Thursday February 5, 2004
Rookies and Prospects
I was reading through my new issue of Baseball America yesterday. In the Leading Off section, there was a heading titled, “Winter Break.” In it, it just has one sentence saying, “Peter Gammons’ column will return next issue.”
OK, Peter Gammons is one of my favorite baseball writers. Whether I agree or disagree with some of his thoughts, I know that he is the most well-connected baseball writer around. I know that he doesn’t write things just to write them and stir up controversy.
My point? As I was reading that one sentence, all I kept thinking is “Wow!! Could I use a day off!?!”, followed by “Wow!!! Could I use a week off!?!” If Peter Gammons can take a whole issue of Baseball America off, I can certainly take a day off in the winter, right?
Writing a blog entry every day is so much more difficult than I ever dreamed it would be. I have learned this especially the last couple of weeks as I have been writing my Fantasy Baseball Previews. It takes a lot of time and effort. I do enjoy it. I get to look at and focus on individual players and their teams and then write things that I find interesting.
But last night, I just wanted to “take a day off.” Then I thought, “Hey, maybe instead of writing about baseball again, I will write a column on basketball, something I would really like to dive into more. Then I could write about baseball again on Friday.” But… then my favorite team, the Minnesota Timberwolves, went out and lost to the pathetic Atlanta Hawks last night. They played/shot really poorly. So, that just didn’t seem appropriate.
So today, I am going to give you four prospect lists. I promised that I would finish up my fantasy baseball preview today, and that’s just what I will do! But, since this will be short, I would encourage you to take a look back at the first twelve parts of my fantasy discussion.
Tuesday, Jan. 20 - Part 1 - American League Central Hitters
Wednesday, Jan. 21 - Part 2 - American League East Hitters
Thursday, Jan. 22 - Part 3 - American League West Hitters
Friday, Jan. 23 - Part 4 - National League Central Hitters
Monday, Jan. 26 - Part 5 - National League East Hitters
Tuesday, Jan. 27 - Part 6 - National League West Hitters
Wednesday, Jan. 28 - Part 7 - American League Central Pitchers
Thursday, Jan. 29 - Part 8 - American League East Pitchers
Friday, Jan. 30 - Part 9 - American League West Pitchers
Monday, Feb. 2 - Part 10 - National League Central Pitchers
Tuesday, Feb. 3 - Part 11 - National League East Pitchers
Wednesday, Feb. 4 -
Part 12 - National League West Pitchers
Thursday, Feb. 5 - Part 13 – Rookies and Prospects
ROOKIES AND PROSPECTS
As I said, I will be providing four lists (two American League and two National League) looking at some of the top prospects in baseball. First, I will look at which rookies and prospects I believe will have the biggest impact on their teams in 2004. Now, this is not looking at it from a fantasy perspective. However, take the information and figure out how it translates into a fantasy league. For instance, relief pitchers like Jesse Crain or Ryan Wagner could have huge impacts on their respective teams, but have little fantasy value. Next, I will look at the players that I believe will have the biggest futures in the big leagues. That looks beyond 2004 and who will be the best players in maybe five years or so. So, let’s start:
BIGGEST IMPACT ROOKIES IN 2004 (American League)
1.) Bobby Crosby, SS, Oakland A’s
2.) Joe Mauer, C, Minnesota Twins
3.) Fernando Rodney, RP, Detroit Tigers
4.) Jesse Crain, RP, Minnesota Twins
5.) Neal Cotts, SP, Chicago White Sox
6.) Grant Balfour, SP, Minnesota Twins
7.) Jeremy Guthrie, SP, Cleveland Indians
8.) Chad Gaudin, P, Tampa Bay Devil Rays
9.) Alexis Rios, OF, Toronto Blue Jays
10.) Joe Borchard, OF, Chicago White Sox
11.) Jeremy Reed, OF, Chicago White Sox
12.) JD Durbin, P, Minnesota Twins
Crosby and Mauer take over positions formerly patrolled by All-Stars. I think that this list shows that the Twins and their fans have reason to be excited for 2004 and beyond. Rodney could be the Tigers closer. Cotts should be in the Sox rotation. This might be Borchard’s last chance. His window is closing quickly with Reed probably a half season away from The Show. Durbin and Rios should also be up by midseason.
BIGGEST IMPACT ROOKIES IN 2004 (National League)
1.) Kazuo Matsui, SS, New York Mets
2.) Edwin Jackson, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers
3.) Brandon Claussen, SP, Cincinnati Reds
4.) Ryan Wagner, RP, Cincinnati Reds
5.) Adam LaRoche, 1B, Atlanta Braves
6.) Chin-Hui Tsao, SP, Colorado Rockies
7.) Rickie Weeks, 2B, Milwaukee Brewers
8.) Khalil Greene, SS, San Diego Padres
9.) Terrmel Sledge, OF, Montreal Expos
10.) Freddy Sanchez, 2B, Pittsburgh Pirates
11.) Jason Bay, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
12.) Seung Song, SP, Montreal Expos
Expectations are high for Matsui, but he should be able to put up solid numbers right away. Jackson is ready now and Greg Miller is probably not far off. The Reds need Claussen in the rotation and Wagner to succeed in the bullpen. LaRoche will be given every opportunity to win the Braves first base job. Weeks may not make the team out of Spring Training, but he’s close and will be up. The Padres are saying that Rey Ordonez will be their starting shortstop. If that’s the case, it shouldn’t be long before Greene is up. Sledge should compete with Endy Chavez for the Expos CF spot. Freddy Sanchez is ready and his only competition is Bobby Hill. Bay will presumably start right away.
