Fantasy Baseball Player Prospecting: Todd Frazier, more

by Chris Hadorn on May 24, 2011 @ 14:05:57 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.

The Cincinnati Reds promoted super utility man Todd Frazier yesterday only to send him back down Tuesday. He struck out in his only at-bat Monday.

At Triple-A Louisville, Frazier was enjoying the best season of his career thus far, hitting .293 with 11 home runs, 33 RBIs, five steals, 29 runs and a .945 OPS in 164 at-bats.

Cincinnati Reds IF Todd Frazier
Frazier: quite the small cup of joe

With a .285 career average in the minors, Frazier is not a high-percentage hitter, but he is a good athlete that can drive the ball and run. In his last three full minor league seasons, the 25-year-old has averaged 17 home runs, 36 doubles and 12 steals a season.

The best asset that Frazier brings to the table is versatility. At Louisville, Frazier played 28 games at third base, nine games in left field and six at first base. The former Rutgers star started his career as a shortstop in the Reds' organization and has also played some second base.

Because of his combination of power, speed and position flexibility, Frazier has been likened to Ben Zobrist of the Tampa Bay Rays, but they aren't similar hitters; the former is a more aggressive hitter, while the latter is a walk machine.

At the major league level, Frazier isn't an immediate threat to see time regularly at third base (Scott Rolen), first base (Joey Votto) or left field (Jonny Gomes, Fred Lewis, Chris Heisey), but if he makes it back, his versatility could land him a start or two a week initially. His best chances to suit up are probably at shortstop (Paul Janish, Edgar Renteria) or at the hot corner, where Rolen's durability issues could come into play.

Because the Reds had so many pieces blocking him from regular playing time, Frazier wasn't going to help a contending NL-only team immediately. But he's a good speculative add if one can afford to burn a spot on him; he could be back later on this season.

***

In what could be a sign of things to come, the slumping San Diego Padres optioned the struggling Will Venable (.224) to Triple-A Tucson and called up outfielder Blake Tekotte, one of their many prospects hitting well in the high minors.

Tekotte, 24, was hitting .291 with six home runs, 24 RBIs, 14 stolen bases, and a .897 OPS in 148 at-bats with Double-A San Antonio. The former University of Miami star showed a strong grasp of the strike zone, having drawn 26 walks to 31 strikeouts.

Considering that San Antonio's Nelson Wolff Municipal Stadium is very tough on hitters, much like San Diego's PETCO Park, his numbers look good, but he was repeating the level after hitting .250 there in 268 at-bats last season.

It's on the base paths, though, where Tekotte brings the most intrigue. At San Antonio this season, Tekotte was successful on 14 of his 16 base stealing attempts. Although success rate has been a problem in the past, he also averaged 29 steals a season from 2009-10.

With the Padres, Tekotte joins a steal-happy club that is tied for the major league lead in steals with 50, so this is a match made in heaven.

Manager Bud Black said veteran Chris Denorfia would get most of the right field starts in Venable's absence. However, the weak-armed Denorfia is not a good fit in right, and the Padres might be reluctant to move Ryan Ludwick out of his comfort zone in left field over to right.

Tekotte, who played 37 games this year in center field, is a versatile outfielder who could eventually find his way into two to three starts a week. This is a beneficial situation because Denorfia has never proven to be more than a part-time role player.

Long term, Tekotte projects as a platoon, fourth-outfielder type, but he has the wheels to be a factor this year in NL-only leagues.

***

The Detroit Tigers announced left-handed pitching prospect Andrew Oliver would start Saturday's versus the Boston Red Sox at home. Oliver takes the spot of fifth starter Phil Coke (ankle), who went on the 15-day disabled list yesterday.

Oliver, 23, is 4-3, with a 3.31 ERA in nine starts, with Triple-A Toledo. The southpaw misses bats with his plus fastball and changeup but might have some trouble with walks and getting through the order the second or third time around.

The length of his stay could depend on how he fares because there are rumblings that Detroit wants to move Coke back to the bullpen.

***

In Double-A Frisco's 6-4 win over San Antonio last night, Cuban bonus baby Leonys Martin went 3-for-5, with a double, a triple, three RBIs, a run scored, a walk and two stolen bases.

The 22-year-old is now hitting .327 with one home run, 11 RBIs, six runs scored and a .940 OPS in 49 at-bats with Frisco. So far, Martin has struck out only two times, a sign that he hasn't been fooled much by Texas League pitching. The only real disappointment is that Martin has already been thrown out four times in his 11 total base stealing attempts.

Martin is on the fast track to The Show, and he could force his way onto the Texas Rangers' roster - or even into the starting center-field spot - sometime this season.

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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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