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. 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.
Capping a weekend of big-name prospect call-ups, the Boston Red Sox promoted shortstop Jose Iglesias from Triple-A Pawtucket yesterday. Iglesias, 21, was rated the Boston organization's No. 1 offensive prospect by Baseball America in the preseason. The Cuban native is lauded primarily for his outstanding defense, but his bat is still a work in progress.
Prior to his call-up, Iglesias was hitting just .253, with no extra-base hits, four RBIs and a .531 OPS in 87 at-bats with Pawtucket. Last season in his first year of affiliated pro ball, the 5-foot-11, 175-pound shortstop batted .295 with no homers, 20 RBIs, seven steals and a .719 OPS in 261 at-bats between short-season Single-A Lowell and Double-A Portland.
Iglesias, a free swinger, has struck out 74 times and walked only 17 times over 348 career at-bats in the minors.
Iglesias is expected to back up Jed Lowrie at shortstop and fill in as a late-innings defensive replacement. The Cuban will likely be with the club until infield Marco Scutaro (ribs) is ready to return from his stint on the 15-day disabled list.
Like Florida Marlins third base prospect Matt Dominguez, Iglesias is highly regarded because he has a chance to be a Gold Glove defender. Because of the glove, Iglesias projects as a future regular in the majors, but it's not going to happen until 2012 or 2013 at the earliest.
Even though his hitting is raw, Iglesias is still extremely young and will get plenty of opportunities to improve on his batting. He's a long-term fantasy asset due to the likelihood that he is going to play a lot in future seasons. Unless you play in an AL-only keeper league, Iglesias won't be of much help this season.
On the surface, Atlanta Braves pitcher Julio Teheran's major league debut Saturday night (4 2/3 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 HR) versus the Philadelphia Phillies was nothing to write home about, but he did show some of the positive attributes that have inspired some experts to rank him as the most promising hurler in the minors.
The Colombian showed three pitches of big league quality – a low- to mid-90s fastball, a nasty changeup with late movement and a good curveball. Teheran's fastball sat between 92 and 94 mph on the radar gun, but he reared back and hit 96 when he needed to. When Teheran got ahead in the count, his changeup was particularly tough on Phillies batters.
For the most part, Teheran pounded the strike zone like he has done throughout his minor league career, but he got too much of the plate on a few occasions. It cost him as he surrendered a solo home run to Ryan Howard (first homer allowed this year at any level) and an RBI triple to Shane Victorino.
He's only 20, so it should be no surprise that pitch consistency and command aren't always going to be there for Teheran. Considering it was a tough start on the road against a formidable lineup and in a hostile environment against a divisional foe, Teheran came out standing on his feet.
Only a spot start, Teheran is headed back to Triple-A Gwinnett, where he has gone 3-0, with a 1.80 ERA and a 25-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 30 innings.
Considering the Braves' starting rotation depth, it's hard to project when the big league club might need Teheran's services again. Don't be surprised if the organization moves Teheran to the bullpen in the second half to limit his workload and he comes up to help the club in relief, a la Neftali Feliz with the Texas Rangers in late 2009.
Signed by the St. Louis Cardinals last summer for a $1.5 million bonus, Dominican Carlos Martinez tossed four no-hit innings in his North American professional debut Saturday night. In Quad Cites' 1-0 victory over Wisconsin in Midwest League play, Martinez struck out six batters, while allowing only base runner to reach base via walk.
The 19-year-old registered a microscopic 0.76 ERA with 78 K's in 59 innings of work in the Dominican Summer League in 2010.
Martinez attacks hitters with a mid- to high-90s fastball with good cutting action. He also throws a changeup and a curveball. The 6-foot, 165-pound right-hander has the upside of a front-of-the-rotation starter.
San Diego Padres first base prospect Anthony Rizzo is doing his best Eric Hosmer impression. In 118 at-bats with Triple-A Tucson, Rizzo is now batting .390 with 10 home runs, 43 RBIs and a 1.206 OPS. Tucson numbers can be inflated due to hitter-friendly conditions, but Rizzo has hit .338 with six home runs away from his home park this season.
While the Padres' patience with big league first basemen Brad Hawpe (.180 batting average) and Jorge Cantu (.200) is growing thin, business factors should keep Rizzo in the Pacific Coast League until least June.
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.