin
  • OAK SS Mateo, Jorge

3 Star Players

  • LAD SP Alvarez, Yadier
  • OAK SP Kaprielian, James
  • PIT SP Keller, Mitch
  • TEX CF Taveras, Leody

#9 The Wilfred Brimley Fighting Diabeetuses

First, “The Wilfred Brimley Fighting Diabeetuses” has to be the strangest / craziest fantasy team name I’ve ever heard. What’s the story behind the name, WB? Does anyone know? WB has a strong core of three-star prospects that include Jack Flaherty, who could find himself in the Cardinals rotation and be a solid #3. Riley Pint is a complete pitcher with a plus fastball who is a top of the rotation pitcher. Fernando Tatis Jr is going to be an All-Star with an already loaded Padres prospect squad. The Padres are going to be a force to be reckoned with in a couple of years. Minor league score 26

2018 MLB Ready

  • COL 1B McMahon, Ryan
  • MIL SS Dubon, Mauricio
  • TEX 1B Guzman, Ronald

3 Star Players

  • SD SP Espinoza, Anderson
  • STL SP Flaherty, Jack
  • COL 1B McMahon, Ryan
  • COL SP Pint, Riley
  • SD SS Tatis Jr, Fernando

#10 Troompa Loompas

Jimmy Kimmel’s team has three high end prospects that includes Dylan Cease a power pitcher who’s a 97 MPH fastball, he’s the 58th ranked prospect on MLB.com. TL should have three players get some MLB playing time this year led by Franklin Barreto who is line drive hitter and could hit .280. My favorite player on his roster is Matt Thaiss who can hit HR’s and knows how to work the count. Minor league score 25

2018 MLB Ready

  • OAK SS Barreto, Franklin
  • ARI SP Banda, Anthony
  • NYY SP Adams, Chance

3 Star Players

  • CHW SP Cease, Dylan
  • NYM SS Gimenez, Andres
  • NYM SP Scapucki, Thomas

#11 Preseason Double-Stuffs

The Oreos have two of the best up and coming infield prospects in our league, Brendon Rogers and Nick Senzel. Late word out of Cincinnati is they want Senzel to learn how to play the OF, which should speed up his callup and he might make the Cincinnati team to start the season. Senzel is Cincinnati’s #1 prospect and 9th overall. Brendon Rogers is the 7th overall prospect and is a middle of the order player at Coors Field, the Oreos will be double stuffing their two prize prospects this year. They also have Luiz Gohara, who Atlanta got from my Mariners. Gohara has #2 stuff. On kind of a strange note, the Double Stuffs have two of the top catching prospects in the league, Chance Sisco and Carson Kelly. However, Kelly is stuck behind Yadier Molina and he’s not going anywhere. I really like the Double Stuffs minor league roster. Minor league score 23.1

2018 MLB Ready

  • CIN 3B Senzel, Nick
  • COL SS Rodgers, Brendan
  • STL C Kelly, Carson
  • ATL SP Gohara, Luiz
  • BAL C Sisco, Chance

3 Star Players

  • COL SS Rodgers, Brendan
  • CIN 3B Senzel, Nick
  • CIN UT Trammell, Taylor
  • ATL SP Gohara, Luiz

#12 Capital City Ironmen

The Capital City Ironmen have nine two-star major league prospects and no three-star prospects. That could be all fake news and CC could have 9 three-star prospects and championships the next five years. This could cause the Hustler to curl up in the fetal position in a bathroom at Dodger Stadium. His squad is led by JP Crawford who will finally get his chance with Phillies batting 7th. They also have Oscar De La Cruz who is on the fast track and will be a middle of the rotation pitcher with fantasy upside. I also like Yordan Alvarez who has 25 HR upside. Minor league score 23

2018 MLB Ready

  • PHI 3B Crawford, JP
  • CLE SP Bieber, Shane
  • LAA SP Barria, Jaime
  • TOR LF Gurriel, Lourdes
  • PIT SS Newman, Kevin

3 Star Players

  • N/A

#13 Who’s Your Haddy?

Who’s Your Haddy’s top two prospects are a few years away. Adonis Medina is slated as a #2 with lots of K upside in his future, but could end up in the bullpen. Their top prospect, Estevan Florial is capable of .300+ BA, 20+ HR, and 25+ SB. Major League ready David Dahl is on Haddy’s minor league roster and will be Colorado’s OF of the future. Amir Garrett is slated to start in the bullpen but has #3 starter stuff and will start on the major league roster in 2018. Minor league score 18.1

