David Dahl is going to be a popular breakout candidate heading into 2017 for the Rockies. Should fantasy owners believe in the hype?
The MLB regular season is coming to an end, allowing the fantasy community to start looking towards next season. It is never too early to start preparing for next season’s draft, as owners can target potential breakout candidates or busts. One player that will surely generate a lot of discussion heading into 2017 will be Rockies OF, David Dahl.
David Dahl was the 10th overall selection by the Rockies in the 2012 draft. He was drafted out of high school, entering the minor leagues at the ripe age of only 18. The hype around Dahl has followed him since draft day, and he has routinely ranked on the top-100 prospects lists over the last four seasons.
Even though he is touted as a top prospect, Dahl has had his fair of misfortune in the minors. In 2013, he nearly missed the entire season due to a hamstring injury, and in 2015, he suffered a ruptured spleen in a collision with a teammate. While those injuries are nothing to scoff at, when on the field, Dahl has impressed nonetheless.
Dahl’s calling card is his speed, ability to continually barrel balls up, and plus defense in center. Dahl has played left field this season for the Rocks, but has the potential to be a great defender in center moving forward. His best minor league offensive campaign happened to come this season, where he posted a, .314/18 HR/61 RBI/17 SB/.963 OPS line, between AA and AAA.
The Rockies promoted Dahl in July, and since he arrived, he has hit the ball with authority. At the majors this season, he currently sits with a, .316/7 HR/23 RBI/5 SB/.864 OPS line, over only 220 plate appearances. He has chipped in 12 doubles and 3 triples as well, furthering offering a glimpse into the potential that Dahl possesses.
When it comes to Rockies’ players, the first concern is always the Coors factor. While it is a small sample size, Dahl has played 30 games away from Coors and 29 games at home. Fantasy owners will be delighted to know that he has more than held his own in away games this season posting a, .290/4 HR/8 RBI/.813 OPS line. Predictably he hits better at Coors, .343/3 HR/15 RBI/.918 OPS, but both stat lines are more than acceptable.
The only concern with Dahl will be how he adjusts to major league pitching next season, as they make him prove that he can lay off pitches out of the zone. Dahl has a 25% K rate in the majors , and he has never posted higher than a 12% BB rate throughout his minor league career. While he certainly has the speed to warrant a “just make contact” mentality, he has to improve on his 71% contact and raise his BB rate in 2017.
There will be plenty of pundits that point to Dahl’s .408 BABIP as a reason to expect a decline next season, but that number is inflated due to his smaller sample size. That rate is obviously unsustainable, but his 31% LD rate and playing 82 games at Coors next season, will surely keep his AVG respectable.
The hype around Dahl is well justified and fantasy owners should feel comfortable picking him next spring. Owners should hope that his buzz does not force his draft stock too high, but he is well worth a mid round price tag. His bat speed and batted ball data support scouting reports of his great bat speed, and he is definitely a 20 HR/20 SB player. All arrows are pointing up.