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Fantasy Baseball Prospects: Nick Castellanos and Travis d’Arnaud

Avoiding rookies in re-draft fantasy baseball leagues isn’t always the recommended route. Nick Castellanos and Travis d’Arnaud should be on draft radars.

Nick Castellanos
Nick Castellanos

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In the last look at fantasy baseball prospects, I took a look at a couple of guys that I would be avoiding in redraft leagues in Oscar Taveras and Taijuan Walker. At the other end of the spectrum are two guys that I will be looking at in redraft leagues this year in Tigers third baseman Nick Castellanos and Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud.

Nick Castellanos

The Detroit Tigers drafted Castellanos in the supplemental round of the 2010 draft and since that date it’s been a steady ascension for the young third baseman. From 2011-2013, Castellanos rose a level every year, culminating in 595 plate appearances last year in Triple-A. His reputation has never been one for power as he has managed just 35 home runs in 1601 at-bats across three season in the minors. He does have the ability to consistently make good contact though so he can support a high batting average.

All the scouting reports about Castellanos will say pretty much the same thing: very quick bat that can make good contact but his power upside is still very much in the air. Here’s a good quick read from Baseball America regarding his true upside for a season.

One advantage Castellanos does have is that unless he falls flat on his face, he should get just about every day at-bats for the season. There’s not much on the 40-man roster for challengers to Castellanos’ spot other than Steve Lombardozzi and I doubt that Steve Lombardozzi really eats into Castellanos’ appearances. It’s likely that Castellanos gets over 500 ABs for the season and that’s pretty important for fantasy purposes. When that happens, a .275 average with 15 home runs is a reasonable expectation.

What to do on draft day

The hype train on Castellanos hasn’t started to get off the rails yet: his latest ADP on the NFBC is 256.09 and he’s going off as the 18th third baseman on the board. At that point, he’s at the top of the scrapheap at third base. Here’s what I mean:

  • After the top-15 at third base, per the NFBC ADP, it’s really, really thin. At that point, it’s about which player you’re willing to take the risk on: Power with Will Middlebrooks or Matt Dominguez? The health of David Freese? Why not the upside of a rookie?

Castellanos’ ADP means he’s being drafted into 12-team, 23-man rosters and that’s probably the absolute highest he should go. If his movement within the third base position were to start rising in fantasy drafts, then he would be drafted around the same time as Chase Headley and Nolan Arenado. At that point, it’s an unnecessary risk.

At this point, Castellanos is the Goldilocks of fantasy baseball prospects as his ADP is just about right for now. He won’t be going much lower because of the players behind him and he won’t be going much higher because of the quality of the players ahead of him. If he’s drafted as a corner infield or bench option, fantasy baseball owners should be happy with the return.

Travis d’Arnaud

As a Blue Jays fan, this one is near and dear to me as d’Arnaud was part of the package that the Jays sent to the Mets in exchange for R.A. Dickey. Dickey wasn’t very good last year and Toronto’s catching situation was probably worse than their starting pitching. That’s saying something.

Drafted in 2007 out of high school, d’Arnaud has put in his time in the minor leagues. From 2007 in rookie ball to 2013 in Triple-A, d’Arnaud managed 2150 plate appearances and had a .286 batting average along the way. He likely would have made it to the Majors quicker in 2013 had it not been for a foot injury that kept him off the field for about four months. He finally made it up in August and looked like a rookie hitter getting a late call. The nice part of his season was his walk rate; d’Arnaud was able to draw 12 walks in 112 plate appearances, or six fewer walks than J.P. Arencibia in 385 fewer plate appearances. He has shown power (21 home runs in Double-A New Hampshire in 2011), he has shown the ability to take walks and, by all accounts, he shouldn’t tank his batting average. In other words, d’Arnaud should be able to do what fantasy baseball owners are looking for in catchers outside the top-10 – someone who doesn’t hurt rotisserie teams.

There is little else in the Mets organization for catchers and I doubt that Anthony Recker really takes that many at-bats away. That means 120 games should be in order for d’Arnaud and likely 400 ABs.

What to do on draft day

I’ve never been high on drafting catchers early because of the inherent injury risk with the position. We’ll see if the new rule changes really change the injury risk with the position or not.

I wrote a little while ago about one exception to the early catcher rule and it was specific to AL-Only leagues for this year. Make sure the plan is executed properly, though. Other than that, I like to wait on catchers in most leagues I’m in. I won’t have rosters with Buster Posey on them.

The latest ADP report for d’Arnaud has him as the 16th catcher going off the board. The question for not taking d’Arnaud at 16 is where to go after him: the .220 average of Russell Martin; the uncertainty of Dioner Navarro and Devin Mesoraco; Alex Avila is always hurt; Josmil Pinto is unproven. Having d’Arnaud as a C2 or a late-round addition in 16-team leagues, especially considering the likelihood he gets a lot of playing time, represents the perfect catching risk to take.

Both Castellanos and d’Arnaud will be drafted in most 15-team leagues and Castellanos should be a reserve round pick in most 12-team leagues. Both players have a track record of success in the minors, both will start the year with their respective MLB teams, both players have guaranteed (for now) playing time in the Majors, and both players can be had for very little cost. Considering the options being taken around Castellanos and d’Arnaud at the draft table, fantasy owners could do a lot worse.

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