Welcome back to the Dynasty Dive, a weekly column meant to explore the fringes of the fantasy baseball universe.
As a general reminder, the term dynasty means something different to everybody. I consider a league with 900 players rostered to be a normal dynasty. You might call your 300 player league a dynasty. Regardless of your league depth, there's one defining factor of all dynasties share – an ability to keep most of your roster year-to-year.
This column will try to cater to all dynasty owners. It will be up to you to judge if a recommendation or strategy is too deep or shallow for your particular use case.
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The Dynasty Dive was off last week to celebrate the All Star Game. Today, we'll update a few of the players covered in the July 5 edition of the Dive.
Since returning from his suspension, Raul Mondesi has hit a modest .250/.315/.400 across three levels. He was promoted to Triple-A on July 9 where he's had trouble making contact. Mondesi will turn 21 in a little over a week. He has a lot of time to improve at the plate. The good news is that he's continued to supply extra base hits in his return. He profiles to feature 10 home run power with plus speed and solid defensive skills.
When I wrote about Aaron Wilkerson two weeks ago, it was as a possible rotation patch for the Red Sox. Since then, Boston traded Wilkerson to Milwaukee and added Drew Pomeranz in a separate deal. Wilkerson hasn't distinguished himself to his new franchise. In his most recent start, he allowed six runs on nine hits and two walks in 3.1 innings.
Two weeks ago, we also discussed Chase De Jong's new cutter. The righty has made two starts since then with mixed results. On the plus side, he's pitching deep into his outings. Unfortunately, he allowed seven runs across 13.2 innings. Those are neither good nor bad results, although his 10 strikeouts to two walks is desirable.
Gurriel Number One
The Astros recently signed Cuban star Yulieski Gurriel (also spelled Gourriel) to a five-year, $47.5 million contract. The 32-year-old third baseman thrived in Cuba's Serie Nacional, and he also had a solid season in Japan's NPB. Gurriel was particularly dominant in his final Cuban campaign, batting .500/.589/.874 with 15 home runs, 38 walks, and three strikeouts in 224 plate appearances.
Per Buster Olney, scouts and executives outside of Houston aren't terribly impressed with the current iteration of Gurriel. Some evaluators referenced failed major leaguers in Japan who outshone Gurriel. Others poopooed the deal as three years too late.
Gurriel is expected to join the Astros major league roster sometime around mid-August. He's yet to appear in a game so there's some fluidity to that expectation. It's unclear if he'll be able to learn a new position within the next month.
Gurriel's presence also complicates things for Alex Bregman. The 22-year-old has continued his barrage of minor league pitching. He's batting .340/.375/.755 with six home runs in 56 plate appearances since a promotion to Triple-A. While his strikeout rate has spiked at the top level of minors, it's still a tolerable 17.9 percent. Gurriel may be used as an excuse to keep Bregman in the minors until early 2017.
There's one final wrinkle to this signing – there's a second Gurriel, and he's the true prize. Lourdes Gurriel is a 22-year-old with a bright future at the plate. He's free to sign now, although he'll probably wait until October when international spending limits no longer apply to him. The bidding for Lourdes could get out of hand. If the Astros want to sign him, owning the rights to his older brother could help.
Lopez To Debut
The Nationals are giving top pitching prospect Reynaldo Lopez a shot to impress at the major league level. The 22-year-old works in the mid-90s with his fastball. He'll flash a plus curve and change, but reports say they need further refinement. It's worth noting, the reports I have are from prior to this season, and they always say the offspeed stuff needs polish.
Lopez cruised through Double-A where his fastball allowed him to hide below average command. In 14 starts, he posted a 3.18 ERA with 11.79 K/9 and 2.95 BB/9. After a promotion to Triple-A, he made two starts with a 3.27 ERA (5.49 FIP), 7.36 K/9, and 4.91 BB/9. Big fastballs can sometimes carve through minor league hitters. As we've seen a few times this year, major leaguers can punish prospects with poorly commanded heaters.
