This past week, Brent Morel was named the starter at third base for the Chicago White Sox, to the absolute delight of White Sox pitchers. While his glove is definitely a plus, fantasy baseball mavens want to know about the bat, and although Morel isn’t going to do an Evan Longoria rookie campaign impersonation, his bat isn’t something to completely ignore.
The organization and many third base bargain hunters understandably get excited about his career .305/.354/.464 triple slash from three seasons in the minors, including a .320/.348/.503 line at AAA with 8 HR’s and 34 RBI in a little over 300 AB’s. He has legitimately hit at every level, and as recently as 2009, he stole 25 bases, so he also has some speed to go along with above average pop.
However, Morel has benefited from an elevated BABIP at almost every level as well, with a .385 and .363 BABIP in his 2010 AA and AAA stops, respectively. He certainly has the pedigree of a line-drive-gap-hitting bat, but he will likely need good fortune in the BABIP realm at the major league level to keep his batting average north of .275. He has an aggressive approach at the plate and avoids free passes like he’s channeling Kevin Kouzmanoff, and is no stranger to the strikeout, so he won’t help anyone in OBP leagues.
Morel does posses a bit of power and a bit of speed, however, so he’s not to be entirely written off, and certainly in AL-only leagues, he could be quite useful. Projections for him are a bit of a mixed bag:
James: .291/.327/.448 with 13 HR, 62R, 60 RBI, 10 SB in 141 games
ZiPS: .269/.308/.401 with 12 HR, 71 R, 66 RBI, 13 SB in 156 games
CAIRO: .250/.298/.379 with 11 HR, 56 R, 52 RBI, 10 SB in 120 games
RC: .259/.301/.440 with 14 HR, 37 R, 42 RBI, 9 SB in just 307 AB’s
The outlier here is RotoChamp thinking he might just hit 28 home runs and steal damn near 20 bags in a pro-rated full season of at bats, which is, ahem, probably unrealistic. Otherwise, the great minds seem to believe that he’s a guy that can get you into double digits in home runs and stolen bases while not entirely ruining your batting average, although nobody thinks his OBP will be at all palatable.
It’s probably a little late to be talking about ADP and even if you haven’t yet drafted, Morel’s ADP doesn’t mean squat since he just became at all relevant in the past 72 hours. Chances are, he’ll be waiver material in shallow mixed leagues, but he could be quite useful as a corner infielder in others, and even more so in AL-only or very deep leagues. Keep an eye on his start, because at 24 years old, it’s entirely possible that they won’t let him rot his way into a slow death, ala Gordon Beckham, when they have other existing options at third.
But if his purpose is to be a slick fielder, he ought to stick, and given a fair amount of patience, he could be useful at the dish as well. Depending on your format, perhaps even quite handy.