Your Daily Fantasy Rx
by Tim Polko
Prospects with Double-Digit Upside
Yhency Brazoban, 24, RH Reliever
The young flamethrower emerged as an extremely capable replacement for another converted position player, Guillermo Mota, following the veteran's trade to Florida in July. Brazoban dominated in over half his outings, only occasionally struggled, and appears likely to remain a very useful set-up man for Eric Gagne despite flyball and control problems. He clearly needs to prove nothing in the minors, so expect Brazoban to spend all of 2005 at the end of the Dodgers' bullpen, making him a superb choice for owners who target safe middle relievers with significant short and long-term upside.
Jackson qualifies as a likely Rookie of the Year contender in 2005, however massive command difficulties and health problems led to his worst year as a professional. Fortunately, he only turned 21 in September and suffered primarily from a lack of consistency. If Jackson appears healthy and registers respectable strikeout and walk rates in the spring, he should break camp in the Dodgers' rotation and stand a good chance to register double-digit value despite his difficulties this summer.
Acquired at the end of spring training for Steve Colyer and cash, Ross demonstrated good power but lost much of the season to extended DL trips to a broken left hand in May and broken right wrist in August. Given his questionable plate discipline, Ross no longer appears the favorite to win a bench job in the spring thanks to the improved organizational depth of the Dodgers. Now, a great spring could result in Ross pushing Jayson Werth for playing time, and Ross also possesses the offensive skill set necessary to produce respectable numbers given regular at-bats. However, unless you see him demolishing pitches during camp, don't consider Ross for more than a late-round pick.
Willy Aybar, 21, 2B-S
The left side of the future Dodgers' infield looks rather crowded, leaving Aybar likely only opposing Andy LaRoche for the starting second base job. Aybar handled the shift across the diamond quite nicely, committing only 15 errors in 125 games. His plate discipline improved this season as he posted the best overall marks of his big league career in his first appearance above A-ball. Nothing here causes me much concern other than the general belief that Aybar won't develop into a star. Feel free to select him in deeper leagues with the knowledge that he should spend the second half of the decade posting solid stats in the Los Angeles lineup.
While Billingsley likely will spend one more full season in the minors since the Dodgers won't need to protect him on the 40-man roster until the 2006 Rule 5 draft, injuries in the majors could cause Los Angeles to promote him ahead of schedule. He largely dominated the Florida State League, however increasing control problems indicate he probably needs two more years of seasoning. Drafting Billingsley isn't a terrible idea in deep leagues due to his long-term upside, but don't expect him to contribute significantly in the majors sooner than the second half of 2006.
Chen remains a productive AAAA player unlikely to emerge as more than a bench option in the majors, but after three solid seasons at Las Vegas, he deserves the chance to contribute as a big league reserve. Feel free to roster Chen if he begins echoing these marks in semi-regular playing time for the Dodgers.
Considering Guzman only turned 20 two weeks ago, his demonstrated power potential as a teenager in the Southern league ranks with the most impressive accomplishments of any prospect this year. While he committed 20 errors in 131 games and appears likely to shift to a corner position, Los Angeles will make room for him as soon as he completes his apprenticeship in the upper minors. Guzman owns significant long-term upside, so although questionable plate discipline might slow his development to some extent, I see no reason he eventually shouldn't emerge as a dynamic offensive force.
Hanrahan entered the year as one of the Dodgers' top three pitching prospects and finished the season with some of the most disappointing numbers in the upper minors. However, he remains rather young, maintained a solid strikeout rate, and easily could rebound, especially provided with the support enjoyed by most pitchers in Los Angeles. Don't draft him in the spring, but at least occasionally monitor Hanrahan's numbers to see if he warrants adding as soon as he reaches the majors.
Swiped for Jolbert Cabrera at the end of camp, Ketchner remained quite effective in his first extended look above A-ball. While his dominance decreased, maintaining solid skills after another promotion gives him a very good chance to develop into a useful big leaguer. You shouldn't roster him anywhere now, but Ketchner might warrant fantasy consideration as soon he reaches the majors if he continues developing.
