Image credit: Kevin Cron (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Five young players to place on your fantasy radar in deep dynasty leagues.
Ryan Jeffers, C, Twins
The Twins love Jeffers’ power, and it’s easy to see why. The 2018 second-rounder blasted 14 home runs in a pair of pitcher’s leagues in 2019, starting 74 games behind the plate in the Florida State and Southern leagues. If that doesn’t sound as impressive to you as it should, then there’s this: Statcast loves Jeffers too. In a limited sample of three batted balls, he is averaging nearly 105 mph on fly balls and line drives. He is also two-for-his-first-three in the big leagues. Jeffers could have outsized value in fantasy, where he could hang on to his catcher eligibility while playing a lot of first base or DH in future seasons.
Devin Williams, RHP, Brewers
So much time in fantasy these days is devoted to playing “Wish Upon A (Future Bullpen) Star” that it’s easy to be skeptical about the latest future closer. But then a reliever like Williams comes along. Wielding perhaps the filthiest changeup in a big league bullpen, he has struck out 20 through his first 9.2 innings this season, allowing just four hits. He averages 96 mph and takes 12 mph (!) off his typical changeup. The Brewers have taken note of Williams’ early dominance—only closer Josh Hader and veteran David Phelps have a higher average leverage index. Healthy after missing 2017 to Tommy John surgery, Williams has always had a huge arm. The difference now is that he has found his role after starting in the minors until 2019. He would be a logical closer candidate in Milwaukee if injuries or trades were to visit its bullpen.
Kevin Cron, 1B, D-backs
Cron’s priority is turned up to high for Arizona because of the extreme power outage in the desert. The D-backs rank tied for 27th in the majors in home runs, ahead of only the Cardinals and Marlins, who both have played short schedules because of COVID-19 infections. Cron harbors no secrets. He is a gigantic righthanded batter who is looking to do damage in the box. He has gone hitless through his first 15 at-bats this season as he shakes off the rust of being at the satellite camp, but fantasy teams looking for cheap power should be advised that Cron has it in spades. He led the minor leagues with 39 home runs last season (in just 84 games) and delivered one of the highest Statcast barrel rates in the majors when called up for various big league cameos.
Miguel Yajure, RHP, Yankees
The Yankees called up Yajure last week just in time for the club’s weekend Subway Series to be postponed because at least one Mets player tested positive for COVID. Yajure could be worth picking up in the hopes that he earns a spot start this week or in the weeks ahead. The 22-year-old Venezuelan has seen his velocity spike since coming back from 2017 Tommy John surgery and has the sort of control and wide repertoire that could make him a viable starter even for a contender. His fastball used to sit in the 80s but now peaks at 96 mph post-surgery. He pairs it with an outstanding changeup and a curveball and cutter that grade as above-average. Tread carefully: Yajure could be relegated to bullpen work this season, depending on the Yankees’ rotation needs.
Willi Castro, SS/3B, Tigers
Good playing time happens to players on bad teams. Castro is beginning to see regular at-bats in Detroit at both shortstop, his natural position, and third base after Jeimer Candelario moved to first base to plug a hole created by the season-ending injury to C.J. Cron. Castro has popped a couple home runs, and the 23-year-old switch-hitter has shown encouraging Statcast readings for barrel rate and sprint speed (in a small sample). Castro is coming off a quietly productive 2019 campaign at Triple-A Toledo, but even still he would qualify as more of a deep leagues prospect stash until he gets his chase rate and contact ability up to par.
• Phillies OF Roman Quinn was known for his 80-grade speed as a prospect, and now that he’s playing regularly this season he has shown game-changing speed. The 27-year-old has registered the highest sprint speed in the game while stealing three bags in three tries. The issue for Quinn will be reaching base. He hasn’t accomplished that in Philadelphia but hit .280 with a .355 on-base percentage in minor league play.
• The Orioles’ catching duo of Pedro Severino and Chance Sisco have been surprisingly potent this season. Both players are in their mid 20s, and it’s a reminder that for catchers it typically takes time to find their groove at the plate in the big leagues. Or it’s a small-sample fluke. Either way, Sisco is the one I would target for long-term purposes. He is a lefthanded hitter who is hitting the ball harder this season.
• Mets utility infielder Luis Guillorme seized on a recent surge in playing time, hitting 12-for-21 (.571) in seven games from Aug. 11-19, appearing mostly at second base. Without any speed or power, Guillorme will need to continue relying on his elite chase rate (seventh lowest O-Swing% among those with 20 PAs) and ability to hit different pitch types.