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Dynasty Baseball Mailbag

Nolan Gorman

Nolan Gorman

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

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For this week’s edition of Dynasty Dispatch, I decided to open the mailbag and field your questions. Thanks to everyone who submitted. We’ll do more of these as the season moves along.

While some of these questions are more specific than others, I’m hoping my answers provide information which cuts across the various formats and roster specifications. It’s difficult to be one-size-fits-all, but I did my best.

The best thing about fielding dynasty questions is that I always end up learning some new things myself. I’m not a prospect evaluator, but I am a prospect enthusiast. There’s a big difference. I hope that comes through in my answers here. Let’s get started!

Who are some players in A+ who could make a big jump this year and be in the verge of MLB in 2023? Thanks.

There’s a few who come to mind based off their strong starts to the season.

Cardinals prospect shortstop Masyn Winn has been absolutely ridiculous for Peoria, slashing .378/.448/.610 through 97 plate appearances while going a perfect 11-for-11 in stolen bases. He’s now 43-for-48 in stolen base attempts through 120 minor league games. The most encouraging part of his season thus far is his approach at the plate. He’s lowered his strikeout rate to 16.5 percent while walking 12.4 percent of the time. He struck out 26 percent of the time and walked at a 3.9 percent clip during his first stint in High-A last year. The progress is nice to see.

No stranger to top prospect lists, Padres prospect outfielder Robert Hassell III continues to mash this season and it wouldn’t be surprising if he’s knocking on the door to the majors a year from now. I know he’s already well known, be’s really exciting. I’m waiting patiently in a few leagues. Other position players I’m tracking right now include White Sox prospect third baseman Bryan Ramos (.352 with four homers and a .972 OPS over 23 games) and strong-armed Yankees prospect catcher Austin Wells (four homers, .411 OBP, eight steals (!) over 21 games).

As for the pitching side, Gordon Graceffo was someone I didn’t know much about prior to spring training, but he’s changing that in a flash. The 22-year-old logged another quality outing for Peoria on Sunday and now holds a ridiculous 1.07 ERA and 46/2 K/BB ratio in 33 2/3 innings through six starts this season. Featuring a distinct rocking-delivery, he’s been working in the mid-90s with his fastball and showcases a beautiful changeup.

Guardians fans should be excited about right-hander Gavin Williams, who has dominated for Lake County with a 1.46 ERA and 39/9 K/BB ratio in 24 2/3 innings through his first five turns this season. Selected No. 23 overall in last year’s draft, the 22-year-old features a quality arsenal, including a mid-90s fastball to go along with a slider and a curve. He’s probably not long for High-A.

Dude, what the heck are we supposed to do with Kelenic?!? I can’t trade him, I can’t bench him (h2h points league - use bench spots for pitchers), and I don’t feel like I can cut him because i’ve already invested too much. But at some point this situation has to give. Kyle Lewis is coming back soon, Haniger too at some point. Do we wait for a demotion? will they actually do that?

In a standard mixed league, I think it’s an easy decision to cut bait right now, as I really do see a demotion coming once Kyle Lewis is deemed ready. Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said last week that they see Lewis using most of his 20-day rehab window, which places his return later this month. Kelenic actually hit safely in three straight games over the weekend (including a dramatic homer on Friday against the Rays), but the clock is ticking for him, obviously.

In dynasty leagues, it’s more of a “forced hold” situation. Given the high expectations and the prospect pedigree, it would be premature to give up on Kelenic this soon. The frustration is understandable, of course. He’s off to a historically bad start for his career and could probably benefit by making some changes in a less-pressurized environment. That’s the hope, anyway.

The other side of this is that a trade is tricky for dynasty managers. The manager with Kelenic probably doesn’t want to give up when his value is at its nadir and the competing manager is likely looking to get him at a discount. Your milage may vary, but it doesn’t sound like a situation conducive to a trade. Most likely, you wait and hope that he can make the proper adjustments.

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Who would you target at 2B? Seems like the bleakest dynasty position. Have tried to acquire Albies, Story and Baez but not even sure I should be paying up for them.

There’s some notable youth at the position right now beyond the names you mention (Jazz Chisholm, Jonathan India, Gavin Lux, etc.) and there’s some prospects I like as well (Nolan Gorman, Vidal Brujan, Nick Gonzales, Nick Yorke, etc.), but I generally don’t get too hung up on the idea of a “second base prospect,” because often you’ll see players get moved there later on.

As for who to target, it does seem like you are in win-now mode based off the names you have tried to acquire. With that in mind, I would likely be talking to fellow managers who aren’t in contention and/or those who may have gotten off to slow starts and are rethinking their strategy for this year. If you can engage on players who are off to slow starts (Ketel Marte, Jake Cronenworth), all the better. Those would be the sort of names I would be looking at in your situation.

Do you think (Nolan) Gorman gets a call in the summer? I also have Corbin Carroll in my NA spot.

I think Gorman’s time is rapidly approaching. He’s slowed down a bit from his ridiculous power surge, but the numbers still look very impressive. Even with a quiet May, his OPS sits at 1.053 for the year.

The two things I’m watching right now are the strikeout rate (34.2 percent) and exactly where he’ll fit in the Cardinals’ lineup. Gorman isn’t the most patient hitter, but he struck out 19.2 percent of the time last year in Triple-A. He’s definitely capable of better, but perhaps the Cardinals will want to see some improvements there before bringing him up. Furthermore, the team will have to decide whether it makes sense to slide Tommy Edman to shortstop (at least part of the time) to get Gorman in the lineup at second base. Gorman can also see time at DH, though Juan Yepez is obviously off to a great start and Albert Pujols is still around too.

As for Carroll, I think he has a strong case to be the top fantasy prospect before too long. I know, it’s a bold statement as he’s coming off back-to-back multi-homer games. I’m not sure if his time is coming this year (remember, he only played 44 pro games coming into this season), but he’s definitely one of the most exciting prospects in the minors at this point.

What should the approach be on Rōki Sasaki? I’m in a salary cap league and by next year’s draft he will surely be a WBC phenom and no chance of him slipping to the end of the draft for low cap. Should I add him now as a free agent for a high cap number (which increases each year) and risk having to keep him for 5 years before he comes stateside?

For those not aware, Rōki Sasaki is an absolute sensation in Japan right now. He’s just 20 years old and has reeled off a ridiculous 1.50 ERA with 71 strikeouts and just six walks in 42 innings over his first six starts with the Chiba Lotte Marines this season. This run includes 17 consecutive perfect innings where he retired 52 batters in a row. Even going beyond those god-mode results, he’s topping 100 mph on his fastball with regularity.

Obviously this makes Sasaki enticing in open-universe dynasty formats, but unless you have very deep rosters, ridiculous patience, or the intent to flip him to someone else, he’s not someone I would be counting on.

This excellent piece from The Guardian reminds us that players with NPB teams must accuse nine years of professional experience before signing as international free agents. Of course, there’s a posting system as well, but the current system doesn’t allow him to access that avenue until he turns 25 or finishes his sixth season in Japan. So a possible debut in MLB wouldn’t be until 2027 in the best-case scenario. A lot can happen between now and then (self-aware robots, the Mariners making the playoffs, the collapse of civilization?), especially with a pitcher who throws as hard as he does. There’s also no guarantee that Sasaki’s team will even put him through the posting process when he’s first eligible. It’s tricky.

Pitchers are always riskier in dynasty leagues in the first place, so as exciting as Sasaki is, there’s probably a better use of a roster spot at the moment.