Another round of injuries and ineffectiveness limited his development, however Loney at least maintained decent plate discipline despite entering the AA season as a teenager. He still owns significant long-term upside, and the presence of Hee Seop Choi gives Loney time to develop in the upper minors. Expect two more years of gradual improvement in the upper minors before Loney emerges as the Los Angeles first baseman, so try to roster him now before his approaching average surge drives his value significantly upward.
Although you should only consider Martin in very deep leagues, his success since converting to catcher two years ago ranks him as the most promising young catcher in the system following the trade of Koyie Hill. Martin only managed a .250 BA, but his .17 walk rate and .87 contact rate rank as excellent marks for a young batter regardless of position. I hesitate to recommend him outright since he should spend at least two more years in the minors, but if you want to draft a young catcher with upside, Martin interests me more than almost any other backstop below AA.
Acquired from Atlanta for Tom Martin, Merricks appears unlikely to challenge for a big league roster spot in the next couple of years. Of course, consistently strong strikeout rates give him excellent long-term potential as a short reliever, so although Merricks merits little attention now, he could reach Los Angeles surprisingly quickly in a different role.
Miller missed the season despite only requiring arthroscopic shoulder surgery in March to remove a bursa sac. All recent reports indicate that Miller appears fully healthy, although the Dodgers will not rush him next year given his tremendous ceiling. The 2002 1st round pick compiled a 151:48 K:BB in 143 IP between A+ Vero Beach(FSL) and AA Jacksonville(SL) last year, which ranks him with any left-handed prospect in the game despite his injury. I see no reason not to rank Miller very high on your minor league draft list since he still possesses significant upside and could reach Los Angeles by mid-season.
Impressive work at Jacksonville makes Osoria an excellent candidate for a mid-season call-up net year. He owns solid skills across-the-board, and consistently solid control gives him minimum downside. Feel free to roster Osoria if he posts a few good outings upon reaching the majors.
The submariner excelled in his first full minor league season. He maintained excellent control, very good strikeout rates, and never allowed a single homer. Yes, his hit rate remains a little high given his otherwise dominant numbers, but Schmoll clearly possesses the skills to retain his effectiveness in the upper minors. Expect him to receive a cup-of-coffee next fall before competing for a big league bullpen job the following spring, giving Paul DePodesta a chance to repeat the success he enjoyed with Chad Bradford on Oakland.
Rick Bell, 25, 3B/1B-R
Remaining at Las Vegas for a third straight season at least resulted in another across-the-board improvement for Bell. However, his limited power potential and unimpressive plate discipline suggest he only merits consideration for big league reserve roles. Don't expect the minor league free agent to contribute in the majors in the near future barring surprising success if given an unexpected opportunity.
Bott joined the Dodgers when Los Angeles returned Aaron Looper, acquired with Ryan Ketchner for Jolbert Cabrera, headed back to the Mariners. The southpaw at least remained fairly dominant in his first year above A-ball, however growing control problems soon should force Bott to the bullpen. While I expect him to emerge as no less than an excellent middle reliever, Bott merits no fantasy consideration at this time.
After heading to Los Angeles from the Mets, Eckert breezed through AA and then at least compiled decent skills at Las Vegas. Of course, hit and homer rate problems sabotaged his ERA and a high walk rate similarly destroyed his WHIP, but hopefully completing his move to the bullpen will reduce Eckert's downside. While he doesn't merit much fantasy consideration now, I see enough upside here to keep him in mind if he impresses in 2005.
While I like Falkenbrg a lot give his consistently solid command, a growing injury history and increasing homer problems render him fairly useless at the moment. The minor league free agent needs to post solid across-the-board skills over a full season between AAA and the majors before you should consider him in any reasonably shallow league.
Farmer shifted to the bullpen as expected, developing more dominance and playing fairly well despite a hostile environment for pitchers. While he probably needs at least one more year before emerging as a big league contributor, Farmer owns intriguing long-term upside, especially as a member of the Dodgers' bullpen.
I hoped his move to the Dodgers might provide Flores with the opportunity denied him in Oakland, but he somehow failed to earn a spot on the Los Angeles bench. Of course, Flores lacks more than a semblance of power potential, but strong averages supported by superb plate discipline make him one of the safest options in the minors. Feel free to roster Flores if he ever secures a spot as a big league reserve.
