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January 24, 2014

Get to Know

First Base Prospects

by Craig Goldstein


Given all of the major-league talent and production that plays at first base, you’d think that there’s a veritable cornucopia of names that are lurking just below the surface, waiting to be promoted and produce. Well, you’d be wrong. So very, very wrong. And not the kind of wrong where you don’t want to be right, either.

Instead, what we find is a smattering of players who have a strong enough offensive profile to withstand the weight of expectations placed on a first baseman, while also featuring a lack of defensive ability so distinct that their teams aren’t even attempting to play them out of position with the hope that they could somehow not be a first baseman. Instead, the depth at the major-league level is created when teams ultimately give up on the guys they are playing out of position and transition them down the defensive spectrum, because, at this point, winning games starts to matter.

With that in mind, please understand that this list will either be shorter, or contain less impact than one might reasonably expect given the type of bats the end up at first base. The type of power bats that will ultimately populate the first base slots in the fantasy universe will instead come from those prospects who failed to play enough defense to justify their prodigious bats. This includes such luminaries as Miguel Cabrera (LF/3B), Albert Pujols (LF/3B), Chris Davis (RF/3B), and many more. It’s a time-honored tradition, and we’ve already seen one highly thought-of prospect walk the beaten path from third to first base this offseason.

Names for 2014

Jonathan SingletonHouston Astros
A clear frontrunner among first-base prospects, Singleton has a lot of things going his way. He can hit for power and average, and he still has youth on his side. Add in favorable conditions when it comes to the players in his way and it’s a no brainer. Singleton need only outperform Jesus Guzman and Brett Wallace to take hold of the starting job in Houston. It’s likely that doesn’t happen before late May/June though, as Houston has everything to gain by holding him back until they retain another year of free agency. It could be late June if they decide they don’t want to trifle with the idea of Singleton gaining Super Two status. He made the decision easier on them when he missed the first 50 games of 2013 thanks to a second positive test for a drug of abuse (marijuana). The upside for Singleton? They don’t test for marijuana in the majors. Healthy averages and mid-20s-home-run power can be expected from Singleton’s peak seasons, and a mid-2014 arrival is likely.

Maikel FrancoPhiladelphia Phillies
The first of many to make the transition from minor-league third baseman to major-league first baseman, Franco will reportedly make the position switch in time for the 2014 season. While he won’t begin the season there, the big leagues are certainly within Franco’s grasp. While scouting stat lines can be dangerous, it’s hard to overlook Franco’s impressive .339/.363/.563 slash line in 292 plate appearances upon being promoted to Double-A Reading in 2013, along with his 70 (!) extra-base hits across two levels. So let’s not stat scout—Franco has excellent hand-eye coordination that allows him to overcome some noise and length in his load and swing. His bat speed is impressive and enables him to not only make contact, but hard contact. The body is a bit of an issue and likely prompted his move across the diamond, but the bat is good enough to play there. It would have been an impact offensive profile at third base, and while it’s playable at first, the question now is how impactful can it be? Franco is likely to begin the season at Triple-A and any extended absence from Ryan Howard could prompt his call up.

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Fantasy Article Fantasy Players to Avo... (01/24)
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Fantasy Article Get to Know: Second Ba... (01/30)
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