by Chris Hadorn
on March 17, 2010 @ 17:00:00
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?
Davis is competing to be the Rays' fifth starter after spending parts of six seasons in the minors and accruing 767 1/3 innings. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound righty pitched well in six big-league starts late last season, registering a 3.72 ERA and 36-to-13 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 36 1/3 innings. His big-league starts included a nine-strikeout performance and a 10-whiff, four-hit shutout.
Davis attacks hitters primarily with a heavy low- to mid-90s fastball and a big-breaking, power curveball, which serves as his bread-and-butter pitch. His changeup and slider are still coming along. Davis needs work on his command and tends to overthrow at times, but he has enough good stuff and mound savvy to pitch effectively as a third starter right now. Though Davis might not start out in the rotation, he's a sound late-round pick in deep mixed formats this spring. He's capable of competing for the AL Rookie of the Year Award with the potential for double-digit victories and healthy strikeout numbers.
Drabek was the key piece the Jays acquired in the winter trade that sent former Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay to Philadelphia. Last year Drabek recorded a 12-3 record, with a 3.19 ERA, and fanned 150 batters in 158 minor league frames. Standing at 6-foot, 185 pounds, Drabek makes up for his lack of size with his athleticism. He hurls a low-90s fastball with good movement and a 12-to-6 curve that he utilizes as his out pitch.
The son of Doug Drabek struggled mightily last season against lefties, which was primarily due to an ineffective changeup. The 22-year-old has impressed the Jays this spring, but the organization is leaning towards starting him in the high minors this year. Drabek is not far away and is worthy of consideration in AL-only leagues if one has room to stash him.
Last winter, the Jays landed Wallace in an offseason trade that sent prospect Michael Taylor to Oakland. Despite being a capable hitter, Wallace was dealt twice in a half-year's span. A third baseman by trade, the Jays plan to utilize the slugger at first base where his shaky defense will be less of a factor.
In 2009, Wallace hit .293 with 20 round-trippers, 63 RBIs and an .822 OPS, spending most of the year at Triple-A. He also struck out 116 times while drawing only 47 free passes. It was a good showing for Wallace, but not quite the offensive performance of a superstar hitter. Still a quality bat, Wallace projects as a .280 average or better with 20- to 25-home run pop in the middle of the order. If and when the Jays move Lyle Overbay aside - by trade or otherwise - Wallace will likely become the club's everyday first baseman. He's a high-upside investment in the late rounds of deep leagues.
Scheppers, a shortstop before becoming a pitcher at Fresno State, was one of the top pitching prospects in the 2008 draft class before a shoulder injury shut him down and dropped his draft stock. After pitching for an independent league team last spring, Scheppers re-entered the draft and was a supplemental first-round selection in the 2009 draft.
A late signing, the 6-foot-4, 200-pound right-hander did not pitch during the regular season but dazzled scouts during an Arizona Fall League stint. Scheppers fires a mid- to high-90s four-seamer, a two-seamer and a swing-and-miss slider. The 23-year-old right-hander has the ceiling of an ace, but he is also risky due to his prior shoulder problems. Scheppers is still learning the nuances of pitching, and the Rangers will probably take a conservative approach with him by limiting his innings as a starter. In keeper league formats, Scheppers is a worthwhile gamble as a boom-or-bust pick.
Taylor, a top Philadelphia Phillies prospect last year, was sent to the Toronto Blue Jays as part of the Roy Halladay trade. As soon as the Jays landed Taylor, they immediately shipped him to Oakland for highly regarded youngster Brett Wallace. Taylor is a physical specimen at 6-foot-6, 260 pounds who can run, throw, and hit for average and power. In 428 at-bats last season, the 24-year-old hit .320 with 20 homers, 84 RBIs, 21 steals and a .944 OPS between Double-A Reading and Triple-A Leigh Valley.
Despite his long swing, Taylor makes consistent contact for a big guy, and many of his long balls are the result of his raw strength, not him trying to pull the ball. The Stanford alumnus can drive the ball to all fields. Taylor projects as a .290 hitter with the potential to be a 30-30 star at the major league level. Even if he doesn't break camp with the Athletics, Taylor won't be in the minors for long, and he is a sleeper in all deep formats.
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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