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 Bloomquist‘s 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.