This week’s Future Rookies looks exclusively at the Triple-A level. A few familiar faces from this column made their Triple-A debuts last week, while another made his major league debut Sunday night. All players featured this week have a chance to reach the majors at various times this summer, so fantasy gamers, take notice.
Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Chicago Cubs, 22 years old
Rizzo is quite familiar with the friendly confines of Future Rookies, and according to a few sources, he could be getting his introduction to the friendly confines of Wrigley Field sometime in June. He raked last year in the Pacific Coast League, and followed that up by crapping the bed with the Padres, so some fantasy owners may be skeptical of the young first baseman this season. Early season reports around the internet suggested that Rizzo has made the necessary adjustments, which is far more important than a repeat obliteration of PCL pitching. The ultimate test will come against big league pitching. In large mixed leagues and NL-only formats, owners would be justified in using a bench spot to stash Rizzo in anticipation of a June call-up.
Matt Adams, 1B, St. Louis Cardinals, 23 years old
Last week I called Adams the Cardinals first baseman of the future, and suggested he’d receive a cup of coffee in September when rosters expanded. That time table went out the window when Lance Berkman suffered a knee injury on Saturday and had to be helped off the field. The severity of the injury is unknown, but according to Karl Ravech, Berkman believes he tore his ACL. If that’s the case, Berkman’s season is over, and perhaps even his career. Sad news for a player who seemed like a genuine good guy. On a significantly less serious note, that would open the door to Adams retaining the first base job this season and going forward. His ability to hit for average and power makes him a solid addition in large mixed leagues that use a corner infield position, as well as NL-only leagues.
Travis d’Arnaud, C, Toronto Blue Jays, 23 years old
D’Arnaud got off to a sluggish start with Las Vegas, but has been sizzling since. He has 63 at-bats in May, and has popped five home runs in that time span while slashing .317/.368/.635 with five walks versus 10 strikeouts. He has better plate discipline stats against right-handed pitchers, but has slugged at a higher clip against left-handed pitchers. His stats are solid against both, though, and don’t point to any split issues in the early going this year. He is arguably the most desirable catching prospect to own in dynasty leagues or large keeper formats. If he reaches his offensive ceiling, he’d be just a cut below the elite fantasy catching options in the majors.
Grant Green, OF, Oakland A’s, 24 years old
There was a time that Green’s listed position above would have read shortstop. If that were still the case, his fantasy future would be much more intriguing than it is. As it stands, his ceiling is limited at the deep outfield position. He doesn’t have a high power or speed ceiling. That said, he’s raking this year, and has been on fire in his last ten games. In those games he has received a total of 42 at-bats, and made the most of them hitting .452/.477/.690 with two doubles, one triple, two home runs, and one stolen base.
The A’s outfield is crowded, and with Coco Crisp and Yoenis Cespedes likely to return from the disabled list soon, unlikely to become unclogged anytime soon. In addition to Cespedes and Crisp, the A’s will be looking to cram Manny Ramirez into the designated hitter spot when he is eligible to join the active roster post-drug suspension on May 30, which should push Seth Smith and Johnny Gomes into more outfield duty. The team also has their hottest hitter Josh Reddick playing right field, and fellow prospects Michael Taylor and Jermaine Mitchell in Sacramento with Green. That exhaustive list of names doesn’t even include reserve outfielder Collin Cowgill, who was acquired from the Diamondbacks in the Trevor Cahill trade, or superior outfield prospect Michael Choice who is playing for Double-A Midland. Did you follow all of that? The short of it is, there isn’t a clear path to playing time for Green, and his window of opportunity to prove himself with the A’s may be small. These things tend to sort themselves out, and if Green keeps hitting, he’ll get his shot and stick. He’s not a prospect worth stashing in most leagues, and that includes dynasty formats.
Trevor Bauer, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks, 21 years old
Bauer makes his weekly appearance here this week as a result of his promotion to Triple-A Reno, and subsequently dominated in his debut. Perhaps as impressive as his 11 strikeouts, he went eight innings and walked just one batter. Efficiency hasn’t been Bauer’s strong suit, thus, seeing an efficient debut is encouraging. Patrick Corbin has been underwhelming in four starts with the Snakes, Joe Saunders is regressing after an unsustainable start to the year, and even with Dan Hudson figuring back into the rotation mix soon, the door could be open for Bauer to reach the majors in the early summer.
Jake Odorizzi, SP, Kansas City Royals, 22 years old
Like Bauer, Odorizzi made his Triple-A debut last week. Odorizzi’s wasn’t nearly as eye popping, but it was respectable nonetheless. He struggled after a promotion from High-A to Double-A last year, so it remains to see how quickly he is able to adjust to more advanced competition in 2012. The Pacific Coast Leagues is a notoriously hitter friendly league, so Odorizzi’s high flyball rate will be put to the test, and a few lumps via the gopher ball could be in order. He may not see the majors this year, but if he does, his fantasy value is likely to be minimal. His strong play repeating Double-A, and the fact he earned a promotion to Triple-A already bodes well for his long-term keeper and dynasty league value.
Wil Myers, OF/3B, Kansas City Royals, 21 years old
Myers joined Odorizzi in trading his Northwest Arkansas uniform for new threads with Omaha. Myers saw some limited exposure to third base at the end of his stay at the Double-A level, but he has yet to see any time there in four Triple-A games. His long term home should be an outfield corner, but his fastest path to the bigs could be as a center fielder, something I discussed at The Hardball Times about a week and a half ago. Myers fantasy stock continues to sky rocket. His power surge this season, coupled with his previous plate discipline rates and ability to hit for average, point to a potential heart of the order skill set.
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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