Image credit: (Photo by Tom DiPace)
Now that the minor league regular season is officially over – and we begin tweaking our offseason lists to help you for the 2024 fantasy season – let’s take a few moments to review some of the players that RoboScout identified, including some deeper dives into the Statcast data.
Our year-in-review series look at two hitters from each of the lower levels that RoboScout ranked quite highly and are likely under-appreciated by the fantasy community at large.
Dylan White’s RoboScout tool identified potentially undervalued prospects to target in fantasy each week of the regular season.
As this series unfolds, we will also dive into hitters from the upper levels (who are potentially 2024 redraft-relevant), and pitchers from both the lower and upper levels, too.
Dominican Summer League
Javier Mogollon, 2B/SS, White Sox
The White Sox signed the 17-year old shortstop from Venezuela on account of his short, balanced righty hitting stroke and plus running ability. The White Sox played Mogollon at second base more frequently than shortstop because of his below-average arm. His bat, however, plays plenty at the keystone. He produced double-digit home runs and steals to post the highest RoboCast score among all DSL prospects. Mogollon pairs plus contact rates and the seventh-highest barrel rate among 17-year-olds in the DSL with at least 100 plate appearances. He has a knack for optimizing his hard contact to the pull side at launch angles where they’ll do the most damage. He led all 17-year-olds in the DSL in homers (10) and posted a 98th percentile OPS among all DSL hitters. Considering the statistical accolades, Mogollon is clearly underrated among fantasy prospects.
Pedro Ibarguen, 2B/OF, Brewers
Ben Badler identified Ibarguen as a potential sleeper in the Brewers 2023 International Review. At the time, he wrote the Venezuelan shortstop prospect had an impressive combination of athleticism and hard contact, with his ultimately defensive position likely being third base or the outfield. RoboScout gave Ibarguen the 11th-highest RoboCast score in his DSL debut on account of his plus pitch recognition, contact rates and barrel rates. Keep in mind this was his age-16 season, as he didn’t turn 17 until July 2. Ibarguen’s exit velocities are slightly below average, but it’s worth noting he actually has a higher average exit velocity than well-regarded Dodgers fantasy prospect Joendry Vargas. In fact, RoboScout gives Ibarguen a Statcast score that is higher than Braylin Morel, Eduardo Quintero, Rayner Arias and Eduardo Tait, who are all widely considered to be fantasy prospects. Ibarguen posted a sub-20% strikeout rate and has a keen eye, joining Yophery Rodriguez in a fascinating group of Brewers international prospects.
Arizona and Florida Complex Leagues
Echedry Vargas, 3B, Rangers
Vargas isn’t unknown — our Statcast analysis already identified him as a fantasy target and he ranked No. 12 on the Arizona Complex League Top 20 Prospects list — but RoboScout took notice of Vargas’ double-digit homers (11) and steals (17) as an 18-year-old. RoboScout projects the Dominican Republic native to have one of the top five “fantasy” projections of any hitter in the complex leagues, projecting even more home run power than well-regarded slugger Lazaro Montes. His current rank in most fantasy prospect lists doesn’t reflect that, so consider him a charter member of the underrated club.
Josue Briceno, C/1B, Tigers
The 6-foot-4 Briceno was among the top tiers of RoboScout complex league charts for most of the season. He has yet to crack the Tigers Top 30, likely because of his defensive limitations at catcher, but the 2022 international signee from Venezuela is showing signs his bat could play even if he’s moved to first base or designated hitter. Briceno posted a 143 wRC+ and a sub-15% strikeout rate as an 18-year-old in the Florida Complex League. He had the 13-highest OPS of any complex league hitter age-20 or younger with 100 plate appearances (222 players met the criteria). Even better, he posted the fourth-highest barrel rate and 18th-lowest strikeout rate. From a Statcast standpoint, he has a plus contact rate, a 90th percentile exit velocity that is also bordering on plus, while also rocking a barrel rate that is nearly two standard deviations higher than average for the minor leagues. Briceno is the very definition of a prospect that RoboScout believes is underrated.
Thayron Liranzo, C, Dodgers
Samuel Basallo, Samuel Zavala, and Ethan Salas were the top three hitters at Low-A according to RoboScout. Countless volumes of digital ink were spilled this season for all three, culminating in Salas (No. 6) and Basallo (No. 42) entering Baseball America’s Top 100, while Zavala ended the season ranked No. 6 in the Padres system.
RoboScout’s fourth-highest ranked Low-A hitter, Liranzo, has far less fanfare.
The catcher ended the year ranked No. 17 in the Dodger system which, granted, is a testament to the depth and strength of Los Angeles’ system. But RoboScout believes he should be rated much higher because of his combination of a bat with 30-home run potential and adequate defensive play at a premium defensive position.
RoboScout projects Liranzo to have the second-highest peak MLB wRC+ among Low-A hitters with at least 100 plate appearances, trailing only Basallo. And that’s before considering he had the 28th-highest 90th percentile exit velocity among the same Low-A hitters. Of those 20 hitters, Liranzo owns the fourth-lowest chase rate and is fifth-youngest, trailing only Lazaro Montes, Ryan Clifford, Xavier Isaac, and Elijah Green. Interestingly enough, Liranzo was drafted second overall in the 2023 Liga Dominicana Draft ahead of Basallo.
Wilfredo Lara, SS, Mets
Lara went in the fourth round of that same 2023 Liga Dominicana Draft, ahead of other notable names such as Rayne Doncon, Yordanny Monegro (Red Sox No. 29 prospect), Yoniel Curet (Rays No. 15 prospect) and Jhancarlos Lara.
RoboScout ranked the Mets prospect No. 23 in Low-A after he put up a 122 wRC+ over 409 plate appearances as a 19-year-old. He’s only three months older than Samuel Zavala and their Low-A performances were actually quite similar. Lara, though, incurred much less attention.
|S Zavala||459||26.4%||.267||.420||.451||140||14||20/6||68%||101.5 mph||20%|
|W Lara||409||21.8%||.264||.362||.452||122||14||17/6||71%||101.5 mph||19%|
Zavala owns a much higher on-base percentage, subsequently leading to a higher wRC+. His chase and swing rates are both very low. Outside of that, Lara’s numbers are almost an exact replicate of the highly-regarded Padres prospect. Lara has played center field and has adequate foot speed for the position, but it’s likely he moves to third base or a corner outfield spot as his frame fills out even more. He also needs to work on hitting non-fastballs, as he barely eclipsed a .300 slugging percentage against breaking and off-speed pitchers. But for the moment, the younger-for-the-level Lara is showing extreme promise and his prodigious pull-side power may be enough to move him into the Mets Top 30 next year.