Your fantasy baseball rankings look a little stale. KFFL.com's Fantasy Baseball Player Prospecting series highlights the exploits of minor league baseball players, including top MLB prospects, who could make an impact - whether it's next week in your rotisserie or head-to-head baseball league or two years from now in your fantasy baseball keeper league.
The Los Angeles Dodgers' left field of Marcus Thames, Tony Gwynn Jr. and Xavier Paul doesn't exactly conjure memories of Tommy Davis or Dusty Baker. However, there is potential help on the way in Jerry Sands, who is tearing the cover off the ball at Triple-A Albuquerque. Last night Sands homered for the third straight game in Albuquerque's 6-5 win over Iowa.
In five games, Sands is hitting .429 (8-for-19) with three homers, nine RBIs and five runs scored. Last year the 6-foot-4, 225-pound slugger hit a combined .301 with 35 homers, 93 RBIs and 18 stolen bases between low Single-A Great Lakes and Double-A Chattanooga.
Nishioka's replacement has pop
Like most sluggers, Sands strikes out regularly in his share of at-bats, but he does exhibit respectable plate discipline. This is a good hitter who projects as a 25-home run thumper in the middle of a big league lineup.
A first baseman by trade, Sands thus far has played three games in the outfield, two in right field and one in left. The former 25th-round pick out of Catawba College is a much better athlete than he is given credit for, so don't be surprised if Sands is able to make the transition and not be a liability in the field.
With Jay Gibbons (eye) close to a return with the Dodgers, Sands probably won't come up in the near future, but he's on pace to force his way onto the big league roster at some point with his bat. It wouldn't be a bad idea to stash him in a NL-only league if one can.
The Minnesota Twins called up infielder Luke Hughes last Friday to replace Tsuyoshi Nishioka (leg) on the roster. In spring training, Hughes led the Twins in home runs (six), RBIs (15), slugging percentage (.567) and total bases (37).
In his minor league career, Hughes has shown good pop, especially for a middle infielder. He averaged 15 homers between 2008 and 2009, but only clubbed one dinger last season as he was limited to only 74 at-bats due to hernia and groin surgery. A .270 lifetime hitter in the minors, Hughes has his problems with making contact, but he is a good pickup for an AL-only team that could use some power in the middle infield. The 26-year-old Australian currently qualifies at third base, but should be eligible at second soon.
There were a lot of glowing reports this spring about top Arizona Diamondbacks prospect Jarrod Parker's return from Tommy John surgery. Last night, pitching for Double-A Mobile in his first official game since 2009, Parker got roughed up for seven earned runs in 3 2/3 innings of work. The ninth overall pick of the 2007 draft surrendered six hits, three walks and a home run, while striking out five. Despite the rough start, Parker owners need to be patient. Parker is a gem who has ace-type stuff.
Manny Banuelos, the 2011 James P. Dawson Award recipient for being the most outstanding rookie in the New York Yankees' spring camp, got off to a good start. He hurled four shutout innings in Double-A Trenton's 3-2 win over Portland last night.
About Chris Hadorn
Chris Hadorn has covered minor league and amateur prospects for more than a decade. He writes for San Diego's North County Times and has been a KFFL fantasy baseball contributor since 2006.
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