Your Daily Fantasy Rx
by Tim Polko
Russ Adams, 24, SS-L
Adams lacks notable quantitative upside and may not even post a respectable average, however the release of Chris Woodward virtually guarantees Adams will open next year as Toronto's shortstop. Of course, if he doesn't demonstrate more consistent fielding during spring training following his 37 errors in 142 games this year, Toronto may explore veteran alternatives while allowing Adams to continue developing. He at least owns relatively strong plate discipline and should emerge as a regular $15 contributor, but his limited upside shouldn't earn him significant attention in spring drafts.
Dealing Josh Phelps for a slightly younger, similarly-skilled player continues to confuse me. Yes, Phelps heads towards arbitration and suffers from a quickly rising ground-fly rate, but Crozier only blossomed as an offensive threat upon reaching AAA this year. His limited history of statistical success makes him a very risky player, especially since he may replace Carlos Delgado at first base in 2005. At least Crozier owns solid plate discipline, however his contact problems make him perhaps a bigger BA risk than Phelps. Crozier merits little more than a few bucks as a cornerman even if he breaks camp as a starter.
Expect Gross to start next year alongside Vernon Wells and Alexis Rios despite current reports of him returning to the minors; even a decent spring training will keep him in no worse a situation than a platoon with Reed Johnson. Since his contact rate only dropped slightly upon reaching the majors, if Gross even bumps his .76 mark back near .80, his BA should rise over .250, dragging his OPS to an acceptable level. A 4.11 #P/PA and 1.27 G-F in over a month of playing time similarly indicate that Gross belongs in the majors, so although he could hurt your average in regular playing time, he should develop into a very useful player for Toronto.
Jason Arnold, 25, RH Starter
Shoulder problems cost Arnold most of the second half, preventing him receiving any big league experience. His unimpressive AAA command similarly makes him a risky player in any league, so while I still expect him to spend a few seasons in a big league rotation, at least a half-dozen Jays' pitchers merit more fantasy consideration than Arnold at this time.
The Jays' second round pick in 2003, banks skipped the Sally League, dominated Florida State League opponents, and then held a respectable skill set for New Hampshire. Expect Banks to challenge for a big league rotation spot during the summer before winning a starting job in camp the following spring. While drafting him now looks like an unnecessary gamble, monitoring his progress rates as a good idea given his impressive command in the lower minors.
Returning to the rotation in his fourth AA season resulted in an unexpectedly excellent performance from Chacin as his 18 wins led the minors. Chacin even pitched well in his two-start debut, leaving him in contention for a rotation spot next spring. While inconsistent control keeps me from recommending him right now, he soon could emerge as a viable fantasy option, so monitoring his progress in 2005 looks like a good idea.
A respectable walk rate, strong speed skills, and good defense mean little as long as Godwin can't manage a .350 OBP. While I expect him to develop into a capable backup and he appears likely to receive at least a look in the majors relatively soon despite Toronto's outfield depth, I simply don't see him starting in the majors his decade barring extremely unexpected skill development. Wait until Godwin at least secures a big league bench job and the accompanying chance to accumulate double-digit steals before considering him for your team.
Further regression in a third AA season leaves Griffin unlikely to approach the majors in the near future. Yes, he owns good patience and power potential, but growing contact problems keep him below the .800 OPS normally needed for advancement. Shop Griffin this winter if he remains in your minors since I don't know when to expect him to contribute in a big league uniform.
The Jays wisely swapped Terry Adams to Boston for Hattig in July, acquiring a developing offensive threat with solid plate discipline and intriguing upside. While he probably needs at least a season at AAA Syracuse, Hattig should be no worse than a solid cornerman given his recent progress. Although selecting him in the spring is a bad idea, Hattig could begin contributing to fantasy teams as soon he reaches Toronto.
With Russ Adams unsurprisingly beating Hill to the majors by a season, the 13th overall pick in 2003 now needs to outperform Orlando Hudson to win a starting job in Toronto. Of course, Hill still should stay at shortstop at Syracuse in 2005 just in case Adams flops, but after committing 24 errors in 135 games this year, Hill appears destined for second base. Fortunately he owns the overall skills to succeed offensively anywhere almost anywhere in the infield, and excellent plate disciplines ranks Hill among the safer upper-level prospects in the game. Feel free to select him anywhere with the knowledge that he almost certainly will post positive value in 2006.
Control problems resulted in a move to relief for League, giving him a new role in which he could flourish. He dominated hitters even as a starter, allowing few flyballs while consistently posting strong strikeout rates. While investing in League during spring drafts is risky, consider rostering him once he registers a few solid outings. League looks likely to compete with Adam Peterson to close for the Jays over the rest of the decade.
