by Chris Hadorn
on March 24, 2010 @ 15:00:00
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?
Montgomery was outstanding in his first full professional season, registering a 6-4 record, with a 2.21 ERA and 98 strikeouts in 110 innings between low Single-A Burlington and high Single-A Wilmington. The 6-foot-5, 180-pound southpaw has a projectable body with a simple, clean delivery that enhances the effectiveness of his fastball. In addition to his low-90s fastball, Montgomery also throws a plus-curveball, a changeup and a palmball.
The Royals' first-round supplemental pick from 2008 is lauded for his fiery demeanor on the mound. Montgomery is not without faults as he struggled with his command early in the season at Burlington, issuing 24 walks in 58 innings. Although his secondary arsenal is solid, continued development of Montgomery's change and palmball is essential for continued success at higher levels. The left-hander is slated to pitch in Double-A this year. Long term, he profiles as a No. 2 or 3 starter behind Zack Greinke.
Moore is a strikeout machine that overwhelms batters with sheer stuff. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound southpaw led all minor league hurlers last season in strikeouts per nine innings and opponents' batting average. Moore compiled an 8-5 record with a 3.15 ERA and struck out 176 batters in 123 innings at low Single-A Bowling Green in 2009. Utilizing a heavy sinking fastball, Moore surrendered only six home runs and induced groundballs 51 percent of the time. He also throws a curveball, his out pitch, but his changeup is still developing.
Moore is a wild pitcher as shown by his 70 walks last season. The 21-year-old trimmed down his walk rate as the season progressed last year, but he will need to continue the improvement in order to maintain his dominance against more advanced hitters. Based on his overpowering arsenal and performance, Moore has the ceiling of an ace, but his wildness could limit him to a backend starter or bullpen arm.
Last season Flowers showed he was nearly ready for The Show by combining to hit .297 with 15 homers, 56 RBIs and a .938 OPS between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound catcher's bid to win a roster spot this spring was stalled due to his hitting struggles caused by sloppy habits in his swing mechanics. The White Sox are pleased with Flowers' progress as a defender behind the plate, but they now want him to polish his hitting in Triple-A this season.
The 24-year-old projects as a 20- to 25-home run hitter in the majors with solid on-base ability. He may struggle to hit .270 in the majors, though. Long-time White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski is playing out the final year of his contract. Flowers could solidify himself as the team's 2011 backstop with a strong showing in Charlotte - and potentially a short MLB stint - this season. He's worth a deep AL speculation, especially in two-catcher leagues.
Crosby established himself as a top prospect last year after missing the entire 2008 season due to Tommy John surgery. Pitching for low Single-A West Michigan, Crosby compiled a 10-4 record, with a 2.41 ERA and 117 strikeouts over a span of 104 2/3 innings. The 6-foot-5, 200-pound southpaw flashed a mid-90s fastball and a filthy curveball with good bite.
Due to his long layoff, Crosby, 22 in September, needs considerable improvement in his command and is still learning the nuances of pitching. His changeup and slider are still in the rudimentary stages. If his health holds up, Crosby has the athleticism, stuff and projection to be an ace. This season the Tigers will likely increase his workload and challenge him at high Single-A Lakeland.
Last season Hicks hit .251 with four home runs, 29 RBIs and 10 stolen bases at low Single-A Beloit, his most extensive playing time since being drafted in the first round of the 2008 draft. At first glance, his performance appears to be uninspiring, but scouts were dazzled by his elite speed, advanced hitting approach at the plate, his range in center field and his howitzer of an arm. In 251 at-bats, Hicks drew 40 walks and posted a .353 on-base percentage, while striking out only 55 times.
A five-tool player, Hicks possesses the talent to develop into a .280-25-100-20 superstar, but it will probably take time and ample improvement to reach that ceiling. Based on his array of his tools and his comprehension of the strike zone, Hicks is due for a breakout season in low or high Class A this year. In keeper leagues, he's a prime candidate to target while his value is still low.
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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