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.
Pittsburgh Pirates outfield prospect Starling Marte has raised some eyebrows around baseball with his hot hitting at Double-A Altoona this season. The Dominican outfielder ranks second in the Eastern League with a .338 average and leads the circuit with 89 hits.
The 6-foot-2, 179-pound excites scouts with his blazing speed, which has helped him leg out infield hits, steal 15 bases this season and play above-average defense in center field. He has averaged 25 steals over the last two seasons, but he could add to his total if he can improve his efficiency.
Despite his free-swinging ways, Marte has hit .300 or better in all three of his affiliated seasons in North America in large part due to his quick bat.
With 16 doubles, four triples and four home runs in 279 at-bats this year, Marte is far from a Punch and Judy hitter. He does have some projection to develop into a double-digit home run producer in time.
Harvey: plenty to prove at AA
The Pirates would like to see Marte, a leadoff hitter, become more selective at the plate. He has only 10 walks to 50 strikeouts this season and has never drawn more than 16 bases on balls in a professional season.
As he faces tougher pitching, it will be interesting to see if the 22-year-old can sustain his high-percentage hitting ways. Marte can make to The Show on his defense alone.
Most of his fantasy value will be in his wheels. He has shown more than enough hitting prowess to sustain a respectable batting average at the big-league level.
With some seasoning, he has the intriguing tool set to transform into a multi-faceted roto star, capable of hitting .300 with 10 home runs, 30 steals and plenty of runs scored. While Marte is a riskier prospect, he runs enough so that fantasy managers should feel comfortable rolling the dice on him, because they will always have his steals to fall back on.
The New York Mets promoted 2010 first-round pick Matt Harvey from high Single-A St. Lucie to Double-A Binghamton. In 76 innings with St. Lucie, the righty went 8-2, with a 2.37 ERA and a 92:24 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Considered a high-risk, high-reward pick coming out of the University of North Carolina, Harvey put concerns about his command to rest in the Florida State League and pitched masterfully this season even though some feel his secondary stuff is less than desirable. Double-A will be a good litmus test for the fire-balling right-hander.
The second player from the 2010 draft class to reach the majors is little-known San Diego Padres southpaw Josh Spence. Selected in the ninth round, Spence is a soft-tossing lefty with a deep arsenal of secondary pitches. He has a great feel for the pitching craft.
The Arizona State alumnus went 3-1 with a 1.71 ERA in 47 1/3 innings (35 games, all in relief) with Double-A San Antonio this year.
After being drafted just a little more than two weeks ago, a couple of first-rounders from the 2011 draft are already making an impact in professional baseball.
Shortstop Joe Panik, the San Francisco Giants' selection from St. Johns, is hitting .588 (10-for-17) with one home run, four runs scored and a stolen base in four games with short-season Single-A Salem-Keizer.
Meanwhile, San Diego's Cory Spangenberg is hitting .357 (5-for-14) with four RBIs and seven walks in five games with short-season Single-A Eugene.
Toronto Blue Jays third base prospect Brett Lawrie (hand) has started to resume some baseball-related activities but has yet to swing a bat. He was on the cusp of a promotion to Toronto but has been sidelined since May 31 due to a fractured left hand.
Lawrie is hitting .354 with 15 home runs, 49 RBIs, 11 steals and a 1.092 OPS in 223 at-bats with Triple-A Las Vegas this year.