Major League Baseball saw a few prominent prospects make their debuts this past week in Eric Hosmer and Julio Teheran. Expect to see more promotions in the coming weeks as the dreaded “Super Two” estimated date passes. This week you’ll read about three hitters who are scorching hot at the dish for their respective clubs in the International League. Unfortunately for two of the players, they appear to be blocked at the Major League level, but are noteworthy none-the-less as they may force the issue or find themselves used at trade bait over the summer.
Desmond Jennings, OF, Tampa Bay Rays, 24 years old
The expected heir apparent to Carl Crawford in Tampa, Desmond Jennings has continued to showcase why he is considered an upper echelon prospect and a person of interest in fantasy circles. A true stat filler, Jennings fits the mold of what the Rays look for in a prospect as he’s a fantastic athlete. Able to reach base by hit, or by working a walk, and armed with blazing speed as well as a manager who isn’t afraid to give players the green light, he should be a prime source for stolen bases when he acclimates himself to major league pitching. As with any prospect, the question is: what is Jennings’ learning curve? With strong command of the strike zone and plus-plus speed, a skill that translates well from level-to-level, his learning curve may not be as steep as others making the leap from the high minors to the majors. Owned in just ten percent of Yahoo! leagues, Jennings is a player that should be monitored in leagues of all sizes and formats, and stashed by owners in need of speed in medium sized mixed leagues or larger.
Devin Mesoraco, C, Cincinnati Reds, 22 years old
Devin Mesoraco has been nothing short of brilliant at the plate in Triple-A in 2011. Unfortunately for him, both Ramon Hernandez and Ryan Hanigan have performed admirably in a timeshare in Cincinnati, and a promotion doesn’t look like it is on the horizon. That said, should the Reds decide they need to make a move in order to make a playoff run once again this season, he’d provide a big chip in the trade market. With Yasmani Grandal ripping the cover off the ball (.278/.421/.546 with seven home runs in 97 at bats) in High-A, the Reds have the luxury of being able to move Mesoraco while retaining a long-term offensive minded option to groom down on the farm. Keep your ear to the ground over the summer, and if whispers of Mesoraco being moved begin to surface, take note and act accordingly. Those in two-catcher leagues with bench flexibility should give strong consideration to stashing him now, as it could prove costly in deep formats to miss the boat on an impact bat at such a weak position.
Yamaico Navarro, SS, Boston Red Sox, 23 years old
Originally developed as a shortstop in the Red Sox organization, Yamaico Navarro has been shifted around at Pawtucket this season, spending the bulk of his time at third base, but also seeing time in the outfield to add to his versatility. Capable of playing each infield position, Navarro has a chance to be a a super utility player for the Sox should they not opt to use him as trade bait over the summer. Currently on the minor league disabled list with an injury to his back that he suffered while beating out a bunt single, there is no immediate pressure to give him a second crack at the majors. It doesn’t sound as though the injury is serious, but it does remain unclear how much time beyond the mandatory seven days he’ll need to recover. Baseball America describes him as capable of playing shortstop (his position on Yahoo) on occasion, but better suited to play second base or third base full-time. Regardless of which position is a better fit, Kevin Youkilis is currently occupying third base (though he could be moved to designated hitter, or first base with Adrian Gonzalez moving to designated hitter, if they opt to not retain David Ortiz for the 2012 season), and Dustin Pedroia is the short term and long term option at the keystone position, making him a blocked prospect.
In order for Navarro to provide any value to owners in re-draft leagues, he’ll need a change of scenery. The Red Sox have shown a willingness to deal prospects to help the parent club, and given his middle-tier prospect status in the organization, it’s unlikely they’d be unwilling to move him should it help their chances at reaching the postseason. Armed with a quick bat capable of generating double digit home runs over a full season, as well as shortstop eligibility and solid numbers in the upper minors, Navarro is a prospect worth keeping tabs on. Last year’s cup of coffee was rather bitter for Navarro, but his return to Triple-A this season has been plenty sweet. Owners in deep leagues and only formats (that includes NL-only should he be dealt out of the American League) may find value in Navarro if things break just right for him.
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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