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, the New York Mets promoted outfield prospect Matt Den Dekker from Double-A Binghamton to Triple-A Buffalo. Although he didn't make the organization's top 10 in Baseball America's preseason prospect list, some observers believe that he's underrated.
Den Dekker's numbers this season (.340/.397/.563 in 268 plate appearances, with eight home runs and 10 stolen bases) implied that he needed more of a challenge. His stay at the level ended with an Eastern League player of the week honor.
In his Class AAA debut, the 24-year-old went 1-for-4 with a double, a walk and a run scored. In what was a tight, back-and-forth affair loaded with mistakes, he struck out twice; however, his hustle on a base knock earned him the extra-base hit as well as some praise from his skipper.
Den Dekker has hit pretty well at each of his minor league stops, as his career .295/.361/.487 slash line suggests. He's displayed a respectable ability to take a walk, too, but he's struck out in roughly one-quarter of his farm plate appearances.
The left-handed hitter has grown in his capacity to make contact, at least. Whether he's improved enough or can do so at higher levels is debatable. What shouldn't be a problem is hitting against southpaws; he's hit them as well as, if not better than, he's hit righties. The Mets' brass should pay close attention to his stay with the Buffalo Bisons.
There's no question that Den Dekker has the ability to make a name in rotisserie circles. The 2010 fifth-rounder from Florida could be a 15-15 or 20-20 player at the MLB level. But he has to hit against tougher competition, and he probably has to do it soon; he turns 25 in August. He should get a September call-up and compete for a roster spot in ST next year.
Some in fantasy baseball games with deep rosters have been clamoring for the Colorado Rockies to call up Nolan Arenado. He's considered the third baseman of the future and would resolve a longstanding issue - a serious lack of production from the hot corner - for the organization.
Arenado, 21, collected a base knock and another RBI today, giving him a .290 batting average, six home runs, 17 doubles and 34 RBIs in 241 at-bats for Double-A Tulsa this season. Last year, with advanced Class A Modesto, he batted .298 with 20 jacks and 122 RBIs.
If he packs a little more muscle onto his 6-foot-1, 205-pound frame, the right-handed batter may turn into a real power threat, but that isn't necessarily in his destiny. His BA indicators are very encouraging, however, and he's obviously shown a knack for hitting with men on base.
The Rockies seem to have no intention of rushing Arenado, perhaps with good reason. This year, he hasn't hit right-handers as well as he did in 2011. The club has watched plenty of players at the position for whom they had high hopes turn out to be busts, too.
Maybe Colorado gives him a taste of the bigs to close out 2012, maybe not. He'll get a long look in spring training, though. You can bet on that. He could be a Michael Young-type eventually, complete with an outstanding hitting environment.
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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