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May 28, 2014

Deep Impact

Week Eight

by Ben Carsley

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Don’t go chasing long intros, just stick to the players and the predictions you’re used to.

Kyle Blanks, 1B/OF, Athletics
Of course the A’s acquired Kyle Blanks. It’s just too perfect. Oakland is doing all it can to utilize all the platoons ever this year. Blanks is a career .238/.336/.404 hitter against left-handed pitching. And this is an organization that’s taken plenty of chances on big-power prospects who’ve busted in recent years. Blanks is a natural fit, and he should eat away at the playing time of Josh Reddick (against lefties) and Alberto Callaspo (in general), neither of which are bad things for Oakland.

But is it a good thing for fantasy owners? Well... sort of. Blanks is leaving the hitting hell-hole that is Petco Park, but Oakland isn’t a much friendlier home ballpark. And as a short-side platoon option, Blanks might only see 150-200 PA this entire year. He can easily hit 10-plus homers during that time, though, and he’ll be worth a look if for some reason he heats up or is made to see more extensive time. But overall, you should only pick up the former Padre if you’re truly in desperate need of power, or you’ll probably just end up firing Blanks again in short order.

Charlie Culberson, 3B, Rockies
Is there any team in baseball that has more mildly intriguing, ultimately disappointing, fringy MLB infielders than the Rockies? Thankfully the answer may be no, as we have no shortage of options to discuss when a player like Nolan Arenado—enjoying a breakout year—is lost to injury for several weeks. With the immortal D.J. LeMahieu entrenched at second base, it will be left to Culberson and Josh Rutledge (#Butledge) to battle it out for at-bats at the hot corner.

Early lineups suggest Culberson has the edge for playing time, and while that’s surprising it’s not necessarily a terrible thing. I know Rutledge has his own fan club, but Culberson was quite good in Triple-A last season, and his power-speed combo is pretty similar to what Rutledge brings to the table. Culberson isn’t going to be an elite option, but if he can grab 100 PA while Arenado is on the bench, he’s a semi-intriguing option for those who concern themselves with leagues of this size.

Maikel Franco, 3B, Phillies
This week’s “run, don’t walk to the waiver wire” prospect is Franco, who suddenly finds himself on the cusp of MLB playing time thanks to a DL stint from incumbent Phillies third baseman Cody Asche. Franco is hitting just .211/.311/.358 in Triple-A, so the Phillies may very well decide he’s not ready for prime time. But his 9.3 percent walk rate is a great sign, and a .257 BABIP is dragging down the rest of his stats.

Franco is one of the better pure power prospects in the minors when you consider his natural pop and his home ballpark. His defense at third base will leave much to be desired, but he’s a better option at the hot corner than Ryan Howard, so I don’t think we need to worry about that just yet. His upside is such that he’s worth a speculative add even with the knowledge that it’s only 50-50 as to whether he actually gets the call this week.

Brandon Workman, RHP, Red Sox
There’s been a general divide between what Red Sox fans/followers believe Workman will be and what national scouts believe he will be for a long time. This isn’t a terribly unique phenomenon, and no one is really to blame. It’s natural for homegrown writers and fans overrate their own prospects, and it’s natural for national writers/scouts to miss nuances or jump to quick conclusions based on limited looks at a player.

It’s that dichotomy that makes judging Workman from a fantasy POV so difficult. Ask many writers/scouts about Workman, and they’ll tell you he can function as a No. 4 starter in the majors. Ask others, and they think he’s a multi-inning reliever. I find myself waffling between his ultimate roles quite frequently, but one thing we do know is that he’s here now and he’s fantasy relevant. Workman will give up some homers and won’t help or hurt your WHIP, but he can miss some bats, shouldn’t kill you ERA and it’s possible he’ll earn a few wins, too. He’s a boring, viable option in favorable matchups for deep leaguers so long as he owns Felix Doubront’s spot in the rotation.

Deep League Streamer of the Week: Chase Anderson, Diamondbacks
On the one hand, Anderson lacks much beyond a pornographic changeup and MiLB numbers that suggest he has more talent than his 5.06 ERA in the majors would dictate. On the other hand, Anderson doesn’t project as a first division starter at the MLB level. But on the third hand, Anderson is on a second-division team and is facing a very favorable matchup this week. For on Wednesday, Anderson takes on the worst offensive team in the majors in the Padres, and while he doesn’t have the luxury of facing them in Petco Park, I think he’s a decent spot start nonetheless. This is more of a decent play for a win than it is a decent play for strikeouts.

Twitter Question of the Week:

First of all, never apologize for asking me a question on Twitter. If I’m that annoyed by it, I’ll just ignore your or RT your question! But for realz, this is where I draw the line in terms of “going for it” this year and “completely sacrificing your future. Swihart and Manaea are two of the top-50 fantasy prospects in the game, and both could be in the majors by 2016. Reynolds is replaceable, but is still the second best player in this deal. Carp is crap (nailed it) and Belisario is going to finish the year with more #FACE than saves. Porcello may be the best player in the deal currently, but he’s a walking advertisement for regression. Don’t make this deal, Vitaly. You can do better.

Player Namedrop of the Week: Jeromy Burnitz (h/t Craig Goldstein)
Random RP Who Will Earn a Win: Brett Cecil, TOR
Random Backup Who Will Homer: Darin Ruf, PHI
Xander Bogaerts Adjective: Fastidious

Ben Carsley is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Ben's other articles. You can contact Ben by clicking here

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