David Dahl, OF, Colorado Rockies
Like Benintendi, Dahl is expected to be able to hit for average, power, and also add the element of speed to his Fantasy game. He was taken at the end of sixth round of the mixed LABR draft. Dahl is a proven offensive force as evidenced by his .310/.357/.512 five year minor league career slash line. He’s known for his good bat speed and barrel control, and he had a good uptick in his walk rate last season. At the same time, some scouts note that his swing can get long, and Dahl’s propensity to strike out has been a bit concerning. Dahl’s strikeout rate climbed up to the mid 20 percent range as he progressed through the Rockies minor league system. He posted a 24.9 percent K rate in 222 big league at bats last season. Dahl will obviously benefit from playing in Coors Field this season, but based on his offensive pedigree he should be successful in most ball parks and environments.
Health is something that needs to be taken into consideration when deciding on whether or not to invest in Dahl on draft day. Dahl had a splenectomy due to a 2015 outfield collision, he missed most of the 2013 season due to a hamstring injury, and he also had an issue with knee tendinitis towards the end of last season. As for 2017, Dahl’s .astronomically high .404 BABIP should come crashing back down to the .340 range that was his trademark in the minor leagues. That should cause his 2016 .315 batting average to scale down to about .280. If he gets 500 at bats or more, Dahl should be able to club at least 20 home runs and provide you with approximately 15 stolen bases.
Alex Bregman, 3B, Houston Astros
Bregman got off to a slow start, getting just two hits in his first 42 at bats last season, but he quickly adjusted to big league pitching and finished the season strong. After September 1, he posted a .323/.344/.612 slash line. Bregman should be able to load up on the counting stats as he bats second in the potentially explosive Astros lineup. He has a compact swing and is a good contact hitter, but like many young players he had issues with strikeouts once he faced major league pitching. In less than two full years in the minor leagues Bregman’s strikeout rate never reached above 14.5 percent, however it jumped to 24.5 percent once he was promoted to the big leagues. On the other hand, his walk rate increased slightly from his Triple-A numbers last season, and he’s always had a knack for getting on base, as his .409 college career OBP suggests. Once he’s on base, he’s a legitimate threat to run. Bregman stole 38 bases for LSU in 66 games during the 2015 season.
He’ll likely never come close to stealing that many bases in the big leagues, but his speed definitely adds to his Fantasy value. I like what Bregman did at the end of last season, and I like his spot in the Astros lineup. I project he’ll hit in the .285 range, smack upwards of 25 home runs, drive in about 75 runs, score close to 90 of his own, and put up stolen base numbers in the lower double digit range. Bregman was taken with the fourth pick of the sixth round of the LABR mixed draft, eight rounds earlier than fellow sophomore year third baseman, Ryon Healy.
Ryon Healy, 3B, Oakland A’s
Healy might just give you the best value among this group of emerging Fantasy studs. I first recommended him in my June 28, 2016 Watch List column. Hard as I try, I may not always identify the best upcoming Fantasy superstars, but when I do, they perform like Healy. In 269 big league at bats last season, Healy batted .305 and hit 13 home runs. Healy had always had some pop in his bat, but a slight adjustment he made to his swing helped increase his bat speed and allowed him to get more upward trajectory on his batted balls. Of course, there are some concerns about Healy as well. For instance, the tweak to his swing and the advanced power numbers coincided with an increased strikeout rate.
Combine that with the fact that he walked just 12 times in 283 plate appearances, and you have to wonder if opposing pitchers might not take advantage of his recent free swinging ways. The A’s might not have an explosive offense, but as their everyday third baseman who is expected to bat third, Healy should have a very good season. I see his batting average dropping a bit as last season’s .352 BABIP normalizes. He should be right around the .285 mark, with upwards of 25 home runs, and 80 RBI.