Fantasy Baseball Player Prospecting: Leonys Martin, Matt Barnes, Domonic Brown, more
by Chris Hadorn
on June 15, 2012 @ 16:25:01
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.
The Texas Rangers are promoting well-rounded outfield prospect Leonys Martin from Triple-A Round Rock to provide the team with some depth since Josh Hamilton was hospitalized with an intestinal virus. Martin is expected to start in center field tonight versus the Houston Astros.
Since returning June 7 from a disabled list stint in which he had surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb, Martin has hit .333 with a pair of home runs, 11 RBIs, six runs scored and a 1.016 OPS in 30 at-bats.
The former Cuban national team star is batting .344 with five home runs, 22 RBIs, 19 runs scored and a .961 OPS in 128 at-bats this season with Round Rock. He has shown a respectable eye at the plate with 15 walks to 22 strikeouts.
The one area of concern has been his base-stealing as he has been successful on only seven of 14 attempts.
Martin is taking the place of pitcher Koji Uehara (strained lat) on the 25-man roster, but that doesn't necessarily mean there's a good chance this is a permanent move.
Outfielders Craig Gentry (.843 OPS) and David Murphy (.820 OPS) have fared well in a kind of platoon, so Martin would be a part-timer if he were to stick around once Texas is healthy. However, the Rangers invested $15.6 million in Martin and he has the most upside of the trio, so he's going to eventually get the opportunity to play on an everyday basis. At 24, Martin really doesn't have much more to prove in the minors.
If given the chance to play regularly, Martin projects as an on-base machine who scores a boatload of runs in the Rangers' potent lineup, which leads the majors with 335 runs entering today. He also has a chance to be a double-digit home run threat with the wheels to steal 15 to 20 bases.
He's an immediate add in all AL-only formats, just in case, and may be worth a flier deep mixed league formats. He's worth watching in standard 10- to 12-team mixed leagues because he is a five-category contributor in a great situation to produce.
So far, the 2011 draft has stocked the minors with a handful of potential No. 1 or No. 2 starters in Baltimore's Dylan Bundy, Arizona's Trevor Bauer and Archie Bradley, Seattle's Danny Hultzen, Pittsburgh's Gerrit Cole, and Miami's Jose Fernandez.
Another promising young arm to add to that list is Boston's Matt Barnes, who was selected with the No. 19 overall pick out of the University of Connecticut.
In 72 2/3 innings between low Single-A Greenville and high Single-A Salem, Barnes is 7-1 with a 0.99 ERA and a 95:12 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The 21-year-old righty has allowed only one home run thanks to the heavy sinking action on his low- to mid-90s fastball.
In Salem's 4-3 win over Carolina Thursday, Barnes was victorious after throwing five strong innings, allowing just one run on two hits and a walk. He struck out nine.
The 6-foot-4, 205-pound Connecticut native has shown outstanding command of his fastball this season and has been able to light up the radar gun in the high 90s even when he's gone deep into games.
In addition to his fastball command, Barnes has also shown two potential plus secondary pitches in his curveball and changeup.
Although he is blowing away batters with a gaudy average of 11.77 strikeouts per nine innings, Barnes has also earned praise for his ability to induce weak contact by pitching down in the strike zone with his sinkerball.
The Red Sox's faithful probably won't see Barnes this season, but he's on track to reach Fenway by late next season. He's certainly a well-rounded pitcher to monitor in dynasty formats.
Philadelphia Phillies outfield prospect Domonic Brown aggravated a left knee injury during Triple-A Leigh Valley's 12-2 loss to Durham Thursday. Brown injured himself when he was running out a ground-out and left the contest after going 0-for-2 at the plate.
After missing in time in May with both a knee and hamstring injury, Brown had hit well in the month of June, batting .300 with three homers, five RBIs, eight runs scored and a .945 OPS in 40 at-bats.
Despite his recent success, Philadelphia assistant general manager Scott Proefrock recently said that Brown was nowhere close to a promotion until he showed "sustained success" in Triple-A.
Overall at Leigh Valley, Brown is hitting just .266 with four home runs, 22 RBIs, 26 runs scored and a .730 OPS in 173 at-bats. In what is probably tied to his leg injuries, Brown has been successful on just four of his 10 base-stealing attempts.
After missing nearly a month with shoulder tendonitis, St. Louis Cardinals fire-baller Carlos Martinez is being challenged in his return to the mound: He is scheduled to make his Double-A debut tonight with Springfield.
The 20-year-old right-hander features a mid- to high-90s fastball that can reach triple digits. He's still learning the nuances of pitching, though, and his secondary stuff is still a work-in-progress.
The Dominican was 2-2 with a 3.00 ERA, no home runs allowed and a 34:10 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 33 innings with high Class-A Palm Beach this year.
After a sluggish start in which he hit only .198 in April, San Diego Padres right field prospect Rymer Liriano has been red hot since May 1, batting .350 with two home runs, 23 RBIs, 27 runs scored and 17 steals in 21 attempts.
Liriano, 21, has a chance to be a dynamic PETCO Park player with an explosive swing that produces consistent, hard contact, and plus wheels that give him a chance to steal 30 to 40 bases at the major league level.
Houston Astros center field prospect George Springer is a toolsy athlete with the upside to be a 30-30 star. In 245 at-bats with high Single-A Lancaster, Springer is hitting .294 with 14 homers, 45 RBIs, 54 runs scored, 13 steals and a .925 OPS in 245 at-bats.
However, it's important to keep in mind that Springer is playing half of his games at one of professional baseball's most notorious hitter's parks. The 22-year-old is hitting .323 with a 1.084 OPS at home and is batting .263 with a .749 OPS in away contests.
He's also an aggressive hitter who strikes out a ton. With 74 strikeouts, Springer averages a whiff every 3.31 at-bats.
While Springer has shown he has an intriguing power-speed combo that few prospects can match, we won't know how serious of a prospect he is until he faces Double-A pitching.
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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