A couple fresh faces appear this week in Future Rookies. When a player posts an OPS north of 1.000 for over a month and a half, and he is playing in the International League, not the video game number generating Pacific Coast League, he tends to get noticed. The other feature player this week is currently blocked (which I say loosely) by a couple of players generating negative WAR’s for the defending National League Central champions.
Dayan Viciedo, 3B, Chicago White Sox, 22 years old
After a weak start to the season in April, Dayan Viciedo has posted an OPS of 1.025 in 109 at bats in May and 1.026 in another 67 at bats in June. Still a free swinger as his low walk total on the season would suggest, he does make a lot of contact for a slugger (just a 17.2 percent K/PA). His power has never been a question in scouts eyes, but his defensive position has. Often described as a first base/designated hitter type, he was moved off of third base coming into the season. Unfortunately for Viciedo, those positions are occupied by Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn, meaning he’s had to learn to play the corner outfield. Have no fear though, manager Ozzie Guillen and general manager Kenny Williams could care less about defense. Don’t believe me? Well, the proof is in the pudding. On the season, Juan Pierre has posted a negative 7.5 fielding score in one corner outfield position while Carlos Quentin has a 0.4 fielding score after posting a negative 24.3 score in 2010 and a negative 14.5 score in 2009. Most would agree fielding metrics are a work in progress, but those are some ugly numbers. In Quentin’s case, he has nothing to worry about as he’s scalding the ball, but Pierre should probably be looking over his shoulder.
In spite of a poor start to the season, and a sub-.500 record, the White Sox are just five and a half games out of the American League Central lead. Kenny Williams has a propensity to shake things up, making it a strong possibility Viciedo is turned to in order to provide a spark soon. Thanks to his time in the majors last year, he carries third base eligibility, even though he’s highly unlikely to see playing time there. Those in need of help at corner infield or third base should add him to their watch lists, and owners in deeper leagues with bench flexibility would be wise to stash him.
Zack Cozart, SS, Cincinnati Reds, 25 years old
News of Albert Pujols fractured wrist has sent shockwaves through Major League Baseball, and is likely to hamper the chances of the St. Louis Cardinals retaining their tie atop the National League Central with the Milwaukee Brewers. Lurking just two games back is the 2010 National League Central champion Cincinnati Reds. Glancing at the team’s WAR chart on FanGraphs, it is easy to spot the biggest team weakness in the field, and that is shortstop. Both Paul Janish and Edgar Renteria have been terrible at the position, meanwhile, prospect Zack Cozart has played very well repeating the highest minor league level.
Last season Cozart hit .255/.310/.416 with 17 home runs and 30 stolen bases. He’s taken a large step up in the batting average category this year while cutting back some on his strikeouts and maintaining solid home run pop for a middle infielder. His stolen base totals are down a bit this year, not entirely surprising considering Baseball America describes him as only having average speed and credits his stolen base success on his base running acumen. Regardless, he does look like the type of player capable of producing teens home run and stolen base totals over the course of a full major league season. A bit old for a prospect, and repeating a level for the second time in his career (he repeated Lo-A, though in fairness he opened there in his draft season and only received 184 at bats) the question of how fast he will be able to adjust upon promotion hangs over his head. Available in the Yahoo! database, he is a player worth watching in deep mixed-leagues using a middle infield position, as well as NL-only formats, but he doesn’t need to be stashed.
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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