The Dynasty Value of Hitters with Small Sample Sizes

Evaluating former hitting prospect with small samples

There is no better feeling than having one of your dynasty prospects get promoted to the major leagues. All of the anticipation of watching them rise through the minor leagues is met with the reality of being able to insert that player into your fantasy lineup. The funny part is that more often than not, this anticipation is often followed by disappointment. As prospects adjust to major league pitching, dynasty (and redraft) managers grow impatient waiting for on-field success. We as fantasy managers overreact to small samples very easily. This article looks at four former top-hitting prospects who made their debut in 2023 and evaluates their fantasy value for 2024 and beyond.


Former Prospects with Small Sample Sizes


Ronny Mauricio– 2B/SS, New York Mets


2023 Results

Mauricio entered the 2023 season with significant buzz after an impressive spring training. The Mets decided to send him down to Triple-A where he posted impressive numbers throughout the season. Across 116 games, he hit 23 home runs, stole 24 bases, and posted a .292 batting average. He lowered his swinging strike rate from 14.9% in 2022 to 11.4% in 2023. Mauricio was one of only four minor league hitters under the age of 24 to hit 20 home runs, steal 20 bases, and bat .290. The other three were Graham Pauley, Ryan Bliss, and Ceddanne Rafaela.

As the Mets’ season slowly deteriorated, the transition to a rebuild occurred. Amongst the moves they made toward the end of the season was promoting Mauricio to the major leagues. Mauricio showed off his defensive versatility by starting five games at third base, two games at shortstop, and 21 games at second base for the Mets. He committed just one error in his 26 games proving to be a strong versatile defender. He batted just .248 with two home runs and seven stolen bases. His wRC+ of 80 was 20% worse than the league average which is certainly not something the Mets were hoping to see from their top prospect.

The Positives

The seven stolen bases instantly stick out. Mauricio has shown off his ability to steal bases over the past two seasons in the minor leagues, but seeing this skill translate to the major leagues is an obvious takeaway. Not only was he perfect on the base paths, but his aggression is worth noting. If you prorate his stolen bases across 600 plate appearances, Mauricio would be on pace for 39 steals.

The raw power is another positive to Mauricio’s profile. The power is something that we have always known he had, but seeing it with our own eyes is important. Just take one look at this 117.3 mph hit off the bat of Mauricio and try not to be impressed:

Mauricio’s power is elite. Although he still is inconsistent in his ability to tap into it, the upside is obvious. He hits the ball incredibly hard and should post some impressive home run totals.

The Concerns

Mauricio’s aggression at the plate was a concern heading into 2023 and remains a concern after the season. Mauricio swung 54.9% of the time and chased a resounding 42.4% of pitches out of the strike zone. He specifically struggled with off-speed pitches. He chased over 50% on pitches of that type. His issue with chasing pitches is compounded by the fact he also struggled to make consistent contact. Mauricio whiffed almost 31% of the time and over 49% of the time on breaking pitches. His willingness to chase off-speed pitches and inability to make contact on breaking pitches gives opposing pitchers an easy blueprint on how to attack him.

Another potential issue in Mauricio’s profile is a high ground ball rate. His average launch angle was just 7.6 degrees which could limit his power production at the major league level. The sample size is also small, but Mauricio struggled against left-handed pitching. The switch hitter hit just .174 off of lefties and over .300 against righties.

2024 and Dynasty Outlook

Looking ahead, Mauricio remains a volatile dynasty asset. He has the upside to be a 30/25 player. The move to second base only increases his fantasy potential. Nine shortstops reached 20 home runs last season while only six second basemen accomplished this feat. Power at the keystone is valuable and Mauricio can provide plenty of that.

The improvements that Mauricio made in Triple-A this season make me confident in his long-term outlook. He has always had and always will have some swing-and-miss concerns. However, he showed an ability to adjust and adapt to pitching in the minor leagues and there is little reason to believe he cannot do the same at the major league level. Mauricio’s dynasty value could be pointing in the wrong direction after a disappointing debut season. Now could be your chance to acquire him at a discount.

That being said, if you are playing redraft I am a bit more skeptical of his 2024 fantasy value. Mauricio should get fairly consistent playing time at either second base or third base but this is far from a guarantee. If the Mets stay true to their rebuild, they will want to get Mauricio as many at-bats as possible. However, if Cohen decides to become aggressive, Mauricio could be squeezed out of some playing time. He is also likely to need significant time to develop. Contact and chase concerns are not solved overnight, and he does not turn 23 until April. Fantasy managers should not expect a breakout season quite yet.


