From the Minor League Ball mailbag:
“Manny Margot of the Padres. Worth a fantasy investment? Seems like more of a “real baseball” guy instead of fantasy value to me but he went high in my league. I didn’t bite, but what do you think of his future?”—-Scott S, Rosemont, California
Margot is one of the more promising rookies in the National League so let’s take a look and see if we can find an answer for Scott.
The Padres got Margot in the December 2015 trade with the Boston Red Sox. Originally signed by Boston in 2011 out of the Dominican Republic, he performed well in the Padres system last year, hitting pretty well in the high minors while drawing raves for his defense.
Here’s the pre-season comment from the Padres Top 20 prospects list, where Margot ranked second:
2) Manuel Margot, OF, Grade B+: Age 22, signed by Red Sox in 2011, traded to Padres in Craig Kimbrel deal; hit .304/.351/.426 with six homers, 30 steals, 36 walks, 64 strikeouts in 517 at-bats in Triple-A, then hit .243/.243/.405 in 37 major league at-bats; 70 speed and 60 arm work well in outfield, already a superior defensive player with gold glove potential if he hits enough to play regularly; skilled contact hitter with good feel for strike zone despite mediocre walk rate; batting average and power to the gaps should hold steady and more home runs may come in time; fun player to watch, manages the game with controlled aggression if that makes sense; ETA 2017.
Margot wasn’t awesome with the bat in spring training, hitting .242/.265/.364 in 33 at-bats, not far off the .243/.243/.405 line he posted in the majors after coming up late last year. Projection systems don’t differ much from what we are seeing in the small sample sizes so far. Steamer projects him at .259/.303/.372, ZIPS at .257/.298/.375, and PECOTA at .251/.291/.387.
He is quite fast and capable of stealing 20+ bases if he finds his way to first base often enough, so the fantasy attraction in your league is understandable. That said, his defense is definitely ahead of his hitting right now and defense doesn’t do much good in most fantasy contexts. His present value will depend on how much of a premium your league puts on speed.
Thinking long-term, Margot is only 22 years old and his speed and defense will keep him in the picture long enough for the bat to develop further. More power should come eventually and while he doesn’t draw a ton of walks right now, he keeps his strikeouts under control.
Down the line I can see him as a .280ish hitter with 10-15 homers and 20+ steals a year to go with the glovework.
Here’s some of that defense: