Archive | Top 100 Prospects 2012

Finders Keepers: Billy Hamilton

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Finders Keepers: Billy Hamilton

Posted on 27 August 2012 by T.J. McDonald

With the fantasy season winding down and the fantasy playoffs starting soon, we have come to the end of the Finder Keepers series. Before I do, as promised last week, I will give you one more potential keeper prospect.  My number one rated offensive keeper prospect is the one and only, already legendary base stealer, Billy Hamilton. In this final installment I will give you a little information on him, his keeper potential and value, as well as talk a little about his rumored September call up.

Billy Hamilton was drafted in the second round of the 2009 major league baseball draft out of Taylorsville High School by the Cincinnati Reds. He was ranked as the 50th best prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America prior to the 2011 season and became the 12th minor league player to have 100 stolen bases in a season with 103 SBs while hitting .278.

He then moved up to the 48th ranked prospect by Baseball America prior to this season before taking the baseball world by storm, catching everyone’s attention by breaking Vince Coleman’s 29 year old professional record of 145 stolen bases on August 21st.

By mid season, he had climbed the prospect ranks reaching #27 on Keith Law’s mid season prospect rank. His remarkable baseball stealing skills have made him one of the most talked about prospects in all of baseball this year. He is so fast on the base paths that he has been known to score on a sac fly from second.

He is currently at 150 SBs on the seaon as of this writing.  He has been so dominate in the base stealing department this year that he leads the AA Southern League with 45 SBs in 42 games having only debuted in AA a little over a month ago on July 11th.  He also still leads the High-A California league by 19 SBs and hasn’t played a game at High-A since July 7th.  He is hitting .320 this year, a .042 point improvement from last year, and looks to have become a good switch hitter, which he has been working on since being drafted and hitting .311 from the left side this year, his weak side.

With this unheard-of-speed, there have been rumors of the Cincinnati Reds calling him up come September, when rosters expand, strictly for pinch running purposes. The manager of the Reds, Dusty Baker, seems very high on his future, stating recently, “I know the guy’s who records he broke, I know Vince Coleman. I know Donnel Nixon. That’s a tremendous feat. The amount of running you have to do. Your legs have to be in great shape. With sliding, your body takes a pounding. The fact that he’s been able to do that and stay healthy is remarkable.” “Someday, he’ll be here and be a tremendous force.” Lately it sounds like that day may be here sooner than some expected with Baker also stating, “It’s been discussed, It’s not my decision. You’ve got a lot to factor here. Once you put him on the roster, you’ve got to keep him on the roster. . . We’ve asked about him big time. But there’s more factors.” Couple that with GM Walt Jocketty’s comments recently, when he said, “We obviously are having very serious discussions about it, I don’t think he’s ready to play at this level but he certainly could run the bases.”, and I would not be surprised if we saw Hamilton causing havoc on the base paths in September as a pinch runner in the big leagues.

To put his feat into fantasy prospect Mike Trout is leading the majors with 41 stolen bases, Rajai Davis second with 39 and Michael Bourn third with 35.  If an owner owned all three of these players he would still be 34 stolen bases behind Hamilton alone in the stolen base category this season. Theoretically speaking if Hamilton continues his dominance  on the base paths in the majors he could single-handedly win you the stolen base category without a single stolen base from another player on your roster all year. This coupled with his good average, on base percentage and the prospect of him hitting lead off and getting a high number of at bats for your fantasy team. He is my number one rated offensive keeper prospect in my prospect keeper evaluations. While there is some concern that he may not stick at short stop long term, as the Red’s are currently have rookie Zack Cozart playing well at the short stop position. He will steal bases regardless of where he plays and the Reds will find an everyday spot for him as early as next year.  While at the beginning of the year it seemed far fetched that Hamilton would debut this year it does not seem so now and while he will not play on an everyday basis and probably won’t start, if called up we will get a good look at his base stealing abilities.  He may not break camp with the big league club at the beginning of next year. However I do foresee him getting the call at some point next season and becoming an everyday player. Hamilton is owned in %3 of ESPN leagues, 3% of Yahoo leagues and 26% of CBS leagues. Don’t be the one weeping, find him and keep him. I grade his keeper potential as an A+.

As the fantasy baseball season winds down and comes to a close I hope you have enjoyed both the Welcome to the bigs, kids series as well as Finders Keepers. In these series combined I have profiled eight potential keeper prospects and hope you will reference them the rest of the season in your search for the best available keeper prospects in your dynasty/keeper league.

Will you be picking up and keeping Billy Hamilton? Do you foresee a September call up and do you think he can keep up his remarkable base stealing feats at the major league level? Let me know in the comments and as always follow me on twitter @FantasyzrTJ. Also, be sure to check out Blake Murphy’s Cincinnati Reds’ Farm System Report for more on Hamilton and other Reds’ prospects to keep an eye on.

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Finders Keepers: Dylan Bundy

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Finders Keepers: Dylan Bundy

Posted on 20 August 2012 by T.J. McDonald

With the playoffs starting in some leagues and with roughly only two weeks left in the fantasy baseball regular season in others, now is the time for keeper and dynasty league owners to find the future stars of tomorrow. In keeper and dynasty leagues, you always need to be on the look out for the next potential star and keeper for your roster, whether that player fills an empty keeper spot or upgrades a previously kept player at said position. September is a key month in scouting your keepers of the future. In the next two finders keepers articles, I will be profiling the number one pitching keeper prospect and number one offensive keeper prospect, as graded by me, with both surprisingly being rumored as September call ups.  First up and this week’s profile is my number one recommended pitching keeper prospect, Baltimore Orioles right-handed pitching prospect Dylan Bundy.

Dylan Bundy was the 4th pick overall in the 2011 major league baseball draft. Drafted out of Owasso (Okla.) High School, he was the 2011 Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year, Baseball America High School Player of the Year Award and the USA Today National Player of the Year. In Keith Law’s mid season prospect ranks on July 13th, Bundy was rated the number two prospect in all of baseball and was number one in Baseball of America’s mid season prospect rankings posted July 5th. So far, Bundy has lived up to the hype as he’s been lights out in his first season in the minors. He posted eight consecutive scoreless starts in Low-A, then when promoted to High-A, he struck out 63 batters in 54 2/3 innings. He then went 5.1 innings giving up 2 earned runs with 3 strikeouts and 3 walks in his AA debut. Overall, he is 8-3  with a 2.01 ERA, 106 Ks and 22 BBs in 20  games started over 89.2 innings pitched across three minor league levels this year. He also appeared in this season’s Future Games during All-Star weekend held in Kansas City. Kevin Goldstein stated recently in his article Time for O’s to call up Bundy, ”Bundy’s fastball sits in the mid-to-upper 90s and both his curveball and changeup are advanced, and for much of the season he hasn’t been allowed to throw his low 90s cutter. Which many believe is his best pitch. For many, Bundy is the best pitching prospect in baseball.”

Recently, the Orioles sent their designated hitter, Jim Thome, currently on the disabled list, to watch Bundy’s first start in AA. Showalter said Thome was impressed but told the manager he thinks Bundy needs to add a slider to be successful in the majors. “Well, he does have a slider,” Showalter says. “A real good one. Actually, it’s more of a cutter. They took it away from him down there to reduce the wear and tear. He really wants to throw it. Imagine how good he’s going to be if he’s throwing a cutter, too.”

The Orioles have been very conservative with Bundy this season as he was only allowed to go three-innings in starts in April. He was allowed past five innings for the first time Aug. 1 which was his 18th start of the season. The plan currently in AA is to have Bundy pitch in a six-man rotation  and make a total of four starts, the last of which is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 1. That is the day major league roster limit expands from 25 to 40. This also would leave Bundy at approximately 100 innings pitched at the end of August which is enough under the roughly 125 innings at which the Orioles plan to cap him, for him to help them in September. The Orioles recently shocked the baseball world in calling up their top offensive prospect in their organization Manny Machado directly from AA skipping AAA altogether. So a September call up for Bundy is definitely not out of the question especially with the Orioles in the thick if the playoff race and looking to make their first post season appearance since 1997.

