Many Arizona Fall League participants see Major League Baseball action the following season. Fantasy baseball players must identify noteworthy AFL prospects. Which can help their fantasy baseball teams? Rising MLB youngsters often make fantasy baseball noise.
In June, a fastball to the jaw ended Sanchez's regular season. As observers pointed out, the devastating injury doesn't seem to have fazed him in the box. The Bucs' top pick of 2009 hit four homers in 68 AFL at-bats but posted a poor average. He has a quality approach, although he may never be more than an above-average hitter. Excellent defensive skills make him a future staple, but don't look for him until 2012.
Prospect hounds marvel at the success Belt has experienced since the Giants overhauled his swing last year. He has excellent gap power that, with some more meat, projects to become consistent ding dong clout. Some call him the best first base prospect behind the Kansas City Royals' Eric Hosmer. Brian Sabean has already hinted that Belt could be a factor in 2011. What happens with Aubrey Huff and in left field will influence that. Belt is a buy.
The Cards' 2010 first-rounder (25th overall) was considered one of the best college hitters in the draft. He's also on enough of a fast track that St. Louis is considering trading David Freese. Evaluators, in limited looks, questioned his offensive and defensive ability, but, to be fair, Cox hadn't played much since college ball. He picked it up in his final 10 AFL games (.324-2-10). It's worth monitoring how St. Louis plays this in late spring.
The probable heir apparent to Freddy Sanchez may not be as good with the mitt but is likely every bit the hitter. (Don't forget, Sanchez won a batting title in 2006.) Culberson, 21, will likely spend most of 2011 advancing up the ladder but could be a part of the big picture in 2012.
It seems unfair to be his size (6-foot-3, 225 pounds) and have his pretty, consistent swing and composure at 18 years old. Pretty much everyone agrees that Harper is for real. One raised concern is the effort he puts into his swing, and it's fair to wonder how he'll handle continually growing expectations. Until you hear differently, don't worry about them.
The Cubs have employed this right-hander, not to be confused with the St. Louis Cardinals' pitcher, as a starter throughout the minors, with modest results. But Carpenter hits triple digits and made 10 AFL appearances in relief. Although his Fall League numbers were unimpressive, there's no doubting his ability. Many scouts believe that his future lies in the bullpen, where he's a potential saves artist. If the North Siders make such a move permanent, he could be helping the big league club by 2012.
There are no secrets here. Jeffress, 23, is John Axford amplified. That's in both the strikeout (14 in 11 2/3 AFL innings) and walk (12) departments. He touches 100 and, it's clear, belongs in the bullpen. The Brew Crew has to keep him there, and he could win a spot in spring training. Ascent to closer one day is a possibility, but you see his weakness. Oh, one secret: His off-speed offering has turned out pretty nasty, too.
About Nicholas Minnix
Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.
The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570. Follow @NicholasMinnix
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