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.
Outfielder Brett Jackson, the 31st overall pick in the 2009 draft, was promoted from Double-A Tennessee to Triple-A Iowa. The former University of California star will make his Triple-A debut tonight for Iowa. Jackson has had a disappointing batting-average season this year, hitting only .256 in 246 at-bats with Tennessee. He has already struck out 74 times, averaging a whiff every 3.32 at-bats.
However, Jackson's other stats are quite healthy as he has hit 10 home runs, stolen 15 bases, scored 45 runs, drawn 45 walks and registered a fine .373 on-base percentage. Coming out of college, scouts loved Jackson's power-hitting tools and athleticism but were concerned with his ability to make consistent contact.
After posting a respectable .297 average in 2010, his contact woes have surfaced once again. There's still a lot to like about Jackson with his combination of pop and speed, but he might have trouble hitting .240 at the big league level, which would sink his fantasy value.
The San Diego Padres promoted second baseman Cory Spangenberg, the 10th overall pick of the 2011 draft, from short-season Class A Eugene to low Class-A Fort Wayne. The 20-year-old hit .384 with one home run, 20 RBIs, 20 runs scored, 10 steals and a 1.080 OPS in 86 at-bats with Eugene. He drew a whopping 31 walks, which helped him post a gaudy .545 on-base percentage, which topped his slugging percentage (.535). He also had 16 more free passes than strikeouts (15).
The Houston Astros recently moved hot-hitting Jose Altuve from second base to third base. He has now played seven games at the hot corner. If he sticks there, this is horrible news for his fantasy value, as his hitting skill set was more suited for stardom at the keystone.
The 5-foot-7, 170-pound Venezuelan has posted an eye-popping .389 batting average this year, which leads all of the minors. His power numbers are adequate (nine home runs between Single-A and Double-A), and he has reached double digits in dingers during his previous two seasons. But this is the equivalent of moving Howard Kendrick to the hot corner. It downgrades Altuve's ceiling from a potential top-10 second baseman to a fringe mixed league option at third.
The Arizona Diamondbacks called up a first base prospect from the minors, and no, it's not Paul Goldschmidt. Brandon Allen, who spent short stints with the Snakes in both 2009 and 2010, got the call after hitting .306 with 18 home runs, 66 RBIs, 75 runs scored, and a 1.006 OPS for Triple-A Reno.
The 6-foot-2, 235-pound thumper has good power, having averaged 23 home runs a season from 2007-10. His big issue in the past has been strikeouts. For example, he fanned 40 times during a 104-at-bat big league stint with Arizona in 2009. With both Juan Miranda and Xavier Nady underperforming, Allen should get his chance to play a lot initially, but there will be pressure on him to hit with his club in the midst of a pennant race.
The 25-year-old won't be given a long leash either, especially with Goldschmidt putting up minor league player of the year numbers at Double-A Mobile.
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.