Buy Low Prospects: Are These Three High Upside Outfielders Going To Rebound (Estevan Florial & More)

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

We are always obsessed with the rising prospects, trying to invest before the rest of our league mates realize a breakout is upon us.  What about those who are disappointing?  Is there an opportunity to buy low?  Will they turn it around or has the time come to write them off and move on?  Let’s look at three outfield prospects, who have received significant hype in the past but are disappointing thus far in 2018:

 

Anthony Alford – Toronto Blue Jays
2018 Statistics – .223 (31-139), 0 HR, 10 RBI, 20 R, 6 SB

He’s spent the bulk of the year at Triple-A (121 AB), but also had a few games at High-A and has once again missed time due to injury (hamstring).  Staying on the field has been a consistent issue, though generally when he’s played he’s looked dynamic.  That hasn’t been the case this season, and while he’s finally starting to get hits (7-12 in his past three games) he’s still lacking power (only 6 doubles).

Prior to this season strikeouts hadn’t been considered an issue, including a 15.6% strikeout rate in 289 PA at Double-A last season.  However that number has ballooned to 29.6% at Triple-A, so is it that he’s being exposed by more advanced pitching?  Let’s take a look at the SwStr% (through Sunday):

  • 2017 (Double-A) – 11.3%
  • 2018 (Triple-A) – 13.4%

That appears to be the case, especially with his 14.0% SwStr% in limited AB in the Majors and a significant drop in walks at Triple-A (6.4%).  He’s never been a big source of power and he is continuing to steal bases, so it’s hard to completely write him off (think 12/25 type player).  He needs to figure out the strikeouts and his recent stretch (0 K over his past three games) gives hope.  We aren’t ready to write him off, and if you can buy low it is worth the gamble.

Verdict – Buying

 

Tristen Lutz – Milwaukee Brewers
2018 Statistics – .218 (43-197), 5 HR, 23 RBI, 24 R, 2 SB

Selected 34th overall in 2017, Lutz is playing at Single-A and significantly struggling with his strikeouts, with a 28.8% strikeout rate.  That shouldn’t come as a surprise, though, as he struggled to make consistent contact while playing in Rookie Ball after being drafted as well (SwStr%):

  • 2017 – 21.4%
  • 2018 – 14.2%

The 2018 mark may not seem obscene, but we have to remember the level he’s playing at and that it will likely rise as he faces more advanced pitching.  The 19-year old has yet to tap into his raw power, with 17 total extra base hits (10 doubles and 2 triples).  That should come as he learns and matures, but is it going to be enough to overlook the poor plate discipline?

His upside may be that of a Joey Gallo type, though he’s yet to show the ability to draw walks.  It’s tough to write off this type of youngster, though if that’s the ceiling we’d be more apt to sell.  It all comes down to his ability to develop his approach, something he’s yet to do.

Verdict – Cautiously holding, but willing to listen

 

Estevan Florial – New York Yankees
2018 Statistics – .246 (33-134), 1 HR, 10 RBI, 21 R, 5 SB

He’s currently sidelined after surgery to repair an issue with his wrist (hamate bone).  That’s just the latest setback in what had already been a disappointing start at High-A.  A year after combining for 13 HR and 23 SB over 476 PA (between Single-A and High-A), he’s shown numerous issues:

  1. Lack of home runs – He’s added 6 doubles and 2 triples, at least
  2. Lack of efficiency on the base paths – He’s 5-for-9 in SB attempts
  3. Significant swings and misses – He’s posted a 30.1% strikeout rate, courtesy of a 14.2% SwStr%. Considering his 15.5% SwStr% a year ago, this may be the biggest red flag

With the injury and the early struggles this is quickly looking like a lost year.  Wrist injuries are tricky and without the plate discipline he may never reach his full potential.  His value may actually never be lower, which makes him intriguing if the price drops low enough.

Verdict – Cautiously holding, but willing to listen

Sources – MILB.com, Fangraphs

Missed our Top 100 prospect rankings?  Make sure to check it out by clicking here.  Also don’t miss all of our 2018 Preseason Positional Prospect Lists:

Catcher1-10
First Base1-10
Second Base1-10
Shortstop1-10
Third Base1-10
Outfielders:1-1011-20
Pitchers:1-1011-2021-30

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