Fantasy Baseball Player Prospecting: Will Middlebrooks, Leonys Martin, Tim Beckham, Robert Erlin

by Chris Hadorn on May 2, 2012 @ 16:00:07 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.

Boston Red Sox 3B Will Middlebrooks
Middlebrooks up

The Boston Red Sox are calling up the left side of their infield from Triple-A Pawtucket. With 3B Kevin Youkilis (back) headed to the 15-day disabled list, the Red Sox are promoting 3B Will Middlebrooks, having already brought up SS Jose Iglesias yesterday.

Middlebrooks, 23, is considered by many to be the team's third baseman of the future, especially with the 33-year-old Youkilis being in an option year and injury history.

Last year, Middlebrooks enjoyed a breakout season in the minors by hitting .284 with 23 homers and 94 RBIs, but his fine campaign was heavily critiqued by the fact that he struck out 114 times and walked only 26 times.

Early this year, Middlebrooks has quieted a lot of his critics by hammering Triple-A pitching to the tune of a .333 average, nine homers, 27 RBIs and a 1.057 OPS in 93 at-bats. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound third baseman has made strides in his plate discipline too, drawing seven walks to 18 strikeouts.

Being the aggressive hitter he is, Middlebrooks' free-swinging ways will be exploited by major league hurlers. However, he is praised for his plate coverage, so he's a guy who has a reputation for crushing pitches that are in the strike zone.

Obviously, there is some risk with Middlebrooks, but he's worth a shot because he does have .280-20-90 upside and he is currently riding a hot streak. Add to the fact that most deep MLB universe leagues have a scarcity of capable hot corner options, so picking up Middlebrooks is a no-brainer if one is need of third base help.

Iglesias, 22, has a Gold-Glove-caliber mitt that could one day earn him a starting gig, but until that happens, he has minimal fantasy value. He simply can't hit. After hitting .235 with a .554 OPS in 357 at-bats with Pawtucket in 2011, Iglesias has regressed this year, hitting just .200 (17-for-85) with a .212 slugging percentage.

Even with regular duty, it would be hard to recommend Iglesias' services outside of the deepest AL-only formats.

***

Texas Rangers CF prospect Leonys Martin had surgery Wednesday to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb and is expected to miss six to eight weeks.

Martin, 24, suffered the injury Tuesday night while diving into first base to beat a throw in Triple-A Round Rock's 6-3 win over New Orleans.

Prior to the injury, the Cuban had put together a strong case for a promotion, hitting .347 with three home runs, 11 RBIs, 13 runs scored and a .944 OPS in 98 at-bats with Round Rock. After posting a .316 on-base percentage in his initial exposure to Triple-A pitching in 2011, Martin showed improved strike-zone judgment with 12 walks to 16 strikeouts, which helped him post a .423 on-base percentage this season.

The only place where Martin struggled in his game was basestealing. He was only successful on seven of his 13 steal attempts.

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Tampa Bay Rays SS prospect Tim Beckham has been suspended 50 games for testing positive for marijuana for a second time. The 2008 first overall pick was hitting just .204 with no homers, four RBIs, six runs scored and a .568 OPS in 54 at-bats with Triple-A Durham.

Since his first overall selection, Beckham hasn't enjoyed a season in the minors that would justify his pedigree.

Luckily for Beckham, fellow Rays shortstop prospect, Hak-Ju Lee hasn't quite established himself at Double-A Montgomery either. Lee is hitting .243 with 10 RBIs, 15 runs, six steals and a .639 OPS in 111 at-bats in the Southern League. So Beckham still has a chance to salvage this season and convince the Rays he's still capable of being the team's shortstop of the future.

***

With Cory Luebke (elbow) headed to the 15-day disabled list, the San Diego Padres opted to go with veteran Jeff Suppan in his place instead of calling up another pitching prospect like they did when they summoned Joe Wieland two weeks ago.

Double-A LHP Robert Erlin has a good chance to make an impact this year. In San Antonio's 2-0 loss to Frisco Tuesday night, Erlin (0-1) took a tough-luck loss despite allowing only two runs on seven hits and a walk in eight innings. The 21-year-old struck out 10 batters.

In 23 2/3 innings with San Antonio, Erlin has compiled a 2.66 ERA, allowed only one homer (a big weakness for him in the past) and has a 30:5 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

The 5-foot-11, 190-pound southpaw doesn't have ideal size or velocity (low-90s fastball), but he has registered a 2.61 lifetime ERA thanks to a deceptive delivery, outstanding command and a pair of plus pitches in both his curveball and changeup.

He projects as a No. 2 or 3 starter.

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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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