StrategyJuly 11, 2011

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Future Rookies: Week 15

By Josh Shepardson

USA! USA! USA! A couple of middle infield prospects helped lead the United States to victory with their back-to-back wall banging doubles in the eighth inning of Sunday’s Futures Game. Their reward for playing so well in the spotlight is a feature in this week’s Future Rookies. Something I’m sure they’d be overjoyed to be made aware of.

Tim Beckham, SS, Tampa Bay, 21 years old

2011 AA3185954193170.277.340.390.730

Coming into the year, the 2008 first overall selection Tim Beckham had a lot of work to do in living up to his draft spot. There were questions about whether his glove would stick at shortstop, and if he moved positions, would he have enough bat to be a viable option elsewhere. Somewhat surprisingly, after a poor season in Hi-A in 2010, the Rays aggressively promoted him to Double-A where he’s improved and posted better numbers than last season. It’s looking like a coin flip as to whether he sticks at the position, but that’s a better proposition than the forgone conclusion of a move some had suggested would be the case coming into the year. In the event he sticks at shortstop, his bat has a chance to develop into above average at the position, which instantly makes him noteworthy in fantasy given the dearth of offensive talent there.

Beckham is playing himself back into dynasty league rosterability, though he’s unavailable in the Yahoo! player database at this time. The Rays have struggled mightily to get production from the shortstop position this season in spite of trotting out such offensive stars as Reid Brignac, Elliot Johnson and Sean Rodriguez, leaving open the door for playing time perhaps as early as next season. Unfortunately for Beckham, he doesn’t have a large window to prove himself before he potentially gets lapped by fellow prospect Hak-Ju Lee, who is raking in Hi-A and considered a fantastic defensive player.

Grant Green, SS, Oakland, 23 years old

2011 AA3124244032868.288.350.401.750

Futures Game MVP, and the top prospect in the A’s organization according to Baseball America coming into the year, Grant Green has held his own in Double-A this year. His power is noticeably down from what he enjoyed in the friendly offensive confines of the California League, but still projects to be above average for a middle infielder. In tweeting with Jim Callis of Baseball America, I asked if Green had the glove to stick at shortstop, and he didn’t mince his words (with just 140 characters to work with that should come as no surprise) and simply declared him an offensive minded second baseman, the position he saw time at in the Futures Game in relief of Jason Kipnis.

Unlike Beckham, Green is available in the Yahoo! player database and carries shortstop eligibility for the time being. He should be rostered in all but the shallowest of dynasty leagues, and is a slightly more likely September call-up than the previously covered Beckham given his age and teams tendencies to fast track college guys. That said, I still don’t expect to see him until 2012 at the earliest. Keep an eye on his power as he moves up levels, as he’ll need to recapture his home run thump if he’s going to be a viable second baseman or middle infield option long term in fantasy leagues.

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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