Your Daily Fantasy Rx
by Tim Polko
Heath Bell, 27, RH Reliever
Bell pitched exceptionally well down the stretch, even overcoming his elevated AAA walk rate upon his promotion. Of course, this level of dominance shouldn't surprise anyone given Bell's career 390:91 K:BB in 349 IP over the last six minor league seasons. New York needs to guarantee him an Opening Day roster spot barring a terrible spring, and I expect Bell will reward them by emerging as one of the more impressive sophomore relievers in baseball. His overall skill set also already warrants Bell a Dollar Days' selection in the deeper NL leagues.
Diaz looks like the brightest offensive prospect remaining in a system depleted by promotions and short-sighted trades. He demonstrated excellent power in his late-season cup-of-coffee, however a 2.56 G-F concerns me, especially when coupled with Diaz's historically poor plate discipline. While he could contribute in the majors now, spending another season at Norfolk instead might allow him to develop into a better offensive prospect with the patience required to overcome his strikeout problems and lack of a firm defensive position. Don't gamble more than a late-round pick on Diaz unless a spring surge results in an unexpected starting job.
Acquiring Keppinger with Kris Benson from the Pirates easily compensates for moving Ty Wigginton in that deal. While Keppinger lacks power and rarely walks, his .93 career minor league contact rate insures a respectable batting average. He certainly appears capable of posting an empty .300 BA if a trade of Kaz Matsui or Jose Reyes opens a short-term hole at second base, however Keppinger's negligible upside makes him a questionable pick as anything more than supplementary BA foundation. Of course, his great contact rate also should result in a bench spot on the Mets, making him an adequate Dollar Days' MIF pick.
Craig Brazell, 24, 1B-L
An improved contact rate and somewhat respectable September performance give Brazell a chance to win a job in the spring, but his poor patience could keep him in the minors indefinitely. I simply see little to like here given due to his sub-.325 career OBP. Do not draft Brazell anywhere until he begins posting solid numbers after earning regular role in the majors.
Very impressive speed skills and good patience could result in Lydon earning regular work as a leadoff man. However, I expect his contact problems and limited power output will keep him as a reserve. Of course, Lydon still should earn double-digit value regularly even as just a part-time player, so feel free to target him as soon as he reaches the majors.
A strong spring should propel McGinley onto the Mets' 25-man roster, but he also qualifies as a superb choice in Monday's Rule 5 draft. Career marks of a 10.3 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 give him a strong skill foundation, and his success in the upper minors this year suggests he shouldn't struggle in the majors. While McGinley appears unlikely to develop into more than a quality set-up man, feel free to roster him once he compiles several solid outings.
With a 12.0 career strikeout rate after two seasons in affiliated ball, Petit ranks among the most dominant minor league pitchers in baseball. Compiling a 2.2 BB/9, 5.8 H/9, and .4 HR/9 similarly leave him with no statistical weakness. All owners who target dominant young starters nearly ready for the majors should place Petit very high on their spring minor league draft lists.
Ring stopped closing in the minors and then watched his dominance continue to evaporate. The former fireballing southpaw simply looks like a different pitcher since his trade from the White Sox. He merits little fantasy consideration right now and might peak as a middle reliever unless he rediscovers his lost skills.
As Snead still owns outstanding speed, he almost certainly will receive a regular September promotion in any season he spends with a contender. He also can contribute a couple bucks even while just pinch-running, so although I can't recommend him anywhere now, Snead likely will merit at least a low FAAB bid whenever you see him on an active free agent list.
David Bacani, 25, 2B-R
Rising surprisingly quickly through the Mets' ranks, the 22nd round pick in 2001 appears nearly ready to contribute as a big league reserve. While his weak quantitative skills and unimpressive upside render him largely useless to roto teams, Bacani at least shouldn't hurt you as roster filler within a couple of years.
The evaporation of his command at Norfolk forced Bevis back to Binghamton, where he rediscovered his lost dominance. Unfortunately, although his skills still intrigue me, he no longer merits any fantasy consideration until he conquers AAA, especially with his uncertain status as a minor league free agent.
Strong skills across-the-board could push the 1998 46th round pick to the majors later in 2005. While Chenard doesn't look likely to contribute as a big league starter, his overall effectiveness in recent seasons at least warrants occasional monitoring due to his surprising dominance.
Acquired with Victor Zambrano in the worst deal of the year, Fortunato's walk rate remained high in the majors. He also held a strong strikeout rate, giving him a good chance of remaining with the Mets in 2005, however you need to wait until he begins posting an acceptable WHIP before rostering Fortunato anywhere.
Hietpas ranks among the worst rookies I reviewed this fall. Poor averages, contact problems, and negligible upside drain the value from his otherwise passable plate patience, rendering him completely useless to fantasy owners and MLB teams.
Additional shoulder problems and a falling strikeout rate leave Keppel with little immediate upside. He almost certainly should shift to relief if his dominance doesn't improve, rendering him useless to fantasy teams until he secures a regular role in a big league bullpen.
Musser experienced another round of command problems at Binghamton, yet still earned a mid-season promotion to Norfolk, where he unsurprisingly struggled. I simply see nothing in Musser's skills since leaving A-ball to suggest he should continue starting, although he at least should spend some time in the majors later this decade if he successfully converts to relief work.
The worst OBP of Nye's career coupled with David Wright's emergence to leave him stranded in the upper minors. Considering he owns decent plate discipline, intriguing power potential, and even decent defense, Nye should emerge as a useful big league backup, however I don't expect him to receive the opportunity he needs until he departs the Mets.
I expected Redman to challenge for a starting job at some point this year. Instead a poor spring pushed him back to Binghamton, and although he unsurprisingly dominated AA, his failure to match his 2003 performance after a return to Norfolk dramatically reduces his immediate upside. Redman no longer merits any fantasy consideration until he wins a steady big league job.
A slight homer problem apparently irritated the Mets since Roach otherwise pitched quite well at Norfolk. The minor league free agent deserves another shot at the majors, so hopefully he'll find a better situation in an organization at least willing to promote him during the season if Roach remains effective.
Despite continued success at Binghamton, Scobie's unimpressive skills leave him likely to struggle when he returns to Norfolk in 2004. I don't expect him to reach the majors any time soon, although at least his normally solid control gives him a chance to eventually advance to New York.
With decreasing effectiveness and growing control problems, Strayhorn now may peak as a AAAA reliever. Don't expect him to reach the majors any time soon.
The Mets unsurprisingly allowed Strange to depart as a minor league free agent after another terrible performance at Norfolk. However, Strange's skills still hint at the potential for success, so hopefully he soon completes his surprisingly gradual move to the bullpen, thereby expediting his emergence as a viable big leaguer.
While trading Scott Kazmir, Justin Huber, and Matt Peterson didn't gut the system, the loss of three top prospects for overpaid middling starters will hurt the franchise for years. I also don't expect any of the position players remaining in the minors following David Wright's promotion to emerge as stars. Wayne Lydon might spend some time as a top speedster, but I generally expect the Mets to continue to look outside the organization for hitting help. Of course, Heath Bell appears ready to dominate in a big league bullpen. Yusmeiro Petit also looks like a very special prospect due to his combination of exceptional skills and effectiveness. The problem is I just don't see that much depth or much chance of New York allowing the borderline prospects here to develop into useful big league contributors.
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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