Saturday, December 21, 2013

NL Central Prospects...Worth a Look

Let’s continue our series on viable prospects to consider draft day in 2014. These come from the NL Central Division. Some I like, some are a wait and see.

Chicago Cubs


Javier Baez could eventually be better than Castro and that’s saying a lot. Baez has raw plus power and has showcased it in the Minors over the last year. He accumulated 17HR, 19 doubles and 4 triples in only 337 plate appearances in a very pitcher friendly league before his last promotion. Baez has a very hard and violent swing that he never shortens or adjusts for and situation. He’s not very widely known yet, but within a year Cubs fans will be clamoring for a Baez-Castro infield combination especially with light hitting Darwin Barney not in the Cubs long term plans. Only an injury away from the bigs or if Barney hits below the Mendoza line in June up comes Baez.
Cincinnati Reds

Billy Hamilton will be on everyone’s radar come draft day looking for that potential 100 SB season.  The prototypical leadoff hitter needs position in the Red’s lineup and then needs to get on base. The only problem I see is the Red’s using him strictly as a pinch runner and defensive replacement. If that happens he drastically drops in vale. If he gets a starting gig he should be a 3rd round draft pick with a stat line of 80 Runs and 80 SB.

Milwaukee Brewers

With the Brewers parting ways with Corey Hart and Mat Gamel they are in need of a 1B. Has the answer to 1B been inside the organization all along? At some point, Morris will be given a chance to prove he is the 1B for the job.  What he needs to do is be above average with the bat to have value. He does have thump by providing 57 HRs and a .219 ISO in 337 minor league games.  He is worth a draft pick if he is the front runner for the job in spring training.

Pitsburgh Pirates

A twin to the other Pirates phenom of Gerrit Cole, righty James Taillon is a genuine monster power arm with a very high ceiling, a top of the rotation guy. But for 2014 I feel it will depend if A.J. Burnett re-ups with the Bucs. If not Taillon make the show. He has cracked 100mph on radar and has a curveball that is a plus pitch. I will be drafting him in all leagues this year.
St. Louis Cardinals

Just about everyone has heard of Oscar Taveras but will he make a contribution to the Cards in 2014? Taveras lost a great deal on playing time in 2013 due to an ankle injury but is now fully healthy and will be given an opportunity to complete for the RF job in 2014. One problem with Taveras in 2014 is that the Cards have too many OF even after losing Beltran. The pickup of Bourjos, they already have Jon Jay, and they will be moving Allen Craig to LF to give Adams the 1B job. I love Taveras’ ability but it may be a numbers game that keeps him out of the line-up on a consistent basis. Unless it is a dynasty league draft I would hold off on Taveras.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Prospects in AL West...Worth a Look

Here is the next round of prospects to keep on your radar. With only 60 days until pitcher/catcher report it time to start ranking your players. I’m in my first mock draft with the guys at Fantasy Gameday and you can follow along here. Some surprises so far on player valuations with these managers.

American League West

Seattle Mariners

Taijuan Walker looks like a number one starter on almost any team but the Mariners do have King Felix. Saying that, he will get the nod at probably the #3 SP slot to begin the season. He has accomplished all he can in the minors and even got a quick look (15 innings) in 2013. He has 94-95 mph stuff with late movement, a sluvre curve and a straight change in the mid 80’s. He is worth a draft slot in any  format his year. I will be targeting him in the 22nd round area.


Texas Rangers

Michael Choice grew up driving past the Rangers Stadium as a youth. He is now back as the hometown kid. The 24 year old should take over the duties in LF for the Rangers on opening day after being traded from Oakland. He had a debut in September and went 5 for 18 in nine games. He has been a Minor League All-Star averaging 14 HR and 89 RBI while hitting .302 in 132 games.  The latest scouting report is a guy with raw power good bat speed and draws walks.


Oakland A’s

Addison Russell has moved up the ladder very fast in Oakland after being drafted #11 in 2012. Probably still a year away but an injury to Lowrie or Sogard could bring him up. His stat line from Double and Triple A last year was just sick…29 Doubles, 10 Triples, 17 HR and 21 SB while hitting .275. The scary part is that he still has room to fill out his 6’ 195 pound frame at on 19 years old.  


Los Angeles Angels

Kole Calhoun has less than 220 MLB ABs and may not be a true prospect but he gets the nod because he will be the everyday RF in 2014. In the minors he never hit below .292 and had a .354 season gong before being called up again in 2013.


Houston Astros

Even though Jonathan Singleton had the 50 game suspension setback last year he still has the chance to win the 1B job this year in Houston. Since only 7 1B hit over 25 HRs last year in MLB he has the raw power to exceed that figure and worth a draft pick. The knock on him is his dedication and of course it’s hard to draft an Astros player but he has the opportunity to work himself into a run producing spot in the middle of Houston’s line-up.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Prospects in NL West...Worth a Look

Well, it’s Zero degrees in my neck of the woods and no better time than now to start our Fantasy Baseball work for 2014.  I will open up the season with a breakdown of each team’s prospect that should have fantasy value at some point in the season. These guys may not break camp with the big club but they will contribute at some point. All of these players should be drafted in Dynasty Leagues and taken with late round picks to stash on your bench at least keep on your radar.
NL West
The D’Back’s have in my opinion the best pitching prospect in baseball. He is Archie Bradley. It seems strange to say that a  #7 overall pick in the 2011 draft has exceeded expectations but he has and here is why. His control and command. It is what moved him from High A to Double A in just 5 starts. He ended the season with a combined 14 Wins, 1.84 ERA and 162Ks in only 152 innings pitched.  With a 6’4” 225 pound frame he can consistently hit 94 mph and touches 97 with late life. He is Verlander/ Latos like and will not start the season with the big league club but should be a fixture in their rotation come June. Worth a draft pick to stash on your bench.
With the Rockies bringing up so many young players like Arenado, Rutledge, and Rosario over the last year plus the cupboard must be bare for prospects. That may be true for position players but the weakness of the Rockies has always been their SP. Their best prospect (that will see time in 2014 and provide Fantasy Baseball relevance) is Eddie Butler. He will not break camp with the Rockies but he is projected as a top of the rotation guy with the best Slider and Changeup in Colorado’s organization. A 1.90 ERA and an 8.2 K/9 minor league stat line is impressive. He will be 1st call up to fill rotation spot for the often injured Rockies SPs. Not worth a draft pick but keep on radar.

It’s well known the Dodgers have OF depth as deep as it gets with Kemp, Crawford, Puig, and Either. It is also known they miss a lot of games due to injury. So if a trade does materialize to move an OF or the injury bug comes biting sooner than later up comes Joc Pederson. Playing this winter in the Venezuelan league to get more ABs he has projected again as a 20/20 guy at the MLB level. Last year he put up 22 HR and 31 SB in 123 games. A wait and see come spring training if he is worth drafting.
The Padres have one of the youngest teams in MLB and many of their top prospects are at the age of 20 years old. The only real prospect that has a chance to break camp is C Austin Hedges. He will get a shot because of Grandal’s injury when he came back from his 50 game suspension.  Grandal had reconstructive knee surgery in early July and should miss some time to start 2014. Hedges is a 15 HR guy with a little speed. He really only should be looked at in the deepest drafts this year.
The Giants are very deep pitching wise at the Minor League level but the best chance for an early season contributor will be Andrew Susac at catcher. With Posey possibly moving to1B and DHing at AL parks, Susac could break camp with the team as the 2nd Catcher. What he does best is get on base. He sports and incredible .507 OBP in the Arizona Fall League and had a .368 OBP last year. He has some pop with 29 XBH is 262 ABs last year.