Fantasy Baseball Player Prospecting: Leonys Martin, Jacob Turner, more

by Chris Hadorn on August 30, 2011 @ 14:00:34 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.

In May, the Texas Rangers aggressively pursued Cuban defector Leonys Martin, signing him to a five-year deal worth $15.5 million that included a $5 million signing bonus.

Months later, Martin, 23, is headed to The Show, replacing injured outfielder Nelson Cruz (hamstring) on the 25-man roster. He will remain with the team when rosters expand in September. He could eventually split in time in center field with Endy Chavez or in right field with David Murphy and Chris Gentry.

Martin's minor league season was a tale of two stops. When he first debuted at Double-A Frisco, Martin gave fans a glimpse of his well-rounded set of tools. The 6-foot-1, 180-pound outfielder hit a blistering .348 with four home runs, 24 RBIs, 24 runs and a 1.007 OPS in 112 at-bats.

He showed great plate discipline at Frisco, drawing 15 walks and striking out only eight times. Base-stealing was the only aspect of his game that was poor; he has successful on only 10 of his 18 attempts.

Texas Rangers OF Nelson Cruz
Nellie's subs may include Martin

However, Martin's base-stealing improved upon his July promotion to Triple-A Round Rock, where he stole nine bases in 11 attempts.

Unfortunately, the rest of Martin's production plummeted against Pacific Coast League competition. The former Villa Clara (Cuban professional team) star hit just .263 with no home runs, 17 RBIs, 27 runs and a .630 OPS in 175 at-bats with Round Rock. Martin also did not show the same strong grasp of the strike zone, recording 24 strikeouts and walking only 11 times.

The 23-year-old draws rave reviews for his defense in center field, but scouts are mixed on his bat. Some talent evaluators aren't fond of his hitting mechanics and don't envision him developing into an above-average bat at the major league level. Yesterday Rangers general manager Jon Daniels even admitted that Martin was not a "finished product."

Fantasy owners can count on Martin, based on what he has shown, to run and reach base at a decent clip. The bat is still an unknown, but fortunately Martin is headed to a ballpark (Rangers Ballpark in Arlington) that typically boosts numbers.

Based on his eagerness to run, Martin is worthy of a strong look in AL-only formats, but there's some uncertainty here about how much he will play. He's more of a keeper league acquisition right now than anything else.

***

Matt Moore and Julio Teheran are considered the top pitching prospects in Triple-A, but both hurlers aren't surefire fantasy contributors in the month of the September. Both young arms could be facing workload reduction, which means a move to the bullpen. In Teheran's case, the Atlanta Braves are so deep in starting pitchers that there's little chance he starts, and if he does, maybe not more than one game.

The impact starting pitcher among September call-ups could be Jacob Turner of the Detroit Tigers. The 6-foot-5, 210-pound right-hander is expected to get called up Thursday to start the Tigers' makeup game versus the Kansas City Royals. Based on the Tigers' history in their usage of young hurlers, there's a good chance it won't be Turner's last start in the month of September.

Since his promotion to Triple-A in August, Turner, 20, has gone 1-0, with a 3.12 ERA and a 20:3 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 17 1/3 innings. He has the makings of a No. 1 or 2 starter. He throws three good pitches (mid-90s fastball, curveball, changeup) and already displays above-average command.

Turner held his own during a July 30 start versus the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. In 5 1/3 innings, he allowed two runs on three hits and three walks while striking out six. In that game, he struggled a little bit with his command and holding runners on base.

He's a must add in AL-only leagues. And he might even be worthy of consideration as a stream starter in standard MLB universe formats.

***

With a September promotion on the horizon, Manny Banuelos (2-2) was masterful last night, firing seven shutout innings of one-hit ball. He struck out six and walked two and picked up the victory in Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre's 3-0 win over Pawtucket.

The Mexican left-hander is expected to help the Yankees in a relief role during the month of September, but don't be surprised if he draws a start along the way.

***

Playing the second and third games of his professional career yesterday, Houston Astros center field prospect George Springer went 3-for-7 with a home run, four runs and three stolen bases in a doubleheader for short-season Tri-City. The five-tool prospect was taken with the 11th overall pick of the 2011 draft.

The 6-foot-3, 205-pound outfielder brings electrifying power and speed to the table. Some scouts envision him as a 30-30 player in his prime. He dropped to the 11th overall pick because of concerns about his ability to make consistent contact.

***

Elizabethton Twins sluggers Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario continued their power-hitting tear yesterday in their team's 6-5 win over Princeton.

Rosario went 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs. The center fielder is hitting .425 with six home runs, 15 RBIs, 16 runs scored and a 1.525 OPS in his last 10 games. He has 21 home runs in 265 at-bats.

Sano was 2-for-3 with a pair of home runs and three RBIs. The third baseman is hitting .333 with four home runs, 15 RBIs, 11 runs scored and a 1.131 OPS in his last 10 games. The 18-year-old has hammered 20 home runs in 262 at-bats.

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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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