Your Daily Fantasy Rx
by Tim Polko
I expected Boston to keep Bean as a Rule 5 pick, yet he rebounded strongly from that disappointment. He followed his 9.1 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 at Columbus in 2003 with a superior skill set this year, including an 11.9 K/9 and a 2.5 BB/9. Cutting his homer rate nearly in half while even lowering his hit rate makes Bean a superb relief prospect, and he absolutely belongs in the majors this year. In the right situation, even if the Yankees simply retain him as bullpen depth, he could coast to double-digit roto value on the strength of his excellent WHIP and likely impressive quantitative marks.
After three straight solid AAA seasons, Graman deserves either an extended look in the Yankees' rotation or an opportunity with a team that values intriguing lefty starters. While he suffers from mild control problems, impressive dominance and limited overall downside give him definite big league potential. Target him for a few bucks if he opens next year in the majors, especially if he remains in New York and enjoys the accompanying level of run support provided all Yankee starters.
Halsey shot to the majors only two years after the Yankees selected him in the 8th round of the 2002 draft. Rather than returning to AA Trenton, he headed to Columbus, pitching great until some stumbling in the majors following his promotion. Hopefully his difficulties won't sour the New York brass on his potential because Halsey looks like the best young starter developed by the Yankees in several seasons. He appears essentially ready to assume a rotation spot, and given the need for a left-handed starter in the Bronx, I expect Halsey to fill that opening. Definitely target him in standard AL leagues if he breaks camp in the majors.
Although Phillips appears unlikely to secure a starting job in the majors, his power and plate discipline merits a long look in the spring. He can handle first, second, and third base, making him a potentially superb utilityman for any organization. The Yankees need to give him every opportunity to win a job in New York following Phillips' extremely impressive 2004 performance, and he should merit a Dollar Days' bid in standard leagues if he takes advantage of that chance.
Another impressive year of development, including a strong showing for Taiwan at the Olympics, probably pushes Wang next to Brad Halsey at the top of the list of Yankee pitching prospects. Wang demonstrated excellent command all year, and his limited downside makes him particularly attractive to roto owners. If given the chance to contribute in New York, don't be surprised to see Wang challenge for the Rookie of the Year award as he gives the Yankees their first consistently solid homegrown starter since Andy Pettitte joined the team a decade ago.
Robinson Cano, 22, 2B-L
Steady progress makes Cano the logical favorite to supplant Miguel Cairo at second base within the next year, however I instead expect the Yankees to acquire a veteran third base, dealing Cano for more established help. He probably needs at least another year of seasoning and might move to third base, however his questionable quantitative contribution renders him fairly useless to fantasy teams. Cano merits little attention right now, especially if he stays stuck behind established players in New York.
Tommy John surgery forced DePaula out for the year in mid-April, causing him to miss a rare opportunity to receive a long look in the majors with New York. Now he may not return until the middle of next season, making him a poor risk both for the Yankees and fantasy owners. While I still expect him to emerge as a respectable big league option someday, DePaula probably won't contribute much in 2005.
The nondrafted free agent slammed to Trenton in only his second professional season. While back problems limited DeSalvo's workload for the Thunder, and he needs to improve his control, he easily could earn a cup-of-coffee next fall if he maintains this momentum. Of course, most 24-year-old starters with only five starts above A-ball warrant little consideration, so I see no need to follow DeSalvo particularly closely at this time.
Henn's skills strongly suggest an eventual move to the bullpen, and I see no reason he won't flourish in a limited role. Unfortunately, his weak control and unimpressive dominance give him little upside as a starter, so he shouldn't receive more than a few innings next fall.
Reacquired from Cincinnati this summer for Gabe White, New York kept Manning from building on the strong skills he demonstrated at Chattanooga. The Yankees instead shifted him back to the bullpen, although at least his success as a reliever pushed him to the edge of the majors. Expect Manning to receive a look in New York no later than next fall, however he likely won't contribute to any fantasy teams sooner than 2006.
Take advantage of this perceived downturn in performance to snatch Navarro in your AL keeper leagues. He maintained superb plate discipline after New York rushed him to Columbus, yet other than a lack of power, I see no obvious deficiencies in his progress. Navarro's 22 doubles still suggest eventual power development, so expect him to spend 2005 at Columbus, another two seasons as Jorge Posada's caddy, and then assume the starting job and mantle of switch-hitting All-Star catcher for the Yankees by 2008. Since Navarro should return to hitting .300 next year, acquiring him will let you net either a future star or intriguing trade bait at minimal cost.
Acquired in the Sterling Hitchcock trade in August of 2003, Pope posted solid stats at Tampa before maintaining fairly strong skills at Trenton. Unfortunately, increasing homer problems and unimpressive dominance should force him to the bullpen for good within the next couple years, severely reducing his long-term upside. While he should enjoy several seasons of contributing in the majors, Pope warrants little attention at the moment.