Even if he is not called up in September, which all indications point to him getting the call, he is predicted to start in the Orioles’ rotation next year. If he is available in your league, stash him now and keep a close eye on his possible promotion and results if and when he is promoted. Here is his percentage owned in the following leagues; 0% ESPN, 2% Yahoo, 22% CBS. Pitching prospects are always hard to predict but with some comparing Bundy to the likes of Justin Verlander, Dwight Gooden and Tim Lincecum as well as his pedigree, youth and fact that he is on the fast track to the majors. I grade his keeper potential as an A+.

Will you be picking up and keeping Dylan Bundy? Do you agree with the Orioles possibly calling him up come September and are you buying the hype? Feel free to let me know in the comments and as always follow me on twitter @FantasyzrTJ.

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manny machado

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Finders Keepers/Welcome to the Bigs, Kid: Manny Machado (Special Double Edition)

Posted on 10 August 2012 by T.J. McDonald

Welcome to the special double edition of Finders Keepers/Welcome to the Bigs, Kid. Late Wednesday evening, the Baltimore Orioles shocked the baseball world and fantasy community, at large, by announcing the call up of their top position player prospect, 20 year old Manny Machado.  If you are familiar with either of this series of articles you know what will follow. But if not, here is what will. In this piece, I will give a little background on Machado, welcome him to the bigs and go into his long term fantasy value as well as give my overall keeper potential grade.

Manny Machado is a 20 year old shortstop prospect in the Baltimore Orioles organization.  He was drafted 3rd overall in the 2010 Major league draft, was Baseball America’s #11 prospect coming into the season and was ranked #9 in their mid-season rankings. He projects to be a potential All Star with plus grades for both hit tool and power from scouts. He hit .266 with 11Hrs and 59 RBIs in 19 games this year in AA.  While profiled as a shortstop, the Orioles plan to give him time at third upon his promotion as they are in the thick of the playoff race.

The Orioles are in a three way tie atop the wild card standings and only 4 and a half games back of the AL East leading New York Yankees.  It looks as if the Orioles are doing everything they can to make their first playoff appearance since 1997.  While Machado has not been lights out this year in AA, since the AllStar break, he has hit a .275 with four HRs, 11 BBs and 15 Ks in 104 plate appearances and was on a tear his last ten games hitting  .444 with three doubles, two triples, three HRs and seven RBIs.

If he can live up to even half the expectations most have for him it will not be hard to outperform the dismal production of the revolving door of Orioles third basemen this year who’ve hit a combined .245 with 13 HRs and 45 RBIs on the season. The one catch here may be his defense.  He has only played two career games at third with one error, so some could argue the O’s are throwing him into the fire at the hot corner without the proper minor league experience at this position.  However, the Orioles have struggled defensively at third, with Wilson Betemit making a team-high 13 errors at third and Mark Reynolds making six errors at the hot corner in 15 games and also the Orioles do not seem to overly concerned about the tranistion.

As Oriole’s vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette told the team’s official website,”Manny should be a plus defender, wherever we play him. He’s a five-tool player, and he can help our team. I think he improves our team, and it’s important here (for this club) to be strong.” When Manny himself was asked by the media before Thursday’s game about how comfortable he was playing third his response was, “I’m very comfortable out there. Every day I try to be proactive, I try to take a couple ground balls at third base after I catch my grounders at short. I am pretty comfortable out there. So, I’m really looking forward to it.” He started at third base Thursday night going 2-4 with a triple and one run scored.

Now for his fantasy value in yearly leagues. I wouldn’t drop anyone of good to decent value for him. As @FantasyRundown stated yesterday on Twitter, “Human nature to get excited about the latest and greatest, but I would not drop anyone of significance for Manny Machado.”  However, I suggest if you have a bench spot or start the Logan Forsythe and Willie Bloomquists of the world, pick him up.  Just keep in mind, many top prospects struggle when they first get called up.  Case in point, Mike Trout struggled in his first tour in the big leagues prior to this season.

Once Machado gains his dual eligibility (3b/SS), it will be a major asset going forward and since he will be playing third primarily depending on your leagues rules it shouldn’t take long to add 3rd base eligibility to go along with his short stop eligibility. With this dual eligibility he could be a valuable asset onany yearly league owners bench.

