Your Daily Fantasy Rx
by Tim Polko
Juan Dominguez, 24, RH Starter
A strained neck and nagging knee problems cost Dominguez the majority of the season. However, he demonstrated solid skills in the minors and pitched very well in three of his four big league starts. He deserves an extended chance to win a rotation spot in spring training. Of course, given the downside of pitching in Texas, wait until he echoes these skills over a few starts in the spring before considering Dominguez for your team.
The 1st overall pick in 2000 remains a solid long-term prospect, but he needs to develop more power and improve his plate discipline before leaving the minors. While Gonzalez should hold a .300 average in Texas, and he even might post respectable numbers if given a starting job in 2005, one more year of seasoning might allow him to mature into an impressive offensive force. Spending more than a couple bucks on him in the spring, even in long-term leagues, will leave you at a slight disadvantage next season barring very unexpected development from Gonzalez.
While the 6'8" Loe surprisingly doesn't dominate, consistent control and a good ground-fly ratio keep him very effective. The 20th round pick in 2002 already looks like a steal for Texas, especially since he should enter spring training in competition for a rotation slot. Even the problems of playing in Arlington shouldn't limit his fantasy potential since Loe at least will hold a decent WHIP. A late-round pick here could pay welcome dividends.
McDougall belongs in the majors now. He can handle essentially any infield position, owns good patience, and possesses respectable power potential. An Alfonso Soriano trade even might open a starting spot for McDougall, however he seems unlikely to receive much more consideration in Texas following the departure of Grady Fuson, who drafted McDougall back in 2000. Wait until he emerges into a regular big league role before rostering him anywhere.
Stealing the 6'10" Young from Montreal for Einar Diaz added a pitcher with incredible long-term upside to the system. A strong first half in the Texas League and five dominating AAA starts resulted in a six-week audition with the Rangers, where Young impressed by compiling fairly solid all-around skills. Yes, an abundance of flyballs often leads to homer rate jumps that cripple a pitcher's ERA, but I see a lot of projectability here. Definitely consider adding Young in any reasonably deep AL-only league, especially if you can stash him on reserve until he demonstrates a consistent ability to post decent qualitative marks.
Texas finally started Botts at AA. He responded by posting his best stats to date, demonstrating surprising power potential and very solid patience. Depressed contact rates increase his qualitative risk, and I don't envision him reaching the majors as a first baseman with the Rangers, but Botts' offensive upside merits some consideration in deeper leagues. Spending a late-round pick on him might net you a quality double-digit contributor by 2007.
Shifting to relief allowed Hughes to overcome most of his control problems, giving him a strong shot of spending much of 2005 in the Rangers' bullpen. Consistently strong strikeout rates as a starter leave him likely to dominate as he gains experience pitching shorter outings, so feel free to roster him if he begins echoing Frank Francisco's performance from this summer.
A massive workload at Stanford limited his professional debut in 2003 to one brief appearance, so his acceleration through the system this year seems quite impressive. Of course, college pitchers in strong programs generally dominate the lower minors, but his effectiveness at Frisco definitely improves Hudgins' prospect status. The problem is that he rehabbed his shoulder instead of undergoing surgery, so we can't consider him completely over his initial injury risk for another couple years. Don't roster Hudgins until he begins pitching well in the majors following an echo of this performance over a couple months at Oklahoma.
Continuing control problems soon should push Jimenez into the bullpen, where he could dominate in a more limited role. He probably lacks the command to remain effective as a starter, so wait until he registers several strong big league outings before targeting him anywhere.
His .277/.352/.410 performance with a 20:34 BB:K in 188 AB for A- Spokane(NWL) in 2003 following his selection by Texas in the 17th round wasn't bad, but nothing in those stats heralded this possibility. Kinsler destroyed the Midwest League, emerging as one of the best pure hitting prospects in the game, and then respectably echoed his marks following a mid-season promotion to the Texas League. The only problem here is that his 34 errors in 130 games make him unlikely to remain at shortstop indefinitely, but players with five category upside deserve serious attention regardless of their position. Especially playing for the Rangers, Kinsler could emerge as a fantasy stud, leaving you little reason not to target him in every league.
Nothing in Regilio's statistical history in the upper minors indicates even a reasonable possibility of big league success. Of course, a decent strikeout rate makes him a potential bullpen candidate, but his unimpressive month with the Rangers suggests he needs much more seasoning.
