Welcome to the 2022 Dynasty Baseball Buy Low Hitting Prospects to Target article.
After a long season of baseball, the stocks of certain players have been market-adjusted.
Now that the MLB offseason/lockout is upon us, we are presented with a unique buying window for certain prospects.
Prospects who dealt with injuries, underperformed expectations in the Minors, or had a lackluster MLB debut could be wise players to attempt to acquire in Dynasty leagues.
Here are a few hitting prospects whom I recommend you try to acquire at a discounted price before their stocks begin to rise again.
2022 Dynasty Baseball Buy Low Hitting Prospects to Target
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Jose Barrero, Shortstop, Cincinnati Reds
Jose Barrero is elite. I am honestly trying to figure out why he has not gotten significant hype this off-season. Let's discuss Barrero, a player who could put up 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases at the Major League level as soon as 2022.
Formerly known as "Jose Israel Garcia," he received a nearly $5 million signing bonus when the Reds inked him in 2017. He has been a MiLB.com Organizational All-Star every MiLB season of his career. In 2019, he broke out in Daytona, with a .280/.343/.436 slash line, eight home runs. 13 steals, and a 131 wRC+. This was especially notable since the Florida State League is an infamous pitcher's league, thanks to the ballpark dimensions and the Florida humidity. Barrero's strong season garnered him some hype, but he was still very much underrated.
In 2020, there was no Minor League season. However, at age 22, Barrero made his MLB debut during the sprint season. It was evident that he was a prospect who had not played above A-ball, as he had a 1.5 BB%, 38.1 K%, and 0 wRC+ in 68 PA. Back to the drawing board for Barrero.
Barrero came back strong in 2021 and had a banner year. He started the season in Double-A and pretty quickly earned a promotion to Triple-A, thanks to his .300/.367/.481 slash line and 135 wRC+. His numbers were even better when he got to Triple-A, as he raised his wRC+ by 23 points, raised his walk rate by 1%, kept his strikeout rate at 22% (same as it was in Double-A.), and put up a higher OPS.
In 330 total MiLB ABs in 2021, Barrero clubbed 19 home runs and stole 16 bases. That 19 tally does not include his All-Star Game homer, as he also played in the Futures Game, where he clubbed a 426 foot home run off of Cole Winn. You may be wondering, if a player put up this strong of a campaign, how is he still slept on?
Well, Barrero finished the season getting called up and down a couple of times from Louisville to Cincinnati. For some reason, Reds management would not commit to making him the starting shortstop over Kyle Farmer while the team was vying for a Wild Card spot. Unsurprisingly, during infrequent usage, Barrero did not put up the best numbers. In 56 PA, he had a .286 OBP and 62 wRC+. An improvement from his 0 wRC+ in 2020, but still not ideal. However, I would not read into this because he was not receiving consistent at bats, so he did not get a real chance to settle in.
The reason why I believe this is the perfect buy-low opportunity is that people may be down on Barrero because of a 124 PA sample size at the MLB level, in which he was young and being used rather sparingly.
Barrero possesses tantalizing tools. He has 60-grade power and 60-grade speed. I have faith in his hit tool. He needs to improve his plate discipline in order to succeed at the Major League level, and I fully expect him to do so. This is a player who has 20/20 upside, and potentially even 25/25 upside. He may not fully show this elite upside until 2023, but he is legit. I would also not be surprised if Barrero had a big Spring Training and seized the everyday role at shortstop, similar to how Jonathan India earned the starting second baseman role in Spring of 2021 and then broke out.
Barrero is a Top 20 overall prospect in my books. I snagged him in the 13th round, 242nd overall in a 20 team start-up Dynasty draft this off-season. It is a real possibility that he will be going 100 spots higher in inaugural Dynasty drafts next off-season. He is seemingly not getting the hype he should, but that will change soon. Buy while you can.
JJ Bleday, Outfielder, Miami Marlins
Marlins fans rejoiced when the team drafted JJ Bleday fourth overall in the 2019 MLB Draft. This was following a long college season in which Bleday led all the country in home runs (27), and steered Vanderbilt to a National Championship victory.
Many people had high expectations for Bleday, and the Marlins gave him an aggressive assignment, as he made his pro debut for High-A Jupiter in 2019. While with the Hammerheads, he was an above-average hitter, noted by his 107 wRC+, but did not quite meet expectations. In 38 games, he hit three home runs and had a .311 OBP.
After a long layoff due to the 2020 season being lost to the pandemic, Bleday returned to the field in 2021 with the Double-A Pensacola Blue Wahoos. Over the course of 110 games, Bleday hit 12 home runs, had a slash line of .212/.323/.373, and a 97 wRC+. Better numbers would generally be expected from a player chosen so early on in the draft. One plus side is that his 13.7 BB% and 21.6 K% shows his plate discipline is quite good, especially for a power hitter.
The Marlins assigned Bleday to the Arizona Fall League following the regular season, and he rebounded in a big way. It is hard to put too much weight into Arizona Fall League games considering they are basically scrimmages, but it was very encouraging to see Bleday find some success. In 24 games, he had a .316/.435/.600 slash line, blasted five home runs and helped lead the Mesa Solar Sox to win the championship.
Overall, Bleday is an easy buy this off-season. Dynasty managers who roster him may be fatigued from holding onto him for two years and not seeing a ton of success, but the best is yet to come. I would say his projected floor is lower than it was a year ago, but there is still undoubtedly high, elite power upside. This is a player with a nice hit tool, excellent plate discipline, and big-time power. I would not be surprised if he had a true breakout in 2o22 and made his MLB debut alongside Jesús Sánchez and Avisaíl García before the end of the year.
Travis Swaggerty, Outfielder, Pittsburgh Pirates
There are a couple of prospects who had injury-shortened campaigns in 2021 who are worth buying low on this off-season. This includes prospects like Pete Crow-Armstrong and Royce Lewis. One in particular who I believe is destined for a breakout is Travis Swaggerty.
Swaggerty and his elite name were drafted in the first round, tenth overall, in the 2018 MLB Draft. Every step of the way during his development so far, he has displayed above-average plate discipline, exciting speed, and great defense. The main question is how much of his 60-grade raw power will show up in-game.
During the 2019 regular season, he hit nine home runs, plus a tenth that he hit in the FSL All-Star Game. This was a tremendous year for him and his development, as he put up a 120 wRC+ and .347 OBP in the Florida State League.
After the lost 2020 season, Swaggerty skipped Double-A and started the season in Triple-A Indianapolis. He played in 12 games and had some bad batted ball luck, but overall looked quite good. That power was starting to finally materialize, as three of his nine hits were home runs. Unfortunately for Swaggerty, he suffered a dislocated shoulder in his non-dominant arm, underwent labral shoulder surgery, and was estimated to be out of commission until around the end of the calendar year.
It will be worth monitoring how Swaggerty performs in Spring Training in 2022, as well as wherever he is subsequently assigned. Losing another full season of development is not optimal, but Swaggerty still has breakout potential. He has excellent on-base skills, coupled with a legit shot at tapping into notable power. He is a player I recommend trying to buy low on, and then seeing how he performs in (fingers crossed) his first full season since 2019. If he looks good and is healthy during the spring, he could be up in the Majors quite soon and could make a real impact.