Can the Marlins outfielder right the ship after a dreadful, injury-marred start?
The phrase “I have faith in [Player X]” is often bandied about in fantasy baseball circles. It’s most often uttered about a player who has struggled mightily and people are panicked, wondering if they should be jumping ship. Fantasy experts on Twitter and across the internet attempt to assuage the restless owners, offering optimistic data and promising better things to come.
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Giancarlo Stanton isn't the only name to know in the Miami lineup.
Giancarlo Stanton has always been the focal point in Miami, and that is even truer now that he has signed his massive 13-year, $325 million contract. He’s not their only exciting young player, though. They have a pitching staff that includes Jose Fernandez, Henderson Alvarez, Nathan Eovaldi, and Jarred Cosart. Their outfield, besides Stanton, boasts players like Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich. It’s that last name I want to focus on here. Yelich is a player who obviously has a lot of traction in dynasty and keeper leagues, as he’s been touted as a top throughout his professional career. Well, things are setting up for him to take a real step forward in 2015, making him an intriguing early pick in redraft leagues as well.
Whether you’re in a league that uses batting average or OBP, Yelich is going to be helpful. At a time when the average outfielder is hitting .259 with a .321 OBP, the Marlins’ center fielder just finished his first full season and put up a .284 average and a .362 OBP. This comes from a player who consistently hit in the high-.200s or low-.300s throughout his minor-league career, and hit a similar .288 in his 273 MLB plate appearances in 2013. To make matters better, he did this with very respectable peripherals. Yelich watched his strikeout rate fall to 20.8 percent last season, while his walk rate stayed at a well above-average clip of 10.6 percent. And he did all that while keeping his swinging-strike rate below the league average.
Investigating the young Marlin's top-secret approach at the plate.
Marlins left fielder Christian Yelich looks like he’s 14. But you never notice once he steps in the batter’s box. Yelich doesn’t take a willy-nilly approach to hitting. In fact, his mature approach might earn him the title of “student of the game” (whatever that means). In a recent interview with FanGraphs’ David Laurila, Yelich had this to say on his strategy at the dish:
Bret explains why certain players who were recently promoted never made his list, then unveils this week's top 25.
We may have moved past the big Super Two names, but the call-ups from the minor league have not stopped. Instead we have a slew of non-Top 100 prospects up with bigleague clubs—some even looking at legitimate playing time. For the purposes of the Stash List (which is geared towards mixed leaguers), these players aren’t of requisite value to be on your radar—especially when compared with players who are likely to be free agents in those leagues. At some point, there needs to be a line drawn in the sand between prospects who can come up and produce enough to be ownable in medium-sized mixed leagues and ones that are very unlikely to be able to do so. The truth is that for a lot of these minor leaguers, the only leagues they’re getting picked up in are the ones where almost everyone needs to be owned, and you don’t need me to tell you to own a player who’s going to get playing time in an AL or NL-only format.
But with that said, a lot of people who read this site and this column do play in those deeper formats, so I’m going to dig into some of those players right now, and what I expect from them this season. And let’s start with the most recent, and likely most valuable, call-up of the last week or so:
Notes on 13 prospects who stood out yesterday, most notably Brewers outfielder Victor Roache and Cardinals righty Cory Jones.
Pitching Prospect of the Day: Cory Jones, RHP, Cardinals (Low-A Peoria): 6.0 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 12 K. Another start, another shove session for Jones. The fastball can touch the upper 90s, and he uses a power curveball that flashes plus to miss bats. There is effort in his delivery, and that, combined with an inconsistent changeup, suggests that Jones’ ultimate future is in relief. Regardless, he is now squarely on the prospect radar; 26.0 IP, 22 H, 6 ER, 5 BB, 28 K in four July starts.
Position Prospect of the Day: Victor Roache, OF, Brewers (Low-A Brewers): 2-3, 2 HR, 2 R, 7 RBI, 2 BB. Roache has top-notch raw power, and he really can pack a punch when he gets his hands extended on a ball. The problem here is that superior pitching may give Roache a world of trouble. A player like Roache relies on his power, and if he is not able to make consistent contact, the pop becomes irrelevant; .349/.391/.814 with 2 2B and 6 HR in last 43 at-bats.
At the Futures Game, Bret saw many of the players ranked here firsthand. Revised notes on their fantasy potential and the updated rankings lie within.
There’s no doubt about it in my mind—the Futures Game is hands down the best event of All-Star Weekend. And with the entire experience being local for me this year, I was able to take advantage of my geography and head out to Citi Field to see seven members of this week’s Stash List with my own eyes. Of course, it also helped that I had the more finely tuned eyes of Zach Mortimer and Chris Mellen from the BP Prospect team, among others, with me for most of the game. And before we delve any further into this, if you haven’t checked out Zach’s Minor League Update from yesterday with notes from a number of Futures Game participants, just click there and then come back. I can wait.
It’s no coincidence that a number of the names you’ll see below were among the most impressive prospects I saw on Sunday, as Futures Game performances tend to swing toward the more advanced guys. Here are a few who caught my eye in particular for fantasy purposes:
The Baseball Prospectus 2013 Top 101 Prospects, by Position, by Organization, and by Age
Yesterday, Jason Parks and the Baseball Prospectus prospect crew released our Top 101 Prospects of 2013, also newly available in printed form in the now-shipping Baseball Prospectus 2013 annual. The festivities were wild and raucous for all, perhaps tempered slightly for fans of the Chicago White Sox. Here is the Top 101 list displayed by position, by organization, and by prospect age. Enjoy!
A trio of perplexing pitchers leads off today's Ten Pack.
Dylan Axelrod, RHP, White Sox (Triple-A Charlotte)
The fact that Axelrod even reached the big leagues is quite an achievement. A 30th-round pick in 2007 by the Padres, Axelrod lasted a year and a half before landing in Indy ball, but all he did was get better. His primary skill is the ability to throw strikes. He pounds the strike zone with an 88-91 mph fastball, has a decent slider, and a somewhat-less-than-decent curve. He has no changeup, but he hits his spots and keeps hitters off balance; while that's the kind of pitcher who should hit a wall, he just hasn't yet. With 7 2/3 shutout innings on Sunday, he now has a 1.08 ERA in four starts for the Knights to go with 26 strikeouts and just four walks. He's already a great scouting find for the White Sox, and has to upgrade that status by becoming a usable arm as a No. 5 starter or middle reliever, which exceeds any expectation ever put on him.