Fantasy Baseball Player Prospecting: Matt Davidson, Xander Bogaerts, more

by Tim Heaney on July 17, 2013 @ 13:15:00 PDT

 

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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 in your rotisserie or head-to-head baseball game next week or in your fantasy baseball keeper league a year from now.

Most fantasy baseball players will cop to enjoying the Futures Game more than the Home Run Derby during the All-Star Game festivities. This year's barn-burner, held Sunday at Citi Field, saw a pair of highly touted Arizona Diamondbacks stand out among the pile of prospects.

Boston Red Sox SS Xander Bogaerts
Bogaerts close to taking off

MVP hardware went to Matt Davidson, who hit a two-run jack that pushed the United States to an eventual 4-2 win over the World squad. It gave a glimpse of the third-sacker's power, which could be among the best of any minors infielder's. He's posting a .291-14-59 line at Class AAA Reno.

The 22-year-old can take an acceptable number of walks but has struck out in 25.8 percent of his plate appearances during his first Reno action, which pegs the most unfortunate component of his makeup. Though he launched 43 homers in the previous two seasons, the Pacific Coast League consistently inflates pop, so this is probably a tad too much too soon. His .364 BABIP for Reno is hiding his hacks and might lead to a pre-emptive debut; he's more of a .270 BA type, max. Ideally, he'd spend more time establishing better plate discipline at the level before facing big-league pitchers.

Though he may sip a cup of Joe this year, he wouldn't offer everyday value unless Martin Prado switches positions. Davidson should be tucked at the far end of an NL-only bench but can't be counted on for a sustained 2013 contribution.

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Starting pitcher Archie Bradley, meanwhile, continues his frantic climb toward the top of the heap among young hurlers. (Yes, including Dylan Bundy, who had Tommy John surgery recently.) The Arizona righty logged a scoreless frame on Sunday, touching the upper 90s on a four-seamer that also generates plenty of sink. At Double-A Mobile, the 20-year-old has registered 115 K's in 104 2/3 stanzas but also dished out 44 free passes, an ongoing issue. Plus, the grounder-forcing potential he carries hasn't yet manifested statistically.

The D-backs recently refuted the idea of calling up Bradley as a reliever, though his stuff would probably play up in a suffocating fashion in an area where they need help. They may revisit the idea later this summer. Still, they possess enough MLB-ready options, particularly Tyler Skaggs, to let Bradley continue shaping his command and frontline mold.

He's likely at least to receive a chance in camp to compete for the 2014 rotation. If he does see the majors this year (you never know when it comes to a contending club), he probably wouldn't be worth more than an eater of NL-only relief innings for K's, which wouldn't command anything near what he one day might cost.

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A run-scoring double to deep left-center field, one of his pair of knocks, reminded viewers of Christian Yelich's power upside. Rumors of the Miami Marlins dangling Justin Ruggiano on the swap market could expedite Yelich's arrival. The 21-year-old recently came back from a strained abdominal that shelved him for five weeks and jumped into action days before the Queens showcase.

That muscle tweak, which followed a five-homer, .955 OPS performance in May for Class AA Jacksonville, marked the latest link in a chain of pain that also includes a concussion last year and plantar fasciitis in his left heel that marred an impressive showing during 2013 spring training. Finding a groove with numerous injuries can hinder anyone, even a kid boasting more tools than a Craftsman chest.

The success of Jose Fernandez and Marcell Ozuna makes fantasy players anxious for Yelich to receive the call, which could come soon after the non-waiver July 31 trade deadline. His talent would make him a pickup anywhere he's eligible, but you'll probably see a raw version of him considering how many times his development has been interrupted -- he could be whiffing plenty.

Miami would let him play, though, because ... well, what else would they have going on? He's probably resided on someone's NL-only pine all year. If you're competing for your deep mixed league's title, it wouldn't hurt to block others from owning him, at least.

A pair of singles and a nifty slide into home plate summed up Xander Bogaerts' afternoon for the World club. Fellow Boston Red Sox seedling Garin Cecchini also came up with a clutch RBI double in the eighth to provide an insurance tally for the Americans.

Washington Nationals P A.J. Cole
Cole back in style

Bogaerts, the BoSox's franchise farmhand has scuffled a bit with a .260 clip since his promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket, but the dynasty-league blue chip already has left the yard seven times and managed an .814 OPS in 104 at-bats.

Boston has Jose Iglesias entrenched at shortstop while Stephen Drew (hamstring) is on the DL, and they'd probably keep the former in the lineup at third even after Drew comes back, based on Will Middlebrooks' progression at Triple-A Pawtucket. There's a slim chance Bogaerts forces his way up, however, and a player in a typical AL-only universe should already have stashed the Aruban. Some mixed leaguers encountering a dwindling number of intriguing waiver targets could start considering the 20-year-old as a no- or few-strings flier.

Cecchini, meanwhile, has displayed his elite domain over the strike zone with a .347 BA and a .456 OBP at Double-A Portland over 75 at-bats and 90 plate appearances. There's a backlog of infield prospects on this club, but the 22-year-old hot-corner patroller could make noise in Beantown or elsewhere in late 2014, at the soonest. Cecchini profiles as a lefty-hitting Nolan Arenado: His plate discipline should arrive more quickly than his power during his initial seasons.

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You'd think A.J. Cole were older than 21 given how long he's been on the prospect scene, but the righty, who was re-acquired by the Washington Nationals this offseason following two years in Oakland, has pitched only in A ball. The starter was called on to close out the U.S. victory, registering a backwards K and a groundout after he came in with two runners on base and one out.

The 6-foot-5, 190-pound drink of agua displays mid-90s heat with a power curveball and other possible plus offerings. Whispered Justin Verlander comparisons have propelled Cole back onto the elite scene. He's still years away from joining a rotation (most logically 2015, if he forces the issue) but is polished enough to buck that outlook. He can't be left unowned in long-term roster formats.

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For more Futures Game fallout, including reports on the Seattle Mariners' Taijuan Walker, the Chicago Cubs' Arismendy Alcantara and more youngsters, click on Lawr Michaels' latest Tumbling Dice.

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About Tim Heaney

Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.


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