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.
Despite falling 6-3 to the Texas Rangers last night, Oakland Athletics fans are buzzing about Tuesday's major league debut of left-handed reliever Sean Doolittle. Throwing all mid-90s fastballs in a 21-pitch appearance, Doolittle stuck out three of the four batters he faced, all right-handed hitters.
Sean Doolots on the mound
In an amazing story similar to Los Angeles Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, Doolittle has made a seamless transition ever since being converted from an everyday position player to a full-time pitcher late last season.
In 25 innings between three stops in high Single-A, Double-A, and Triple-A this season, Doolittle registered a microscopic 0.72 ERA and an obscene 48:7 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The flame-throwing southpaw did not allow a home run and held opposing batters to a .096 batting average.
Once a highly regarded first base prospect in the system, Doolittle couldn't deliver on his promise as a hitter because of both knee and wrist injuries.
With his career in jeopardy, Doolittle, a former two-way star at the University of Virginia, was approached by farm director Keith Lieppman about a return to the mound. Making his professional debut in the rookie level Arizona League, Doolittle showed little rust as he quickly rediscovered a fastball that could touch 97 mph on the radar gun.
Thus far, the 25-year-old has been able to throw his heater for strikes, which has helped him skyrocket through the Oakland system while his changeup and breaking ball catch up.
Like recent call-up Stephen Pryor of the Seattle Mariners, Doolittle is on the fast track to high-leverage relief situations. His stuff and performance are indicative of a backend bullpen arm.
With veterans Brian Fuentes and Grant Balfour and fellow young gun Ryan Cook in the fold, Doolittle is still a long way from making any type of push for closer duties. However, Fuentes and Balfour might be shipped off for prospects as the Athletics aren't likely to be competing around the July 31 trade deadline.
Don't be surprised if a combination of Cook and Doolittle are closing games for the Athletics by this September.
Although Doolittle is still a ways away from garnering save opportunities, he still holds fantasy value in deep leagues because he is a whiff machine. AL-only managers should not hesitate to pick up Doolittle if they have a spot to burn.
It might be time for AL-only owners and deep mixed league managers to stash Kansas City Royals RHP pitching prospect Jake Odorizzi. In a sports radio interview yesterday, Royals assistant general manager J.J. Picollo said Odorizzi would be the next hurler to be called up should a need arise.
Since being promoted to Triple-A Omaha in mid-May, Odorizzi has gone 2-0, with a 2.49 ERA and a 17:7 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 21 2/3 innings.
The 22-year-old has done well in Triple-A, but one should note that his walk and home run rates have climbed and his strikeout rate has dropped since the move.
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound righty doesn't have the ideal size that scouts look for, but he's athletic and has good command of a low- to mid-90s fastball. His curveball is a plus pitch, and he also has a changeup and slider that he is not afraid to use.
Overall, he's not an ace like Zack Greinke (the veteran he was dealt for), but he's a good pitching prospect that has a chance to develop into a No. 2 or 3 starter.
We continue our look at the first-round selections of the 2012 draft and examine their potential impact in fantasy:
6. Chicago Cubs: Albert Almora, OF, Mater Academy (Fla.)
Almora doesn't have eye-popping raw power or blazing wheels, but he is a well-rounded player who does a lot of things well. His draws high praise for his ability to hit line drives and for his advanced feel for the strike zone.
Best-case, prime-season role: .290 avg., 20 HR, 90 RBI, 95 R, 10 SB
7. San Diego Padres: Max Fried, LHP, Harvard Westlake HS (Calif.)
The 6-foot-4, 170-pound southpaw features a low- to mid-90s fastball and two potential plus offerings in a curveball and changeup. Scouts really like his lanky, athletic pitching frame and feel he has some room to gain velocity as he matures into body.
Best-case, prime-season role: No. 2 starter.
8. Pittsburgh Pirates: Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford
Appel, whom some projected to be the first overall pick, plummeted to the eighth overall selection due to signability concerns as the Cardinal star employs ruthless, power agent Scott Boras as an advisor. The 6-foot-5, 215-pound righty features a mid- to high-90s fastball and two quality secondary pitches in a slider and changeup. In 2012, the junior went 10-1, with a 2.27 ERA and a 127:26 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 119 innings. The big concern here is whether Pittsburgh can ink Appel to a contract.
Best-case, prime-season role: No. 1 starter.
9. Miami Marlins: Andrew Heaney, LHP, Oklahoma State
Heaney might be the most polished pitcher in the draft. The 6-foot-2, 174-pound southpaw features a low- to mid-90s fastball and two good pitches in a curveball and a changeup. Heaney can throw all three pitches for strikes and has a strong feel for pitching for his age. The junior went 8-1, with a 1.60 ERA and a 140:22 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 118 1/3 innings this season. Although he doesn't have the upside of an ace, Heaney is a safe commodity to bet on and could move to the majors really quickly.
Best-case, prime-season role: No. 3 starter
10. Colorado Rockies: David Dahl, OF, Oak Mountain HS (Ala.)
A good athlete, Dahl is someone the Rockies envision that can hit first or second in their batting order, be a force on the base paths, hit for gap power and patrol their expansive outfield as an above-average defender.
While Dahl is praised for his contact hitting, there are skeptics who wonder if he will ever hit for sufficient power and question if he profiles well at a corner outfield spot if moved there.
Best-case, prime-season role: .300 avg., 10 HR, 65 RBI, 100 R, 30 SB