Fantasy Baseball Player Prospecting: Jaff Decker, more

by Chris Hadorn on April 22, 2011 @ 14:12:06 PDT


Your fantasy baseball rankings look a little stale.'s Fantasy Baseball Player Prospecting series highlights the exploits of minor league baseball players, including top MLB prospects. Find out who'll make an impact, whether it's in your rotisserie or head-to-head baseball game next week or in your fantasy baseball keeper league two years from now.

The San Diego Padres have scored the fewest runs (60) in the National League and hold the worst batting average (.217) in the majors. Fortunately for San Diego, there is potential help on the way. A handful of Padres prospects are tearing the cover off the ball in the high minors and building a case for a promotion.

Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Triple-A Tucson

Rizzo has gone deep in his last two games and is now hitting .458 (27-for-59) with five homers, 22 RBIs and a 1.314 OPS. Because Rizzo is only 21, the club's first inclination is to be patient. However, it will be hard for the Padres to ignore those gaudy numbers if first basemen Brad Hawpe (.116) and Jorge Cantu (.156) continue to struggle at their depths.

Everth Cabrera, SS, Tucson

San Diego Padres 1B/OF Kyle Blanks
SD shooting blanks, Blanks not

Remember him? The Nicaraguan is hitting .338 with one homer, six RBIs and six steals in 10 attempts. The average is somewhat enhanced by the hitter-friendly conditions of Tucson. While Cabrera is no threat to unseat Jason Bartlett, he is a base stealer to remember in case an injury brings him up to The Show.

Logan Forsythe, 2B, Tucson

The former first-round supplemental selection has already surpassed his home run output from last season (three) with four. He holds a .972 OPS through 12 games. Forsythe is known as a "Moneyball," on-base percentage contributor, but if he can continue his power surge it would really enhance his fantasy value.

James Darnell, 3B, Double-A San Antonio

Perhaps nobody in baseball is swinging a hotter stick than Darnell, who is batting .500 (22-for-44) with one home run and nine RBIs. He's seeing the ball so well that he already has 12 walks and only one strikeout, a remarkable rate!

Last year Darnell had really extreme splits between road games (.311, .849 OPS) and home games at San Antonio's Wolff Stadium (.227, .669 OPS), which is arguably the PETCO Park of the minors. Knowing the psychological challenges of hitting in PETCO, the Padres likely sent him back there to conquer the demons. His defense needs some work, but he could eat into Chase Headley's playing time in the second half if the latter continues to perform below expectations.

Jaff Decker, OF, San Antonio

Decker can flat-out hit. He's hands down the Padres' best hitting prospect. The 21-year-old is hitting .408 with four home runs, 16 RBIs and a 1.410 OPS this season. Throughout his professional career, Decker has shown a good grasp of the strike zone; nothing has changed this year - he has more walks (12) than strikeouts (11).

Despite his hitting prowess, the 5-foot-11 outfielder gets a lot of flak for his "bad baseball body" and his defense, but he is better than people think with the glove and can handle left field duties at PETCO. Although Decker has a promising future, he is the least likely of these names to make it to the big leagues before September.

Kyle Blanks, 1B/OF San Antonio

Blanks is just starting to play every day after undergoing reconstructive surgery on his elbow last year. He's hitting .333 with two RBIs and an .845 OPS in 24 at-bats. The Padres are expected to send him to Tucson eventually. Blanks could get the call to the majors before Rizzo because the former is three years older and has already accrued big league service time.

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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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