Considering the Jays' success converting David Bush from a college closer to a top starting prospect, Macum's dominance in A-ball this year Toronto repeated that accomplishment here. Although selecting him in spring drafts looks like a bad idea in all but the deepest AL leagues, Marcum merits watching since he could debut in the majors as soon as next fall.
Although he shot to the majors this year, growing control problems and a very light workload make him a poor gamble right now. Peterson possesses the skills needed to close in Toronto, but if Brandon League remains in relief, I expect Peterson to remain a middle reliever for the Jays. He merits little fantasy attention right now.
Quiroz entered the season ranked among the top catching prospects in baseball. Kevin Cash posted fairly terrible numbers in Toronto this year. However, Quiroz's unimpressive season should force him back to the minors for a few more months. A broken bone in his left hand cost him most of May and June, yet he at least managed demonstrated decent power potential, even registering a .94 G-F in regular action with the Jays in September. Unfortunately, his contact problems make him a very risky target in standard leagues, so generally avoid Quiroz in the spring unless you can nab him in a minor league draft or simply want a likely inexpensive catcher with intriguing long-term upside
Two strong months of work in his AA debut indicates nearly full recovery from Tommy John surgery for Rosario. Missing much of the last two years should result in less injury risk over the next several seasons, and his all-around solid skills keep him among the best young pitchers in the system. Expect Rosario to join Toronto's rotation sometime this season, making him a solid late-round investment.
Consistent command and effectiveness will allow Vermilyea to challenge for a big league roster spot next year, but limited dominance gives him unimpressive upside. Vermilyea probably will peak as a middle reliever, so don't roster him until he secures a stable role in the majors and registers several strong outings.
Anton French, 29, OF-L
With strong speed skills and decent patience, French could be an asset as a fifth outfielder. He similarly should accumulate useful roto value as a SB threat if given the necessary opportunity. Consider rostering him if he ever reaches the majors in a role where he could contribute to your team.
While Toronto dealt for the right to keep Haines in the minors despite his Rule 5 status, they foolishly never promoted him during the season despite a third consecutive season of effective work in the International League. Hopefully Haines will find a better situation as a minor league free agent since his skills suggest he could continue performing well in the majors.
Matos virtually repeated his 2002 numbers at AAA Tacoma(PCL), again allowing an abundance of homers to sabotage an otherwise respectable season. With a trip back to AA in 2005 reasonably likely, don't expect Matos to reach the majors in the foreseeable future.
Dealing Jayson Werth allowed Pond to break camp as a big leaguer, but he failed to take advantage of the unexpected opportunity despite a decent 4.02 #P/PA and 1.38 G-F. His regression upon returning to the minors further dims his future prospects, and unless he soon rediscovers both his formerly respectable plate discipline and more power, he may not return to the majors any time soon.
With his strikeout rate again plummeting upon reaching Syracuse, Reimers shouldn't reach the majors as a starter. Hopefully a move to the bullpen will improve his dominance, and until he completes that likely transition, Reimers won't belong on anyone's fantasy roster.
The ascendance of Russ Adams and now Aaron Hill past Rich leaves the 2000 second round pick unlikely to emerge as more than a decent backup. Spending three years in the Eastern League similarly limits his upside, considering he no longer owns much speed and hasn't developed noticeable power. Rich won't be a fantasy option until he begins succeeding in the majors.
With decent patience and speed skills, Sequea only needs an opportunity as an injury replacement to emerge as a viable reserve infielder. Regardless of where he lands as a minor league free agent, he at least should emerge as roster filler within the next couple of years.
While Williams rebounded from an awful 2003, contact problems and unimpressive plate discipline could keep him out of the majors for many years. Even if eventually emerges a big league bench option, Williams likely won't contribute positively to fantasy teams unless he unexpectedly manages to hold a BA much above his .242 career average in the minors.
Russ Adams and Aaron Hill should give Toronto two solid middle infielders for the rest of the decade, although Orlando Hudson still probably possesses as much upside as the rookies. Gabe Gross looks like a good fit for the Jays and sim leagues even if his weak average should limit his roto value. Crozier and Chacin should develop into capable everyday players, and several of the starting pitchers discussed above should pitch effectively in the majors. However, I see little depth in position players here and few quality prospects of any kind in the lower minors. Yes, the Jays already possess a decent core of young talent in the majors, but I only trust Adams, Gross, Hill, and Rosario to earn and hold significant role in the near future.
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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