Only one team had a less productive outfield than the Mariners in 2014. With 31 combined home runs and a .242 batting average, Seattle finished in the bottom five of MLB in both areas. No one had envisioned this out of the Mariners several years ago as Baseball America once ranked Dustin Ackley and Michael Saunders as top-30 prospects in all of baseball. Both players showed signs of life in 2014. Can Saunders remain healthy and build on his .273/.341/.450 triple slash line?
The minor league season has concluded, but we are far removed from the days of baseball being confined to the summer months. Next week marks the beginning of the six week long Arizona Fall League where top prospects will compete against one another. The six teams form like Voltron with each Major League organization sending seven representatives; players will shuffle on and off of the roster from there. The Arizona Fall League is often the stepping stone from which prospects in the lower minors transition into Double-A the following year.
Last week, Felix Hernandez was the focus of ROTOscouting’s ongoing look into the impact of Solo Home Run situations. Hernandez has maintained his health to the degree of throwing another third more Major League innings than the seven previous Solo Home Run pitchers combined (1983 IP for Felix versus 1469.1 IP). Part one discussed the importance of Hernandez reaching his late twenties without sustaining a significant injury. Part two looks at some other possible ways King Felix’s reign has lasted.
The Solo Home Run situations study has featured pitchers who have undergone Tommy John surgery or have missed time due to injury. This week, the focus is a pitcher who’s avoided the knife and thrown more Major League innings than all of the previous subjects combined: Mariners ace Felix Hernandez. Hernandez is having his best statistical campaign, already accumulating 5.4 WAR in his age-28 season. Still, Hernandez has been a reliable workhorse since entering the league in 2005. How do King Felix’s Solo Home Run ratios stack up against the young guns felled by elbow issues?
Recently named a starter for the Triple-A All-Star Game, Chris Taylor was not the Mariners shortstop expected to break out in 2014. After a red-hot Spring Training, Brad Miller was the heir apparent whom the Mariners crowned Robinson Cano’s long-term double play partner. Instead, Miller stumbled his way to a sub-.200 batting average for the first two months of the season, leaving many to consider potential replacements. While Nick Franklin was the familiar option, Taylor was the revelation, torching the PCL and demonstrating unexpected pop. Miller is starting to right the ship in Seattle, but what do the Mariners have in Taylor?
Mariners pitcher Taijuan Walker is an elite prospect. Seattle expected the talented right-hander to be a big part of their 2014 campaign, but Walker’s debut was delayed due to a shoulder injury. After another smoke and mirrors performance by Erasmo Ramirez, is Walker ready to rejoin the Mariners rotation and contribute to a surprising playoff push?
Last week, FAAB Fantasy Baseball Targets focused on prospects waiting to receive the call. Eddie Butler did receive the call, but hit the disabled list after his first MLB start. It’s an example of why striking cheap and early is important. When a worst case scenario occurs, money saved from being the early bird can be re-allocated elsewhere. This week’s column will examine under-owned and under appreciated arms already on major league rosters. Bid recommendations are based on a $100 FAAB budget. Players listed are available in the majority of leagues across the three major fantasy platforms.
Top-10 prospects? Check! Top-100 prospects? Check! First Round MLB draft picks? Check! Up and coming prospects worth stashing now in fantasy baseball leagues? Check! At ROTOscouting, our prospect staff is at a minor league ballpark taking video and notes on baseball’s best prospects. We use first hand information to write scouting reports because a real scouting report can’t come from a Google search. Each week, we’ll provide a peek behind the paywall in our “Best Of The Scouting” series.
Austin Wilson is a physical specimen with enough tools to make evaluators swoon. At 6-foot-4, 249 pounds the outfielder has long limbs and abounding natural strength. It’s easy to dream on the Seattle Mariners outfield prospect as a future middle-of-the-lineup power source. And while he has a chance to blossom into a productive offensive player, he’s less advanced than other high-profile college hitters. He’s flashed his talents for the Low-A Clinton Lumberkings, but hasn’t found consistency.
Each week we identify FAAB top targets at each position on the diamond. Last week, A.J. Pollock appeared in this column prior to a big weekend that had him popping up in many fantasy free agent articles. This time, we’ll look at the other side of the catcher platoon in Oakland, a fresh call up in Seattle, and the return of a veteran shortstop. We’ll also discuss a Cardinals prospect on the verge of making an impact in all formats. Bid recommendations are based on a $100 FAAB budget. Players listed are available in the majority of leagues across all three major fantasy platforms.
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The Best Of RS
- Can Alex "Chi-Chi" Gonzalez Crack the Texas Rangers Opening Day Rotation?
- Fantasy Baseball Trade Deadline 101: A Former MLB GM’s Take
- Felix Hernandez and Solo Home Run Situations: A Blueprint For Longevity
- JR Graham: Is He Still An MLB Arm For The Atlanta Braves?
- Mason Williams: Is It Time To Label Him A Bust For The Yankees?
- Mike Newman's Top-50 Fantasy Baseball Prospects Scouted in 2014
- Nick Kingham Scouting Report (2014)
- Rangers Joey Gallo, Marlins Giancarlo Stanton And Strikeouts
- The ROTOscouting Baseball Podcast
- Top-10 Fantasy Baseball Prospects By Team
- Will Mike Moustakas Finally Put It Together Next Season?