Fantasy Baseball Edge: Prospect Fill-Ins and Breakouts
By Matt Cott, Matthew Schwimmer of Roto Analysis
As the season goes on, breakouts are bound to happen. While there are occasionally guys who just seem to ‘figure it out,’ most of the time breakouts come from touted prospects and the minors. This week, we at RotoAnalysis are going to focus on who some of those breakouts could be, by talking about three recent call-ups as well as three guys who should be called up soon. They could be the key to your fantasy season if they’re able to achieve that breakout status and provide great stats for your team.
Anthony Rendon, Nationals 3B
With Ryan Zimmerman on the DL for hamstring issues, the Nationals decided to be aggressive with their 2011 1st rounder Rendon. He’s dealt with an injury history dating back to college but also displayed the potential to be a clear-cut star in the major leagues. His experience is limited for a prospect (less than 200 ABs in the minors, ever), but he has the polish to be a good stop-gap if you are a Zimmerman owner or need 3B help in a deeper league. His fantasy profile is kind of a David Freese type hitter at third with the potential for more power in the future. In the bigs, three games in, he has been a disappointing 1 for 11 with four K’s. However, the skills that got him 23rd on our top 125 should help him improve off of his sluggish start to be a useful little fill-in for you. Just don’t expect huge things this year.
Allen Webster, Red Sox SP
The Red Sox right-hander got his first start last weekend and showcased a wide range of outcomes. Webster’s primary pitch is his impressive fastball that he averaged over 94 MPH on in his first start. That would be good enough for fourth in the bigs if he qualified in terms of innings. However, velocity is more than it takes to succeed, as Jake Arietta and countless others have shown. Webster’s secondary offerings are very promising, but there is still plenty of refinement left to do especially with his location. I am not saying Webster has bad control, but he’s going to have to learn to be more precise with his pitches in the strike zone. Although Webster was sent back down after the game, the Red Sox will likely have room for him in their rotation as some point before the All-Star Break. Webster profiles as a #2 down the road, don’t expect that right away as he would be just inside my top 100 starters if he stayed in the majors for the rest of the season.
Oswaldo Arcia, Twins OF
The Twins outfielder was promoted for a single day last week before being sent down. However, his demotion didn’t last long as he was recalled the next day. The Twins claim Arcia will only last until Darin Mastroianni is ready to return off of the DL, but I’ll believe that when I see it. Yesterday, Arcia was already hitting in the 3-hole for the Twins. In the first game of the doubleheader, he showed impressive power to rightfield on a change-up down in the zone. Arcia is going to be able to hit for a decent amount of power and average in the big leagues although he won’t run very much. He’s going to play every day as long as he’s on the Twins and is a good add for 14-16 team leagues for now. Eventually I project him to hit .290 with 20-25 homers, but it would be unfair to expect that right away despite his .394 AAA average. Arcia can clearly hit, but one must remember he’s an outfielder who won’t provide fantasy teams with any speed. Only target him in deeper leagues and AL-only for 2013.
Wil Myers, Rays OF
Even though he was #2 in our prospect rankings, I think Myers will go down as the #1 most valuable fantasy prospect for 2013. The former 3rd round pick has the power to make fantasy owners drool while still maintaining a good average. He raked last year at the highest levels of the minors for 37 homers and a .314 average. The Rays outfield is nothing special, and Zobrist allows them to be very flexible with their lineup configuration. Myers is going to make Tampa Bay force their hand and move him up. The super 2 deadline is projected to be July 6th this season and it’s basically a lock that Myers is called up right after. Get him while you still can.
Mike Zunino, Mariners C
Mariner fans and AL-only fans alike are calling for the Mariners to rush Zunino to the big leagues, and why not? Jesus Montero is playing sub-par defense behind the plate to go along with a .224 average. Justin Smoak is hitting .188 and looking very much like the player we’ve seen for a couple of years now. While it’s unfair to completely throw in the towel on either of those two (although Smoak’s window is quickly closing), the Mariners may need to look to Zunino for at-bats any day now. He’s hit five homers already this season, but fantasy owners need to look just a bit deeper to realize that he might not be a great option this year. In addition to his .259 average, he’s struck out 18 times already in 54 at-bats. Although I do not think his contact rate will be an issue in the long-term, he still has to develop although I do think he could do so in the big leagues. Adding to the fact that rookie catchers seldom succeed instantaneously in the big leagues, Zunino is likely to be an AL-Only option for this year without having much mixed league value.
Jurickson Profar, Rangers 2B/SS
The #1 spot on our prospect list belongs to Profar, who possesses a power/speed/average combo that will be elite at a middle infield position. While moving him into a starting spot would require either an injury or Kinsler moving to left field, both are very possible in order to get him into the lineup. His skills aren’t quite as developed as Myers’ but he is the type of player who has been the youngest player in every league he is in but continues to improve and perform. He should adapt to the big leagues well and in AL Only leagues Profar is a must-own already, and in deeper mixed leagues you definitely need to have him on your watch list.
Agree? Disagree? Questions? Tweet @RotoAnalysis and be sure to follow Moe @MoeProblems and Matt @KidCotti21. Check out their work on RotoAnalysis.com, as well as The RotoAnalysis Fantasy Sports Podcast.