StrategyApril 30, 2012

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Future Rookies: Week 3

By Josh Shepardson

You may have heard the news, a couple of prospects were called up going into the weekend. These two mega prospects will likely be compared directly for the foreseeable future. They weren’t the only prospects to make the news this weekend. A mashing first baseman/corner outfielder quietly made his major league debut on Sunday in the shadow of his much more heralded teammate. Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks will be dipping into the minors to call-up a prospect arm to replace Josh Collmenter in the rotation.

Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels, 20 years old


With Sunday’s three at-bats, he has shed his prospect label. Pretty remarkable for a 20-year-old. Trout crushed Triple-A pitchin, and earned his way back to the bigs. Not shown above, in addition to his one home run, he hit four doubles and used his extraordinary speed to rack up five triples as well. The team made room for him kicking Bobby Abreu to the curb, and it’s likely they will find Trout near everyday at-bats. The team still has a log jam in the outfield and at designated hitter, but both Peter Bourjos and Vernon Wells are failing to light the world on fire, and both can expect to see some extra time on the pine with Trout in the fold.

Trout has yet to get a hit in his first seven at-bats since getting the call, but he has drawn a walk while only striking out once, and did I mention it’s only seven at-bats? He’s 20 years old, so expecting him to play at his peak projection is insane. He’ll have his struggles, but his speed plays now (think 25-plus stolen base potential), and his plate discipline will help him get on base even if it takes him a bit to settle in and hit for a high average. He has solid in-game power already, and it wouldn’t shock me if he hit 10-15 home runs this year. His services likely are, and should be, quite costly in keeper and dynasty leagues. In re-draft leagues, it is worth keeping an open mind. He shouldn’t be given away, but if someone is willing to pay above his sticker price, let that owner do so, and enjoy a tidy profit.

Bryce Harper, OF, Washington Nationals, 19 years old


At 19 years old, Harper is the youngest player in the majors. He had his good moments this weekend where you’d have never known it. In the top of the ninth on Sunday he faced Kenley Jansen with a runner on first, two outs, and a two run deficit. He took one cut in which he was clearly attempting to tie the game up, which is understandable given his crazy power. After not putting the ball in play on that cut, he worked the count full, and eventually took a fastball just outside the zone for a walk. Not bad for a youngster that has been thrust into the spotlight. Narrative aside, the weekend debut was solid for Harper.

Most fantasy pundits and baseball media types are pointing to his lackluster season line in Triple-A. What they aren’t pointing out is that in his last 10 games for Syracuse he had more walks (seven) than strikeouts (six) and hit a robust .290/.421/.419 in 31 at-bats. He also drilled his first home run of the season in that time frame. This doesn’t mean Harper should hit the ground running and fail to have any hiccups. What it does mean is that if he struggles initially, it may be worth waiting to see if he makes adjustments, even in re-draft leagues. Harper’s calling card is his power, but he stole 26 bases last year, so don’t sleep on his speed. He has demonstrated a high enough strikeout rate in his brief minor league career to suggest he probably won’t help teams in batting average. His patience, and the presence of enough power to leave the yard, should aid him in working walks, which will give him a slight boost in leagues that count OBP. It’s highly unlikely he’ll be a superstar right away, but he has enough talent that he’s worth rostering in all but shallow formats. As I instructed with Trout above, if someone is willing to overpay for his services in yearly leagues, oblige.

Tyler Moore, 1B, Washington Nationals, 25 years old


Moore was amongst the best power hitters in the International League in the early going this season, and the Nationals decided they’d like to have his presence on their roster after Mark DeRosa hit the disabled list on Sunday. He split time at first base and in left field for the Chiefs, and figures to do the same with the Nationals. Adam LaRoche is off to a hot start, so expect the bulk of Moore’s playing time to come in the outfield. Questions about his playing time limit his fantasy value, but when he is on the diamond, he’s your prototypical masher. His strikeouts will limit his average, and he won’t offer anything in the stolen base department, but he has plenty of pop. Owners in NL-only leagues in need of power can give him a look and hope he carves out a semi-regular role, but beyond that, Moore should be left in the free agent pool in redraft leagues.

The team and LaRoche hold a $10 million mutual option, with a $1 million buyout, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts. With that in mind, Moore’s path to playing time at his natural position, first base, could be blocked next season if LaRoche keeps hitting. LaRoche’s level of play going forward this season will determine just how valuable Moore is in keeper leagues and dynasty formats. His ceiling isn’t terribly high, so if he doesn’t have a clear path to playing time next year, he doesn’t warrant stashing in most formats.

Pat Corbin, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks, 22 years old


As many predicted going into the season, regression hit Collmenter, and the results for him were ghastly. He’s been pulled from the rotation, but much to the dismay of fantasy gamers, the Diamondbacks will be filling his spot with Corbin, not his two more heralded Mobile teammates Trevor Bauer and Tyler Skaggs. For those unaware, Corbin joined Skaggs as compensation from the Los Angeles Angels in return for Dan Haren. Not a bad haul for the Snakes. Corbin’s ceiling is that of a back end of the rotation arm, but he is older than both of his peers and has more upper minors experience than both as well. In 187.1 innings at the Double-A level, split across last season and this season, he has solid rates of 2.3 BB/9 and 8.0 K/9 which have helped him sport a 3.84 ERA and 1.29 WHIP.

Corbin is a lanky 6-foot-2 southpaw that throws a low-90s fastball and backs it with a change-up and slider. His write-up in the 2012 Baseball America Prospect Handbook suggests his change-up and slider could develop into plus offerings down the line. It also grades his change-up ahead of his slider presently. He has been a strike thrower in the minors, but he’ll need to throw quality strikes in the majors if he hopes to avoid getting punished. His home ballpark further complicates things, as Chase Field is a notoriously hitter friendly park. According to his Minor League Central page, he has induced ground balls at roughly a 45 percent clip the last two seasons combined. By no means is that an extreme groundball rate, but if he is able to carry it over to the majors, it should help limit the damage inflicted by Chase Field. He’s not a player worth burning a high waiver priority on, or busting the FAAB budget, but he could prove to be a useful NL-only arm or a matchup play in large mixed leagues. Monitor his first few starts, but keep his back end of the rotation ceiling in mind, and act accordingly.

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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