Jordan Lawlar, SS Arizona Diamondbacks


2023 Results

The 2023 season got off to a disastrous start for Lawlar. The former sixth overall pick was struggling to adjust to Double-A pitching. After May 20th, Lawlar was slashing an abysmal .168/.299/.354. The batting average could be partially explained by a poor BABIP, but his 30.7% strikeout rate was difficult to justify. His season turned around after that. He slashed .313/.403/.541 with a strikeout rate below 17% before earning a promotion to Triple-A on August 15th. He continued to swing a hot bat in Triple-A, bringing his season total in home runs to 20 and his stolen base total to 36.

His run of success was so impressive that it earned him a promotion to Arizona to end the season. He appeared in 14 games, slashing a porous .129/.206/.129. With Arizona making a push to the playoffs (and eventually the World Series), his playing time was inconsistent and he was frequently pinch-hit for. Even factoring that in, this was far from the debut many were hoping for.

The Positives

You are going to have to do some digging when looking for positive takeaways from Lawlar’s debut. The most obvious is his sprint speed. We knew that Lawlar was fast, but posting a 99th percentile sprint speed is still impressive. Lawlar stole plenty of bases throughout the minor leagues and we should not expect anything different moving forward.

The sample size was small, but Lawlar only chased 21.2% of the time. He was aggressive on pitches in the strike zone but showed off a mature eye and strong plate discipline. This is consistent with the results and numbers Lawlar posted in the minor leagues. His 5.9% walk rate is not inspiring, but this should bounce back with a larger sample and Lawlar should be expected to walk 8-10% of the time next season.

The Concerns

Lawlar’s strikeout rate of 32.4% jumps off the page, but that is not my biggest concern. The swing and miss he experienced is a bit alarming, but the whiff rate was not super high. The biggest concern for me is the lack of hard contact. Lawlar’s average exit velocity on 20 batted balls was 77.8 mph. Sure, we have a history of Lawlar producing hard contact in Triple-A, but this is still a bit alarming. He did not manage to barrel any balls up during his brief major league stint. This is something to monitor looking ahead to 2024.

2024 and Dynasty Outlook

Lawlar’s Major League debut was a disappointment. However, he ranked as my number-one prospect in fantasy for a reason. He has the power to be a 20-home run threat (even if it has not shown up yet) and the speed to steal 40+ bases. This is everything a fantasy manager dreams about and you should not be scared off by a rough 14 games.

Lawlar has shown a history of taking some time to adjust. He struggled to begin 2023 before picking things up and becoming one of, if not the, best player in minor league baseball. I have no doubts that something similar can happen again. I remain all in on Lawlar for dynasty purposes.

Looking specifically at 2024, I am still optimistic. Sure, the trade for Eugenio Suárez crowds the infield a bit, but Lawlar should be able to beat out Geraldo Perdomo for the starting shortstop job. Perdomo hit just .214 with one home run during the second half last season and the team will likely want to give their top prospect consistent playing time next season. Lawlar is cheap in fantasy drafts right now but has more upside than any other player in his ADP.


Evan Carter, OF Texas Rangers


2023 Results

Prior to leaving the game with an injury on June 1st, Evan Carter’s season was off to a disappointing start. After entering the year with plenty of buzz and rising dynasty stock, Carter looked unspectacular on the field. The biggest concern (his game power) looked underwhelming at Double-A with a .387 slugging percentage.

The injury might have been a blessing in disguise as his season turned around after. Over the course of the remainder of his time in Double-A, Carter slashed an impressive .290/.417/.500. His game power looked much more impressive, his plate discipline (a 15.9% walk rate) was excellent, and his speed helped fuel his hit tool. Carter made a quick pitstop at Triple-A before finishing his season in the major leagues. A dominant 23-game sample to end the season was followed up by an impressive postseason run where he slashed .300/.417/.500. Carter showed up in a big way on baseball’s biggest stage creating even more hype for the young outfielder entering 2024.

The Positives

The biggest positive was seeing how unfazed Carter looked against major league pitching. He dominated right from the start crushing five home runs in the regular season. Not only did Carter find instant success, but he was ready for the big lights of the postseason. He has already proven that the moment is not too big for him and that he can be a valuable contributor right away. There was no adjustment period needed for Carter who should have secured an everyday role heading into 2024.

His barrel rate was impressive, but even better was the plate discipline he demonstrated. Rookies often struggle to lay off pitches out of the strike zone, but Carter hardly ever chased. He walked 16% of the time in the regular season which is right in line with his minor league numbers. Walk rate is a relatively sticky statistic, but there is typically at least a little bit of a dip. Not for Carter though who is proving to be an exception to many expectations for young players.

The Concerns

A red flag in Carter’s profile is the strikeout rate. Carter struck out 32% of the time in the regular season and 26.4% of the time in the postseason. His excellent eye at the plate can cause him to be too patient at times. He only swung at 75.2% of pitches in the strike zone. Carter is not afraid to work deep counts, but that can also fuel high strikeout rates. His strikeout issue was compounded by a 30.2% whiff rate. Carter does not have a track record of contact concerns in the minor leagues but this is something to monitor moving forward.

