2B/SS/OF Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox
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The BoSox have called up Betts for the third time in 2014. This time, seriously, says the team’s official site, he’ll have a regular job. Apparently, a defined role wasn’t part of the deal the first time or two the club summoned their top-10 prospect.
OK, it’s a little less cynical than that. And there’s nothing in Betts’ major league, 52-plate appearance sample to suggest that the right-handed hitter won’t be as good as his minor league numbers seem to indicate. That .250/.294/.375 slash line shouldn’t discourage you. If anything, the swinging-strike rate (3.3%) and strikeout rate (11.5%) would be rather encouraging.
Betts, 21, has had no problem hitting for average as he’s ascended the Red Sox’s organizational ladder, having generally improved at each level. Combine that with his penchant to draw free passes, and we’re talking about a potential on-base machine. Couple that with his above-average speed, and the youngster is quite an intriguing, potential asset.
I suspect that he was a little too deferential in his first forays into The Show. His zone rate (53.2%) and swing rate (37.9%) compared to the league in those categories seem to support that. We’ve hardly seen Betts, and when we have, he’s hardly shown himself. In due time. …
I can’t help but think that his 15 homers in 2013 and 11 in 2014 will be a tad misleading. Betts is considered a potentially mild power source, at least down the road. He seems too unlikely, at the 5-foot-9, 155 pounds at which he’s listed, to produce much of that, at least early in his career, though. He’s a gap-to-gap hitter and has been described as such. Double-digit homers, perhaps even fairly soon, I’m sure they’re possible. Even so, I wouldn’t bank on it, and I don’t care about it because of how his prospects as a contributor in on-base and speed categories appear.
Boston will be concerned first and foremost with his defense in center field. They seem pretty committed to him in that spot for the rest of the season. It’s possible that Betts’ concentration on his defense will detract from his work with the stick.
In addition, your league’s rules on eligibility may very well have a say in the demand for Betts’ services in 2014. At some leagues hosts, he’s actually eligible at short, his original position on the farm. At others, he’s eligible at second, where he played primarily in 2012 and 2013 and 46 games for Triple-A Pawtucket this season. In all, at this point, he’s probably eligible in the outfield, where he’s still a potential asset but a little less appealing.
Upcoming schedule: LAA (2), SEA (3), @TOR (3), @TB (4), @NYY (3), TOR (3)
Betts is available in Mixed Tout Wars Draft, a 15-team mixed league where he’s eligible at 2B, and I’ll be putting in a bid for his services. I may have to compete with Eno for them. In my FSWA league, a 12-team mixer where he’s eligible only in the outfield, I may put in a minimum ($0) bid for him, I haven’t decided. It’s an OBP setup, like the Tout league, so he’d be an interesting bench piece. He’d be much more so if he had eligibility at one of those MI spots.
OF Abraham Almonte, San Diego Padres
Ownership: CBS 2% | Yahoo! 0% | ESPN 0.1%
Need someone who offers a bit more promise than that of a warm body in a deep (likely mono, but maybe more) league? Then the switch-hitting Almonte, 25, might do. Recent usage suggests that he’s displaced Will Venable in center field, at least for the time being. Venable, who turns 32 in the offseason, is a free agent after next year, so it’d make sense for the Friars to get a look at the younger player, acquired in a deadline deal, who offers longer-term team control.
Just an FYI, Yonder Alonso (torn tendon in forearm) is out for the rest of the season, so Jake Goebbert has split playing time at first base with Tommy Medica since Alonso’s placement on the DL. There seems to be a reasonable chance that the Friars finish the season that way. Goebbert has warm-body potential, and he might be eligible at first, in the outfield or both in your league.
Almonte (5-foot-9, 205 pounds) teases with the possibility of double-digit home runs in a full season, but that’s not why I’d look to add him. He, like Betts but to a notably lesser degree because of a propensity to swing and miss, has demonstrated an ability to get on base with high regularity. He hasn’t yet displayed in the majors the kind of patience that regularly saw him register walk rates of more than 10%, but he has just 233 plate appearances to his name.
Judging from early plate discipline info on him, it’s possible that pitchers have been aggressive against Almonte, not affording him quite as much of a chance to take the base on balls. In his short time with the Padres (38 PAs), he’s swung the bat often, with good results (.361/.368/.528). It’ll be interesting to see which way pitchers and the short, stout outfielder go from here.
Almonte, also like Betts, has been known to swipe 30-plus bases in a season in the minors. He might not quite as efficient of a base-stealer in the bigs as he was on the farm, but he perhaps offers the hope of a handful of pilfered bases for the rest of the season.
Upcoming schedule: @LAD (2), @ARI (3), MIL (3), LAD (3), ARI (4), @COL (3)
I’d definitely scoop up Almonte in an NL-only league. I may consider him for a $0 contingent bid this weekend in Tout 15-team mixed). I threw him on my watch list in my 12-team mixed league, but I highly doubt I’ll search for his services in that one.
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