by Chris Hadorn
on May 10, 2012 @ 15:48:50
Your fantasy baseball rankings look a little stale. KFFL.com's Fantasy Baseball Player Prospecting series highlights the exploits of minor league baseball players, including top MLB prospects. Find out who'll make an impact, whether it's in your rotisserie or head-to-head baseball game next week or in your fantasy baseball keeper league two years from now.
Most baseball fans over the age of 30 probably remember Andy Van Slyke, a three-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove winner who played 13 seasons in the majors. In what will make some fans feel old, Van Slyke's 25-year-old son has reached the majors. Yesterday the Los Angeles Dodgers promoted OF/1B Scott Van Slyke from Triple-A Albuquerque to replace OF Juan Rivera (hamstring) on the 25-man roster. Rivera was placed on the 15-day disabled list and could miss significant time beyond the DL stint.
Making his major league debut in a pinch-hitting appearance in the Dodgers' 6-2 win over San Francisco, Van Slyke hit an 0-2 fastball to center field for an RBI single.
In 122 at-bats with Albuquerque this season, Van Slyke was hitting .336 with eight home runs, 25 RBIs, 20 runs scored and a 1.034 OPS. A free swinger in the past, the 25-year-old displayed a good eye at the plate this year with 16 walks and 17 strikeouts.
In 2011, Van Slyke was named the organization's minor league player of the year after he led the Southern League with a .348 batting average and finished second in OPS (1.022) and slugging percentage (.595).
A 14th-round pick in 2005, Van Slyke can be best characterized as a "late bloomer." From 2005-08, Van Slyke never posted an OPS above .753, but in 2009 he enjoyed a breakout season in the hitter-friendly California League and he has been on the prospect radar ever since.
In 2010, the right-handed hitter struggled in his initial exposure to Double-A pitching by registering a .650 OPS, so there's been some sporadic performance even after he turned his career around.
Standing at 6-foot-5, 250 pounds, Van Slyke doesn't have the same caliber of tools and athleticism his father had so he's pretty much bound to the left field and first base spots and he's not much of a base stealer.
Although he's made major strides in improving his mediocre pitch selection which plagued him early in his career, Van Slyke is critiqued for having too long of a swing, a defect that could be exposed in the majors.
There's definitely some risk that comes with Van Slyke, but the majority of recent production has been quite good, and he's worth a flier based on that.
While he might have some trouble getting starts in left field with the presence of Bobby Abreu and Tony Gwynn, Jr., Van Slyke could push slumping James Loney (.601 OPS) for playing time at first base.
Van Slyke is far from a "can't miss" prospect, but recent history has been on his side, he has proven he can hit for power and he has an improving strike zone, which is a big plus.
In deep NL-only leagues, Van Slyke is worth a speculative add as a potential long-term threat to Loney.
Silverio, 25, underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery. He suffered the injury during a winter automobile accident.
The injury is a blow to the Dodgers' depth of positional prospects in the high-minors. Silverio hit .306 with 16 homers, 42 doubles, 18 triples, 85 RBIs, 90 runs scored, 11 steals and an .882 OPS in 533 at-bats with Double-A Chattanooga in 2011.
Guyer, 26, was hitting .294 with three homers, 13 RBIs, nine runs scored, two steals and an .823 OPS in 85 at-bats with Durham.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound outfielder is a well-rounded player who can hit for power, steal bases and has the athleticism to play all three outfield spots. Guyer's glaring weakness is his overzealous approach at the plate.
Because the Rays are set with an outfield of Desmond Jennings, B.J. Upton and Matt Joyce, the organization had felt Guyer is better suited playing every day rather than being a reserve at the major league level.
Brandon Allen's Thursday DL placement due to hammy issues will keep Guyer in the bigs longer than expected, so expect him to snare some at-bats in the coming weeks. Guyer's likely long-term major league role will be as a fourth outfielder, but he could get pushed into starting duty if Upton is moved for business reasons.
In high Single-A Jupiter's 4-3 win over Tampa last night, center fielder Christian Yelich went 2-for-3 with a pair of home runs, a walk and three runs scored.
In 92 at-bats, the Miami Marlins prospect is hitting .293 with five homers, nine RBIs, 21 runs scored and a .941 OPS. He has also been successful in nine of 10 stolen base attempts.
Considering the pitcher-friendly nature of the Florida State League, Yelich's numbers are very impressive across the board.
Blessed with a sweet swing, the 20-year-old Yelich has a chance to develop into a five-category star in fantasy baseball. The only real concern that baseball analysts have over his game is how much power he is going to develop, but he is currently showing that smacking 20 to 25 home runs is an attainable feat. In his first full season of professional baseball, Yelich clubbed 15 home runs and slugged .484, which included a .568 slugging percentage in his final 60 games.
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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