Twins and Rays Swap Young Studs

by Tim Heaney on November 28, 2007 @ 21:05:18 PDT reports the Minnesota Twins acquired outfielder Delmon Young from the Tampa Bay Rays, along with shortstop Brendan Harris and minor league outfielder Jason Pridie, for starting pitcher Matt Garza, shortstop Jason Bartlett and minor league pitcher Eduardo Morlan.

The 22-year-old Young fills the void left by outfielder Torii Hunter, who signed with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim last week. The young outfielder had a quietly successful 2007 season, batting .288 with 13 home runs and 93 RBI in 645 at-bats. He also stole 10 bases and clubbed 38 doubles. His power dropped off a bit in the second half as he only hit four home runs after the All-Star break.

Young moves into a weaker offensive lineup (the Twins ranked 25th in the majors in runs scored, while the Rays ranked 15th), but he could still thrive in the heart of the Minnesota order, especially with his penchant for gap power at such a young age. He should still be considered a top-15 fantasy outfielder as he enters his second big-league season, and he can serve as an above-average No. 2 outfielder and a stellar No. 3 option.

Garza hit some speed bumps in his first big share of major league action last year. In 83 innings pitched, he went 5-7 with a 3.69 ERA, 67 strikeouts and 32 walks. His downfall came in both his .294 batting average against and a 1.54 WHIP. The right-hander joins a young mound nucleus in the Sunshine State, likely sliding into the No. 3 spot in the Rays' rotation behind southpaw Scott Kazmir and right-hander James Shields.

Garza moves to slightly more pitcher-friendly confines, so the park factor boosts his stock, albeit to a small degree. However, the 24-year-old will take the mound in an even tougher division, as the American League East doesn't offer a friendly atmosphere; his team will have to face both the Boston Red Sox (fourth in the majors in runs scored) and the New York Yankees (first) at least 18 times next season. This could help stunt his pitching growth, but he could still be a steal in the later rounds.

Harris hit .296 with 12 home runs and 59 RBI hitting in various spots of the Rays' order. Bartlett hit .265 with five home runs and 43 RBI, but he also contributed 23 stolen bases. Both shortstops maintain only minimal fantasy value in the average fantasy league, but Bartlett has the slight edge because of his penchant for steals. He could be a great source for bag swipes in the later rounds of deeper leagues.

Morlan, 21, is a flame-throwing prospect that may have a bright future in the bullpen. This past season he went 5-3 with a 3.10 ERA and 99 strikeouts in 69 2/3 innings between Class A Fort Myers and Double-A New Britain. Pridie, 24, gives Minnesota another outfield prospect with some pop and speed. In 2007 the left-handed batter hit .303 with 14 home runs and 26 steals in 524 at-bats compiled at both Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham. Neither player is a fantasy commodity at this point, although Morlan, in particular, warrants watching.

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About Tim Heaney

Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.

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