Image credit: Nolan Gorman (Photo courtesy of Danny Parker)
The intelligent dynasty player keeps all types of value in mind.
The players you roster contribute in your league’s scoring categories—for our purposes we will assume a standard 5×5 format—but another type of value is just as important in leagues with deep minor league systems:
Prospects who build trade value in the minor leagues can help your team in two ways: (1) it allows you to project players to future roles on your major league roster, and (2) it allows you to trade for established players to fill those roles.
Sounds easy, right? But identifying the prospects most likely to build and maintain trade value requires discretion. This is where Baseball America is uniquely positioned to help the dynasty player by analyzing on-field performance, scouting reports and player development trends to help you make informed decisions.
Those informed decisions could take the form of the young position players highlighted in this article. These players could be available in your league’s minor league draft this spring—or possibly the waiver wire or via trade. These dynasty targets showed standout skills in short-season ball in 2018 along with scouting pedigree and a reasonable projected timetable to return value.
Best of all, they have a good chance to build trade value.
You won’t find Rays shortstop Wander Franco (No. 4 on our Top 100 Prospects) or Giants catcher Joey Bart (No. 29) on this list, because you already know about them and I would only be stating what is blindingly obvious: draft them.
Included with each name are percentile scores that assess players in their league environment by comparing them with other position players who qualified for our Minor League Top 20 Prospects rankings. A higher percentile score is always better. Follow the links to our player pages to read complete subscriber-only scouting reports.
Home runs can cover for many sins. These prospects project to deliver enough power to help you overlook their flaws.
Nolan Gorman, 3B, Cardinals
Rookie-level Johnson City (Appalachian)
Power: 97% | Discipline: 61% | Speed: 64% | Age: 97%.
Context: Gorman had the best power in the 2018 high school class and went 19th overall to the Cardinals.
In his pro debut, Gorman was too advanced for the Appy League—11 home runs in 38 games, 1.107 OPS—and quickly moved to low Class A Peoria, a step that only the most advanced prospects ever take in their draft years. His power and discipline auger well for his future, but his speed indicator here is more reflective of his on-base skills, which led to a high total of runs scored, than his pure speed.
Jordan Groshans, SS/3B, Blue Jays
Rookie-level GCL Blue Jays (Gulf Coast)
Power: 86% | Discipline: 51% | Speed: 3% | Age: 79%.
Context: Groshans was the first high school shortstop drafted in 2018 (No. 12 overall) thanks to his plus raw power, track record on the showcase circuit and pro body.
Groshans showed impact hitting potential in his pro debut by ranking among the GCL leaders for average and slugging. He barrels the ball consistently, even against good pitchers, and should develop a strong hit tool and power because of his all-fields approach. His speed indicator hints that his future is at third base, not shortstop, and scouts generally agree.
Antonio Cabello, OF, Yankees
Rookie-level GCL Yankees (Gulf Coast)
Power: 94% | Discipline: 59% | Speed: 55% | Age: 97%.
Context: The Yankees signed Cabello, a Venezuelan catcher who shifted to center field in pro ball, with a portion of the international bonus pool money they acquired after the 2017 season to pursue Shohei Ohtani. The pursuit failed, but Cabello sure hasn’t.
Cabello led the GCL with a .555 slugging percentage while showing a knack for hard, all-fields contact and a disciplined plate approach. His stolen base totals don’t reflect it, but he has borderline 70-grade speed. About the only negative from Cabello’s 2018 pro debut was the fact he finished the year on the disabled list after having surgery for a dislocated (non-throwing) shoulder.
Travis Swaggerty, OF, Pirates
Short-season West Virginia (New York-Penn)
Power: 90% | Discipline: 44% | Speed: 78% | Age: 73%.
Context: The lefthanded-hitting South Alabama outfielder got overlooked in a 2018 draft class loaded with college position players, such as Joey Bart, Alec Bohm, Nick Madrigal and Jonathan India, but don’t overlook the 10th overall pick’s potential impact bat.
Once placed in the context of the pitcher-friendly Penn League, Swaggerty’s pro debut looks much better than his raw batting line of .288/.365/.453 suggests. The main caution flag here is a 25 percent strikeout rate that he will need to continue paying off with power—but Swaggerty’s secondary skills, including power, are encouraging.
Malcom Nuñez, 3B, Cardinals
DSL Cardinals (Dominican Summer)
Power: 100% | Discipline: 77% | Speed: 19% | Age: 86%.
Context: A feared slugger as an amateur in Cuba, Nuñez signed with the Cardinals in 2018 and promptly won the DSL triple crown in his pro debut at age 17 by hitting .415 with 13 home runs and 59 RBIs in 44 games.
Nuñez is the real deal from a power perspective. His bat speed and plate coverage give him a chance to impact the ball consistently as he moves up the ladder. Thick-bodied and slow afoot, Nuñez faces a possible shift to first base, and that introduces risk because he’s a 5-foot-11 righthanded hitter.
Julio Rodriguez, OF, Mariners
DSL Mariners (Dominican Summer)
Power: 93% | Discipline: 68% | Speed: 71% | Age: 78%.