TOP PROSPECTS (American League)
1.) Joe Mauer, C, Minnesota Twins
2.) BJ Upton, SS, Tampa Bay Devil Rays
3.) Delmon Young, OF, Tampa Bay Devil Rays
4.) Justin Morneau, 1B, Minnesota Twins
5.) Grady Sizemore, OF, Cleveland Indians
6.) Adam Loewen, SP, Baltimore Orioles
7.) Alexis Rios, OF, Toronto Blue Jays
8.) Jeremy Reed, OF, Chicago White Sox
9.) Casey Kotchman, 1B, Anaheim Angels
10.) Dustin McGowan, SP, Toronto Blue Jays
11.) Zach Grienke, SP, Kansas City Royals
12.) Bobby Crosby, SS, Oakland A’s
I write about Mauer all the time, but I can’t wait to see him play! Upton is young but flew up the chain to AA last year. If he plays well, he could even hit the big leagues in 2004. Delmon Young was the #1 pick in 2003, but Dmitri’s brother could be on a very fast track. Morneau’s power keeps him high on this list. All he needs is a chance. I think Sizemore is incredible. He’ll probably start the year at AAA, but he could force the Indians to make a decision on their plethora of outfielders as early as mid season. Loewen should be an incredible, dominating pitcher. Rios has 5-tool potential. Reed can flat-out hit. Same with Kotchman, who some consider a better hitter than even Mauer (not me), although he keeps getting hurt. McGowan is probably a year away. Same with Grienke. Crosby will be a big impact in 2004 and should stick around for a long time.
TOP PROSPECTS (National League)
1.) Scott Kazmir, SP, New York Mets
2.) Rickie Weeks, 2B, Milwaukee Brewers
3.) Greg Miller, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers
4.) Edwin Jackson, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers
5.) Andy Marte, 3B, Atlanta Braves
6.) Gavin Floyd, SP, Philadelphia Phillies
7.) Kazuo Matsui, SS, New York Mets
8.) Felix Pie, OF, Chicago Cubs
9.) Cole Hamels, SP, Philadelphia Phillies
10.) John VanBenschoten, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates
11.) Prince Fielder, 1B, Milwaukee Brewers
12.) Josh Barfield, 2B, San Diego Padres
I think Kazmir will be incredible! I love his strikeout numbers and that the Mets are being patient with him. Weeks is such a great hitter. Miller and Jackson should be in the top of the Dodgers rotation for years to come. Both are 20 or under and close. Marte is going to be a monster. Floyd and Hamels will be leading the Phillies rotation in two years. Matsui will be great in 2004, but his ceiling isn’t as high, but he’ll be solid. VanBenschoten can hit too, but his arm has been impressive in his short minor league career. Then a couple of sons of former big leaguers crack this list because of some huge potential. Speaking of huge, Fielder has power like his father, Cecil, but he should hit for average too. Josh Barfield’s father, Jesse, was a power hitting outfielder. His son should be a high average, good power (for a second baseman) hitter for years to come.
From reviewing my lists of prospects, it seems to me that the National League is far deeper than the American League. For example, I left the following players out of the Top 12 NL Prospects: Angel Guzman, Ryan Wagner, Sergio Santos, JJ Hardy, Khalil Greene, Scott Hairston, Andy Sisco, Jeff Francoeur, Merkin Valdez, Jason Stokes, Blake Hawksworth, Adam Wainwright, Chin-Hui Tsao and Mike Jones.
Just outside my Top 12 AL Prospects list were: Jeremy Guthrie, Jeff Mathis, Joe Blanton, Neal Cotts, Jesse Crain, JD Durbin, Jason Arnold and Chad Gaudin.
If your fantasy league has a minor league portion, find out if any of these guys are available and if so, draft them!
Well, that is it. The 13 part Fantasy Baseball Preview is complete. I really hope you have enjoyed it. I would love to hear an feedback on any of the 13 parts. Whether you agree or completely disagree with some things I wrote, e-mail me.
And, that is it for today. I am not sure if there will be a new posting tomorrow. Be sure to check back tomorrow and to tell everyone you know about SethSpeaks.net. If you have any questions or comments on anything, or if you have a topic you would like to see me dive into, send me an e-mail! Thanks again for taking the time to stop by my site! Be sure to Say Hi!
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