March 18, 2013
Five to Watch
The Top Prospect Edition
While it’s true that spring training statistics are barely worth the internet parchment on which they are printed, spring training performances are another story. Racking up impressive statistics has little to no value to you, the fantasy player, but overall performances beget changes in player roles and confidence (or lack thereof) in player health. And it’s the contextual nature of the performance that is a net positive or negative for a player’s fantasy value in the upcoming season. To paraphrase a modern-day proverb, Rick Porcello doesn’t have to be faster than the bear—he just has to be faster than Drew Smyly to get a fantasy bump for the 2013 season.
This mini-series will focus on players who have a chance to increase or decrease their fantasy values based on their performances during spring training. And we’ll continue today by looking at five more players who have been impact prospects at some point in their careers. Each of these five players, now fighting for fantasy relevance, was once considered one of the top 50 prospects in baseball (some more recently than others), as ranked here at Baseball Prospectus or by Baseball America.
Against all odds, it looks like Brown is actually going to have a job all to himself in 2013. What he will do with it is an entirely different story. Now 25 years old, Brown has had a total of 433 major-league at-bats—and he has not been overly impressive. His career 703 OPS isn’t going to wow anyone, but there are positives that hint at improvements in the near future.
Over the last two seasons, he’s hit 10 home runs in 371 at-bats, and his bat has far more power potential—which Brown feels that he’s finally unlocking. Sure, he’s hitting .375 with four homers in 56 spring training at-bats, but it’s not about that. Brown has been working with new Phillies assistant hitting coach Wally Joyner for over a month now, and he’s been thrilled with the results. The buy-in from Brown is the most important part of this, as the Phillies have tweaked and re-tweaked his swing over the past few seasons with poor results.
The expectations have been huge for Brown ever since he broke out in the Florida State League back in 2009. He had the potential to hit for a very good average and put up 20-20 seasons. If he is finally starting to tap into that hitting prowess, he could approach the type of fantasy profile he was supposed to provide, only with less speed. The approach has never been an issue, as he has a career walk rate of over 10 percent and a strikeout rate that has improved in each of his three stints in the majors, most recently sitting at 16 percent in 2012.