This one is for all my 30 team Dynasty Leaguers out there who are in the 5th round of their prospect drafts and are looking for some legitimately exciting upside players to snag. In shallower leagues, they are prospects to keep your eye on for next season. And for paid prospect writers, they are guys to get some more damn video on, please, because Youtube has more, and clearer videos of the Lochness Monster than they do of Leonardo Crawford, Jose Almonte, and Ariel Sandoval. Even with the limited information, it is obvious that these players have the potential to at least put their names on the prospect map in 2017:
Leonardo Crawford LAD, LHP – Crawford signed with Los Angeles for a measly $47,500, most likely after some scout in the organization made the trek to Nicaragua in 2013 and hit gold after seeing the delivery and the kind of stuff that was firing out of this small 15-year-old’s left hand. It almost makes me want to hop in a single engine Cessna myself to some lightly scouted area of the world Albert Brooks in The Scout style. Since joining the Dodgers organization, all Crawford has done is dominate. In his pro debut in 2015, he put up a 1.41 ERA with a 74/10 K/BB in 63.2 IP in Dominican Rookie Ball. Then he was so dominant to start 2016 in the Arizona Rookie League, the lightly touted 19-year-old forced his way all the way up to full season A-Ball, not missing a beat with a 2.20 ERA and 24/9 K/BB in 28.2 IP. He saved his best work for the postseason, where he threw a 1 hit, 8 strikeout gem in 5 IP to even the Championship Series at one game apiece. Just read about his manager raving about the kid after the game to see the kind of pitcher he is. He doesn’t have the huge fastball right now, but his maturity is well beyond his years, using his advanced command and off-speed pitches to keep hitters guessing at the plate. I highly doubt there will be many pitchers better than Crawford in the last round of deep prospect drafts. I also talked about him on the Razzball Prospect Podcast: Los Angeles Dodgers.
Jose Almonte TEX, OF – Texas signed the 6’3’’, 205-pound Almonte for $1.8 million back in 2013, and since then he has been largely forgotten about after hitting under the Mendoza Line (.200) in 2014 and 2015 in Rookie Ball. But the improvements he made last off-season pushed him all the way to up to Single-A this season, and he put up an impressive triple-slash of .278/.343/.444 with 8 homers, 8 steals, and a 56/8 K/BB in 57 games. Like a lot of my favorite sleepers, bat speed and raw power are his greatest strengths, while contact and plate approach are areas he needs to improve upon. He has a reputation for being a student of the game and a tireless worker, so I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt there. Considering the raw talent and production as a 19-year-old at Single-A, Almonte is one I’m looking forward to grabbing in my 30-team league.
Ariel Sandoval LAD, OF – Finally a guy that actually has some recent video on him. Sandoval signed with Los Angeles for $150,000 in 2013. After a strong season in Rookie Ball last year, he split his time between Single-A and High-A in 2016, where he slashed .238/.286/.408, with 14 homers, 14 steals, and a 136/26 K/BB in 129 games. As you can see, the hit tool and plate approach are still very raw, but he is a good athlete with plus speed, good bat speed, and plenty of pop in his bat. If he can improve on those contact numbers, a legitimate breakout is very possible in 2017. This is a potential 5-category producer down the line.