The former first-rounder plugged the Giants' hole at the keystone, but can he do the same for your fantasy squad?
A first-round pick of the Giants back in 2011, Panik quietly hit his way up through the minors, landing a spot on the MLB roster halfway through the 2014 season. Once viewed as a shortstop, he’s settled in as a second baseman for San Francisco, and with Brandon Crawford firmly entrenched at short, Panik figures to stay at the keystone for the foreseeable future.
Panik’s rough 2013 campaign in Double-A tempered what was already pretty lukewarm enthusiasm about his future, but he answered his critics in a big way in 2014, both in Triple-A and in the majors. Once viewed as a surefire utility infielder, Panik now seems like he may at least be a second-division starter, and the Giants probably think there’s even more here.
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A look at several future keystoners and what they might offer from a fantasy perspective.
Our first two editions of Fantasy Fool’s Gold made much ado about power. Covering the catcher, first base and third base positions, a common critique of the players profiled in our first two installments revolved around a lack of pop.
Thankfully, such expectations are not foisted upon men who occupy the keystone. That’s good, because with the players listed below, power is once again in short supply.
Looking at the top shortstop prospects who are likely to remain prospects but unlikely to remain shortstops.
In the first two installments of this series, we took a detailed look at the progress of the top shortstops in the minors; specifically, the shortstops who either possessed the pure skill to stick at the position all the way up the chain or possessed enough of that desired purity to make an interesting argument for their long-term projection at the position. For the third and final section, we will take a closer look at the shortstops who feature a less-than-pure skill set and will most likely be playing another position at the highest level.
It needs to be said that not all shortstops are created equal, and just because there is a 6 next to your name on the lineup doesn’t mean you possess the aforementioned pure defensive qualities of the players evaluated in previous articles. Organizational need and passable [read: suspect but playable] skills can often win the day, and without trusted eyes on the prize, a good bat can often influence how we view a good glove. It’s realistic to assume that a few prospects featured in this part of the series might end up playing some shortstop at the major-league level, and suggesting otherwise isn’t an assault on their status; rather, projecting a player to stay at the position at the highest level is highly uncommon, which should elevate those in that category without diminishing those who fall a little short. These are the prospects for whom industry opinion reaches volumes louder than a whisper when it comes to their ultimate defensive roles.
Notes from the AFL as the rest of the leagues were off on Monday.
All notes are from the Arizona Fall League as all other leagues were off on Monday, aside from one makeup game in the Dominican Winter League. Two of the offensive stars in that 15-6 victory for the Estrellas de Oriente were journeymen minor leaguers Ed Rogers (3-for-5, RBI) and Alex Valdez (2-for-4, HR, 2B, 4 RBI), who have played in over 2100 minor league games combined in their career.
Between the weather, the Mythbusters, and Full House reruns, life's pretty good in San Francisco. But that doesn't mean their top prospects can't fail like the rest of us.
Prospect #1: OF Gary Brown Background with Player: My eyes; industry sources Who: A first-round selection in the 2010 draft, Brown emerged as a near-elite prospect in 2011, showing above-average offensive potential to match his well above-average defensive skill set. The 23-year-old center fielder has all the qualities to become a frontline defensive force, with top-of-the-chart speed that gives him a very broad coverage area, a very solid glove, instincts for the position, and solid-average arm strength. His bat isn’t in the same league as his glove, but the hit tool has promise, with some scouts projecting it to be a plus weapon at the major league level. Without much pop, Brown’s game is more contact and speed, limiting his overall offensive impact, but making him a realistic leadoff option. His defense at a premium position will be his ticket to the majors, and the development and utility of the stick will determine whether Brown becomes a fringe starter or an All-Star. Opinions on the ultimate projection are quite mixed.
What Could Go Wrong in 2012: “Brown’s offensive skills aren’t as average as his 2012 numbers might suggest, but they aren’t as top-shelf as his 2011 numbers either. The reality is somewhere in between. He’s a good hitter, but he’s not a great hitter.” This is a tasty quote from a very good source, and it represents the majority of opinion I received when I asked around about Brown. His struggles in Double-A can be attributed to his weakness against quality right-handed pitching, most notably arms that can locate velocity inside or drop sharp breaking stuff out of the zone. He has good bat control and a stroke designed for contact, but he either fails to recognize and adjust to such off-speed offerings, or his appetite for unhittable breaking balls is so intense that he is compelled to swing despite knowing that his attempts will be for naught. I’m assuming it’s the former. If he can refine this skill, Brown should be more than adequate at the plate, with contact ability and enough speed to turn weak contact into base hits. Power is never going to be a big part of his game—his swing is built for the gaps rather than the seats beyond the fence—but he can put the good part of the barrel on the ball. His value is elevated by his ability to play center field at a high level, so anything you can get from the bat will only add to his worth. If the bat fails to develop to major league standards, Brown will still reach the level thanks to his glove and his speed. If he can hit for some average, his overall profile will make him a starter. If the bat explodes, he will be a star.