Fantasy Baseball Player Prospecting: Anthony Rizzo, Billy Hamilton

by Nicholas Minnix on June 12, 2012 @ 15:40:57 PDT

 


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.

On Monday, for the second time in two days, Anthony Rizzo homered twice for the Iowa Cubs. The second pair was more noteworthy for the left-handed batter because both of them came against a southpaw.

In the upper levels, the Chicago Cubs' apparent first baseman of the (perhaps not-so-distant) future has had trouble hitting against left-handers. The progress he seems to have made this year is encouraging, though.

This season, Rizzo has batted .370 with 22 bombs in 219 ABs. In 62 at-bats against lefties, the 22-year-old has batted .355 with seven home runs. Unsurprisingly, Rizzo's strikeout rate against southpaws indicates that he hasn't solved them entirely, but hopefully he's taking a big step.

And hopefully, he's healthy. On Tuesday, Rizzo left the I-Cubs' contest versus Omaha because he slid into a fence when he was chasing a pop-up in foul territory. The injury may not be serious because he walked off under his own power, but we'll have to wait for the results of other evaluations before we get a better idea.

Rizzo may struggle once he again faces major league pitchers, particularly left-handers, but he should be better equipped to handle them than he was last season. He shouldn't be available in NL-only setups, of course, and some deep mixed leaguers are stashing him. If he receives the call - probably sometime in the second half - expect some of that power to show up before anything else.

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This past weekend, Cincinnati Reds prospect Billy Hamilton was named to the All-Star team in the high Class A California League. Tom Groeschen reported that he'll be a starter, in fact.

You'll notice from the link that the switch-hitter has a ton of stolen bases, a large reason for his election. He's stolen three since The Cincinnati Enquirer's post, in fact. Hamilton has followed up his 103-steal campaign for Single-A Dayton in 2011 with a .315 average and 72 stolen bases in 86 attempts this year.

Anyone who evaluates prospects and 'Nets an opinion about them says that the 22-year-old affects a game tremendously with his ridiculous speed. He's on pace to set the record for most thefts in one season at any level. He won't need to do much beyond put the ball in play in order to be some kind of factor in the major leagues.

Hamilton is a bit old for his levels, at this point, however. It's encouraging that he's made noticeable improvements in his walk rate (well above 10 percent this season) and strikeout rate (well below 20 percent). It'd be nice to see those marks continue to get better by multiple percentage points as he ascends the ladder, but that's no easy task.

At 6-foot-1, 160 pounds, Hamilton could stand to add some weight as well. He has some time to fill out, but he's more of a pure athlete than Dee Gordon and may struggle to hit, at least initially, like the Los Angeles Dodgers' youngster has in 2012. Gordon probably has more baseball acumen than Hamilton. Working in the prospect from Cincy's favor is that, so far, he's shown the capacity to learn things that don't come as naturally to him as they might to others.

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About Nicholas Minnix

Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.

The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.


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