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December
4th
2004
Your Daily Fantasy Rx
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Post-2004 Prospect Review: Florida
by Tim Polko

Today's Fantasy Rx

Prospects with Double-Digit Upside
Likely 2005 September Call-ups
Potential Reserve Help
Minor League Draft Picks
Organization Rankings
Florida's Top 15 Fantasy Prospects


Prospects with Double-Digit Upside

Joe Dillon, 29, 3B/OF/2B-R
131/403 for .325/.400/.665 with 30 HR, 86 RBI, 96 R, 12/15 SB%,
and a 46:85 BB:K for AAA Albuquerque(PCL).
40/117 for .342/.426/.684 with 9 HR, 31 RBI, 26 R, 3/5 SB%,
and a 14:29 BB:K for AA Carolina(SL).

Dillon retired in 2003, spending the season as an assistant baseball coach for Texas Tech. After recovering from back surgery, he found a home with the Marlins, demolishing the upper minors while earning Organizational Player of the Year honors. Aided by a very friendly hitters' park in Albuquerque, he surpassed his total number of homers from 2000-2002, and his plate discipline remained similarly respectable. Despite not recalling Dillon during the season, Florida wisely purchased his contract in October; however, the odds of him contributing significantly in 2005 appear rather slim. You probably should wait until Dillon demonstrates an ability to echo these averages in his likely limited big league playing time before considering him for your team.


Jeremy Hermida, 20, OF-L
101/340 for .297/.377/.441 with 10 HR, 50 RBI, 53 R, 10/13 SB%,
and a 42:73 BB:K for A+ Jupiter(FSL).

While hamstring problems limited the 11th pick of the 2002 draft to 91 games and sapped his speed skills, Hermida demonstrated developing power potential in his second full season as a professional. He posted a .265/.298/.523 performance in 132 AFL at-bats, suggesting that although his plate discipline needs to improve, he could emerge as a very impressive slugger down the line. Even a respectable first-half at AA next year might result in a second-half call-up for Hermida. Considering his five-category upside, Florida's virtually open right field spot, and an organizational willingness to let top rookies learn in the majors, Hermida ranks among the most intriguing minor league picks in spring drafts.


Likely 2005 September Call-ups

Trevor Hutchinson, 25, RH Starter
10-7 on an 86:38 K:BB in 123.1 IP over 24 GS
with 133 H, 11 HR, and a 4.23 ERA for AA Carolina(SL).

Elbow and shoulder problems this season limited his development. While Hutchinson managed respectable numbers in his second professional season, he lacks the dominance and overall effectiveness to emerge as a top starter. Rostering him before he earns steady work in the majors looks like a bad idea.


Logan Kensing, 22, RH Starter
0-3 on a 7:9 K:BB in 13.2 IP over 3 GS(5G)
with 19 H, 5 HR, a .91 G-F, and a 9.88 ERA for Florida.
6-7 on a 100:35 K:BB in 127.2 IP over 23 GS
with 120 H, 5 HR, and a 2.96 ERA for A+ Jupiter(FSL).

Triple-promoting Kensing to the majors for late-season spot starts in lieu of securing a single respectable upper-level veteran option during the season ranks with the worst moves of any time this year. Hopefully they didn't destroy his confidence, but considering he didn't dominate Florida State League hitters in the first place, I don't know what the Marlins expected of Kensing. At least his respectable command suggests he should remain successful in the upper minors, however I don't envision him contributing in the majors without another couple years of seasoning.


Scott Olsen, 20, LH Starter
7-6 on a 158:53 K:BB in 136.1 IP over 25 GS
with 127 H, 8 HR, and a 2.97 ERA for A+ Jupiter(FSL).

The best pitching prospect in the system completely dominated Florida State League hitters. Although his failure to earn a mid-season promotion somewhat concerns me, and he only demonstrated slightly improved control this year, Olsen owns the tremendous long-term upside of a southpaw with a career strikeout rate of over a batter per inning. If you can keep him reserved until he proves he won't ruin your WHIP in the majors, Olsen qualifies as a respectable spring selection in minor league drafts.


Jason Stokes, 22, 1B-R
107/394 for .272/.345/.513 with 23 HR, 78 RBI, 66 R, 5/5 SB%,
and a 42:121 BB:K for AA Carolina(SL).
2/8 for .250/.333/.750 with 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R, 0/0 SB%,
and a 1:3 BB:K for R Marlins(GCL).

