Unfortunately, the Dynasty Stockwatch has fallen a bit by the wayside this year, with me to this point having released only one. What can I say? There was always some other topic that seemed more pressing, and time is finite.
It means, however, that I missed my chance to comment on Aaron Judge overcoming his past health and strikeout concerns to become one of the most prized dynasty assets. I also missed my chance to highlight Trevor Rogers' remarkable fall from grace. By this point, those two developments are rather obvious, and this article already flirts with the obvious simply by virtue of dynasty value needing longer to take shape than redraft value, what with the stakes being higher and the consequences more longstanding and all.
Given the long layoff, I tried to limit my observations to a more recent timeframe, like over the past 4-6 weeks. Here are the players (and prospects) whose dynasty value has changed the most during that time.
Austin Riley 3B
ATL Atlanta • #27 • Age: 25
The consensus response to Riley's breakout 2021 was "OK, he's probably pretty good, but not like we just saw -- not MVP good." He had outperformed his expected stats. His plate discipline left something to be desired. Regression was to be expected. Well, after a monster July in which he hit .423 with 11 homers and a 1.344 OPS, he's right back in the MVP conversation. His Statcast page is all lit up in red, a testament to his quality of contact. The Braves themselves no longer harbor any doubts, having last week signed him to the biggest deal in franchise history (10 years, $212 million). It's safe to conclude, as they did, that Riley is more than just a serviceable starter at third base but instead a franchise cornerstone.
TOR Toronto • #30 • Age: 24
It's rare to find a catcher who qualifies as a genuine dynasty asset. They tend to have short shelf lives and disappointing outcomes, their potential for impact too often stymied by injuries or inconsistent playing time. For you to treat a catcher as more than just the next in a revolving door at the position, the threshold has to be really, really high, and I'm here to tell you that Kirk meets it. His bat-to-ball skills are unmatched at the position, and there's enough power for them to matter. The Blue Jays have come to value his bat so much that he primarily serves as their DH, which should help prevent the usual injuries and playing time inconsistencies. Still only 23, Kirk should rank near the top of the position for years to come.
ATL Atlanta • #99 • Age: 24
When people ask me for trade advice these days, usually Strider is involved in some way. I've experienced it myself, having been bombarded with trade requests in the couple of dynasty leagues where I have him. Clearly, he's the "it" player right now, and while the stat line sums it up well enough, watching him pitch will have you salivating all the more. You get the sense he can only beat himself, his success mostly depending on how well he's commanding a triple-digit fastball that seemingly gains extra life as it crosses the plate. Rookie sensations who light up the radar gun have been known to burn out quickly. He stands only 6-feet and is essentially a two-pitch pitcher. Still, I've so far been unpersuaded to move him.
Reid Detmers SP
LAA L.A. Angels • #48 • Age: 23
The previous high point for Detmer's dynasty value was just prior to his promotion last August, after he put together a 3.19 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 15.7 K/9 in his first minor-league season. The swing-and-miss didn't translate then, and he showed no improvement early this year, leading to his inevitable demotion in June. By that point, he was less of a dynasty asset than just the latest in a long line of prospect failures, but turns out all he needed was a quick fix to his slider. Since returning, he has a 1.16 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 11.0 K/9 across five starts, that new slider granting him the swing-and-miss previously demonstrated only in the minors. All of a sudden, the left-hander's dynasty value is at an all-time high.
Jose Miranda 3B
MIN Minnesota • Age: 24
Prospect evaluators weren't exactly all-in on Miranda coming into 2022 even though he had arguably the best numbers in all the minors last year, batting .344 with 30 homers and a .973 OPS, and it left dynasty leaguers to take a one-foot-in, one-foot-out approach. I don't know about you, but I was close to taking both feet out when he began his big-league career 5 for 53. But the Twins, to their credit, stuck with him, even in spite of his supposed defensive shortcomings, and in 57 games since, he's batting .332 (62 for 187) with 10 homers and a .935. Now where have I seen numbers like those before?
Prospects who've gained the most value
Gunnar Henderson, SS, Orioles
AA/AAA: .304 BA (329 AB), 17 HR, 16 SB, .985 OPS, 69 BB, 86 K
Those who don't keep tabs on minor-leaguers during the season, instead working mostly off preseason rank lists, might be surprised to discover just how much Henderson's stock has improved. It's not a stretch to say he could be No. 1 on some of those preseason lists next year. His strikeout rate ballooned in the low minors last year, which made me doubt whether he would live up to his potential as a hitter with two more levels to go still, but with markedly improved plate discipline this year, everything has played up to maximum effect. With the way he's caught fire at Triple-A recently, he may even push for a call-up before the season's end.
Elly De La Cruz, SS, Reds
A+/AA: .303 BA (350 AB), 24 HR, 34 SB, .962 OPS, 28 BB, 117 K
De La Cruz had his believers coming into the year, the sort who trumpet tools above everything else, but boy, have they played up in the loudest possible way this year. A move up to Double-A for the start of the second half hasn't slowed him down in the slightest. In fact, he's 10 for 20 with two homers and five doubles in his past four games. He's a shortstop in the mold of Oneil Cruz, standing 6-foot-7 and leveraging that size for considerable power while still showing off premier athleticism. The strikeout rate is cause for concern, but the tools may be loud enough to overcome it.