Despite stumbling after a late-season promotion, Ramirez's dominant AA performance pushed him to the cusp of the majors. If he consolidates his gains in a full year at Columbus, he almost certainly should break camp with the Yankees in 2006. Of course, his future role remains uncertain, and Ramirez easily could shift to relief work, so gambling on him over any of the Yankees' respectable corps of AAA starters looks like a mistake.
His improvement during his second season at Trenton should insure Cannizaro soon receives a long look at AAA Columbus, but his nearly complete lack of power means he'll plateau as a utilityman. Don't expect him to contribute to fantasy teams any time soon.
Carlyle registered a couple of very impressive months as a reliever with AA Wichita last year, however his performance after joining the Yankees again forces me to view him as a future big league starter. Only questionable dominance keeps teams from recognizing the upside inherent in his outstanding control. A strong camp should push him into consideration for a big league job next year, however wait until he secures a steady role before considering him for any fantasy team.
Seven straight 100 strikeout seasons insure that most teams won't consider Deardorff as more than injury filler. While he owns respectable patience and decent power potential, his BA downside also makes him too risky for most fantasy owners barring unexpected development into a regular big league contributor..
A significant jump in his slugging percentage in his third tour at Trenton should push Jones towards AAAA status if he maintains this improvement next season. Of course, his highly questionable contact rate leaves him without much hope of an extended big league career, but any hitter who manages 68 extra-base hits in one year should remain employed in the upper minors indefinitely.
Although Marsonek demonstrated better skills across-the-board this year, he doesn't appear prepared to post particularly impressive big league numbers. Spending another season or two at AAA shouldn't hurt the closer, however since further significant skill development appears unlikely, he probably won't emerge in the majors as more than a marginal middle reliever.
Returning to Trenton after a disastrous fortnight at Columbus last year allowed Reese to rebuild his confidence, and he posted career-best averages upon his promotion to the International League this summer. Of course, deteriorating speed skills and unimpressive plate discipline mean that only building on his surprising power surge will allow him to reach the majors in the near future. Given his likely limited upside, Reese merits little attention until he actually emerges as a big league reserve.
Rodriguez's outstanding performance in his first full season at Columbus should make him an excellent candidate for a backup job in the spring. He owns good patience, power potential, and speed, so he at least should find an opportunity to win a big league roster spot. Don't be afraid to take a late round gamble if he breaks camp in the majors.
Terrible defensive support sabotaged an otherwise respectable skill set for Schmitt. He maintained respectable dominance while posting a 1.8 walk rate, the best mark of his career. Of course, Schmitt also suffered from a high hit rate in a half-season at Columbus last year, so he appears stuck at AAA indefinitely after four initially strong seasons in the Yankees' system.
While weak plate discipline and limited power potential should limit Vento to no more than a platoon job in the majors, he owns enough offensive upside to break camp next spring as a fifth outfielder. Unfortunately, I don't expect him to offer fantasy teams much help, and his inconsistent contact rate makes him too much of a BA risk to roster until further notice.
Eric Duncan, 19, 3B-L
The Yankees' 2003 1st round pick enjoyed a very impressive first full season. A .15 walk rate more than compensates for the teenager's .72 contact rate, especially since he also added 43 doubles to his 16 home runs. While committing 26 errors in 123 games supports the theory that Duncan will reach the majors as a first baseman, his obvious power potential should insure he enjoys a respectable career regardless of his position. Owners in deeper leagues need to consider drafting Duncan even though he should spend two more seasons in the minors and could leave New York via trade at any time.
While the Yankees lost the ALCS largely due to their lack of pitching depth, their upper-level pitching prospects actually appear surprisingly deep. Halsey, Graman, and Wang all could contribute in Yankee Stadium next year, so hopefully New York management will remember that Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera emerged as homegrown prospects before giving the current youngsters a similar shot. Dioner Navarro should slowly displace Jorge Posada over the next few years, and then Eric Duncan's power potential ranks with almost anyone in the lower minors. The respectable prospect depth here even will enable the Yankees to add a quality young reliever via trade. However, clogging the roster with veterans and thus preventing any rookies from contributing, especially in relief or reserve roles, looks like a bad idea for the long-term health of the franchise, so make sure you see a logical opening for any Yankee prospect you consider drafting.
Current ranking of potentially helpful fantasy depth for teams discussed thus far in 2004, based on both the quality and quantity of players ready to contribute in the majors, as well as consideration of the trade value of minor league draft picks from the lower levels of each system:
1. Minnesota Twins(Bartlett, Kubel, Tiffee, Crain, S.Baker)
7:30: Boston@St. Louis
Although Pedro certainly could register a vintage Pedro performance, his unimpressive outings over the past two months, coupled with Suppan's increasing success and the Cardinals' home field advantage, should give Game 3 to St. Louis barring another offensive outburst by the Red Sox.
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