It is all about the youth. Everyone is always looking for that new, shiny option when drafting their fantasy baseball teams, and while there are clear benefits to it, we also have to be careful that it does not work to your detriment. When things do not go according to plan for young players when they initially pop on our radar, that sometimes opens up a buying opportunity down the line. With this being the case, let us take a look at four options that we have varying degrees of interest in for 2023; Vinnie Pasquantino, Andrew Vaughn, Triston Casas, and Spencer Torkelson.
In 259 NFBC drafts from February 1st through present, Pasquantino certainly is not coming cheap to any interested parties as, at worst, a seventh round pick is required. With 24 home runs and 84 RBI in 116 games during the 2021 season, Pasquantino began to surge up prospect rankings and that success only continued in Triple-A last year prior to being promoted to the major league level.
At that point, his success only continued as he hit 10 home runs in 24 games while hitting .295. Hitting for a strong batting average has been a consistent part of Pasquantino’s game throughout his professional career as he simply doesn’t strike out while also walking around 12% to 13% at each level.
The skill set and approach is favorable here from the rookie as he posted a 46.9% hard hit rate, 8.8% barrel rate, and 12.1 degree average launch angle last season. While it has not happened yet, there should be some adjustments for Pasquantino at the major league level, right?
Even if he does slump to a degree, a .275/20/70/70 line seems like a solid baseline. As much as I like the player, and it is hard to argue with the upside, at what point does the price get out of control as I don’t think this train is slowing down anytime soon. While I am not reaching for Pasquantino, he is also someone I feel comfortable targeting.
About 40 picks later, Vaughn has been coming off the board but he certainly has less buzz than he did a year ago. All things considered, it was a solid season for Vaughn in 2022, and if he had played in more than 134 games, we might look a little differently at him based on his counting stats of 17 home runs and 76 RBI.
While Vaughn doesn’t walk, 5.6% rate last year, he also was able to limit the strikeouts (17.3%) while hitting .271. We will find him in the middle of Chicago’s lineup in 2023, so there is nothing to worry about when it comes to RBI opportunities as Vaughn should have plenty of them once again.
There is a reason why Vaughn was the third overall pick in 2019 even if he has lost some of that prospect buzz, but that only helps from a potential value perspective. With a 48.4% hard hit rate, Vaughn certainly makes good contact although his 7.9% barrel rate and 7.5 degree average launch angle do pour a little cold water on things.
It seems like this might be where Vaughn settles, and there is nothing wrong with that as he certainly can be a productive major league player even if ultimately comes in closer to 25 home runs and 85 RBI than 30 and 100.
Casas is a prospect who I have been tracking with interest for some time thanks to his prospect pedigree and power bat, but how will that translate into success at the major league level? It is important to remember that there is clear risk in trying to be a year too early rather than a year too late, but is this something that you should be sitting out?
As we enter the season, it is clear that Boston’s intention is for Casas to be their starting first baseman after a 27-game audition last season. Perhaps the most interesting factor in this is the fact that Roster Resource currently has Casas slotted in as the Red Sox leadoff hitter.
From an OBP perspective, Casas has consistently had a double-digit walk rate through his professional career so that does help to explain things but there is some concern from a strikeout perspective. In his 95 plate appearances with the Red Sox last year, Casas had a career high 24.2% strikeout rate while hitting just .197, but should we judge him based on that?
When Casas does make contact, he certainly can do damage to the ball, but how much runway will Boston give him as he looks to adjust to major league pitching? With an ADP of 232 as the 26th first baseman off the board, there certainly is upside, but you are paying for what could be instead of what likely will be. The thought process here is that Casas will get off to a slow start and we will have to wait for his power to truly develop.
Seeing Torkelson enter the season with an ADP of 289 is interesting after the former first round pick had a pretty rough debut in 2022. At this time last year, there was a fair amount of excitement surrounding the former first round pick and he failed to live up to any of it.
A stint in the minor leagues didn’t even seem to help as Torkelson hit .203 in his two stints with the Tigers in 110 games while hitting just eight home runs and driving in 28 runs. Torkelson struck out 24.5% of the time although he did have a 15 degree average launch along with a 8.4% barrel rate.
Adjusting to major league pitching is not easy and it is too soon to close the book on Torkelson. Detroit has no reason not to give him an extended look at latitude to figure things out at the plate, and beginning 2023 with a clean slate can certainly help here. At this point in the draft, you are essentially selecting the first guys you send to the waiver wire in the first few weeks of the season, so why not stash him on your bench to begin the season?
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