2018 MLB Ready

  • CIN SP Garrett, Amir
  • COL LF Dahl, David

3 Star Players

  • NYY CF Florial, Estevan
  • PHI RP Medina, Adonis

3 Star Players 2018 MLB Ready
NYY CF Florial, Estevan CIN SP Garrett, Amir
PHI RP Medina, Adonis COL LF Dahl, David

#14 Team Canada

Team Canada’s minor league has limited 3-star talent except for Isan Diaz who has huge power upside but is a few years away. However, they do have a few players that should make their MLB debut this year. Tyler Mahle has an excellent chance to become a solid fantasy contributor this year. Jordan Patterson can contribute a .270 avg and 20 HR’s. Finally, Erick Feddie should also make his debut, however he did have Tommy John surgery in 2014. He has #3 stuff. Minor league score 18

2018 MLB Ready

  • CIN SP Mahle, Tyler
  • COL RF Patterson, Jordan
  • WAS SP Fedde, Erick

3 Star Players

  • MIL SS Diaz, Isan

#15 Evil Otters

First, like The Foundation/Night King’s Undead Army, the Otters also changed their name and ownership. We miss you Dusty and I hope your health is improving. I was a little surprise the Otters traded one of their top prospects for a part time catcher for the coming season. There not much squid in the cooler but the Otters do have a couple of sleepers I really like. Jorge Ona and Will Benson are capable of 30 HR’s a season. The only player I see making it onto an MLB roster this year is Domingo Acevedo, who is slated to start in the bullpen. FYI, I’m not a fan of the Otters short name “666” What’s up with that???? Minor league score 16

2018 MLB Ready

  • NYY RP Acevedo, Domingo

3 Star Players

  • TEX SP Speas, Alex
  • NYY RP Acevedo, Domingo

#16 We Talk Fantasy Sports

Momma’s cupboard is empty with an open jar of stale Oreo cookies. Slack chatting with We Talk mentioned that his priority was drafting major league ready players, which explains why he has no fresh cookies. We Talk has two really nice prospects, Adbert Alzolay and Corbin Burnes, who are high level prospects that could see action in 2019. In 2018 We Talk Fantasy Sports should have Dillion Peters fight for a rotation spot with MIA, which shouldn’t be that hard considering what has happened down south, and he still has Byron Buxton right? Minor league score 10

2018 MLB Ready

  • MIA SP Peters, Dillon

3 Star Players

  • CHC SP Alzolay, Adbert
  • MIL SP Burnes, Corbin

Conclusion: I had a lot of fun and learned a lot putting all of this together. Absolutely no hard feelings towards any of the teams, it’s just one opinion. I believe to be successful is a dynasty baseball league it’s a must to have a strong minor league squad. I asked my baseball friends on the right and the left and they said the article is “fake news” because they are only minor league prospects and you never know, plus most of them are young adults. If I missed on any prospects or you disagree with the article please post on slack. Please, I have no intention to be mean and only trying to make the league better.

– Senior Squids

Trade: TBD | In Shorter Line 4 the Win

TBD sends: 3B Yoan Moncada ($1), SP Michael Kopech (minors), SP Cal Quantrill (minors), two 2018 1st Round Picks
In Shorter Line 4 the Win sends: SP Noah Syndergaard ($82)

Andrew’s thoughts: This trade occurred on April 26 and immediately became a disaster for TBD.

Syndergaard was supposed to take the mound on the day this trade was processed, but that start got pushed to the next day. On the 27th, he was scratched from a start due to “biceps tendinitis.” Then, he started on Sunday, April 30. In that start, he promptly got knocked around by the Nationals — five hits and two walks in 1.1 IP — before injuring himself on a pitch to Bryce Harper. He came out of the game having scored -4.5 fantasy points. Turns out, he has a partial tear in his lat. He’ll be on the shelf for three months or so. Just horrible, horrible luck for TBD. Like… if Syndergaard misses the year, which seems well within the range of possible outcomes here, how do you keep him at $82 next year? Or if he comes back but is rusty and struggles, or re-injures himself, or displays any sign of long-term volatility, how do you not send him back to auction? It’s totally possible that TBD spent three very good prospects and two premium draft picks to get -4.5 fantasy points.

Hindsight here is 20/20 but man, this just sucks for TBD. Ultimately, because they dealt picks and prospects, their already very good team is mostly unaffected. But they’re now down a lot of trade chips.

Before the injury though, I thought this swap was okay for both squads. I would rather have healthy Syndergaard than all the stuff IL4W got, but I understand why, if your team isn’t scoring points and is sitting at the bottom of the standings, you’d do this. Pitchers are time bombs. Obviously. So Aaron and his cohorts at IL4W mitigated some risk, took on a bunch of young, cheap talent with upside, and gave themselves a few more paths to being good down the road. Even if only two of the five pieces they got become useful, they’ll be useful and cheap. But pitchers are also a big part of winning games in this league (especially in 2017 when all the pitchers stink) and Syndergaard has essentially been Clayton Kershaw Lite since last year. To me, Kershaw is the type of talent you empty the chambers for. Syndergaard is that same type of talent.