I'm not expecting to see instant gratification here which could open a buying opportunity. If he scuffles in this debut start, his owner may be more willing to sell at a reasonable rate. If he fails as a starter, he has a high ceiling as a reliever.
Bell's Dine and Dash
The Pirates got a quick peek at Josh Bell prior to the All Star Break before sending him back to Triple-A. In four plate appearances, he went 2-for-2 with a grand slam and a pair of walks. Notably, there's talk of converting him back to the outfield – and that's not necessarily a good thing.
Bell would probably be the starting first baseman if not for serious concerns about his defensive ability. Scouting reports of his outfield defense were never pretty either. Of course, defense doesn't affect our fantasy teams - except when it keeps a player off the field. There's a chance the Pirates will trade Bell or Andrew McCutchen to solve a pressing need in the rotation. If that doesn't happen, he's still blocked at first base and in the outfield until there are injuries.
Despite concerns about his eventual defensive home, this is not the time to trade Bell in a panic. The bat will play well above average in the majors. At worst, he'll be dealt to an American League club in a couple years to serve as a young designated hitter. Feel free to shop him, but only as a sell high candidate.
We'll occasionally peek in at a few minor league top performers. It will be a mixture of top prospects and under-the-radar picks. Yesterday featured a slew of standout performances. Here are a few highlights.
The Cubs have too many prospects to count. One of the most exciting is shortstop Gleyber Torres. The 19-year-old is tearing his way through High-A with a .268/.349/.419 line, nine home runs, and 18 stolen bases in 389 plate appearances. The fantasy numbers read a little better than the actual performance, but this is still impressive work for one of the youngest players in the league. Yesterday, he went 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles, a triple, and a walk.
Braves du Jour
A couple Braves turned in impressive games at Double-A. Sean Newcomb, a left-handed pitcher acquired in the Andrelton Simmons deal, tossed six shutout frames, recording six strikeouts against just three hits and two walks. Newcomb is having a solid season despite continued command issues. He currently profiles as a reliever. There's a mid-rotation ceiling in there somewhere if the command ever comes together.
In support of Newcomb, top prospect Dansby Swanson swatted a home run and drove in four RBI. He still has an outside chance at a late-season call-up to Atlanta. It's up to the club if they want to get him some major league experience prior to the opening of their new ballpark next year.
Draft Check Up
Nick Senzel, one of the top hitters in the 2016 draft, belted his first professional home run as part of a four hit day. The Reds are moving slowly with Senzel. He was originally assigned to rookie ball and is now playing in High-A. He's shown double-plus plate discipline to go with surprising speed (10 steals in 105 plate appearances). The lack of power to date is somewhat of a surprise since that profiles to be his calling card.
Uber-prospect Yoan Moncada had his first two home run game. The 21-year-old is up to seven home runs in a little under 100 Double-A plate appearances. That excludes his home run at the Futures Game. Moncada also has seven stolen bases. The fly in the ointment is a high strikeout rate, but scouts think he'll tame this flaw. Moncada is the most Alfonso Soriano-like prospect I've seen since Soriano himself. He'll be major league ready sometime next season.
Of considerably less interest to dynasty owners is the performance of Kyle Jensen. The 28-year-old Diamondbacks farmhand also hit two home runs yesterday, bringing his total to 19. Excluding yesterday's start (it hasn't been upload yet), Jensen is batting .294/.347/.544 in Triple-A. He might rate as a potential late-career breakout if not for a painful 31.4 percent strikeout rate. File the name away. He could pull a Jarrett Parker if he was ever given an opportunity.
Follow the Leader
Phillies prospect Dylan Cozens hit his 25th home run of the season as part of a five RBI night. Cozens is having a superb breakout season with a .283/.368/.586 line. He's tied with teammate Rhys Hoskins for the minor league lead in home runs. There is a caveat though. The Reading Phillies home stadium is one of the most hitter friendly venues in professional baseball. Cozens, 22, has tempting fantasy skills with good instincts on the basepaths. This season, he has 16 steals in 17 attempts this season. If he can get a handle on his 29.1 percent strikeout rate, he could become a fantasy force.