Trades of Adrian Gonzalez and then Hee Seop Choi provided a clear path to the majors for Stokes. He owns tremendous power potential, however persistent contact problems limits his immediate upside. Stokes looks somewhat likely to plateau somewhere between the skills of Jim Thome and Josh Phelps, although I at least expect him to emerge as a serviceable starter for several seasons. Spending a mid-round pick on the slugger is a good idea given Florida's history of success in promoting prospects sooner than most analysts expect.


Nic Ungs, 25, RH Starter
11-8 on a 134:35 K:BB in 161.1 IP over 28 GS
with 178 H, 24 HR, and a 4.24 ERA for AA Carolina(SL).

Despite compiling a 389:80 K:BB in over 430 innings of work in his four-year professional career, Ungs remained at Carolina all season even though Florida desperately needed starting help. Yes, his hit and homer rates indicate limited upside, but his excellent command makes him a much better option than Logan Kensing, promoted him A-ball at the end of the year. Ungs still owns respectable all-around skills, so I see no reason why he shouldn't begin contributing in the majors fairly soon regardless of his organization.


Josh Willingham, 25, C-R
5/25 for .200/.310/.320 with 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R, 0/0 SB%,
and a 4:8 BB:K for Florida.
95/338 for .281/.449/.565 with 24 HR, 76 RBI, 81 R, 6/9 SB%,
and a 91:87 BB:K for AA Carolina(SL).

Florida's failure to start Willingham during the season demonstrates their questions regarding his catching skills. If the Marlins extend Paul LoDuca, Willingham almost certainly will need a change of scenery to receive regular playing time in the majors. While his outstanding plate discipline, patience, and power potential seem to make Willingham a great pick, he doesn't belong on NL-only minor league draft lists unless Florida unexpectedly clears more than the backup backstop spot for him.


Josh Wilson, 23, SS-R
67/240 for .279/.337/.408 with 5 HR, 23 RBI, 32 R, 6/7 SB%,
and a 19:51 BB:K for AAA Albuquerque(PCL).
98/311 for .315/.396/.486 with 10 HR, 41 RBI, 63 R, 8/12 SB%,
and a 42:50 BB:K for AA Carolina(SL).

I shuddered at rumors of the Cubs trading Juan Cruz for Josh Wilson a year ago following his .253/.294/.371 with a 27:70 BB:K at Carolina; now I wish they had completed that deal rather than the eventual swap of Cruz for Richard Lewis. Yes, Wilson committed 24 errors in 136 games and obviously regressed at Albuqerque, however his across-the-board progress at Carolina this year makes him likely to succeed Alex Gonzalez no later than 2007. He owns acceptable plate discipline, power potential, and even some speed skills. While he needs a high BA to maintain impressive OBP and SLG marks, Wilson ranks as an acceptable late-round pick capable of emerging as a starter at either middle infield position.


Potential Reserve Help

Chris Aguila, 25, OF-R
10/45 for .222/.255/.511 with 3 HR, 5 RBI, 10 R, 0/0 SB%,
and a 2:12 BB:K for Florida.
103/330 for .312/.380/.494 with 11 HR, 56 RBI, 61 R, 8/11 SB%,
and a 37:82 BB:K for AAA Albuquerque(PCL).

Aguila essentially echoed his 2003 performance despite finally reaching AAA. Yes, he struggled in the majors, largely due to contact issues, but a 3.56 #P/PA and 1.15 G-F in limited action at least demonstrate decent upside. Expect him to earn a reserve job with a decent camp, although I see no reason to draft Aguila anywhere until he proves that he can maintain a respectable batting average and therefore not hurt your team.


Chip Ambres, 25, OF-R
109/452 for .241/.356/.449 with 20 HR, 62 RBI, 81 R, 26/35 SB%,
and a 76:116 BB:K for AA Carolina(SL).

Although Ambres departs as a minor league veteran, his intriguing plate discipline and respectable speed skills eventually should propel him to the majors. Of course, wait until he finds that big league backup job before considering him for any team.


Pete Bauer, 26, RH Starter
1-0 on a 4:3 K:BB in 7 IP over 1 GS
with 6 H, 0 HR, and a 1.29 ERA for AAA Albuquerque(PCL).
5-10 on a 103:40 K:BB in 155.1 IP over 25 GS(27G)
with 161 H, 11 HR, and a 4.35 ERA for AA Carolina(SL).

Selected in the minor league phase of last year's Rule 5 draft, Bauer moved into the rotation during his fourth AA season and unexpectedly produced the best numbers of his career. Nothing here suggests an overly impressive future, but he at least should remain reasonably productive at Albuquerque. Of course, fantasy owners still need to wait until Bauer begins succeeding in the majors before considering him anywhere.


