Author Archive

A Trio of Future Closers

Fantasy Players spend a tremendous amount of time every season chasing Saves. Relief pitchers are for the most part inherently unreliable and unpredictable and there tends to be a tremendous amount of turnover at the position. So with so much unreliability among relievers, why bother investing in relief prospects? Well, there are some arms out there who are just so filthy they demand your attention. Sure, you can make do finding the next Casey Janssen and get a solid solution for a year or two… but there’s also something to be said for finding the next K-Rod before he explodes on to the scene. Here are three of my favorite prospects who could be racking up Saves in the near future.

Bruce Rondon, RHP, Detroit Tigers

You all know the score here. Rondon shouldn’t be a new name to any of you, but all the same you can’t do a relief pitcher prospect article and not mention him, can you? The young Venezuelan fireballer had a shot to run away with the 9th inning job in Detroit this Spring but command lapses and inconsistency have him back at Toledo to start the year. Rondon began 2012 in the Florida State League but dominated minor league hitters with an overpowering fastball that hits triple digits. Read the rest of this entry »

Spring Pitcher’s Duel: Jarred Cosart vs. A.J. Cole

On my last day down at Spring Training I was lucky enough to catch two high profile pitching prospects face each other in a minor league game at Astros camp in Kissimmee. Houston power arm Jarred Cosart opposed the also highly regarded A.J. Cole of the Washington Nationals. I thought today I’d provide a little breakdown of those two pitchers and how they can potentially help your fantasy team.

Jarred Cosart

The Breakdown: Cosart

A 38th round pick by the Phillies out of high school in Texas, Cosart is a big, athletic pitcher who can throw mid 90’s all day long. He has a quick arm and the ball comes out of his hand well. Cosart looks like he throws even harder than the 94-96 mph at which I clocked him. I kept looking down expecting to see a 98 or 99 but never got it. There’s some effort in his mechanics, but nothing that would trouble me in terms of workload or injury. The issue with Cosart is more a question of how his mechanics affect his command. He has trouble repeating his delivery and varies his timing. Some of this is a result of a long arm action in back. He also has a prominent head jerk as he releases the pitch and a cross-fire finish to his arm action. These qualities lead to an inconsistent release point and problems finishing up. This is not conducive to the fastball command necessary to be am effective big league starter. Cosart’s power curveball (78-80 mph) shows some tight spin and deep break but it’s mostly useful as a chase pitch only. He also telegraphs the curve with a pronounced difference in his arm action. There’s no real feel for an off speed offering here. Cosart mixes in a straight change but they were all hard, straight and up in my viewing. The ultimate profile here looks to me to be a relief arm but at age 23 he’s still capable of making adjustments that would fix some of the holes in his game.

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Quick Hits from Grapefruit League Minor League Camps

While pretty much the entire Fangraphs staff was in Arizona, your intrepid author eschewed the desert for the tropical breezes of Florida. Different teams. Higher chance of rain. Lots more driving!

Anyway, I traveled around the Sunshine State hitting up minor league camps, watching minor league games and also checking in on some of the best amateurs for the upcoming MLB Draft and International signing period. It’s very difficult to plan these things out ahead because teams haven’t really plotted much out by the time I booked my trip, but I managed to catch some of the better prospects in the game despite that. Today I figured I’d share some observations on players I saw:

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Underrated & Overrated Fantasy Pitching Prospects for 2013

Last week I looked at a few underrated and overrated position player prospects. This week I wanted to follow that up by doing the same thing with some pitching prospects. The rule with prospects is always caveat emptor as they can’t typically be counted on for consistent production or performance. Still, “hitting” on a few helpful guys your league opponents didn’t expect to be useful can lead your team to fantasy glory.

Remember that these players are being evaluated entirely for their 2013 usefulness, without regard to keeper or dynasty implications.

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Underrated & Overrated Fantasy Hitting Prospects for 2013

It’s unlikely any 2013 rookie will have the impact in fantasy that Mike Trout did last season. Actually, it’s kind of unlikely any rookie will have the kind of fantasy impact that Trout did last season again in our lifetimes. Sure, prospects are generally speaking poor bets for consistent production. Yet, every year a few of these long shot bets come through and pay off big. Over the last decade names such as Trout, Craig Kimbrel, Albert Pujols and Rocco Baldelli all helped bring home fantasy titles to their many delighted owners. You don’t even need to find a Trout – which is good because, again, that’s really unlikely! Sometimes a Todd Frazier fills a need perfectly for a team lacking a third baseman. Hitting on a useful prospect or two like that can really make the difference for your fantasy team.

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Mason Williams: Next Great Yankees Center Fielder?

The New York Yankees received some devastating news this week when their star outfielder Curtis Granderson broke his forearm after being hit by a pitch. Granderson has done an admirable job during his three years in pinstripes. He has so far accumulated 406 hits, 108 home runs and a .247/.337/.506 slash line while playing in New York. The Granderson news got me thinking about the organization’s long term future in the outfield. I’ve been very impressed by the looks I’ve gotten at star prospect Mason Williams. While he is recovering from shoulder surgery and obviously not ready to fill in for Granderson or help the major league team quite yet he does remain the team’s best prospect. I thought we’d take a look at what kind of player Williams can be once he is ready for the big leagues.

The Breakdown

When I saw Williams for the first time in 2011 what immediately stood out was how very skinny he is. His build at the time looked more like “marathon runner” rather than “baseball player.” The upside of this is that Williams had and still has a lot of room to put good weight and muscle on his frame without losing athleticism. In 2012 he did begin this process and bulked up a bit. Williams is a very good athlete and plus runner yet he’s not quite a true “burner.” He is a capable base stealer but is doing so on speed right now rather than technique. He’ll need to continue to improve reading pitchers and getting jumps as he faces more advanced competition. He’s not Billy Hamilton but 20 plus stolen bases is reasonable. Williams will be a contributor but non-elite option on the basepaths for your fantasy squad.

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Bryce Brentz: Number One with a Bullet

Red Sox outfield prospect Bryce Brentz made headlines recently when he accidentally shot himself in the leg while cleaning a gun. The injury wasn’t severe and he’s already returning to practice, but who knew cleaning a handgun could be as dangerous as standing in front of Robin Yount? Thankfully for dynasty owners “firearm handling” is not a category in most fantasy leagues. So what can Brentz do for your fantasy team?

The Breakdown

I was able to see Brentz a few times during the 2012 season. Defensively he is a prototypical corner outfielder and his strong arm makes right field a nice, cozy fit. The athleticism doesn’t stand out but he’s not a bad runner. The speed plays better in the outfield than it does on the base paths and his stolen base totals will likely be in the low single digits each season. As he ages his thick build does have the potential to become more of an issue and slow him down to some degree. I still expect Brentz is going to qualify in the outfield until he’s well into his 30’s.

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