If I’m TBD, I pull this trigger too. Not now, of course. But at the time they did it. Clearly they couldn’t have predicted the injury. And yeah, they surrendered Corey Kluber and Dellin Bettances in the midst of a pennant race just last year for Moncada alone. But trade markets aren’t static and, again, that was a late season deal. You pay more earlier. Go look at last year’s trade log, you’ll see. I don’t have a huge problem with the seemingly faulty logic of trading an ace for a prospect, then later on trading that prospect plus a bunch of other prospects for a different ace. Stuff changes. I also think if you get the opportunity to land a transcendent talent and really want to take it, well, take it, even if it means forking over a bunch of your best lottery tickets.

As arguably the best team in the league with or without Syndergaard, I really like the killer instinct and the aggressiveness it takes to get a deal like this done. And hey, it’s conceivable that TBD gets Syndergaard and Madison Bumgarner back in time for the playoffs. I’d argue the potential of that is worth the same, if not more, than the potential that Moncada becomes a dirt cheap version of 2016 Jonathan Villar*.

* So… we realize Moncada’s clock started last year and so he’s in his $1 season, in which IL4W seems unlikely to compete, right? Next year he’s $3 minimum, more if his projections are good. Three bucks is nothing if he becomes 2016 Villar or even Anthony Rendon or whoever. But the point is, the two most valuable years of a player’s cost control status are the year they’re first promoted ($0) and their sophomore season ($1). IL4W is effectively getting zero tangible benefit from those two years from Moncada. If Moncada kills it for them in his $1 season, that’s cool and all, but IL4W still probably isn’t making headway as a team and the better his stats are this year, the better his projections will be next year, and the higher that salary will jump. This certainly isn’t a huge knock to Moncada’s future value, but is something to keep in mind, I think.

Speaking to Moncada specifically though, I do wonder just how amazing he can be here. He strikes out a ton, which I don’t think will matter, because when he makes contact it’s really, really good contact. But the stolen bases aren’t big factors in our scoring like they are in a 5×5 and if he’s whiffing more than 30% of the time against Triple-A pitchers, what happens when he steps into an American League with Sale, Verlander, Carrasco, Kluber, Darvish, Keuchel, etc? It’s not like he’ll get to tee off against Mike Fiers every day, y’know?

For IL4W though, I can speak from experience that the decision to start selling sucks. It means your team is poop emoji. But aside from the super lucky timing, I like that they recognized not just a poor win/loss record, but also a deep deficit in points, and went ahead and made that call early. By doing so, they didn’t have to compete with any other teams, could set their own market, and could come away with the assets they wanted. And I actually think they still have a decent roster and can win some weeks this year, even if their playoff odds aren’t particularly good.

Trade: TBD | We Talk Fantasy Sports

TBD sends: LF/CF Charlie Blackmon ($28), 2017 3rd Round Pick
We Talk Fantasy Sports sends: SP/RP Michael Kopech (minors), 2017 1st Round Pick

Andrew’s thoughts: I like this one for We Talk Fantasy Sports. They needed a centerfielder anyway because Byron Buxton sucks, but that need grew over the weekend when Buxton was demoted to the minors because of the lingering issue of him sucking. Also, WTFS has some guy named Andrew McCutchen. Enter Charlie Blackmon!

Personally, Rockies players frustrate me because you never know if they’re good or if Coors is just gassing them up. Often their home/road splits make them platoon players, but Blackmon has been good both in and away from Colorado. He’s got a .369 wOBA at home and a .350 on the road, though his career road wOBA is just .299. Maybe he’s just played at altitude long enough to finally be able to make the proper road adjustments.

Michael Kopech is a decent enough prospect and that pick is nice, but as of today, it projects to be 10th overall. Good, not great. Best case for TBD, it’s probably eighth overall. I think I’d rather just have Blackmon. His salary is reasonable and he seems like a guy you can ride until the Rockies eventually trade him. They were slow to pull that trigger with Tulo and have been equally slow, if not slower, with CarGo. I imagine they won’t rush to deal Blackmon.

For TBD, I get it. Leonys Martin has been useful and Andrew Benintendi just got promoted and is indisputably the greatest baseball player that ever lived before ever actually accomplishing anything and an immediate marked upgrade over literally any other outfielder, so Blackmon was expendable. This way they free up some future budget space and get a couple assets. This trade works for both sides, I just like the side getting the finely priced proven commodity amid a playoff race.

Jordan’s thoughts: I read the Benintendi line and immediately thought about the last player to have that tag… Buxton. So with that, Blackmon is a useful upgrade here. Paid a smallish price of a couple of future assets that may or may not be interesting. Seems like a great deal for both sides.