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Don’t Hit The Panic Button on these Fantasy Baseball Prospects

With the minor league season moving along it’s easy to watch the league leaders and notice your top prospects are not showing towards the top of the lists. This can cause slight panic to sell and get out before the bottom drops. Never fear, I am here to be the voice of reason and stop you from hitting the panic button with your top tier fantasy baseball prospects who are underperforming.

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Don’t Panic on the Fantasy Baseball Prospects

Hitting Prospects

Jasson Dominguez, OF NYY

Alright first up is “The Martian,” Jasson Dominguez. The Yankees outfielder from another planet has had slow starts to the year in each of his three professional seasons. In 2021 in complex ball, he slashed .200/.407/.200 in seven games before somehow the Yankees sent him to A- Tampa where he slowly started to get his season back on track. Fast forward to 2022 and Dominguez repeated the level at A- Tampa and still struggled to get his footing till the last 20 games. He showed the Yanks enough to move him to A+ Hudson Valley where he caught fire and slashed .306/.397/.510 in 40 games. At only 20 years old Dominguez is facing guys at least three years older than him in AA and it shows.

The switch-hitting Martian is hitting an ice-cold .077/.327/.179 in 13 games played in AA Somerset. Something that tells me that he’s going to be ok is that he is still drawing walks; 15 of them in 55 plate appearances. That’s good for a steady 27.3% walk rate to begin the season. This plate discipline shows me he can work through counts and learn pitchers’ tendencies to establish his footing in AA and make his climb back to the highly touted prospect he has been.

Zac Veen, OF COL

In his time in the Colorado Rockies farm system, Veen, like Dominguez, has been a notoriously slow starter with the bat. If you looked at Veen’s 2021 slash line at A- Fresno you wouldn’t have thought that Veen started the season batting below .200 for the first 25 games. Still, he finished the season with a .301/.399/.501 slash line in 2021 this was the same for Veen in 2022 at A+ Spokane. Veen struggled with the bat hitting in the cold Washington state climate and managed to bring his batting average up to a .269 before the call to AA Hartford.

Picking up with the struggles Veen had in Hartford last season, the 2023 campaign has not gotten off to a hot start. The speedy Veen is only slashing .167/.286/.286 in 11 games played for the Yard Goats. But wait! If you look at his current walk and strikeout rate you will find he is still walking at a 14.3% clip while bringing down his strikeout rate from the prior year to a respectable 18.4%. The low strikeout rate and solid walk rate shows me his working counts and not pressing by swinging outside the zone.

This appears on the surface to be a good fundamental approach that is getting unlucky as his .188 BABIP indicates. Veen is still getting on base and letting his speed impact the game as he has six stolen bases so far no need to panic.

Druw Jones, OF ARI

Leading up to the MLB draft many were saying Druw Jones was the no doubt number one prospect in fantasy and to be taken by the Orioles first overall. Well, Jones slid to the Diamondbacks at number two in the draft and continued to be in the top two conversations for fantasy. A shoulder injury robbed Jones of his professional debut and in turn crucial developmental time. With the Orioles prospects Jackson Holliday carving up A- in Delmarva and recently being promoted to A+ Aberdeen, attention is squarely fixed on Druw Jones. Druw is batting a cool .175/.283/.200 in A- Visalia striking out an astounding 30.4% given the praise of a plus hit tool and plate discipline.

But we should not be so quick to judge the 19-year-old Jones.  Unlike Holliday, the Diamondbacks’ first-round pick missed crucial developmental time with his new organization. With the small amount of in-game activity in minor league spring training Jones has not been able to get acclimated to professional pitching (besides getting a base hit off Ohtani in spring training). Despite the slash line you have to be happy with the 13% walk rate by Druw Jones in his 46 plate appearances. The walk rate so far shows a sign of the advanced pitch recognition touted by scouts prior to the draft.

Pitching Prospect Woes

Wilmer Flores, RHP DET

One of the biggest risers last season was Detroit Tigers right-hander Wilmer Flores, but so far the early season results are not good. Currently, Flores has an abysmal 9.49 ERA while striking out 11 batters in 12.1 innings pitched, allowing batters a staggering .327 average in his first four starts. No doubt the surface stats look really bad but if you break down each of Flores’ first four starts you will see a different picture. In Flores’ first start, he faced Akron and went four innings while giving up two hits, three walks, and striking out six batters against a tough Guardians AA affiliate.

The next two starts are where things went awry for Flores. On April 12 Flores went only 1.2 innings giving up six earned runs on four hits and two walks, and only struck out one against Altoona. Of the six earned, two came via a Lolo Sanchez home run; the rest came on three doubles given up by Flores.

Following the meltdown against Altoona things were not much better against Richmond in his third start. In Richmond Flores went 2.2 innings giving up seven earned runs on eight hits and striking out three. In back-to-back games, Flores gave up two-run home runs and allowed two doubles that broke the game open and resulted in his quick departure.

In Flores’ most recent start, he went four innings with two hits, no runs, and one strikeout in a rematch against Richmond. What seemed to be the factor for Flores in the rematch against Richmond was the control seemed to be back on track. With the two horrendous starts firmly in the rearview mirror, Flores should be back on track as he looks to pitch against Portland (Red Sox) on Saturday.

Bryce Miller, RHP SEA

One of the most talked about pitching prospects over the off-season, Bryce Miller has gotten off to a shaky start in AA Arkansas. So far in four starts, Miller has a 6.41 ERA with 18 strikeouts in 19.2 innings. Most of the damage to Bryce Miller’s stat line to start the season came in his first three starts.

The right-hander gave up a total of 13 earned runs on 22 hits in 14.2 innings in his first three starts, giving up four home runs as well. The only bright spot in this short sample size was the lack of walks issued. This shows the inflated ERA and home run output against Miller was from poor pitch placement in the zone. Miller bounced back in his most recent start against AA Tulsa (Dodgers) going 5 innings while allowing only one hit, one earned (via the HR), one walk, and five strikeouts.

It’s encouraging to see Miller bounce back and that the walks are not a major concern though the five home runs given up by Bryce Miller is a bit alarming seeing as he hasn’t had a HR/9 above .81 at any stop (currently 2.45). Currently, Bryce Miller is slated to take the mound for AA Arkansas on Sunday in a rematch against Tulsa this should be a game to watch as Miller continues to get back on track.

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