Showing posts with label Baseball America. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Baseball America. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Martin Prado: Best Hitter in the National League?

I found something odd inside last week's Baseball America. On page 15 they printed the results of their survey of major league managers of the best tools in baseball. Most of it was fairly predictable. The best National League baserunners were Michael Bourn, Nyjer Morgan and Andrew McCutchen. The most exciting players in the American League were Carl Crawford, Josh Hamilton and Ichiro Suzuki. And the best hitters in the National League were Albert Pujols, Joey Votto and Martin Prado. Say what, now? Martin Prado?

It's true that Martin Prado has been extremely good over the last couple of years. First as a utility player and finally as the full-time second baseman. Dave Cameron of had good things to say about him during his Trade Value series of articles in which Prado ranked at number 47.
The ultimate performance over tools guy in the big leagues right now, Prado’s success is a testament to how pedigree doesn’t mean everything. This is a guy who hit 15 home runs in 2,119 minor league plate appearances, and was simply not considered much of a prospect when he got to the big leagues. However, for the last three years, he’s been one of the best second baseman in baseball, adding some power to his already good contact rates and turning himself into a legitimate All-Star this season. He’s headed for his prime years as an already good player, and the Braves have him under control for three more seasons. He might be the most unexpected guy on this list, but he’s earned his spot here.
By wOBA, Prado comes in an impressive seventh among second basemen this season with an extremely solid .368 score. He ranks 22nd in wOBA in the National League, which is impressive for a player that was not expected to become an offensive force.

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At the time of this posting, Prado held a slash of .317/.360/.488 with 15 homeruns, 89 runs scored, and 58 RBI in 498 at-bats. Although his walk rate is unimpressive at just 6.4 percent, he has shown incredible patience at the plate. He swings at far fewer pitchers than most major league hitters both in and out of the strike zone. He also makes far greater contact. He is definitely a skilled hitter. The key to his transformation seems to be his steadily increasing power. The last three seasons have seen his ISO go from .140 to .158 to .171 this season.

Although most leagues do not bother with defense, I thought it would be interesting to see how he has been with the glove. The answer is pretty good overall. He's been excellent at third base just passing at second base but showing some improvement. I think this helps us call him a pretty good third baseman and a very good second baseman.

Unfortunately, the major league managers seem to have elevated him a bit past his true skills as a hitter. He is definitely a player worth watching for fantasy purposes. At 27-years old with experience we may see him take another step up and into the true tier of best hitters in the National League. But for now I would still place players like Albert Pujols, Joey Votto, Matt Holliday, Ryan Zimmerman and Hanley Ramirez in a class above him.

How has Martin Prado helped in your quests for gold. Are you ready to label him one of the best hitters in the National League? Let's hear about it in the comments section.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Baseball America's 2009 Top 20 Standout Prospects

If you are going to play Advanced Fantasy Baseball you will need to stay current with prospects and future prospects. Baseball America is an excellent source of information on minor leaguers, college players, high school players, independent leagues, and the winter leagues. Although they keep most of their material behind the subscription wall there is always very useful information available for free.

One useful free resource is their Baseball America Prospect Report. This is a FREE daily e-mail that updates you on the performances of players in the minors. It also keeps up with the players participating in Winter Leagues so it should be useful if you, like me, are too poor to journey to Arizona every Fall.

The Prospect Hot Sheet is Baseball America's weekly update on who the hottest minor leaguers are. This week for the last week of the report for the season they shared their Top 20 Standout Prospects from the 2009 season. I'm reproducing the list but you'll have to visit the link to read their comments and see the stats these guys put up this year. Any comments are all mine.

1. Jason Heyward RF Atlanta Braves - Almost universally considered the best prospect in the game. He should begin a long reign as the Braves best player in 2010.

2. Buster Posey C San Francisco Giants - The Giants have an under-hyped group of position players that will certainly help them upgrade their offense. Posey leads that pack and could be starting for the Giants in 2010.

3. Chris Carter 1B Oakland Athletics - The next Jason Giambi may be in the Oakland clubhouse in 2o10. Though the A's may want to give him a bit more time at AAA to work on cutting down those strikeouts.

4. Brian Matusz LHP Baltimore Orioles - The leader of an impressive crop of Orioles pitching prospects. He's already turning heads in the majors.

5. Desmond Jennings CF Tampa Bay Rays - Jennings is a personal favorite of mine. I love his combination of speed on the base paths and power potential. He is the only minor leaguer this season with more than 50 stolen bases and 50 extra-base hits.

6. Carlos Santana C Cleveland Indians - Santana looks ready to replace Victor Martinez in the Indians' lineup. He's not quite in Martinez's class as a hitter (not yet anyway) but he should be a very good fantasy option.

7. Derek Norris C Washington Nationals - The catcher of the future in Washington. Jesus Flores has the power but he does not have the skills that Norris displayed this season.

8. Christian Friedrich LHP Colorado Rockies - As a Rockies pitcher and a rookie he won't qualify for the Short List but his stuff is incredible.

9. Madison Bumgarner LHP San Francisco Giants - Another great pitching prospect for the Giants. He might be the left-handed Tim Lincecum if he can develop a complement to his great fastball.

10. Jeremy Hellickson RHP Tampa Bay Rays - Hellickson would probably already be dominating in the majors if he were not in an organization busting at the seams with pitching talent.

