Fantasy Baseball Player Prospecting: Conor Gillaspie, Dylan Axelrod, Deolis Guerra

by Chris Hadorn on May 3, 2012 @ 13:45:20 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.

After receiving news that 3B Pablo Sandoval will miss four to six weeks with a fractured hamate bone in his left hand, the San Francisco Giants are expected to promote 3B prospect Conor Gillaspie from Triple-A Fresno. Gillaspie was hitting .362 with three homers, 13 RBIs, 21 runs scored and a .939 OPS in 94 at-bats with Fresno.

Minnesota Twins RP Matt Capps
Capps coming off MIN 'pen?

Gillaspie, 24, is a sound line-drive hitter with a firm grasp of the strike zone. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound third baseman holds a .293 career batting average and .364 on-base percentage in the minors.

The big knock on Gillaspie is the lack of pop he brings for a corner infielder. The former Wichita State star carries a lifetime .420 slugging percentage in the minors and has never topped 11 homers in a single season.

Because of his limited power ceiling, Gillaspie doesn't bring much upside, but he's a steady hitter who won't sink the ship. The 2008 first-round supplemental selection is considered a "gamer" by observers, so his intense approach could endear him to manager Bruce Bochy and earn him his share of playing time.

Gillaspie has played third, first base and left field in the minors, so he also brings some versatility to the table.

Gillaspie profiles similarly to former Giants third baseman Bill Mueller, who made a career out of getting on base without the spectacular power numbers one desires at the hot corner.

In deep NL-only formats, Gillaspie won't win one's league. However, he has shown in the minors that he can be a reliable, albeit unflashy plug-in, and NL-only managers could do a lot worse in filling the 3B or CI spot left vacated by Sandoval's injury.

***

Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura said Triple-A Charlotte RHP Dylan Axelrod would likely start one of the games during the team's doubleheader Monday at Cleveland.

In 25 innings (four starts) at Charlotte this season, Axelrod is 2-1, with a 1.08 ERA and a 26:4 strikeout-to-walk ratio. In 2011, Axelrod combined to go 9-3, with a 2.69 ERA and a 132:35 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 150 2/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. He yielded only three homers.

Judging by his numbers, most would assume Axelrod is a promising No. 3 starter in the very least, but he is a former 30th-round pick who has an underwhelming arsenal of pitches in the eyes of scouts.

The 26-year-old attacks hitters with an 88 to 92 mph fastball, a late-breaking slider and a changeup. Axelrod's slider is his bread-and-butter pitch that he generates strikeouts with.

The 6-foot, 195-pound righty is a control artist with outstanding command, but his fringe stuff often draws the label of future fifth starter.

Despite the knocks against him, Axelrod registered a 2.89 ERA and a 19:9 strikeout-to-walk ratio during a 18 2/3 inning stint in the majors last year, so there is hope that his stuff can be effective in the majors.

Considering his age and lack of pedigree, Axelrod is not someone a keeper manager would want to invest a lot of resources in. However, his numbers are impressive, he knows how to pitch and he's worth a shot in AL-only formats if someone has an open spot.

***

Once a source of pride in a proud organization, the Minnesota Twins bullpen has really fallen off this year. Closer Matt Capps is walking the tight rope, and it seems like he's destined to lose his job at some point. Southpaw Glen Perkins has the stuff to close, but the Twins seem reluctant to use him in that capacity, ala Tyler Clippard of Washington. Even the setup men behind these two, Jared Burton and Brian Duensing, aren't really of the closer variety.

The Twins' long-term solution to the ninth inning might be sitting in Triple-A Rochester in Deolis Guerra.

In 17 innings between Double-A New Britain and Triple-A Rochester this year, Guerra is 2-0, with a 0.53 ERA, one save, and a 20:2 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

The Venezuelan was recently promoted to Triple-A in late April after registering a 0.71 ERA in 12 2/3 innings in Double-A.

Guerra, 23, was once a prized starting pitching prospect who was acquired from the New York Mets in the 2008 Johan Santana trade. As a starter though, Guerra got hammered at the plate as he surrendered 19 home runs and yielded a 6.36 ERA in 127 1/3 innings in 2010.

Since being converted to the bullpen, Guerra has seen a rise in his fastball velocity from the low 90s to the mid-90s. He complements it with a sinking changeup, which serves as his strikeout pitch.

It's only a matter of time until the hapless Twins will summon Guerra to the majors this year, and he has a chance to be pitching in critical late-inning situations before the end of the season, perhaps with some save chances. AL-only managers should scoop him up, and deep mixed owners should remember his name.

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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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