Two consecutive unimpressive seasons in the upper minors dim Snare's prospect star. Hey may develop into no more than a decent reliever, and while his lower-level numbers caught my attention in previous years, he looks like a bad fit in Texas. Wait until he begins contributing in the majors before rostering Snare anywhere.
Biceps tendonitis limited his workload this year, leaving Thompson with less than 300 innings of experience in three minor league seasons. At least he still owns excellent control and appears likely to remain relatively effective in the majors. While investing in him now is a bad idea, Thompson soon could warrant significant fantasy attention once he regains full health and matches these marks at Oklahoma.
Texas wisely snagged Zoccolillo in the Rule 5 minor league draft last year, and he rewarded the Rangers' investment with the best year of his career. He looks ready to contribute in the majors even after suffering a .108/.154/.135 performance in his 2003 debut of 37 at-bats with Milwaukee. Zoccolillo owns very good patience and developing power, making him at least an intriguing Dollar Days' option if he breaks camp with the Rangers.
Mike Curry, 27, OF-L
With strong speed skills and a consistently respectable OBP, Curry deserves the chance to contribute on a big league bench. Feel free to consider him in almost any league once he demonstrates the ability to hold a decent average in the majors while stealing a couple bases a month.
Despite some upside suggested by his averages, Eldridge appears unlikely to reach the majors any time soon. He suffers from contact problems, questionable speed skills, and poor power potential, so I don't expect him to merit much fantasy attention even if he earns a big league roster spot.
Another decent AAA season for Jones at least might earn him some consideration for a bench job, but limited power potential, negligible speed, and unimpressive plate discipline leave him unlikely to start in the majors. Don't expect him to develop into more than a decent roster filler.
Another strong selection by the Rangers in last year's Rule 5 minor league draft, Meadows unfortunately remained at Frisco for a fifth AA season. While he possesses sufficient power and patience to contribute at a higher levels, he needs to reach AAA and succeed at that level soon to have much hope of enjoying a lengthy big league career.
A dominating performance in spring training nearly resulted in Miadich breaking camp with the Padres. Instead he headed back to the minors and moved to Texas after San Diego gave him the chance during summer to find a better situation. While he continued to post a strong strikeout rate, more control problems sabotaged his chance for advancement despite the Rangers' need for relief help. WHIP problems now appears likely to keep Miadich from contributing to many fantasy teams even if he finally secures a steady job in a big league bullpen, so although I recommend keeping him in mind, he shouldn't help your team in the near future.
Hopefully Pickler will land with an organization that appreciates his talents this winter. He rebounded from an awful 2003 performance on the strength of his strong plate discipline, and he certainly appears prepared to contribute as a big league reserve. Promising speed skills even might translate into intriguing roto value if he finds a good situation.
While Stamler pitched effectively for Oklahoma, unimpressive command gives him little value to most teams. He also doesn't look likely to contribute to fantasy teams at any point barring surprising improvement in a better environment for pitchers than Texas offers.
Spending some time as a starter this year likely slowed Sylvester's progress towards the majors given his relative ineffectiveness for Oklahoma. Now he heads back into minor league free agency, still unable to post strong numbers above AA. While his stats intrigue me, Sylvester soon needs to succeed at the highest levels of the minors to earn consideration for a big league bullpen job.
Matt Lorenzo, 22, RH Starter
Slamming through the lower levels of the system with increasingly impressive numbers catapulted Lorenzo up Rangers' prospect lists. While he might struggle against advanced competition, I expect him to remain successful as a starter as he ascends the minor league ladder. Drafting now is a bad risk in most leagues given the competition he faces in Frisco, Oklahoma, and Arlington, but Lorenzo at least merits monitoring next year.
With several young position players already in place, Texas lacks room to advance many position prospects. Of course, Adrian Gonzalez, Ian Kinsler, and Jason Botts look like the only youngsters here likely to win starting jobs, and the Rangers should have spots available for them at DH, 2B, and OF respectively. All three merit drafting in any league. While I unfortunately can't recommend rostering any of the trio of impressive young pitchers right now, Juan Dominguez, Chris Young, and Kameron Loe each could emerge as a useful fantasy option next season. I don't see much depth in this system at all, but the Rangers still soon should possess a cadre of mid-20s position players and pitchers with All-Star upsides. Although only Kinsler owns similar potential to Mark Teixeira or Hank Blalock, I at least expect the top half-dozen or so players discussed here to spend several seasons in the majors.
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)
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