Which of these two alliterative West Coasters is the better bet for your fantasy team in 2017?
This week we’re taking a look at two young-ish, alliterative first basemen repping the West Coast. At 28 years old, Brandon Belt is coming off of one of his most productive seasons as a pro, one year removed from signing a lucrative contract extension to keep him by the Bay. C.J. Cron got off to a hot start in 2016, but the embers were quickly extinguished by an errant Mike Wright fastball (bet you didn’t think you were going to read about Mike Wright today, huh?) in July, leading to surgery and missed time for the 27-year-old slugger. Who will be better long term? I’m glad you asked. Let’s dive in.
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Is the Angels' newly promoted prospect worth your time, attention, and dynasty-league dollars?
The Situation: Key injuries and a lack of production have tested the Angels’ internal depth, and the team is now turning to C.J. Cron (the no. 3-ranked prospect in the system entering 2014) in hopes that he can fill the void.
Background: With their first-round selection (no. 17 overall) in the 2011 draft, the Angels opted to go the safe route, taking Cron, an advanced college bat with a history of performance. From the day Cron entered pro ball, talent evaluators labeled the Utah University product a designated hitter, alluding to his lack of defensive value while simultaneously putting enormous pressure on the bat. Despite his college polish, the Angels have taken it slowly with Cron, with annual promotions up the minor league ranks. He stumbled some in Double-A last year but put up a .319/.369/.602 slash line in 28 games in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including outfielders Courtney Hawkins, Billy McKinney, and Joc Pederson.
Best of the Day
Jesus Aguilar, 1B, Indians (Columbus, AAA): 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, K. The general consensus on Aguilar over the years has been that his hit tool is going to hold his power back enough to keep him from being an everyday player, and that as a right-handed-hitting first-base-only player, he doesn’t fit well on the bench. If that’s going to be wrong, he needs to put up really great offensive numbers, because his defense and baserunning will provide little to no value. If Aguilar keeps hitting like he did this winter and is thus far this season (now hitting .563), he’s going to prove us all wrong.
The offensive bar is set high for these minor leaguers, but their defensive shortcomings won't hurt your fantasy squad.
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.
Notes on prospects who stood out abroad yesterday, including Jorge Polanco and C.J. Cron.
Prospect of the Day: Jorge Polanco, 2B, Twins (Leones del Escogido, DWL): 3-5, R 2 2B. Doubles power is probably the best the Twins are going to consistently get out of Polanco, but he has the bat speed to hit a lot of them. If he hits close to .300 and hits the spacious gaps at Target Field, he could be an above-average offensive player at a key defensive position. That’s a nice player.
A look at the notable prospect performances in the desert and abroad.
Games of Friday, November 8
Hitter of the Day: C.J. Cron, 1B, Angels (Mesa Solar Sox): 4-4, R, 2 2B, BB. Cron is known for his power, which is his lone plus tool and the sole reason he ranked third in our ranking of the weak Angels farm system last week. He is not, however, known for the overall hitting prowess he showed on Friday. He also went 2-for-4 on Saturday with a double and a home run and didn’t strike out all weekend.