Top fantasy baseball prospects - AL
by Chris Hadorn
on March 10, 2010 @ 16:00:00
Prospecting for fantasy baseball players has become vital. Many minor leaguers have promising futures, but only a fraction of them have the skills to make an immediate impact in the majors and on your fantasy baseball team. Which minor league players should you target in your 2010 fantasy baseball draft? Who'll make an impact during the season?
Ackley was considered the best pure hitter in his class when the Mariners selected him with the second overall pick of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft. The 22-year-old projects as a .300 hitter and possesses strong command of the strike zone. Though he clubbed 22 homers as a junior at the University of North Carolina, the scouting community debates how much power Ackley has. He is likely going to be a 12- to 15-home run threat.
A fine athlete, Ackley runs the bases well and is a threat to steal 15 to 25 bases per season. The 6-foot-1, 185-pounder played outfield and first base in college, but the Mariners recently moved him to second base to take advantage of his athleticism. If he sticks at second, Ackley could become a top-three positional value there as a Todd Helton-type bat with speed. He is likely to start his professional career at high Single-A or Double-A this year.
Hellickson is an advanced pitcher for his age with a knack for changing speeds, generating movement and keeping the ball down. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound right-hander makes up for his lack of size with good athleticism. Hellickson hurls a low to mid-90s fastball and complements it nicely with a filthy changeup that he utilizes as his strikeout pitch. He is deceptive at fooling hitters with consistent arm action for each of his pitches.
Pitching in both Double-A and Triple-A in 2009, Hellickson recorded a 9-2 record, with a 2.45 ERA and a 132-to-29 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 114 innings of work. He is slated to begin the 2010 campaign at Triple-A Durham. Hellickson profiles as a No. 2 starter and is a prime speculative commodity for cavernous drafts; he's on the short list for a spot start or as a rotation replacement. Like other recent Rays pitching call-ups, he's polished enough to make a quick roto impact.
Jennings is one of the most electrifying players in the minors. Bouncing back from an injury-marred 2008 season, Jennings combined to hit .318 with 11 home runs, 62 RBIs, 52 steals and 10 triples with Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham in 2009. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound outfielder showed signs of being a reliable major league leadoff hitter by posting a .401 on-base percentage and being caught stealing only seven times.
The reigning Southern League MVP profiles as a right-handed Carl Crawford with better on-base skills. Jennings is a long shot to crack the Rays' 25-man roster out of spring training and will likely begin the 2010 campaign in Durham; the Rays likely will bide their time with a platoon in right field. Jennings doesn't have many glaring weaknesses as a player. His quality stolen base potential makes him worth stashing in AL setups and an in-season mixed pickup target.
Carter established himself as a feared power hitter after swatting 39 home runs with Class A Stockton in 2008, but there were doubts about the rest of his hitting as he batted only .259 and struck out 156 times. In 2009, Carter calmed some of those fears by lifting his batting average to .337 and cutting his strikeouts en route to an MVP season in the Texas League. The 6-foot-4, 225-pounder also hit 24 home runs, recorded 101 RBIs and stole 13 bases.
Carter is often characterized as a snail, but he is athletic, similar to a young Jermaine Dye. Like Dye, Carter will probably struggle to hit .270 in the majors but will make up for it with his titanic pop. Carter projects as the Athletics' first baseman of the future. He is set to start the 2010 season at Triple-A Sacramento but could be up as soon as May if first baseman Daric Barton stumbles out of the gate. Carter is a late-round gem in AL-only drafts.
Perez more than held his own as an 18-year-old in the minors last season. In 114 2/3 innings with low Single-A Hickory and Double-A Frisco, Perez compiled a 6-8 record and a 2.90 ERA while fanning 119 hitters. The righty fires a low to mid-90s fastball to go along with a big-league-quality changeup and curveball.
For his age, Perez shows an uncanny aptness for changing speeds and keeping hitters off guard. The lefty doesn't have much room for projection in his 6-foot, 165-pound frame, but his stuff and feel for pitching still make him a prime candidate to be a No. 2 starter down the road. Given his age, there is a bit of uncertainty regarding Perez's durability. Though he has already reached Double-A, he probably won't make a significant impact with the Rangers until 2011.
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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