If you play in dynasty format fantasy baseball leagues here at dynastysportsempire.com or elsewhere, you likely already know the value of having a healthy and deep minor league system. Keeping up on literally thousands of minor league players is darn near impossible for the average fantasy baseball owner. I like to think of myself as your funnel to sift through all the minor league talent and display for you the names you should know about.
Coming this offseason I plan to announce my top 10 dynasty fantasy baseball minor league prospects for each MLB organization. In the meantime, at multiple points during the season, I will be doing a notes article like this on each MLB organization’s minor league system that highlights multiple players that are doing well and that for sure should be on your radar as a dynasty league fantasy baseball owner.
Today we look at some of the St. Louis Cardinals minor league hitters and pitchers that are having positive seasons and that also have the talent level that is potentially worthy of a dynasty league roster spot (depending on how deep your roster size is). All statistics, unless indicated otherwise, were gathered from fangraphs.com.
Paul DeJong: (AAA: Memphis Redbirds):
Well, he is in the major leagues now, with 90 plate appearances under his belt. He is hitting for a .284 batting average at the MLB level but he is also striking out at a 31.1% K% rate. With the strikeouts has come power on the biggest stage, with a solid power ISO (Isolated Power) of .227 and 5 home runs.
During his 190 plate appearances at the AAA ball level Mr. DeJong had a .299 batting average with 13 home runs (.271 ISO) and a 24.2% K%. He needs to cut down on the strikeouts at the major league level, but at least in the first go of it on the big stage he is producing despite them.
Harrison Bader: (AAA: Memphis Redbirds):
In his second taste of AAA ball (Mr. Bader had 161 plate appearances at the level in 2016) he has produced better. In 292 plate appearances this season he has a .287 batting average, compared to the .231 he had last season in AAA ball. He also has 12 home runs and a .194 ISO. Ideally we would like to see him cut down on his strikeouts (24.3% K%), but this just may be the player he is.
Luke Weaver: (AAA: Memphis Redbirds):
This elite prospect is ready for the major leagues. In 50 innings pitched this season (10 games started) he has compiled a 2.16 ERA and 3.00 FIP. His 28% K% is excellent and his 5.7% BB% is above average. If you have him on your team you should be very happy.
Marco Gonzales: (AAA: Memphis Redbirds):
After missing all of last season the 25-year-old has pitched well, at least on the surface, in AAA ball. I mean, he has a 2.70 ERA in 43.1 innings pitched (7 games started), so he has to be considered having a successful season, right? Well, under that successful looking ERA lurks a not so nice looking 4.46 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching). Also, he has merely been average in the strikeout generating department with a 20.3% K%. Don’t get me wrong…this is a name you should keep your eyes on…just be sure to keep one eye on his FIP while the other lusts over his ERA.
Magneuris Sierra: (AA: Springfield Cardinals):
Mr. Sierra is off to a nice start in AA ball with a .331 batting average in 132 plate appearances. Heck, he even has had 35 plate appearances at the major league level this season and had a .375 batting average! So, he clearly has the solid batting average thing going on currently. He also has swiped 12 bags in 22 attempts this season between stops in A+, AA and major league ball. His K% numbers at all the levels of play this season are totally fine.
Oscar Mercado: (AA: Springfield Cardinals):
Questions abound with this prospect. He’s hitting .320 with 7 home runs and 27 stolen bases. Obviously, with a .397 BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) this season that BABIP and his batting average is likely to regress some. However, was he really as bad of a batting average guy in past seasons as his batting average suggests? I mean, he had some low BABIP’s to go along with them. Can a guy be THAT unlucky over his first 1,479 minor league plate appearances? This is a head-scratcher, and yet another reason to watch him closely as the season moves along.
Another question is, well, is his power spike legit? He has a .139 ISO this season. This is not great power, however, it is a big improvement over what he did in A ball (.087) in 2015 and A+ ball (.057) in 2016. Only time will truly answer this question, but yet again, it is another reason to keep an eye on him.
Another reason to watch him is his 110 stolen bases the past two and a half seasons.
I have not even touched on his plate discipline (BB% and K%) numbers. Lets just say they are solid enough that I have no concerns there at the moment. It is prospects like Mr. Mercado that make writing these articles fun!
Dakota Hudson: (AA: Springfield Cardinals):
Ok, so the guy isn’t striking out a lot of hitters, as his 16.5% K% (poor) shows…and sure, his 6.9% BB% is merely average. However, he has pitched 81.1 innings this season (13 games started) and has a 2.66 ERA and 3.87 FIP. The 2016 34th overall June Amateur Draft pick has performed well…despite the poor K%.
Ryan Helsley: (A+: Palm Beach Cardinals):
Mr. Helsley has a 2.91 ERA in 65 innings pitched (12 games started) this season. His 2.69 FIP says that he actually has been a little bit unlucky on the mound this season. The poor 8.1% BB% is a concern, but I love the great 25.1% K%.
Zac Gallen: (A+: Palm Beach Cardinals):
Mr. Gallen has pitched at three levels this season. More than half of his time has been in A+ ball (55.2 innings pitched, 9 games started). While there he posted a 1.62 ERA and 2.08 FIP. He also has pitched 23.2 innings (4 games started) in AA ball this season with a 3.04 ERA and 4.21 FIP.