One other potential area of concern is his production against left-handed pitching. Carter only received 11 major league plate appearances against lefties last season and did not generate a hit during the regular season. In the minor leagues, he slashed .242/.349/.253 against lefties. There is significant platoon risk here.

2024 and Dynasty Outlook

Looking ahead, Carter gives fantasy managers plenty to be excited about. For one, he is all but locked into an Opening Day lineup spot for the defending World Champions. On top of that, his maturity at the plate is years beyond his age and should help make up for his concerning whiff rates. His 96th-percentile sprint speed will create plenty of stolen base opportunities as well. He currently has an ADP of OF30 which is a little bit high. He has the speed and upside to be an extremely useful fantasy asset in 2024. However, there is also a chance he will wind up in a platoon. If you drafted a lot of safe players early, Carter is the perfect high-upside target for you in drafts.

For dynasty purposes, I might, maybe, possibly, consider selling high on his value. Everybody watched Carter show up in big moments throughout the 2023 playoffs. Helium in his profile has reached an all-time high and the dynasty price on him is massive. Not many 21-year-olds make the jump to the major leagues appear as seamless as he did. However, he cannot run an HR/FB% above 35% again in 2024. On top of that, his BABIP will not remain above .400, and the strikeout rate is a red flag moving forward.

There is a lot to like in Carter’s profile but also plenty to be concerned about. While I still believe Carter will have a very successful major league career, the chances of him becoming very good as opposed to generational are relatively high. Many are already referring to Carter as the next Corbin Carroll. Dynasty managers need to pump the brakes a bit and realize that the haul you could get for him right now could be worth more than what he is worth.


Endy Rodríguez, C Pittsburgh Pirates


2023 Results

Following the 2022 season, there were not many catching prospects with more hype than Endy Rodríguez. Rodriguez’s impressive offensive breakout made Mets fans sick to their stomach and created plenty of excitement in the Steel City. Hope of Rodriguez breaking camp with the Pirates quickly faded as the team signed Austin Hedges, but there was still optimism that he would not be in Triple-A for very long. Unfortunately for Rodriguez, his season got off to a slow start and then was derailed by injuries. Rodriguez only missed nine games, but it was clear he still was not fully healthy after that.

After shipping off Hedges and any other veteran on their roster, the Pirates still decided to give Rodriguez a chance in the majors despite his lackluster minor league performance. The results across 204 plate appearances were underwhelming. Overall, he posted a .220/.284/.328 slash line with three home runs and zero stolen bases.

The Positives

There are not many positives to take away from Rodriguez’s 2023 season. One thing that does not show up on the stat sheet is the team’s choice to stick with him as their primary catcher. The Pirates shifted Henry Davis to the outfield and have committed to keeping Rodriguez behind the plate. He has an excellent arm back there and his defense has continued to improve each season. Even if his bat struggles to adjust, his glove could keep him in the lineup on a regular basis. The Pirates have no other catchers on the roster that should challenge his lineup spot which is one positive to take away from 2023.

The other positive is an extremely smooth swing path. Although the power may never become what many hoped for after his 2022 season, the hit tool is still there. Rodriguez makes contact at an above-average rate and hits plenty of line drives. His line drive rate should lead to a high BABIP and help produce solid batting averages.

The Concerns

The biggest negative to take away was the lack of true power. This was evident in Rodriguez’s Triple-A numbers this year and remained obvious in his major league numbers. He only barreled the ball up 5.1% of the time and managed a .376 xSLG. Rodriguez is still just 23 and has plenty of time for development, but his home run ceiling may be closer to 15 than 25.

2024 and Dynasty Outlook

Looking ahead of Rodriguez on the depth chart, there really are no other options. The team could opt to give some at-bats to Jason Delay, but his 82 wRC+ from last season is far from inspiring. The team is much more likely to give Rodriguez an extended leash to see what he can do. This makes his ADP of C24 very enticing. His debut season was not what we had hoped for, but he is basically free in drafts. He is currently going behind players like Shea Langeliers and Danny Jansen who are not even locked into a starting role. Rodriguez profiles as an everyday player. The possibility remains that his 2023 struggles were a result of lingering injuries. In a two-catcher league, fantasy managers should take a shot on Rodriguez to see if he can put it all together.

For dynasty, fantasy managers should adjust their expectations. Entering last season, Rodriguez was profiled as having top-10 catcher potential. After the performance we saw on the field last season, that seems a bit lofty. Rodriguez can still be fantasy-relevant, but he profiles to be closer to average offensively. The time for selling high has likely passed, but if you can deal him away for a prospect with more upside, that could pay dividends in the long run.


Assets by Adobe Firefly, Photo by Julian Avram/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Redler (@reldernitsuj on Twitter)

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