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September 13, 2012 posted by Patrick DiCaprio

Trade Your Hot Prospects

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Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels

How Fantasy Baseball Owners can benefit from Mike Trout without Owning Mike Trout
By Joshua Kay – @Rays_Nut1292
Mike Trout is having truly the greatest rookie season of all time. Not only has he exceeded all expectations, he has blown past them. Any owner who didn’t pick-up Mike Trout is kicking themselves, as they have by now, watched the Trout-owned-team fly past them in the standings. However, all is not lost for owners that didn’t get Mike Trout. Trout’s season has been so incredible it just may have changed the entire landscape of Fantasy Baseball.

Trout’s rookie season has been so unprecedented and so elite that every dynasty-league owner, especially those who have fallen out of contention, is going to want to have the next “must-have prospect.” That could mean some seriously great trade value for the owner of a Wil Myers, or a Jurickson Profar-type prospect, because everyone will want to get their hands on “the next Mike Trout.” Here’s the problem with that; there never will be another Mike Trout. Even Bryce Harper, a prospect touted with the same once-in-a-generation type upside, struggled this season after a scorching start.

Other than Harper and Trout, here’s a list of prospects (from this year and next year’s class) that come into next season hype and expectations (either warranted or not):

Jurickson Profar- SS- Texas
Billy Hamilton- SS/OF- Cincinnati
Wil Myers- OF- Kansas City
Trevor Bauer- RHP- Arizona
Tyler Skaggs- RHP- Arizona
Shelby Miller- RHP- St. Louis
Manny Machado- SS/3B- Baltimore
Starling Marte- OF- Pittsburgh
Oscar Taveras- OF- St. Louis
Jacob Turner- RHP- Miami
Jedd Gyorko- 3B/2B- San Diego
Randall Delgado- RHP- Atlanta
Julio Teheran- RHP- Atlanta
Will Middlebrooks- 3B- Boston

That is just a short list of many possible prospects that could make a splash next year.

The upside of prospects is so tantalizing to many fantasy owners, but the reality of the situation is that prospects do not progress in a linear fashion – see Justin Upton. There is ebb and flow as they adjust to Major League Pitching, and as the pitchers adjust to them. With that said, it’s highly unlikely that a guy like Starling Marte for example, will return more value to your dynasty team than if you trade him for an established player.

In order to illustrate how much variance there is for prospect performance year-to-year, we will examine some of the top prospects in the 2008 draft class whom were MLB-ready, or even got playing time in 2008. Remember, not only do some of these prospects fail to impress right away, they can often be so awful in their first lengthy stint in the majors, that you as a likely fantasy owner, will have no patience for the growing pains that will ensue.

Clay Buchholz- Number 2 prospect on Kevin Goldstein’s 2008 rankings- RHP- Boston Red Sox
It was written heading into 2008, that Buchholz would be the #2 starter in 2008 right out of spring training. The hype and the expectations were high, and Buchholz flopped in 2008, pitching to the tune of a 6.75 ERA in 76 innings before being demoted to Triple-A Pawtucket. But of course, the always tantalizing strikeouts were there for Buchholz, as he recorded an 8.5 K/9. After this first long showing in the majors, it’s highly likely that any dynasty owner of Buchholz would have become impatient and either dropped him, or traded him. Fast forward to 2009, things didn’t go much better, as Buchholz recorded a 4.21 ERA and a massive decrease in strikeouts down to 6.7/9 and he was demoted again; growing pains.

There are so many examples of prospects taking time to develop; here are some more from 2008.
*Note all of these guys started or played in the majors in 2008* (The results of these players are well documented)
Travis Snider- TOR-OF- #7 prospect on KG’s rankings
Colby Rasmus- TOR-OF-#8
Cameron Maybin- DET- OF- #10
Andy LaRoche- LAD- 3B- #14
Homer Bailey- CIN- RHP- #9
Joba Chamberlain- NYY- RHP- #4

.. And the list goes on and on.
There were few prospects whom performed well their first turn at the big leagues: Joey Votto, Evan Longoria, Jay Bruce.
Even Clayton Kershaw went 5-5 with a 2.0 K/BB ratio and a 4.26 ERA in his first 107.7 innings with the Dodgers.
The reality is that prospects rarely ever perform as expected right away, and the best chance to sell high on prospects like the ones mentioned at the top of the article, is right now.

For every Trevor Bauer that people chase after, there is a Dan Straily that comes out of no-where every year. The term “next year every year” is very real in dynasty leagues as people are locked in to chasing upside. Flags fly forever; put your prospects on the market, make none of them un-touchable, and reap the benefits as you see crazy offers flying in from every team. Pit teams against each other, raise the prices, market your prospects effectively and you should be in contention year-after-year.

Prospects don’t hit the ground running without looking back, except of course, Mike Trout.

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