Now for keeper leagues. Pick him up as he is a very highly rated prospect and a highly rated prospect can be very valuable keeper and or trade asset. Keep him for the rest of the season and go from there or even flip him immediately to the owner in your league who is enamored with prospects. Either way it is a win/win. At worst, he can be dropped come keeper time and at best, you have either flipped him for valuable pieces and/or have the next big thing on your fantasy roster come keeper time. He may lose shortstop for next year but if he does not, having dual eligibility will make him that much more valuable. When a prospect is called up prior to the expanded rosters in September it gives you a larger sample size than just the normal September callup small sample size. This enables you to have that much more of a look at the player. Allowing you to make an even better asset of him as a player and potential keeper, come keeper time. Percent owned as of Thursday August 9th: 2% ESPN, 8% Yahoo and 35% CBS. He is currently only shortstop eligible. I grade his keeper potential as an A.

Will you be picking up Manny Machado or did you happen to have have him already rostered?  Let me know in the comments and, as always, be sure to follow me on Twitter @FantasyzrTJ for all your fantasy baseball needs.

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Finders Keepers: The Jean Segura Edition

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Finders Keepers: The Jean Segura Edition

Posted on 30 July 2012 by T.J. McDonald

By now, we have come to the point of the fantasy season where it is painfully obvious for some and dangerously close for others that they are no longer in playoff contention. While there is always next year, for owners out of contention in Keeper and Dynasty leagues, now can be prime time to mold a solid foundation for a future title run. Enter shortstop/second baseman Jean Segura, who Friday was in the Milwaukee Brewers and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim trade for Zack Greinke. On Friday, Zack Greinke of the Milwaukee Brewers was traded to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim  in exchange for three prospects:  shortstop/second basemen Jean Segura, RHP John Hellweg and RHP Ariel Pena. While on the surface most baseball fans and fantasy baseball players in general will view this as Greinke to the Angels. For keeper and dynasty league owners it should be all about Jean Segura to the Brewers. Below, I will go over Segura’s minor league profile and path to the majors now that he has been acquired by the Brewers and his long term potential and prospects.

Segura is a second basemen/shortstop who was currently ranked as the Angels #1 prospect  in their system following the graduation of Mike Trout  earlier this year. He was also ranked as Keith Law’s 44th best prospect in all of baseball coming into the season and 67th best prospect by Kevin Goldstein. He was the Angels only representative at the Future’s Games during the All Star break. Segura’s career average is.310 with 203 RBIs and his 122 career walks drawn show good plate discipline. He was hitting .294, 7 Hrs, 40 RBIs and 33 SBs in 374 ABs with the AA Arkansas Travelers the Angels AA affiliate prior to his call up on on July 21st.  However he was immediately assigned to AA Huuntsville Milwaukee’s AA affiliate following the trade but is predicted to make his Brewers debut later this year. He has struggled with injuries throughout his minor league career but has hit for a high average with good stolen base numbers at every minor level so far. He has low power numbers, career high HRs 10 with scouts being very high on his plate discipline and his ability to make contact.  He is profiled as a possible All-Star who should hit for average with true plus speed.

Now for his keeper potential and prospects. He was blocked in the Angels organization by long term contracts for starting shortstop Erick Aybar and starting second baseman Howie Kendrick. With the added road block of super utility infielder Maicer Izturis and Mike Scioscia’s general reluctance  to rely on rookies. While he was called up recently by the Angels, prior to the trade, when Aybar went on the disabled listed he only saw one game of actual game action going 0 for 3 with 2 strike outs. Now that he is with the Brewers his path to the majors and full playing time is much clearer. Short stop talent is very thin in the Brewers organization and he is only blocked at the major league level by shortstop Alex Gonzalez currently out for the year with a torn right ACL with the Brewers holding a club option on him for next year, 36 year old utility infielder Cody Ransom and 32 year old veteran shortstop Cesar Izturis. None are considered the long term option at short for the Brewers. All signs point to Segura reaching the big league club this year, becoming their everyday shortstop starting opening day next year and sticking there for the foreseeable future.  If you are looking for a long term shortstop in your keeper or dynasty league then Segura may be your man. With a possible call up coming later this season this will give you a nice glimpse of his potential and services he could offer as a keeper for your fantasy team. As of yesterday he is owned in only 0.1% of yahoo leagues, 0.1% ESPN leagues and 8% CBS leagues. He is currently second base eligible only in both CBS and yahoo with SS eligibility only in CBS. He is being projected long term as the Brewers everyday short stop. He does however have the skills and ability to play second so he could have duel eligibility in future fantasy seasons. I grade his keeper potential as a B.

