It’s nearly time to flip the calendar from May to June, which means fantasy owners stashing highly touted prospects are likely as excited as grade schoolers anticipating summer break. With the all important, and largely estimated, “Super Two,” date approaching, this week and next week’s Future Rookies will take on a slightly different format. The format will be more of a quick hit approach so as to highlight more players. Also, with a significant chunk of the season now in the books, player’s 2010 statistics will no longer be displayed, just their work from this season.
Brett Lawrie, 2B, Toronto Blue Jays, 21 years old
Standing just two games out of first place in the rough and tumble American League East, the Blue Jays are likely to be tempted to promote Brett Lawrie shortly after June 1. They have seen very little production at third base from the likes of Edwin Encarnacion and Jayson Nix. It should also be noted that Jose Bautista has yet to play a game at the hot corner for them this season. Third base isn’t the only position the Jays have lacked production from, as second base has also proved a black hole at the plate with Aaron Hill barely able to eclipse a .600 OPS, leaving open the outside possibility that they could shift Lawrie back to his former position.
Over his last ten, he has been especially hot hitting .366/.460/.780 with a 8:9 walk-to-strikeout rate and five home runs in 41 at bats. Should his improved plate discipline prove sustainable, it could portend well for a smoother transition to major league pitching upon his promotion. Regardless of the position he plays for the parent club, he’ll open with second base eligibility in Yahoo! leagues, adding third base eligibility would only further enhance his appeal to would be owners.
Dustin Ackley, OF, Seattle Mariners, 23 years old
The second overall pick in the 2010 Major League Baseball amateur draft is knocking on the door of a promotion. His overall season line is a bit underwhelming, but he has been heating up, hitting .349/.429/.558 in his last ten games. Displaying a little bit of pop and speed, Ackley has an opportunity to be a useful player as a middle infielder once he’s able to gain second base eligibility. Expect his power to be more of the doubles variety in the bigs, as he’ll be going from the ultra-hitter friendly Pacific Coast League to playing his home games in the spacious Safeco Field. Working in his favor is that Safeco reduces home runs significantly less to left-handed hitters than their right-handed counterparts. Those in leagues that use OBP should note his strong walk rate, as it will make him more valuable in those formats than standard scoring leagues.
Yonder Alonso, 1B, Cincinnati Reds, 23 years old
Drafted out of the University of Miami as a first baseman, the Reds began Yonder Alonso’s transition to the outfield last year when Joey Votto further solidified his unquestioned status as their long term answer at first base by bringing home the National League MVP hardware. As you’d expect, he’s going to sink or swim with his bat, as he’s not much of a defender. Alonso has smoked the ball in the International League, and could eventually find himself trading bus trips in the minors for first class travel with the Reds.
Dusty Baker has had no problem trotting out a no glove, all stick player in Johnny Gomes, something that bodes well for Alonso’s future playing time potential. Considering Gomes stick has also been non-existent, it’s easy to envision Alonso forcing the Reds hand if they prefer keep Chris Heisey in a fourth outfielder role and deem Fred Lewis better suited for part-time duty as well. He could also be a trade chip, offering another avenue of reaching the majors this year. The ideal option for max fantasy value would be the former, as Great American Ballpark may help prop up his modest power, and a trade to a less favorable home ballpark would further sap his already mediocre home run potential.
Charlie Blackmon, OF, Colorado Rockies, 24 years old
Since being drafted in the second round in the 2008 draft and opening in Short Season Single-A, Charlie Blackmon has advanced a level each year, opening this season in Triple-A. Blackmon has been fantastic this season, while Rockies starting center fielder Dexter Fowler, and reserve outfielder Ryan Spilborghs have scuffled. Trailing the defending World Series Champion San Francisco Giants by three and a half games, the Rockies could turn to Blackmon to serve as a spark plug if either, or both, Fowler and Spilborghs continue to struggle. Temper expectations a bit out of the gate, as Colorado Springs (his Triple-A home) is pre-humidor Coors-eque.
Brandon Belt, 1B, San Francisco Giants, 22 years old
The Giants made a somewhat surprising decision carrying Brandon Belt on their opening day roster. Just 52 at bats into the season, they had a change of heart and decided further seasoning was necessary for Belt to truly flourish at the highest level. He has done nothing but hit, and hit some more, while transitioning to the outfield since his demotion. At 27 wins and 19 losses, it might come as a surprise to some that the Giants offense is tied for 28th in runs scored. The current corner outfield options as well as first baseman Aubrey Huff have posted yawn inducing numbers, making it a matter of when, not if Belt will be summoned to inject life into a punchless offense. Adding outfield eligibility will help Belt’s case for ownership consideration in more than extremely deep mixed-leagues and NL-only formats.
Mike Minor, SP, Atlanta Braves, 23 years old
The loser of the battle for the fifth starting spot in the Braves rotation, Mike Minor has one poor start in the majors under his belt on the season, but looks to get a second and third chance to redeem himself on Wednesday and May 31. Minor has done about all that could be asked of him in the minors this year striking out over a batter an inning, limiting his walks, and recording more groundball outs than flyball outs. Much better than his 4.1 inning clunker against the Brewers would suggest, Minor is a solid speculative start against a below average Pirates offense this week. Keep an eye on that start, as he could prove himself worthy of another spot start in his second turn.
Josh is a recent college graduate from SUNY Cortland where he majored in Sport Management. You can catch up with Josh in the Cafe Forums where he posts as B-Chad.
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