Fantasy Baseball Player Prospecting: Danny Duffy, more

by Chris Hadorn on May 17, 2011 @ 14:44:42 PDT

 


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.

Yesterday the Toronto Blue Jays called up outfield prospect Eric Thames, a slugger who fits their grip-it-and-rip-it style, from Triple-A Las Vegas. Thames takes the place of Adam Lind on the Jays' 25-man roster. Lind (back) was placed on the 15-day disabled list.

In 146 at-bats with Las Vegas, Thames hit .342 with six home runs, 17 doubles, 30 RBIs and a 1.029 OPS. Last season he hit .288 with 27 home runs, 58 extra-base hits, 104 RBIs and an .896 OPS with Double-A New Hampshire.

In Thames, the Blue Jays add another power bat to an already potent lineup, which has swatted the third-most home runs (44) in the American League this season. The left-handed hitter is lauded for his lightning-quick bat and ability to drive the ball to all fields. One thing Thames does really well is crush right-handers; he posted a .374 clip against them at Las Vegas this season.

Thames, 24, hasn't received a lot of prospect notoriety because he was only a seventh-round pick in 2008 and was limited to only 59 games in his first two seasons due to a torn quadriceps muscle. He is also a subpar outfielder, which limits him to a corner spot, preferably left field. Prior to the injury, Thames was a heavy weightlifter, but he hasn't had any significant issues since infusing more flexibility training into his regimen.

Like a vast majority of thumpers, Thames strikes out often in his share of at-bats, but he brings an acceptable eye to the table. There are scouts who feel the former Pepperdine star can become too pull-conscious and overly aggressive at times, though.

During his promotion, Thames may be relegated to bench duty, but he should get an occasional start in left field or at designated hitter to spell Corey Patterson or Juan Rivera. If given an extended look, Thames is capable of hitting .260 with double-digit home run pop in a platoon role. While this call-up appears to be for a temporary big-league stay for Thames, he is still worthy of a speculative AL-only pickup based on his ability to churn out extra-base hits.

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The Cleveland Indians' 19-1 rout of the Kansas City Royals last night left quite a dent in the depth of the Royals' starting rotation.

Last night's starter, Kyle Davies (shoulder), is on the 15-day disabled list. Vin Mazzaro, who surrendered 14 earned runs in 2 1/3 innings last night, was optioned to Triple-A Omaha after his historically futile performance.

In need of an arm, the Royals are going to call up prized southpaw Danny Duffy from Omaha to make a spot start Wednesday versus the Texas Rangers. Duffy, 22, was 3-1, with a 3.00 ERA and 43 strikeouts, in 36 innings with Omaha.

One year ago today, Duffy was on a sabbatical from baseball similar to the extended leave that former KC pitching star Zach Greinke took in 2006. After clearing his head, Duffy returned to baseball in June of 2010 and has remarkably made it to the majors less than a year later.

Since his return, Duffy has registered a 2.84 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP and has averaged 10.25 strikeouts per nine innings. The left-hander features three above-average offerings. He projects as a No. 2 or No. 3 starter at the big-league level.

Don't buy the "spot start" tag here. The Royals also have Bruce Chen (lat muscle) on the 15-day disabled list, so there is a chance that this call-up turns into an extended stay.

Duffy should be added in all AL-only leagues, because it appears he has a chance to pitch his way onto the 25-man roster beyond Wednesday. As a rookie, he's capable of posting a 4.00 to 4.50 ERA and averaging seven strikeouts per nine innings.

***

In Rubby De La Rosa, Nathan Eovaldi, Allen Webster and Garrett Gould, the Los Angeles Dodgers have some intriguing young arms that could pitch their way to Chavez Ravine by the 2012 season.

In Double-A Chattanooga's 2-1 win over Tennessee last night, Eovaldi (3-1) got the victory after throwing six innings of shutout ball. The 21-year-old righty allowed only two hits and a walk, while fanning eight.

In 35 1/3 innings this season, Eovaldi has compiled a 2.80 ERA and has struck out 36 batters. He has held opposing batters to a .190 batting average and has allowed only one home run.

Coming into the season, Eovaldi was known for being an erratic, hard thrower who lacked competent secondary stuff to complement his fastball. This year, the 6-foot-3, 195-pound righty has added a slider to his repertoire, and the hard breaking pitch has been more of a natural fit for the flamethrower's style.

The Dodgers haven't been afraid to promote their best pitching prospects aggressively in the past, but expect the organization to take more of a patient approach with Eovaldi, who posted a 4.30 ERA in the minors last season. He underwent Tommy John surgery as a junior in high school and has never thrown more than 98 1/3 innings in a professional season.

If he is unable to develop a third pitch along the way, his power style could be better suited for a bullpen role.

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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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