Are you at the point in your keeper or dynasty league this season where you  have one eye on the future? Will Jean Segura be on your radar for a possible pickup and keep? Feel free to let me know in the comments and as always following me on twitter @FantasyzrTJ for all your fantasy baseball needs.

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matt-harvey-mets

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Welcome to the bigs, kid: Matt Harvey

Posted on 26 July 2012 by T.J. McDonald

Matt Harvey, a starting pitcher in the New York Mets organization, is the latest highly touted prospect to get the call.  He will start Thursday against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Arizona. He will replace Miguel Batista, who was designated for assignment Sunday, in the rotation. Expectations are high but as Harvey stated earlier this week, “I can’t do what I can’t do.  All I can do is go out and do the best I can and see what goes from there, minor adjustments are going to be made. I’m not going to change my whole repertoire.” Below, I will go over his profile as well as his fantasy value in yearly leagues and his long term potential in keepers/dynasty leagues.

Harvey is a 23 year old right handed starting pitcher for the Mets who stands 6’4  and weighs 210 pounds with a fastball that reaches up to 98 MPH and very a good changeup.  He was originally drafted in the third round in 2007 by Los Angeles Angles of Anaheim but opted not to sign and instead attended the University of North Carolina. After three years at UNC he was then drafted by the Mets in the first round in 2010, #7 overall. He was ranked the #38th best prospect in baseball by Keith Law coming into the season and ranked as the 9th best fantasy prospect on July 20th prior to his call up by Kevin Goldstein in his top 12 fantasy prospects. The top 12 fantasy prospects  rankings are a bit different from other prospect rankings; these are strictly for 2012 fantasy purposes. So not only does talent and recent performance play a role in the rankings but potential paths to the big leagues also factor in.  In his two seasons in the minors Harvey is 20-10 with a 3.48 ERA. He’s struck out 268 batters in 245.2  innings. He was 13-5 spanning Class A and Double-A in 2011. He was 7-5 with a 3.68 ERA, 112 Ks and 48 BB in 110 innings pitched this year in AAA.  The strikeout numbers are there but much like with many other rookie pitchers walks could be a concern.

Now as for his fantasy value, in yearly leagues rookie pitchers are always a tough call. Usually I would recommend picking up highly-rated prospects in all leagues. Pitching prospects, especially in yearly leagues, do not always fit that pattern of recommendation much like with another highly touted prospect, Trevor Bauer, who struggled with his control when he was called up this year, which eventually led to his demotion. Walks could be an issue for Harvey. In yearly leagues, take a wait-and-see approach before you make the add. This is not to say he can’t help you the rest of the season but I recommend seeing how his first couple of starts go before pulling the trigger on the add.  This could be risky, as another owner may grab him, but as we saw with Bauer earlier this year, let someone else roll the dice right now.  If he has a solid start or two, you should add but until then hold tight in yearly leagues.

Now for Keeper/dynasty leagues. If needing pitching help add him now if available but bench him for a start or two.  He is profiled to be a potential #2 or #3 pitcher and should stick in the Mets rotation long term. You will be better off adding him now and possibly having this pay off big when keepers come around. Rather than taking the wait and see approach, and hoping that he is still available after he emerges as a solid fantasy starting option. Expectations should be tempered for rookie pitchers but they can pay big dividends long term.

Will you be picking up Matt Harvey in your league or be using the wait and see approach? Let me know in the comments and as always follow me on twitter @FantasyzrTJ for all your fantasy baseball needs.

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