Pow right in the kisser! Pow right in the kisser! Pow right in the kisser! Ok, so while one of this week’s Future Rookies may not pack the hilarity of Peter Griffin mimicking Jackie Gleason, he does pack a ton of punch and may be a summer spark plug for a surprise National League contender. The other feature player this week looks to beat his Columbus teammate to the show and provide a jolt to a suddenly scuffling Indians team.
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks, 23 years old
One of the surprises of the 2011 baseball season has been the bounce back of the Arizona Diamondbacks. With the San Francisco Giants suffering a litany of injuries to key players, and the other pre-season expected contender for the National League West title Colorado Rockies struggling, the Diamondbacks appear to be in it for the long haul this season. With that in mind, they may turn to power packed first base prospect Paul Goldschmidt for a shot in the arm over the summer.
Prior to this season, Goldschmidt’s tendency to strikeout was nearly as notable as his ability to reach the seats. Last year he struck out in 26.9 percent of his plate appearances, this season he’s reduced that rate to 19.4 percent of his plate appearances all while moving up in level. Such a drastic change when coupled with his retained light tower power makes him a prospect on the rise. Current first base options Juan Miranda and Xavier Nady have combined for just 0.8 WAR, or more 0.6 less WAR than there next lowest contributing regular position player Kelly Johnson, making first base a prime position for an upgrade. Whether or not you subscribe to the notion of measuring a players wins above replacement, the batting lines for both have been lackluster from a position predicated on offensive production.
It seems entirely possible that the Diamondbacks could opt to skip a level with Goldschmidt, ala what the Marlins did with Mike Stanton last year. Unavailable in the Yahoo! player pool, he is a player worth saving a waiver priority for, as his power game changing. It should be noted that in a study of minor league playing environments last season by FanGraphs, the Southern League played fairly neutral, making his offensive explosion that much more impressive. His parent club’s ballpark, Chase Field, is notorious for aiding home run hitting, especially to right-handers, making him all that much more tantalizing. Capable of contributing in leagues of all size, keep tabs on Goldschmidt and pounce upon promotion (and availability).
Jason Kipnis, 2B, Cleveland Indians, 24 years old
Coming out of spring training, and through much of the early going, it looked like Columbus Clippers third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall would beat teammate second baseman Jason Kipnis to the majors. That no longer appears to be a certainty. While Chisenhall has struggled at the dish over his last ten, Kipnis has been on a tear (.342/.409/.605).
The Indians recent struggles caused manager Manny Acta to shuffle their lineup for Monday’s contest against the New York Yankees. The next reasonable course of action would be infusing some fresh talent at their weakest positions. Using WAR as the statistic of choice to measure value at each position, second base has actually yielded a negative WAR thanks in large part to statue-esque defense and putrid hitting totals from starter Orlando Cabrera. In a virtual deadlock with the Tigers atop the division entering play on Monday night, the time is now for the Indians infuse life into the team.
Kipnis warrants attention in leagues of all sizes. The decision as to whether or not to stash him now as opposed to hoping to beat leaguemates to the wire should be dictated by league size and bench flexibility, as well as level of prospect awareness of your competitors. The more competitive and deep the league, the better idea it is to utilize a bench spot stashing him. Comparing Dustin Ackley and Jason Kipnis head-to-head, I believe Kipnis will outperform last year’s number two pick in the amateur draft this year in standard fantasy formats.
Josh is a graduate of SUNY Cortland's Sport Management program, and an aspiring fantasy writer. You can catch up with Josh in the Cafe Forums where he posts as B-Chad. You can also follow his work at The Hardball Times and follow him on Twitter (BChad50).
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