The situation: The Dodgers scuffled slightly in mid-August, but after sweeping the Giants this week Los Angeles has settled into a comfortable lead in the NL West. To help stabilize their third-base situation (Justin Turner got hit in the hand on Wednesday night), the Dodgers will call up the top prospect in baseball for the final month in Corey Seager.
Background: The younger brother of Mariners All-Star third baseman Kyle Seager; Corey was a prep standout out of Northwest Carbarrus High School in South Carolina; and it was no surprise when the Dodger selected him with the 18th-overall pick of the 2012 draft. After two solid seasons at the lower levels, Seager’s stock really took off following his sensational 2014 campaign, where he posted a 1.004 OPS at High-A Rancho Cucamonga and continued to rake in Double-A Chattanooga. He’s continued to put up impressive numbers this year, and after hitting .375/.407/.675 at Double-A Tulsa, he earned a call to Triple-A Oklahoma City, and was ranked No. 1 in the Baseball Prospectus mid-season top 50 this July.
Scouting report: You’ve likely heard at some point in your life that a player “just gets it.” If you were ever wondering what it meant, just watch Corey Seager play a game or two.
Seager’s feel for hitting would be impressive for a big league veteran, much less a 21-year-old, and the left-handed hitting infielder’s swing is picturesque; staying through the zone with enough bat speed to make up for its length, and he boasts outstanding pitch recognition to boot. He was one of the few preps I saw that year who was willing to hit the ball the opposite way, and that approach has carried over as a professional; giving him a chance for a plus hit tool. One small concern is that Seager doesn’t draw big walk totals, but there’s enough discipline here to keep pitchers from not throwing strikes.
In addition to the potential 60 hit, Seager also has a chance to hit for power, as there is a natural loft to his swing that, combined with a strong lower-half and good extension, allows him to take the ball out to any part of the park. His ability to put backspin on the ball should make him a doubles machine, as it has in the minor leagues.
Every year, you’ve read a report saying that Corey Seager probably isn’t going to be a shortstop in the long-term. This is another report saying that Corey Seager probably won’t be a shortstop in the long-term. He’s a below-average runner, and while he has excellent instincts in the field with an above-average throwing arm, those can only take him so far as he loses athleticism. If/when he does make the move to third he has a chance to be plus there, and the noted offensive ability will play at any position.
Immediate Big League Future: Simply put, this is a special offensive prospect; a shortstop – for now anyway – that can hit for average and power that won’t cost you games with his glove. Assuming he shows some patience at the plate and doesn’t get the “jitters”, this is a player that can help the Dodgers immediately, and there’s perennial All-Star potential in the long-term. He’s pretty good. – Christopher Crawford
Fantasy Impact: In terms of fantasy impact, September call-ups are tricky to gauge. It is rare that an injury or a poor performance opens up a starting role without any limitations. This rule of thumb applies not only to fringe players, but to top prospects like Corey Seager as well. Rookies who get called up in September and make a significant impact are few and far between. All of these caveats aside, Seager could very well be the exception to the rule. Despite the fact that he will not be handed a starting job, there is more than a small chance that Seager starts a minimum of 4-5 days per week down the stretch, with the possibility of additional time depending on how things shake out in the race with the Giants.
The entire Dodgers infield needs a breather, and at a minimum Seager should get two starts a week at third base for Justin Turner – who is somewhat taxed as a full time player – and one or two starts a week for Jimmy Rollins, who hasn’t had a day off in almost three weeks. How much more than that Seager plays is likely contingent not upon his performance, but on whether or not the Dodgers can open up an even bigger lead on the Giants and possibly put them away in the next couple of weeks. If that happens, there’s an excellent chance Seager plays almost every day somewhere on the diamond.
For all of Seager’s pedigree, his numbers at Triple-A this year were far from great. Seager’s .278/.332/.451 slash line sounds impressive on the face of it, particularly for a 21-year-old at Triple-A, but in the context of the Pacific Coast League and considering his favorable home venue, Seager’s overall numbers were only slightly above average. In the long term, there is a superstar lurking within but for the rest of 2015, Seager is unlikely to perform at an elite level. A good at-bat per at-bat comp (yes, comps are bad) for the rest of the season might be Wilmer Flores. This seems like it is disrespecting Seager’s raw ability, but remember this is strictly for 2015, not for the long term. And before you poo-poo Flores, 14 home runs with a .263 batting average in 457 plate appearances would be a pretty solid outcome for a 21-year-old rookie straight out of the PCL.
If you are in an NL-only where the rules did not permit you to stash Seager on reserve, you should consider emptying out most if not all of your remaining FAAB to grab him if you need offense and particularly if your need a middle infielder. In deeper mixed leagues, Seager is more of a borderline play, and is only worth a $3-5 bid or a priority waiver claim. In this format, you are gambling in the hopes that Rollins and Turner will rest a lot if and when the Dodgers clinch the NL West. This proposition is dubious at best; a lot of analysts believe that teams rest all of their regulars down the stretch, but the reality is that most teams try to keep their starters fresh and cycle in back-ups only one or two games per week. Seager could outdo your typical third middle infielder in a 15-team mixed league, but on the other hand there is no guarantee that he will. – Mike Gianella
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