With regular season minor league baseball over and many top prospects failing to accrue regular starts as they sit on major league benches, it’s a difficult time to break any real prospect “news.” The slow-down in action does afford us the ability to view some prospects in retrospect, though, as well as predict who will be of more use in 2013 than we may have originally thought.
With that in mind, let’s focus on the positive this week, and look at five players on the Fantasy prospect rise, as well as the man sitting on the Fantasy prospect throne.
On The Upswing
Jurickson Profar (SS, TEX)
Even those with just a casual interest in the minors will have heard about Profar’s ridiculous MLB debut in which he hit a homerun and double in his first two at-bats. Up-the-middle prospects tend to be overhyped, but Profar is the real deal. He’s a slightly better MLB prospect than Fantasy one because of his defense, but that’s not a knock on him at all – it just means I have him ranked as the best pure prospect in the game, but had him all the way down at No. 3 in my Fantasy Midseason Top 100. I’ve compared him to a Jimmy Rollins-like Fantasy force in the past, although Profar has a better bat but inferior speed. With Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler still healthy and effective, and Michael Young continuing to lead the league in intangibles, Profar has no clear path to the majors. It’s possible that Andrus or Kinsler could be dealt, Kinsler could switch positions or Young could assume bench duties, but don’t assume Profar will start 2013 in the majors. You can’t keep a talent like his down for long, though, and Profar will be a Top 10 and possible Top Five Fantasy shortstop as soon as he receives regular playing time. Believe the hype.
Adam Eaton (OF, ARI)
At what point do a prospect’s statistics start to outweigh his scouting reports? It’s a difficult question for any prospect prognosticator to answer, making Eaton a hard player to peg. He has no one outstanding ability, but his hit and speed tools are above average and his ability to get on base should be unquestioned at this point. Eaton’s never posted an OBP below .400 in professional baseball, and it’s hard to see him falling to anything below a .370 clip in the majors. At worst, he should be a solid source of average and runs, and could threaten for 20-plus steals as well. There are plenty of rumors that Arizona will look to deal Justin Upton or Chris Young this offseason, meaning Eaton could begin 2013 as a starter. If he does, he makes a great late-round pick, especially in OBP leagues.
Jeff Locke (SP, PIT)
With Erik Bedard banished to the ranks of the unemployed despite posting a serviceable 4.09 Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) mark through 125.2 IP, Locke becomes the Pirates’ No. 5 starter for the remainder of the season after a phenomenal campaign in Triple-A. Locke has never ranked highly on national prospect ranking lists because of his lack of upside, but he’s a 24-year-old southpaw with 170 innings of sub-2.50 ERA ball in the minor’s highest level under his belt. His ceiling is as a No. 3/4 starter in the NL, but I think his floor is basically as a No. 5 and he’s there now. Locke won’t rack up the strikeouts, but he could have a career similar to former Pirate Paul Maholm and isn’t a horrible start against some of the NL’s weaker teams from here on out. He’s an especially nice sleeper in NL-only leagues.
Bryce Brentz (OF, BOS)
I have to admit that Brentz is one of the more difficult prospects to evaluate that I’ve come across. The good? Legitimate 25-homer power, a potential friendly home ballpark in Fenway and close proximity to the majors. The bad? Some scary strikeout rates, a BABIP-fueled average and my first-hand view of him when he was completely powerless against Gerrit Cole in Double-A last month. Some see an above average RF in Brentz, while others see a fourth outfielder. I’ll split the difference, and predict that while he’ll be a good source of homers and RBIs, his average will relegate him to a fourth/fifth Fantasy outfielder role. There’s still value in that, though, and as he was recently promoted to Triple-A. Brentz should see the majors in 2013.
Delino DeShields Jr. (2B, HOU)
Billy Hamilton has stolen nearly as many headlines as he has bases this year, but don’t overlook DeShields, who’s nabbed 102 bases of his own between Single and High-A this season. DeShields doesn’t have Hamilton’s eye and lags a little behind in terms of raw speed, but he’s at least a 70 runner and has a little more pop than the Reds’ speedster. DeShields is a Top 100 Fantasy prospect now, but he may lose some value if he has to move to center field – not an unlikely proposition given his weak arm and the presence of Jose Altuve. He could be a perennial 50-steal threat in the majors.
Trevor Story (SS, COL)
Another potential Fantasy middle infielder of the future, Story has a very strong first full professional season, putting up a .270/.361/.499 line in Single-A. Story won’t turn 20 until November, yet should start next season in High-A, where he’ll need to work on limiting his strikeout rate while maintaining his impressive pop. With Troy Tulowitzki signed in Colorado through the next millennium, the odds are pretty good Story will have to move to second base eventually, but his power/speed combination will still make him an intriguing Fantasy option. He’s a surefire Top 150 Fantasy prospect, and could sneak onto the back of my next Top 100.
What more does Wil Myers (OF, KC) have to do to get a call-up? The 21-year-old has mashed 37 homers and reached base at nearly a .400 clip between Double and Triple-A this season, and was just named Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year. This is not a man who should be losing playing time to the likes of Jeff Francouer. Myers should start 2013 hitting in the middle of the Royals lineup, and it’s surprising he wasn’t among KC’s initial September call-ups. The second he’s in the majors, try to make room for him on your roster.
You might take a gander at Carlos Peguero’s (OF, SEA) minor league power numbers and see a potential source of power down the stretch. If so, I’d ask you to take a look at Peguero’s 32 percent strikeout rate at Triple-A, plus the fact that he’ll play half his games at Safeco Field, and reconsider. Peguero may eventually carve himself a role as a powerful bench bat, but he’s not starter material. Leave him be unless you’re in the deepest of deep AL-only leagues.
Avisal Garcia (OF, DET) brings a different skillset to the table than Pegeuro, but is similar in that you shouldn’t expect much from him in the majors yet. Garcia made small strides in terms of plate discipline this year, cutting down on his strikeouts but still walking in less than four percent of his PA. He’s a potential 15 homer-15 steal threat down the road, but should spend 2013 in Triple-A.
Hopefully you weren’t counting on Josh Vitters (3B, CHC) or Brett Jackson (OF, CHC) for much of a Fantasy lift after their call-ups. Neither player is doing much to suggest he’s ready for fulltime starting duty in 2013, and Vitters especially seems completely overmatched. If they continue to have poor Septembers, they should start back in Triple-A next April.