by Chris Hadorn
on March 17, 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?
The 6-foot-5, 204-pound Brown is a five-tool player who passed on a University of Miami football scholarship to sign with the Phillies back in 2006. In 395 minor league at-bats last season, Brown hit .299 with 14 homers, 64 RBIs and 23 stolen bases. Although he was considered raw coming out of high school, the 22-year-old has gradually improved each year to establish himself as one of the top prospects in the minors, one the Phillies considered untouchable in trade talks for Roy Halladay.
Long term, the 22-year-old has the upside to be a .280 hitter with 15 home runs and 25 steals at the major league level. Brown still needs to fine-tune some holes in his swing and will likely spend most of the 2010 season in the upper minors. He's the top candidate to replace Jayson Werth in 2011 if the Phillies can't sign the soon-to-be free-agent slugger. If Werth comes back, Brown could also eventually succeed Raul Ibanez, who'll turn 38 this season and become a free agent after 2011.
Friedrich overwhelmed hitters in his first full professional season, compiling a 2.41 ERA and 159 strikeouts in 119 2/3 innings between low Class A Asheville and high Class A Modesto. The Rockies' 2008 first-round pick has good command of a low- to mid-90s fastball and complements it well with an outstanding curveball. Friedrich also hurls a changeup and slider, but both offerings are still developing.
The 22-year-old southpaw only surrendered five dingers last season, but his 1.01 groundout-to-air-out ratio is mediocre for a hurler who will make his living pitching in the thin air of Denver. Bright side: The organization has time to emphasize its grounder-friendly philosophy, and he already induced an elite grounder rate in his first pro action at Asheville. Friedrich has not yet faced the upper minors. If he conquers Double-A and Triple-A this season, Friedrich has a slim chance to break into the majors toward the end of the year, but A 2011 debut is more realistic. He projects as high as a No. 2 starter.
In 2009, a broken hamate bone limited Alonso to only 84 games. In 295 minor league at-bats, Alonso hit .292 with nine homers, 52 RBIs and a .374 on-base percentage. The seventh overall pick of the 2008 First-year Player Draft is an advanced hitter with exceptional bat speed and strike zone awareness. He consistently makes hard contact to all fields.
A first baseman by trade, Alonso is blocked by big-league standout Joey Votto, and the Reds have been experimenting this spring with the former at third base and the corner outfield spots; they briefly discussed putting him at catcher. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Alonso is not nimble so it's uncertain he can handle a position switch. The 23-year-old will spend most of the 2010 season in the high minors to make up for lost time last season. Alonso has an impact bat that could pay dividends immediately for the Reds, but finding a place for him to play will be the major issue.
Morrison's 2009 season was hampered by a broken right thumb, which sapped his power and hitting numbers at Double-A Jacksonville. In 278 at-bats, Morrison hit .277 with eight homers and 47 RBIs, a disappointing line for the former Florida State League MVP and batting champion. On the bright side, the 22-year-old made strides in controlling the strike zone by lifting his on-base percentage to .411 and drawing 63 walks to only 46 strikeouts.
The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder is a strong hitter with good bat speed and fast wrists who sprays the ball to all fields. If Morrison can get beyond his thumb injury, he has the ability and track record to develop into a .300 hitter with 25-home run pop at the big-league level. If he doesn't break camp, Morrison is set to begin the 2010 campaign in the high minors, but he has the hitting prowess to force his way into the Marlins' everyday lineup by mid-summer.
"Dee" Gordon was honored as the co-MVP of the Midwest League in 2009 after hitting .301 with three home runs, 35 RBIs, 96 runs and 73 stolen bases in 98 tries with low Single-A Great Lakes. The 5-foot-11, 150-pound shortstop is an exceptional athlete with a wide array of tools who profiles similarly to Rafael Furcal or Brian Roberts.
Gordon, the son of former big-league reliever Tom Gordon, still needs quite a bit of improvement in his strike zone judgment, and it remains to be seen if he will ever develop much power. The 22-year-old is set to begin his 2010 campaign at high Class A Inland Empire; he still has a lot of development time left. This season Gordon should not be a target in any format other than deep keeper leagues with minor league rosters, but he bears watching due to his potential as an impact middle infielder in fantasy baseball.
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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