Context: The Mariners signed Rodriguez out of the Dominican Republic in 2017 thanks to his 70-grade raw power. He promptly won the MVP award in the DSL in 2018 with a .929 OPS that ranked eighth in the 44-team (!) league.
Rodriguez is a prototype right field prospect with big power and a big arm. He shows a disciplined approach and hitting rhythm that should keep his batting average in the black. Rodriguez has the type of natural all-fields power to dominate power categories.
Power develops later, the old scouting adage goes. These prospects have foundational strike-zone knowledge that could be a harbinger of power to come as they mature.
Grant Lavigne, 1B, Rockies
Rookie-level Grand Junction (Pioneer)
Power: 60% | Discipline: 84% | Speed: 51% | Age: 87%.
Context: The Rockies took the plunge on the New Hampshire high school first baseman in the supplemental first round because of his 70-grade raw power. He rewarded them by ranking as the No. 1 prospect in the Pioneer League.
Lavigne cracked six home runs in an extreme hitter’s league in his pro debut, but the strength of his portfolio is actually his plate discipline. He walked 45 times against 40 strikeouts in 59 games in a big jump from Northeast prep ball to the advanced Rookie setting of the Pioneer League. That’s a quirk of the Rockies’ farm system—they don’t have an Arizona League affiliate, which complicates the development path for high school and international prospects.
Geraldo Perdomo, SS, D-backs
Rookie-level AZL D-backs (Arizona)
Power: 63% | Discipline: 82% | Speed: 99% | Age: 71%.
Short-season Hillsboro (Northwest)
Power: 50% | Discipline: 83% | Speed: 78% | Age: 99%.
Context: Perdomo signed for a modest bonus out of the Dominican Republic in 2016 but jumped on the prospect map in 2017 when he led the Dominican Summer League with 60 walks as a 17-year-old.
The switch-hitting Perdomo jumped all the way to the Northwest League in his U.S. debut in 2018 thanks to increased physicality. He still has below-average power but is worth a late flier in deep leagues because of the strength of his hit tool, discipline, speed and pure shortstop attributes. The D-backs are believers in his instincts and competitive makeup.
Mark Vientos, 3B, Mets
Rookie-level Kingsport (Appalachian)
Power: 73% | Discipline: 79% | Speed: 4% | Age: 96%.
Context: Vientos was the youngest player drafted in 2017, meaning that even though he has spent his first two seasons in Rookie ball, he was still one of the youngest player in the Appy League in 2018.
Because he turned pro in 2017, Vientos is probably on somebody’s roster in your league—so think of him as a trade target rather than a draft one. Given his physicality and poor speed, Vientos’ shortstop days are in his past, but he is a pure third base prospect with the sort of discipline and all-fields power that is worth speculating on.
With stolen base totals dwindling in the major leagues, acquiring a prospect with double-digit stolen base potential could pay off handsomely down the road.
Xavier Edwards, SS, Padres
Rookie-level AZL Padres (Arizona):
Power: 39% | Discipline: 90% | Speed: 94% | Age: 67%.
Short-season Tri-City (Northwest)
Power: 3% | Discipline: 94% | Speed: 84% | Age: 97%.
Context: The Padres invested a supplemental first-round pick in the Florida high school shortstop because of his 80-grade speed and twitchy actions.
Edwards is a switch-hitter who used his wheels, discipline and elite barrel control to hit .346 in his pro debut while making a big jump to the Northwest League. He walked more than he struck out at both his stops. The questions Edwards faces are power and physicality. But if he can stick on the middle infield—possibly at second base—he could be an asset for your team in four or five years.
Kyle Isbel, OF, Royals
Rookie-level Idaho Falls (Pioneer)
Power: 78% | Discipline: 78% | Speed: 95% | Age: 49%.
Low Class A Lexington (South Atlantic)
Power: 65% | Discipline: 44% | Speed: 97%. | Age: 70%.
Context: Isbel played center field and second base at Nevada-Las Vegas and improved his power output dramatically as a junior, which got him drafted in the third round last year. He shot to low Class A in his pro debut and helped fuel Lexington to the South Atlantic League title.
Isbel joining the Royals is the perfect marriage of player to organization, because no other system works to develop players’ speed, basestealing skill and aggressiveness quite like Kansas City. Three Royals affiliates led their leagues in stolen bases last season, and a fourth finished second. Isbel won’t be a home run threat, but his plus wheels and strong plate approach will carry him up the ladder. Plus, there is an outside shot that the Royals could try him at second base in the future.
Cole Roederer, OF, Cubs
Rookie-level AZL Cubs (Arizona)
Power: 82% | Discipline: 58% | Speed: 98% | Age: 76%.
Context: The California high school product shot up draft boards last spring when he began showing power. After falling to the Cubs late in the second round, he flashed power and speed in his pro debut.
The Cubs tend to maximize value from their minor league hitters, and that’s a good thing for Roederer, who has rough edges to his game. He hit .275 in a hitter’s league while striking out 23 percent of the time. However, Roederer is a young lefthanded hitter who has flashed all five tools, including above-average speed.