Fantasy Baseball Player Prospecting: Yasiel Puig, Zach Lee, Rymer Liriano

by Chris Hadorn on June 28, 2012 @ 13:50:17 PDT'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 Los Angeles Dodgers turned the baseball world on its ear by signing 21-year-old Cuban outfielder Yasiel Puig to a seven-year, $42 million contract.

It's a shocking move considering that Puig got $6 million more than Oakland Athletics outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and almost $12 million more than Cincinnati Reds fireballer Aroldis Chapman. According to Jon Heyman, another team offered more money than the Dodgers did.

Puig has played only twice internationally, so he hasn't been scouted heavily and he didn't play in Cuba's Serie Nacional de Beisbol last season as punishment for his previous attempts to defect.

Puig's plus speed seems to be the one trait that is consistent with most of the scouting reports written about him. Although some claim him to be the fastest player in Cuban baseball, he hasn't been much of a base-stealer; he has just 13 steals in 19 attempts in his two seasons in Serie Nacional de Beisbol.

During the 2010-11 season, Puig hit .330 with 17 home runs in 317 at-bats as a 19-year-old. He also drew walks (49) more often than he registered strikeouts (39), a really positive sign for a teenager playing in a professional circuit.

During his recent workout in Mexico City, Puig failed to hit a home run during a batting practice session in front of scouts. Puig's camp blamed the lack of power on fatigue - the Cuban was working out in Mexico City's 7,000-plus-foot altitude. But, most reports tend to agree that Puig has good power, in the 20- to 25-home run range.

The Cuban League has been likened to anything from a low Single-A to a Triple-A circuit, depending on whom you talk to. Puig will need some time to get acclimated to North American ball because he hasn't played professionally in almost two years. A promotion to the big leagues this year looks very unlikely.

Based on the scarcity of information, Puig is very similar to a highly regarded five-tool talent coming out of high school. It's hard to gauge what he can do until he starts playing in professional games in North America.

However, the fact that at least two teams were willing to invest more than $40 million in him says a lot about his natural ability. Puig is a boom-or-bust proposition right now. He's a classic high-risk, high-reward pick.

If one is about to partake in a dynasty minor league draft, your guess is as good as anyone's about how Puig's career will turn out. But the amount of money thrown at him says a lot about his ceiling, so it seems like a worthwhile risk to gamble on Puig.


Dodgers right-handed pitching prospect Zach Lee pitched admirably in his Double-A debut with Chattanooga Wednesday. The 2010 first-round pick took a no-decision after allowing one run, five hits and three walks in six innings, while striking out seven.

Prior to the promotion, Lee was 2-3, with a 4.55 ERA and a 52:10 strikeout-to-walk ratio, in 55 1/3 innings with high Single-A Rancho Cucamonga. Much of his ERA woes with Rancho Cucamonga were related to the nine home runs he surrendered while pitching in the hitter's circuit the California League.

The 20-year-old Lee is a big-time athlete who turned down a chance to quarterback the LSU Tigers when he signed with the Dodgers for $5.25 million in 2010. For his age the 6-foot-4, 190-pound right-hander has a deep four-pitch mix, which includes a low- to mid-90s fastball, a solid slider, a curveball and a changeup.

When it comes to his secondary pitches, Lee is still working on refining them, but thus far he has done a terrific job of establishing his fastball early in the count and throwing it for strikes. His fastball command is above-average, and he has shown some sink or cutting action on it to register outs.

Right now, Lee profiles as a No. 3 starter, but he has the potential to be better as he matures. He is far from a finished product. It might take a little time, but he could develop into a crafty No. 2 starter who can beat you with good command and an assortment of pitches.


The San Diego Padres promoted top outfield prospect and Futures Game participant Rymer Liriano from high Single-A Lake Elsinore to Double-A San Antonio Thursday.

The 21-year-old hit .298 with five home runs, 41 RBIs, 41 runs scored, 22 steals and an .803 OPS at his last stop. Following a .198 start in April, Liriano hit .338 with 19 steals in 23 attempts over the course of the last two months.

The Dominican is headed to one of the minors' most notorious pitcher's parks in San Antonio's Wolff Stadium. This will be a litmus test of Liriano's track record of high batting averages, which he has put up despite his aggressive approach at the plate.

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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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