Fantasy Baseball Player Prospecting: Chris Archer, Danny Hultzen, Nick Franklin, Billy Hamilton

by Tim Heaney on June 20, 2012 @ 15:55:22 PDT

 


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.

Seattle Mariners SP Danny Hultzen
M's not halting Hultzen

Yesterday the Tampa Bay Rays summoned Chris Archer from Triple-A Durham after placing Jeremy Hellickson (shoulder fatigue) on the disabled list. The MLB righty is expected to miss just one or two starts, but you never know how long such issues can linger.

Archer should be scooped up in AL-only setups and maybe in cavernous mixed leagues if you have room to speculate. He was dogged by free-pass problems in North Carolina (45 in 76 2/3 stanzas) and still needs to work on his changeup and mechanical consistency, but he only gave up four taters thanks to his grounder-inducing penchant. In the last six starts before his call-up, he went 3-2 with a 2.48 ERA and 34 K's.

The highly touted righty, who'll turn 24 in September, carries swing-and-miss stuff in a power heat-slider combo; those types are often worth a no-strings-attached dart throw, even if his immediate shelf life is questionable.

***

Central figures of the Seattle Mariners' future are sniffing the bigs. Infielder Nick Franklin and starting pitcher Danny Hultzen were bumped up from Double-A Jackson to Triple-A Tacoma Wednesday following Tuesday's Southern League All-Star Game, which Hultzen started for the North Division squad.

The No. 2 pick in the 2011 entry draft breezed past Class AA hitters with a 1.19 ERA and 79 K's in 75 1/3 innings. He walked a tad too many (32) but allowed just 38 hits, which displays the domination of his diverse, polished arsenal. The 22-year-old's heat tops out at around 96 mph with a changeup and a slider that possess command beyond his years. Upon his selection last year, scouts considered his big-league path one of the quickest in the class.

Franklin has rebounded quite nicely after a 2011 season filled with health trials. He suffered a fluke concussion when a teammate's flying bat struck him in the jaw during batting practice, and when he was healing from that, he came down with food poisoning and mononucleosis.

Arizona Fall League rejuvenation and a healthy offseason later, he's displaying his lauded stick work once again. He finished his Jackson stint with a .322 BA with a .394 OBP, .502 SLG, 26 RBIs, 25 runs and nine swipes.

His four homers in 205 at-bats say the pop hasn't fully come back yet, but he hit 23 homers as a 19-year-old in the Midwest League, and maybe his time in the Pacific Coast League, as often as it inflates power, will help him rediscover it. Many have wondered if the 21-year-old will abandon hitting from the right batter's box and focus strictly on his much better left half.

He holds the range to play at the 6 but has arm strength more befitting a keystoner. Unfortunately, Dustin Ackley occupies that region, so they want the pup to stick where he is. The fact Franklin can man both spots aids his chances at reaching the M's, though. Brendan Ryan is doing his part for the moment, to some degree, but Franklin could easily push his way up this season.

Expect to see both taking the field during Seattle's continuing rebuild effort in September, if not sooner. Both would get significant PT in such cases. They should already be tucked away in AL-onlys, both throwbacks and keepers, and on the long-term planning list for deep mixed leaguers.

***

It's not news that Cincinnati Reds burner Billy Hamilton can take plenty of bases. It's noteworthy, however, when someone steals from him.

Glad he's OK after that incident. He had a decent night before that run-in, winning the California League MVP honors in their annual All-Star battle with the Carolina League. The 21-year-old singled before thieving second and third and scoring - quite the efficient display of his talents.

He has a remarkable 80 thefts in 66 games and has only been caught 16 times, keeping him on pace to break the single-season record for any farm stop. Though he's a bit long in the tooth for Single-A ball, the steps forward he's shown at the plate for high Single-A Bakersfield give more faith that he can add more offensive dimensions by the time he reaches the bigs.

Outside shot: Cincy might call on him in the season's final month as a pinch-running specialist. The threat he poses any time he's on base might make him the latest version of Tony Campana, with deadlier natural speed. That's worth plugging at the end of a deep mixed lineup, especially one that needs SBs in its drive toward a title or money finish.

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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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