11. Jaff Decker LF San Diego Padres - This is the patient and power-hitting outfielder the Padres so desperately need.

12. Jesus Montero C New York Yankees - He broke a finger in August which probably cost him a September call-up. He could be the Yankees' next DH if he moves away from catching as most suspect he will.

13. Daniel Hudson RHP Chicago White Sox - Played at four different levels this season before finishing in the major league bullpen. He could be in the big league rotation next season.

14. Pedro Alvarez 3B Pittsburgh Pirates -He represents hope for Pirates fans. He was worth all the trouble the organization went through to sign his powerful bat even if it ends up at first base.

15. James Darnell 3B San Diego Padres - The Padres have a nice group of patient hitters in the pipelines. They may know what they're doing after all.

16. Thomas Neal LF San Francisco Giants - He played in High A at 22-years old but should be promoted quickly up the ladder next season.

17. Martin Perez LHP Texas Rangers - Perez is currently my favorite pitching prospect. The Rangers are on a role when it comes to developing pitchers and Perez will have the chance to establish himself as in the same class as Derek Holland and Neftali Feliz next season.

18. Ike Davis 1B New York Mets - Davis has serious power but has some work to do on his plate discipline.

19. Michael Taylor RF Philadelphia Phillies - Taylor could be proof that the Phillies are about to go on a run of success never before seen by a Philly baseball team. He has all the tools and produced big-time numbers this season.

20. Tyler Flowers C Chicago White Sox - He was a standout in the Arizona Fall League last year and produced like a future standout fantasy catcher this year.

Under Not Fantasy Sports but Still Awesome!

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Friday, August 07, 2009

Get Ready for Rookies, Rookies Everywhere

As more and more Major League Baseball teams reshape their team-building philosophies from "sign free agents and trade minor leaguers" to more development-centric methods, we will see a greater and greater number of rookies and young players making rosters out of spring training. Rookies will be given longer chances and more opportunities to contribute than we are used to seeing from most teams. Conversely we are going to start to see older veterans, who have begun to fade, shuffled out of the majors sooner than was once the case.

For fantasy owners this is both good and bad news. The good news is this will mean that there are lots of interesting new players available on an annual basis. Rather than filling out the ends of your rosters with the Shawn Dunston, Omar Vizquel, and Ken Griffey Jr types, you will find yourself drafting more Daniel Murphy, Justin Masterson, and Ben Zobrist types. These are players whose upside has often been higher than their initial roles might indicate. Insouciant owners who continue to waste their endgame picks on old guys will be far less effective.

The bad news is this means more work for fantasy owners. You will have to work hard to gain an edge. That geek in your league (it could be you) that reads every page of the Baseball America Prospect Handbook and the Baseball Prospectus will suddenly be more of a contender than he was before. Sure there are many websites that publish Top 100 lists but they won't help you much if you don't understand why a player is ranked the way he is. You need to immerse yourself into reading the work of writers like Kevin Goldstein of, John Sickels of, Adam Foster and his extremely talented staff at (a lot of their focus is on gathering and filtering information for people who play in deep fantasy baseball leagues, so they can help you quite a bit), or any of the talented guys like Jim Callis and John Manuel at Baseball America, the standard for tracking minor leagues and top prospects. If you just commit to reading the work of these writers you will be way ahead of the curve of the changes coming to baseball's player population.

This happens to be the start of that point in the season where you start to see rookies added to the major league roster of contending teams. The trade deadline has passed and the stretch run has begun. Every team wants their best hands on deck. Sure, you will see even more rookies added in September but they will be there to watch and learn on the contending teams. This is when you should be using low FAAB bids to acquire players, especially if you can reserve them or you are not really in contention for a title. They may be very useful next season.

Friday, July 03, 2009

A Name to Remember: Aroldis Chapman

We have no idea if Aroldis Chapman can even come close to matching the hype created around his signing the last few days but he is definitely a player all fantasy baseball owners should have on their watch lists. If you are in a league with a mid-season farm draft or with very liberal rules for signing free agents, Chapman is worth speculating on.

If the name sounds familiar it is likely the result of watching him in the World Baseball Classic, pitching for the Cuban team. He recently defected while playing in a tournament in the Netherlands with the intention of signing a large contract with an MLB team. Although his performance statistics were mediocre, he impressed many scouts with a fastball that hit triple digits on the radar gun. He also throws a promising change-up pitch.

He has been compared to Jose Contreras another Cuban defector but he is younger and supposedly has the superior talent. If that's true you can expect the bidding to approach $50-60 million. But Chapman is still a raw talent. He will require a team with strong coaches and preferably a reputation for getting good results from raw talented arms.


Other International Signings: (info is courtesy of
  • The Cardinals signed Dominican outfielder Wagner Mateo for $3.1 million.
  • The Yankees signed Dominican catcher Gary Sanchez for $3 million as well as Dominican shortstop Damian Arredondo and Dominican righthander Christopher Cabrera for $400,000.
  • The Athletics signed Venezuelan shortstop Wilfredo Solano, Junior Martinez, a Venezuelan third baseman, and Venezuelan Outfielder Alfredo Sosa.
  • The Blue Jays signed Venezuelan catcher Santiago Nessy.
  • The Brewers signed Dominican right fielder Jose Pena.
  • The Astros signed Dominican shortstop Jonathan Mejia.
  • The Pirates signed outfielder Ping-Hung Chi, righthander Shen-Cin Hong, and first baseman Chih-Wei Hsu all of Taiwan.