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.
Triple digit velocity is rare. In six seasons at the ballpark, only one pitcher has hit triple digits. Not a household name, former Dodgers and Braves farmhand Luis Vasquez’s top fastballstouched 100 mph several times as a member of the Chattanooga Lookouts in 2012. An elite, 80 grade fastball is clocked at 97 MPH or higher. And while the Aroldis Chapman’s of the world make velocity look easy, few pitchers are able to push triple digits with top fastballs.
First round picks don’t usually fly below the prospect radar, but Cincinnati Reds outfielder Jesse Winker has. No reputable website listed the Reds’ top hitting prospect as a top-100 prospect entering 2014. As a 19-year-old in 2013, he had a solid season (.281/.379/.463 63 BB to 75 SO) in the neutral Midwest League. When weighing age-versus-level, overall production and first round pedigree, the breakout performer deserved more accolades.
Cincinnati Reds pitching prospect Robert Stephenson stands out in a league full of 23 and 24 year old pitching prospects. For the Reds’ Double-A affiliate Pensacola, the 21-year-old has had an up and down debut. Despite difficulties with command and control contributing to a higher walk rate (4.7 BB:9), Stephenson’s prospect status hasn’t faltered. Loud pitching tools and a physique still under construction places the right-hander among the highest ceiling prospects in the Southern League. What is a realistic appraisal of Stephenson’s skill set and will he be a front of the rotation option?
For Cincinnati Reds prospect Michael Lorenzen, the transition from collegiate center fielder and part time reliever to full time pitcher has been quick. Drafted by the Reds in the first round last year out of Cal State Fullerton, the Cincinnati wasted no time converting the athletic hurler into a starting pitcher. After making his pro debut as a reliever, the Reds sent Lorenzen to the Arizona Fall League last October to become a starter. The transition has went well, enabling the Reds to start the Fullerton product’s 2014 campaign in Double-A Pensacola.
In the TDGX Experts League, Johnny Cueto is my top trade chip. In this dynasty/keeper league format, the right-handed pitcher can be kept through the rest of his career. Performing like an ace and sitting in the bottom half of the standings, it is time to shop the Reds’ 28-year old star. In fact, he’s the second ranked player in CBS as of today. So why then have offers for his services been so underwhelming? Has the statement, “never spend on pitching” been taken too far?
This week’s FAAB top targets include the year’s first big prospect call up as well as a former first-round pick hitting his offensive stride. We’ll also feature a veteran third baseman who suddenly finds himself with an opportunity thanks to a star player’s injury and we’ll attempt to glean some fantasy value out of the Mets’ first base situation. Whether it’s an injury replacement or the next young stud on offense, ROTOscouting has you covered at every position on the diamond.
Monday marks the usual abbreviated MLB schedule meaning strong situational match ups are harder to find in daily fantasy baseball. Today, I’ll be counting on a trio of young players priced at $3,000 or lower to contribute points, allowing me to start a top starting pitcher and a pair of stars expected to have huge days given their respective match ups. After a weekend scouting minor league baseball players, it’s time to win a little gas money. Monday through Friday, I’ll research the day’s best daily fantasy baseball bargains, so readers can load the lineup with stars. Save time and make money with our picks.
Opening Day in Chattanooga is Thursday night. In 2013, the Southern League was home to dynamic prospects including Taijuan Walker, Archie Bradley (2013 Report), Javier Baez (2013 Report) and Yasiel Puig (2013 Report). Puig took the National League by storm while the other three finished the season as top-10 prospects in all of baseball. The league is expected to be deeper in 2014 with many MLB top prospects including those listed below. ROTOscouting will have multiple contributors covering the action.
After Aroldis Chapman’s horrible injury yesterday, thousands of fantasy baseball owners woke up this morning in search of the temporary Reds closer. It’s an iffy proposition considering the Reds bullpen boasts a former closer in Jonathan Broxton (111 saves) and two pitchers, Alfredo Simon and Sean Marshall, who have also flirted with the role.
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