Jeff Fulchino, 25, RH Starter
6-5 on an 84:37 K:BB in 90.2 IP over 17 GS
with 93 H, 5 HR, and a 4.47 ERA for AA Carolina(SL).
2-2 on a 28:16 K:BB in 43 IP over 8 GS
with 39 H, 1 HR, and a 2.72 ERA for A+ Jupiter(FSL).

Posting progressively better skills as he moves up the minor league ladder at least gives Fulchino an excellent shot to contribute as a big leaguer in some capacity. With his developing dominance and respectable command, I expect him to emerge as no less than a viable bullpen option by 2007.


Franklyn Gracesqui, 25, LH Reliever
0-1 and 1 Save on a 1:3 K:BB in 4 IP over 7 G
with 6 H, 0 HR, a 5-7 G-F, and an 11.25 ERA for Florida.
1-0 and 1 Save on a 16:19 K:BB in 22 IP over 19 G
with 10 H, 2 HR, and a 3.27 ERA for AAA Albuquerque(PCL).
0-1 on a 4:4 K:BB in 2.2 IP over 2 GS
with 1 H, 0 HR, and a 0.00 ERA for R Marlins(GCL).

With no history of good control, Gracesqui's problems in the majors didn't surprise me. His terrible command at Albuquerque similarly appears somewhat in line with his statistical development, rendering him completely useless to roto teams in the foreseeable future.


Billy Hall, 35, 3B/2B/OF-S
9/43 for .209/.209/.279 with 0 HR, 3 RBI, 7 R, 0/1 SB%,
and a 0:10 BB:K for AAA Albuquerque(PCL).
105/350 for .300/.375/.409 with 4 HR, 29 RBI, 53 R, 40/55 SB%,
and a 42:46 BB:K for AA Carolina(SL).

The elder journeyman simply seems stuck at AA, so despite strong speed skills and plate discipline, I don't expect him to reach the majors. However, if Hall ever earns a promotion, he could contribute a decent number of steals in a limited role.


Mike McNutt, 25, RH Reliever
2-1 on a 19:5 K:BB in 28.1 IP over 1 GS(12G)
with 35 H, 5 HR, and a 5.08 ERA for AAA Albuquerque(PCL).
4-1 on a 53:23 K:BB in 57 IP over 5 GS(24G)
with 51 H, 9 HR, and a 4.89 ERA for AA Carolina(SL).

McNutt appear positioned for a mid-season promotion next year as an injury replacement, but little in his statistical history suggests a strong possibility for a significant contribution in a big league bullpen. While moving to relief work last season expedited his development, he appears to need a strong defense and pitcher-friendly home park given his lack of dominance. Fortunately for McNutt, the Marlins possess both those conditions, giving him a chance to post surprisingly decent numbers in Florida.


Randy Messenger, 23, RH Reliever
6-3 on a 71:29 K:BB in 69.2 IP over 58 G
with 67 H, 4 HR, and a 2.58 ERA for AA Carolina(SL).

Shifting to the bullpen in his second tour of the Southern League resulted in across-the-board skill improvement. Messenger managed to emerge as a fairly dominant relief option, and while his unimpressive control suggests he needs more seasoning, don't be surprised to see him pitch decently in a cup-of-coffee next year.


Mike Nannini, 24, RH Starter
9-10 on an 111:42 K:BB in 151.1 IP over 25 GS(29G)
with 156 H, 31 HR, and a 5.29 ERA for AAA Albuquerque(PCL).

Acquired from the Cubs as the PBTN with Hee Seop Choi for Derrek Lee, Nannini at least maintained good control. Pitching for Albuquerque in his first exposure above AA resulted in a skyrocketing homer rate that destroyed his qualitative marks. While I still expect him to emerge as a viable big league option within a couple of years, the minor league free agent needs to find a team with an International League affiliate to secure the steadier environment that should result in more successful season and hopefully a promotion to the majors.


Drew Niles, 27, 2B-S
72/278 for .259/.355/.349 with 4 HR, 29 RBI, 39 R, 3/6 SB%,
and a 41:73 BB:K for AAA Albuquerque(PCL).
0/6 for .000/.000/.000 with 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 R, 0/0 SB%,
and a 0:1 BB:K for AA Carolina(SL).

Respectable plate discipline soon could push the future utility infielder to the majors. Unfortunately, weak quantitative skills will keep Niles from emerging as more than decent roster.


Matt Padgett, 27, OF-L
116/435 for .267/.325/.515 with 24 HR, 93 RBI, 65 R, 1/6 SB%,
and a 36:123 BB:K for AAA Albuquerque(PCL).