Allowed to depart last winter as a minor league free agent by Cleveland, Garcia bettered his total homers from the previous two seasons in Las Vegas. He also demonstrated improved plate discipline, however Garcia still didn't convince the Dodgers to purchase his contract, leaving him as one of the more intriguing minor league free agents once again. Of course, given Garcia's historical contact problems, don't roster him until he begins contributing in the majors.
Myrow joined the Dodgers as the Tanyon Sturtze PTBN, finally finding an organization that apparently appreciates his nearly one-dimensional offensive skills. With a career on-base percentage well over .400, Myrow merits no less than a long look in camp as a bench player. While I don't expect him to emerge as a big league regular, Myrow also could emerge as a viable fantasy option very quickly due to the stability provided by his plate discipline.
Good command should keep Nall rising up the minor league ladder, especially when his strikeout rate also improved upon his promotion out of A-ball. While fantasy owners need to wait until Nall reaches the majors before targeting him, a fairly respectable overall skill set makes Nall worth occasionally monitoring in reasonably deep leagues.
The 37th overall pick of the 1999 draft produced the best marks of his career in his sixth season as a professional. Repko appears ready to compete for a bench job in the spring, and his respectable speed skills keep him intriguing for fantasy owners despite questionable plate discipline. Although you should wait until Repko actually reaches the majors before rostering him anywhere, his relative youth and long-term upside should insure he receives a look somewhere in the next few years.
Houston, San Diego, and Boston all dumped Stanley within the past thirteen months, but given his plate discipline and previously demonstrated power potential, I see why the Dodgers grabbed him for Dave Roberts. Unfortunately, Los Angeles already fields a reasonably deep outfield, and the return to health by Cody Ross creates even less room for Stanley. While he shouldn't hurt you as roster filler, he appears very unlikely to emerge as more than an occasional big league starter.
Excellent plate discipline and a decent batting average at least give Theodorou a chance to contribute in the majors. Unfortunately, negligible quantitative skills means he'll never develop into more than a decent reserve.
Thompson's return to health following a wasted season after his selection in the 2002 Rule 5 draft partially reasserts his status as a prospect. Although I expect control problems to drive him into the bullpen, he should continue developing and emerge as a viable fantasy option later this decade.
The flailing Thurston barely surpassed his 2003 OPS. He no longer owns decent speed skills, and continually declining plate discipline makes him a BA risk. I see no reason to roster Thurston in any league until he demonstrates the ability to hold a decent average while remaining in the majors in some capacity.
An abysmal hit rate in his first AAA tour renders Totten extremely risky until he demonstrates some ability to control the downside created by his hit and homer rates. Yes, he owns excellent control, but even playing for Los Angeles may not reduce these problems, so wait until Totten begins succeeding in the majors before rostering him anywhere.
Victorino no longer really resembles the 21-year-old prospect who posted a .258/.328/.318 with a 47_49 BB:K and 45/61 SB% in 481 at-bats for Jacksonville two years ago. He now looks more like a power hitter, but his diminished speed skills and plate discipline, as well as his AAA struggles, give us little reason to expect Victorino will contribute in the majors any time soon.
Delwyn Young, 22, 2B-S
Yes, he struggles to make consistent contact and may move to the outfield; waiting until Young succeeds at AA also isn't a bad idea. However, his five-category upside and impressive power potential keep him a viable option in deep keeper leagues. A late-round gamble here could pay off nicely even if only excels for the first-half of 2005.
The combination of a balanced drafting approach and the mere ten-month influence of Paul DePodesta as GM somehow resulted in a system filled with quality prospects at every position and even respectable depth in the upper minors to support the Division Champs. While no single prospect appears ready to emerge as an everyday contributor, and neither Brazoban nor Edwin Jackson should impact many fantasy teams next year, at least a dozen players discussed above should enjoy reasonably lengthy big league careers. I see little reason to avoid quality upper-level position prospects like Aybar, Guzman, and Loney; attempting to steal Greg Miller in a late round similarly intrigues me. More importantly, even if most of these players offer little more than decent in-season trade value in 2005, a couple appears likely to develop into stars, creating excellent opportunities for owners in leagues that allow you to keep players forever.
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)
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