Oscar Colas, OF, White Sox
A+/AA: .317 BA (306 AB), 13 HR, .894 OPS, 28 BB, 68 K
Nobody really knew what to expect from Colas coming into the year. The Cuban defector had made a name for himself in Japan's version of the minor leagues but hadn't played competitively since 2019. At 23, he needed to hit the ground running to position himself as a genuine prospect, and he's done exactly that, catching fire in mid-June and hitting .366 (49 for 134) with eight homers, a 1.016 OPS and just a 15.1 percent strikeout rate in his past 35 games. Power figured to be a carrying tool, so the hit tool has been a nice surprise and figures to propel him to the majors early next year.
Vaughn Grissom, SS, Braves
A+/AA: .319 BA (385 AB), 14 HR, 27 SB, .890 OPS, 36 BB, 53 K
Grissom's contact skills are what stood out most in his first full minor-league season last year, but a closer look at the scouting report revealed a potential hidden gem capable of premium exit velocities and maybe some stolen bases. It's all playing up nicely as he enters the upper levels, and while he may have to move off shortstop before he reaches the big leagues, there's a growing hope that he'll meet the full extent of his potential offensively.
AA/AAA: .276 BA (283 AB), 13 HR, 15 SB, .930 OPS, 66 BB, 80 K
While still a teenager, Josh Naylor's younger brother got some tangential prospect love, as younger brothers tend to do, but his production was so bad that he quickly fell off the map. Maybe the Guardians just promoted him too quickly, or maybe he sold out too hard for power, judging by his past fly-ball rates. Whatever the case, he's come into his own this year, living up to his initial profile as a bat-first catcher who's athletic enough to play elsewhere if need be. His .421 on-base percentage in particular stands out. I liken him to Daulton Varsho and will note that the Guardians have given him a clear path to the big leagues.
Mike Trout CF
LAA L.A. Angels • #27 • Age: 31
Don't get me wrong: Trout is still a considerable dynasty asset, but the risk factors continue to pile up for the now-31-year-old. The biggest blow is his latest bout with costovertebral dysfunction, a rare back condition that it sounds like he'll need to manage for the rest of his career. He had already developed a reputation for being injury-prone, but now a certain amount of missed games are already baked in. Even before the diagnosis, an elevated strikeout rate had persisted long enough -- since 2021, actually -- that I worried Trout might no longer be a standout in batting average. With his stolen base contributions also well behind him, the thought of him being a first-round-caliber player is quickly diminishing.
Alex Bregman 3B
HOU Houston • #2 • Age: 28
I was willing to give Bregman a pass for an underwhelming 2021 that got derailed by a quadriceps injury, but having seen more of the same from him during a healthy 2022 season, I think it's increasingly clear that he's a casualty of the deadened baseball. The way he impacts the ball hasn't changed, nor has the superlative plate discipline. But the results sure have, and frankly, his power had always come in spite of lackluster exit velocities and hard-hit rates. That approach no longer bears the same fruit, and it's reached the point where Bregman might need to elevate less to maximize his output. As a disciplined hitter at a weak position in a deep lineup, he's still an asset in dynasty, but his stud days are probably behind him.
CHW Chi. White Sox • #27 • Age: 28
The thing about investing in any pitcher in dynasty is that you can't count on longevity. It takes so little to derail one, often without signs of a quick fix, that you'll always have to play it year to year. I look at Giolito's 10.2 K/9 and his 3.75 xFIP (which is actually identical last year) and can believe there's still a good pitcher in there. But his fastball velocity is down. His swinging-strike rate is a far cry from what it was the past three years. He's vulnerable to the long ball and has never fully overcome his control issues. I'm not so confident in a rebound that I'd be willing to pay full price for him, and depending what the keeper cost is, I might consider throwing him back.
CHW Chi. White Sox • #34 • Age: 26
How frustrating to have waited all those years for Kopech to climb the minor-league ladder only to have him undergo Tommy John surgery when he first arrives in 2018, then sit out the entire 2020 season for pandemic-related concerns, then spend all of 2021 working in relief. Finally, he gets his shot as a full-time starting pitcher this year, and wow ... not how we envisioned it going. His stuff has played down with his move out of the bullpen, his velocity dropping more than 2 mph as his K/9 rate has gone from 13.4 to 7.8. The whiff rate on his slider has been cut in half, basically. He's delivered a respectable ERA in spite of it, but the skill indicators suggest something has gone very wrong. I'd be looking to bail.
Trevor Story 2B
BOS Boston • #10 • Age: 30
Perhaps Story's lackluster final season in Colorado should have tipped us off more than it did. Leaving that hitter's haven always threatened to undermine his value, but Fenway Park seemed like a gentle enough landing for a hitter with his profile. But he hasn't hit the ball as hard or nearly as often, his average exit velocity dropping from 90.6 mph to 88.8 and his strikeout rate ballooning from 23.4 percent to an untenable 30.7 percent. The deadened ball may have already presented a challenge for him (hence last year's shortfall), but unexpected skills decline may be exacerbating the problem. It wouldn't be unheard of for a player on the verge of turning 30, and it certainly puts Story's future production in doubt.