While weak plate discipline limits Padgett's upside, his developing power potential at least should earn the minor league free agent a decent look during camp. I expect him to peak as more than a platoon player, but any improvement in his contact skills could translate into a power surge, jumping his value to a surprising extent.


Derek Wathan, 27, 2B/OF-S
125/414 for .302/.354/.461 with 10 HR, 47 RBI, 74 R, 15/25 SB%,
and a 33:74 BB:K for AAA Albuquerque(PCL).

Spending a third straight season for Florida's AAA squad suggests that Wathan won't see the majors any time soon despite his initial upside as a second round pick in 1998. Of course, Wathan owns decent all-around skills and good position flexibility, so he deserves a shot to hold these acceptable averages as a big leaguer. Wait until he secures a stable role before considering him, but expect him to emerge as no less than decent roster filler before he turns 30.


Jason Wood, 34, 3B/1B-R
92/375 for .245/.322/.376 with 8 HR, 49 RBI, 44 R, 2/3 SB%,
and a 40:74 BB:K for AAA Albuquerque(PCL).

Declining power numbers no longer give Wood much hope of seeing more time in the majors despite decent plate discipline. Owners certainly should wait until he begins producing in a regular big league role before rostering him in any league.


Minor League Draft Picks

None.


Aside from players listed above, no other Florida prospect deserves consideration in 2005 fantasy drafts. Matt Treanor lost his rookie status by exceeding the service time minimum.


Organization Rankings

The biggest problem Florida faces is where to deploy their upper-level position prospects. Miguel Cabrera, Mike Lowell, Juan Pierre, and Luis Castillo provided a strong offensive core of relatively young talent. While Paul LoDuca, Alex Gonzalez, Juan Encarnacion, and Jeff Conine currently block the four most interesting rookies here, Hermida almost certainly will receive the right field job no later than sometime in 2006. Drafting any of the other players is somewhat risky given the fluid big league roster for the Marlins, but at least Wilson and Stokes merit some consideration in deeper leagues. However, the possibility of Florida either will deal younger talent for mid-season help or dump veterans for superior prospects renders the Marlins' minor league pitchers currently useless to fantasy teams.

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. Colorado Rockies(Atkins, Closser, Barmes, Hawpe, I.Stewart)
2. Minnesota Twins(Bartlett, Kubel, Tiffee, Crain, S.Baker)
3. Oakland Athletics(D.Johnson, Swisher, Blanton, Street)
4. Seattle Mariners(Je.Reed, Choo, J.Strong, Fe.Hernandez)
5. Tampa Bay Devil Rays(Gathright, Kazmir, Delmon Young)
6. Anaheim Angels(McPherson, Kotchman, Callaspo, E.Aybar)
7. Cleveland Indians(F.Cabrera, Denney, F.Gutierrez, Aubrey)
8. Arizona Diamondbacks(C.Snyder, Kroeger, Quentin, C.Jackson)
9. Atlanta Braves(Da.Meyer, J.Capellan, Marte)
10. Texas Rangers(Kinsler, Ad.Gonzalez, C.Young)
11. Florida Marlins(Hermida, Willingham, Stokes)
12. New York Yankees(Halsey, D.Navarro, E.Duncan)
13. Baltimore Orioles(Majewski, W.Young, Maine)
14. Toronto Blue Jays(R.Adams, F.Rosario)
15. Chicago White Sox(W.Valdez, B.McCarthy)
16. Kansas City Royals(Teahen, Den.Bautista, Maier)
17. Boston Red Sox(H.Ramirez, B.Moss)
18. Cincinnati Reds(E.Encarnacion, W.Bergolla)
19. Detroit Tigers(Granderson, Giarratano)
20. Chicago Cubs(DuBois)


Today's Fantasy Rx: While Josh Wilson, Jason Stokes, and Josh Willingham soon should emerge as quality starters, a few young starters here look quite impressive, and Hermida possesses tremendous upside, the current construction of Florida's big league roster precludes any significant rookie contribution barring a deal intended to create playing time for a youngster. Don't plan on receiving much 2005 fantasy help from the players discussed here aside from their value as potential trade bait.


Florida's Top 15 Fantasy Prospects for 2005
1. Jeremy Hermida, OF
2. Josh Willingham, C
3. Jason Stokes, 1B
4. Joe Dillon, 3B/OF/2B
5. Josh Wilson, SS
6. Chris Aguila, OF
7. Scott Olsen, SP
8. Derek Wathan, 2B/OF
9. Nic Ungs, SP
10. Trevor Hutchinson, SP
11. Mike McNutt, RP
12. Logan Kensing, SP
13. Jeff Fulchino, SP
14. Pete Bauer, SP
15. Drew Niles, 2B


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