Top prospects at short and catcher answer questions about their hitting, plus a pair of college arms garner extra attention.
J.P. Arencibia, C, High-A Dunedin (Blue Jays)
Matt Wieters gets a lot of attention, and rightly so, but there's another college-sourced catcher taken in the first-round of last year's draft who is impressing at High-A in his full-season debut. The 21st overall pick out of the University of Tennessee, Arencibia got off to a slow start in a pitcher's league, but his has been one of the hottest bats in the minors of late, with 18 hits, four doubles, three home runs, and 16 RBI in his last 16 games to raise his overall liine to .315/.342/.530 in 43 games. He's also showing improved defense behind the plate to accompany what has always been an above-average arm. He's not in Wieters' class as a prospect, but who is? Forget about that unfair comparison, and realize instead that the Blue Jays have a player in their system who projects as an above-average everyday big league catcher. Can more than half of the franchises in baseball even say that?
As in the AL, the Central division is as tight as can be, while in the East two Mets are predicted to take home some hardware along with their division flag.
Today we reveal the Baseball Prospectus staff predictions for the division standings and the major player awards (MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year) in the National League, along with the staff picks in some fun miscellaneous categories.
Each staff member's division standings predictions may be found later in the article. Here, we present a wisdom-of-the-crowds summary of the results. In each table you'll find the average rank of each team in their division, plus the results of our pre-season MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year voting.
Looking for a young player to add to your roster? Here are a few players to watch (or avoid), for this year and in keeper leagues.
Fantasy drafts are over, the real 25-man rosters have been announced, and we even have some baseball on record that didn't require an alarm clock to watch. Of course, this is the time of year where we lament the loss of sleeper picks who didn't make it out of spring training; the Reds alone demoted Jay Bruce and Homer Bailey, while the Marlins sent down top prospect Cameron Maybin. There are others, and some of them need the extra time in the minor leagues, but as a fantasy owner you want to know who is worth keeping on the roster, and who is just going to fall flat on their face and needs to be cut. That's what we will take a look at today, as I've picked a few players who I've received multiple questions about.
A tradition rolls into its third season, as Jim peeks at the projected VORP leaders among players without big-league experience.
Each year around this time, we take a look at the young players with no major league experience who have the highest PECOTA on a position-by-position basis. Some of these players are ready enough to pop, while others are still a few years away. Others still are non-prospects who just happen to be the most big-league friendly at their position, but who may never even see the majors owing to age and other factors. We're also going to look at how the players discussed in 2006 and 2007 fared. To be eligible for inclusion here, a player must have no major league experience, although I reserve the right to waive that restriction if a particular position runs thin. Even with that, it can be no more than a handful of plate appearances or batters faced.
The 2005 draft produced a bumper crop of flycatchers that dominate the upper echelon of center field prospects.
Like most years, the center field list is packed to the gills with athletes and high-ceiling players. Like most years, many of these players are center fielders for now, but won't be by the time they get to the big leagues. The 2005 draft has the potential to go down as one of the best ever for outfielders--even with Justin Upton and Cameron Maybin already in the majors--and the first three players on the center field list are first-round picks from that year. Another shows up two slots later, and a fifth makes the honorable mention list despite a disappointing year. The usual caveats apply--one has to be in the minors, one has to be technically a prospect (fewer than 130 big league at-bats), and 2007 draftees are not eligible, but will be discussed separately.
A farm system that is in no way deep can at least thrill Reds fans with the best prospect tandem in the game.
1. Homer Bailey, RHP
2. Jay Bruce, RF Very Good Prospects
3. Joey Votto, 1B Good Prospects
4. Drew Stubbs, CF
5. Johnny Cueto, RHP
6. Travis Wood, LHP
7. Sean Watson, LHP Average Prospects
8. Milton Loo, SS/3B
9. Chris Valaika, SS
10. Paul Janish, SS
Kevin moves on to the young corner outfielders, where there's more than a little controversy about the Devil Rays on the list.
Corner outfield spots tend to go to the sluggers, and there
are a good number of them here. The top five players on this list are among
the best bats in the minors, and number six would join them if not for
extenuating circumstances. This is an impressive group that will become even
better when some of the center field prospects play their way into a corner.
Goose Gossage's failure to make it into Cooperstown got Nate thinking, how do you decide which relievers are Hall of Famers?
Truth be told, as much as I like Jay's work, I also think there is something to be said for gut-feel. A metric like JAWS tells you a lot about a guy's value, but it doesn't tell you quite as much about the shape of his career. JAWS applies what I would call the sausage method for assessing player value: you mush everything together into a nice, cylindrical package, add appropriate seasoning, and come out with what is hoped to be a tasty product. JAWS is, indeed, a very tasty sausage, and it's a heck of a lot more worthwhile than the spoiled cold cuts that most of the press is munching on. But it's still a sausage.