Fantasy Baseball Player Prospecting: Bryce Harper, Steve Lombardozzi, Chris Parmelee, Joe Benson

by Chris Hadorn on September 9, 2011 @ 09:17:45 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 Washington Nationals announced Wednesday that outfield phenom Bryce Harper (strained hamstring) will not play in the postseason for Double-A Harrisburg.

After tearing apart South Atlantic League pitching, the 18-year-old Harper ends his first professional season humbled by Double-A competition. He hit just .256 with three home runs and a .724 OPS in 129 at-bats there.

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According to Nationals manager Davey Johnson, middle infield call-up Steve Lombardozzi is expected to eat into some of the starts of the team's double-play combo, Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa.

Lombardozzi, soon 23, lacks eye-popping tools but is a balanced offensive contributor who hit .309 with eight home runs, 52 RBIs, 86 runs scored and 30 steals in the minors this year. His presence could force the Nationals to think about moving one of their two more experienced infielders this upcoming winter. In his first start, the switch-hitter went 0-for-5 with a strikeout.

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Ranking second to last in the American League in runs scored, the Minnesota Twins are giving some auditions to some of their top hitting performers in the high minors this season.

With Justin Morneau just hoping to get back on the field this season, rookie Chris Parmelee has started the last two games at first base for the Twins, going 3-for-8 with a double and a pair of RBIs.

Parmelee hit .287 with 13 home runs, 83 RBIs, 76 runs scored and an .801 OPS in 530 at-bats with Triple-A Rochester this season.

Standing at 6-foot-1, 230 pounds, Parmelee has the size and the pretty stroke of a power hitter, but he has yet to eclipse 16 dingers in any professional season. A 2006 first-round selection, Parmelee has his fans among scouts who believe that he will eventually unlock some of his hidden pop.

Despite his lack of power production, Parmelee has a strong grasp of the strike zone (68 walks this season) and an advanced hitting approach where he uses the whole field.

Right now, Parmelee projects as a below-average offensive first baseman, but at age 23 he is far from reaching his ceiling, and he could eventually blossom.

He's worthy of an add in AL-only formats based on the possibility that he'll draw the majority of first base starts the rest of the way.

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In addition to Parmelee, the Twins are also giving outfield prospect Joe Benson a look. Benson went 0-for-7 in his first two games, starting in center field for one game and left field in another.

In 409 at-bats with Double-A New Britain, Benson batted .285 with 16 home runs, 67 RBIs, 69 runs scored and 13 steals in 22 tries.

The 6-foot-1, 205-pound outfielder has an impressive array of tools, intriguing scouts with his power and speed.

Last season, Benson clobbered 27 home runs, showcasing his impressive raw power. Unfortunately, Benson was not a very productive hitter, plagued by a .259 average and shaky strike zone judgment (136 strikeouts to only 47 walks).

This season, Benson improved his plate discipline (111 strikeouts, 58 walks), which helped lift his batting average to respectability, but his power numbers plummeted.

Going forward, it will be interesting to see if Benson can sustain his more sound hitting approach without sacrificing too much of his power.

Despite possessing good wheels, Benson is so inefficient at stealing bases that it's hard to envision him being a dependable base stealer in the majors.

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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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