I frequent the fantasy baseball subreddit and a common post I see every time a prospect gets the call to the show is “Who’s the next big prospect to get called up?” or “What other prospects are close to MLB?” So, to answer those questions, I present to you, dear reader, the recurring post series henceforth known as “Bringing your AAA Game.” In this series, I will highlight the next batch of prospects making their way to MLB in the coming weeks. Remember, these are prospects that are at the AA or AAA levels, so I won’t be going into super-deep dynasty prospects here. To kick things off, let’s look at two players from my favorite franchise, the Red Sox of Boston.
- Position: 2B/OF
- Level: AAA
- Likely position in MLB in 2014: OF
- Stats: .321/.402/.457 with 2 HR, 9R, 13 RBI, 6 SB in 92 PA in AAA, 12% BB rate, 14.1% K rate, even better stats in AA
- 2014 Fantasy Impact: 8/10
|Flickr - BeGreen90|
Betts has all of the tools you want to see in a prospect that portend stardom and put him in a low bust-rate bin. Above average walk and strikeout rates, like Betts has, are the best path to non-bustitude. I will discuss bust rate bins in another post, but you will just have to trust me for now that he is low risk. Mookie has 8 HR in 74 games in the minors this year and hit 15 HR in the minors last year. It looks like he could easily put up 12-18 HR per year in MLB and maybe up to 20 as he continues to grow.
Those numbers alone aren’t exciting enough? How about the 42! steals he put up in 2013? He already has 28 this year, so 30-40 in a full MLB season is not a stretch. Let’s throw in a batting average around .300 (maybe .280 his first year) due to his excellent contact skills and low strikeout rate and an OBP of .350-.375 thanks to his elite walk rate and a .450 slugging. Does that sound like someone you want in your 2B or MI slot (assuming ESPN, Yahoo and CBS allow him to keep that)? Even as just an OF, that puts him in the top 30 at the position. I would have given him more than 8/10 for fantasy impact this year but he may not be called up until August, so you may only get a 6-8 weeks of production out of him, but I think mid-July is the most likely.
Stash Mookie now if you can! He is not available on ESPN right now, but I have been trying along with a bunch of fans on twitter to get him added there. He is likely the best call-up for the rest of this season. He has moved from a top 100 prospect in March to a top 5 prospect now. One thing to note is that the Red Sox may be buyers at the trade deadline and Betts may be trade chip that the Sox could use to get just about any SP or OF help they need, so he may not stay in Boston.
- Position: 3B/OF
- Level: AAA
- Likely position in MLB in 2014: LF
- Stats: .260/.339/.323 with 2 HR, 26 R, 24 RBI, 8 SB in 251 PA in AAA, 9.6% BB rate, 21.5% K rate
- 2014 Fantasy Impact: 4/10
|Flickr - BeGreen90|
Cecchini displayed excellent batting average and on-base skills in 2013, compiling a .296/.420/.404 line in AA. He has often been compared to a former Red Sox 3B prospect named Kevin Youkilis, the “Greek God of Walks.” Like Youk, Cecchini’s best skill is his ability to take walks. In AA, he had a 17.3% walk rate which is about double the MLB average, for comparison! In AAA, unfortunately, his walk rate has fallen to a just above average 9.6% and his strikeout rate went from above average to slightly worse than average at 21.5%. So, what do we have here? He will be a very good contributor in OBP and AVG, but there is a chance he busts due to his strikeout rate. If it climbs much higher at the MLB level, he will have trouble.
He will not contribute much in power, as his poor slugging percentages tell you. He hit 7! homeruns in all of 2013, but he did steal 23 bases, so he could steal something like 15 bases in MLB. At 23 years old, he has not reached his power peak yet (usually 25-27), so he could hit 15 HR at his peak. He is not fast, but is a smart baserunner, similar to how Paul Goldschmidt gets his 15 steals a year. He profiles as something like a 2-hole hitter in Boston and would likely score a good number of runs, but with Bogaerts, Betts, Victorino and Pedroia, he may have to start near the bottom of the order. If we are lucky, he will have eligibility at 3B and OF, which would give him some nice flexibility.
If you have space or a need for a 3B that will boost your AVG or OBP, you can stash him now and you probably won’t have to wait too long. Otherwise, just keep an eye on him and pick him up after his call-up and see how it goes. He’s obviously not on the same level as his AAA teammate above, so there’s no need to prioritize him right now. The extreme lack of power from a 3B or corner outfield position is a problem and will limit his usability. Think Tommy La Stella with a few more steals and at 3B/OF and you’ve got Cecchini.
Bringing Your AAA Game - Jimmy Nelson & Alex Meyer
I am still dipping my toes into the Twitter waters, so I’m not active there, but you can find me as WisconsinsWestCoast on Reddit and the fantasy baseball subreddit. I’m happy to help with your fantasy baseball queries and your feedback on my posts is welcome!