Welcome to the weekly Fantasy Baseball Prospect Primer. In this space, we will inform you about prospects who have recently been called up or who might become fantasy contributors in the near future. Especially good for Keeper leagues, you’ll want to check in weekly to get the latest news and advice for the coming week about prospects of fantasy relevance. Whether you need a great future keeper or you’re just tired of starting Ryan Dempster in that last SP slot, or if you’re just looking for the next big thing in fantasy baseball, this is the article for you!
Today we will profile some National League corner infield prospects that were recently called up, and are basically opposites of each other in terms of fantasy value. Let's get into it!
Matt Davidson (3B, ARI) – In somewhat of a surprise move, the Diamondbacks have summoned Matt Davidson from their minor league system. He wasn't projected to arrive anytime soon, but it seems Davidson will get the lion's share of playing time at 3B while Martin Prado moves to the outfield.
Davidson has a full power stroke in which he swings-and-misses a lot. So far this season, he has 123 whiffs in only 466 plate appearances. Surprisingly, he actually shows decent patience at the plate otherwise, with a respectable .348 OBP and an equally respectable .278 batting average. I actually believe his on-base percentage could improve further if he could learn to manage the off-speed pitches better, which should happen as he matures. Those strikeouts are basically the only thing holding Davidson back from being a true middle-of-the-order impact bat.
He has blasted 16 home runs and registered 68 RBI in the Pacific Coast League. We'd love to see better numbers coming out of the very hitter-friendly PCL, but like I said it’s not that the hits aren't falling, it’s the sheer number of strikeouts-- wasted plate appearances in which the ball doesn't even go into play. Hopefully he can benefit from some major league coaching, as plate discipline (unlike bat-speed, for example) is certainly an acquired skill that he can learn from more experience with the major league strike-zone and facing more off-speed pitches. The nice thing about Davidson is that he’ll be more protected in the Diamondbacks lineup than many other recent call-ups, such as Wilmer Flores (see below). More protection means better pitches for the youngster. He’s worth a watch-list spot, and if you are dealing with the David Wright injury or just tired of Chase Headley's struggles, Davidson is deserving of a look. I wouldn't drop Headley or a Pablo Sandoval, but if you have the roster space, see what Davidson can do.
Wilmer Flores (3B, NYM) – Mr. Flores has been presented with a rare opportunity to showcase his skills behind the face of the Mets franchise. David Wright has found himself on the disabled list and Flores (#6 Prospect in the organization according to Baseball America) has been blocked for his career thus far. The Mets were experimenting with Flores as a second baseman for awhile, but Flores isn’t going to be good defensively anywhere you put him. Luckily for us fantasy owners, we don’t care about defense.
Flores has been pretty scorching in Triple-A, where he has hit .332 and held a .532 slugging percentage. Not bad numbers for Triple-A, even if it is in the hitter’s haven we call the Pacific League. The 22-year old international signee has delivered 15 home runs and 86 RBI for Triple-A Las Vegas. I wouldn't recommend Flores to many fantasy managers at the moment, but the 3B eligibility and the chance at a Puig-ian blast off to a career is always enticing. I have to admit that Flores has always been blocked by David Wright so he wasn't even on my watch-lists.
Upon further scouting and information diving, I’m finding that Flores certainly has the ability to hit .300 in the majors. He’s more of a free-swinging type batter, similar to Yaisel Puig and Yoenis Cespedes, so don’t expect a great on-base percentage (it was .357 compared to his .332 batting average in case you’re curious). The pop in his bat is legit for a 20-HR hitter, but Citi Field won’t do any favors in that department. He could hit five-to-seven bombs the rest of the way because of the modest pitching he’ll see , and contact shouldn’t be a problem, but safer players are out there. If anything, his showcase might be good for an offseason trade for the Mets in some manner, and fantasy owners might get the chance to see what he’s capable of for 2014 if given a full-time opportunity.
OTHER NOTES AND BITS
Andre Rienzo (SP, CWS) – Rienzo’s hot streak was bound to end at some point, and it did when he gave up four runs in five innings in his most recent start. Rienzo’s skill is in his relative anonymity-- hitters just don’t know him yet. When his control is not up to par, like in this recent start, implosions will occur.
Travis d'Arnaud (C, NYM) – The rumors are most likely true on top-notch catcher Travis D’Arnaud, who will be called up for the New York Mets, as John Buck in going on paternity leave. It’s most likely going to be a short showcase for the Mets' top prospect remaining after calling up Zack Wheeler to the majors. There's not much fantasy value here since it's unknown how long he will be up, but he’ll have value at some point.
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