Fantasy Baseball Player Prospecting: Christian Friedrich, Alex White, Carlos Martinez, more

by Chris Hadorn on May 8, 2012 @ 15:26:57 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.

Yesterday the Colorado Rockies announced they were promoting starting pitching prospects Alex White and Christian Friedrich from Triple-A Colorado Springs. They are taking the rotation spots of injured starters Jeremy Guthrie and Jhoulys Chacin. White is slated to start tonight's game at San Diego and Friedrich will take the hill in tomorrow's contest versus the Padres.

Because of the stigma that surrounds Coors Field, Rockies pitchers are typically overlooked and undervalued in fantasy formats.

White had a rough initiation to the majors last year (8.42 ERA with Colorado). Friedrich had a rough stretch in 2010 and 2011 (5.00-plus ERAs in both years). There is reason to believe that both hurlers will receive lukewarm interest from fantasy players.

Looking at the bright side, both White and Friedrich are former first-round picks and don't lack talent. White profiles as a No. 3 starter, and Friedrich was developing into a No. 2 before injuries took a toll on his performance.

St. Louis Cardinals SP Tyrell Jenkins
Jenkins has big-time upside

In 24 2/3 innings with Colorado Springs, White was 1-3 with a 2.92 ERA, no homers allowed and a 21:8 strikeout-to-walk ratio. A ground-ball pitcher, White attacks batters with a heavy sinker, a good split-finger fastball and a developing slider that he is showing more confidence in.

Despite his disastrous showing at Coors last year (9.18 ERA in 16 2/3 innings), White is equipped to handle the rigors of pitching in high-altitude.

The former North Carolina star registered a lifetime 2.38 ERA in the minors, not recording an ERA over 3.00 at any of his five stops. Outside a modest strikeout rate (7.36 whiffs per nine frames), White's minor league numbers are impressive. He doesn't have anything left to prove in the minors.

After being selected with the 25th overall pick of the 2008 draft, Friedrich breezed through Single-A in 2009 by registering a 2.41 ERA and averaging 11.96 whiffs per nine innings.

In 2010, the wheels came off as Friedrich labored through a sore elbow and strained lat muscle. The southpaw saw his velocity wane, walks go up and strikeout rate take a dive.

This season, Friedrich started to flash signs of his old self. The former Eastern Kentucky star went 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA and a 27:4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 30 innings with Colorado Springs. Friedrich allowed one homer and yielded 1.63 ground-outs per air-out (a better rate than White's).

At his best, Friedrich features a fastball that routinely sits in the low 90s, a swing-and-miss curveball and a good changeup. Because of his strikeout history, Friedrich has more upside than White but is a riskier play because of his lack of recent sustained success.

Given the Coors Field factor, neither pitcher is a must-add in deep formats, but both have the stuff and performance record to make the difficult transition to pitching in Denver. In NL leagues, either deserves a little more attention.

White is a safer short-term play who could churn out a Derek Lowe-type career if everything falls into place. Friedrich is an intriguing high-risk, high-reward option. Barring another injury, one of these hurlers may not stick around once Guthrie is ready, which should be very soon.

***

Minnesota Twins outfielder Joe Benson, a tools-laden prospect with plus power and plus speed, has been demoted from Triple-A Rochester to Double-A New Britain.

Benson was hitting just .179 (9-for-95) with two homers, eight RBIs, nine runs, four steals and a .584 OPS in 28 games with Rochester. The most troubling stat is Benson's 27 whiffs, averaging a strikeout in one-quarter of his plate appearances.

Entering this season, the 24-year-old was lauded for his tool set, but many were worried that his lack of discipline at the plate would be his undoing as a player. It's unlikely that he'll have fantasy value this year.

***

The St. Louis Cardinals might have the deepest farm system in baseball, and they have two high-ceiling arms to watch at the Single-A level.

In high Single-A Palm Beach's 6-2 win over Brevard County on Monday, Carlos Martinez (2-1) got the win after allowing one run, three hits and a walk while striking out seven over seven innings.

The 20-year-old Dominican has compiled a 2.17 ERA and a 30:9 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 29 innings this season with Palm Beach. He has yet to allow a home run.

Martinez throws a live fastball that can reach triple-digits on its best days. The best part: His fastball has heavy movement, so hitters have a tough time squaring up the barrel of the bat against it. Martinez's secondary pitches, a curveball and a changeup, are still works-in-progress, but his curveball has shown out-pitch potential at times.

Long-term, Martinez has the upside of a No. 1 or No. 2 starter.

Meanwhile, in Quad Cities' 7-5 loss to Peoria yesterday, Tyrell Jenkins took a no-decision after fanning 10 batters over six stanzas. The 6-foot-4, 192-pound right-hander allowed two runs (both earned) on four hits and four walks.

The Texan is 1-1 with a 1.96 ERA and a 23:11 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 23 innings with Quad Cities.

A four-sport star in high school, Jenkins is a phenomenal athlete who is still refining his craft on the mound. The 2010 supplemental first-rounder throws a low- to mid-90s sinking fastball, an emerging 12-to-6 curveball and a developing changeup.

Pitching in the Midwest League, Jenkins is a long way from The Show, but a lot of scouts feel he has the makings of a No. 2 starter.

***

Kansas City Royals outfield prospect Wil Myers is looking like he might be the highest-impact rookie who could debut in the majors this summer. Through Monday's contests, Myers is hitting .339 with 10 home runs, 23 RBIs, 25 runs scored, four steals and a 1.096 OPS in 112 at-bats with Double-A Northwest Arkansas.

***

In Double-A Mobile's 2-1 win over Jackonsville Monday, Arizona Diamondbacks left-handed pitching prospect Tyler Skaggs (1-2) picked up his first win of the season after allowing no earned runs over seven innings. He struck out seven while allowing five hits and a walk.

In 32 1/3 innings at Mobile, Skaggs has posted a 3.06 ERA and has 43 strikeouts to only seven walks.

***

Dylan Bundy's scoreless streak to start his professional career has ended at 19 2/3 innings. In low Single-A Delmarva's 5-4 loss to Charleston Monday night, Bundy allowed one unearned run, one hit and no walks over three innings while striking out eight batters!

Some are calling this eight-whiff performance the worst start of the Baltimore Orioles phenom's professional career.

In 20 innings with Delmarva this season, Bundy holds a 0.00 ERA and 33:2 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He has allowed only two hits in that span!

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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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