Your Daily Fantasy Rx
by Tim Polko
Gavin Floyd, 21, RH Starter
Floyd alternated dominant starts with disastrous outings after joining the Phillies, so while he could remain effective in Philadelphia next year, sending him back to AAA for another few months, which the signings of Job Lieber and Cory Lidle almost insure, isn't a bad idea. Now Floyd will compete with Brett Myers and Ryan Madson for only one potential starting slot at the end of the rotation, so expect Floyd's strikeout rate to improve as he spends most of the year either in the upper minors or the Phillies' bullpen in a repeat of Madson's move to the majors this spring. Fortunately, Floyd owns the skills necessary to flourish in any role, and he still remains one of the top pitching prospects in baseball. His double promotion this summer might even make him easier to acquire in trade over the winter, so definitely explore the possibility of adding Floyd to your team if you see a logical opportunity; his performance over the rest of the decade won't disappoint you.
Only the presence of Jim Thome and Howard's defensive limitations might keep him from opening 2005 in the majors. His 48 longballs on the year tied Adrian Beltre for the most home runs of any player in affiliated ball, and Howard's 4.43 #P/PA and 10-11 G-F during September further illustrate his solid skill set. Yes, accumulating 179 strikeouts limits his upside, but most teams forgive lofty strikeout totals from their cleanup hitters. Philadelphia either will make room for Howard in the lineup by moving Pat Burrell or exchange Howard for another to prospect by 2006 since he clearly doesn't require more seasoning. Only the possibility of Howard heading to the other league should limit your offers for the young slugger.
Elbow soreness and tendonitis kept the young southpaw off the mound nearly all year. While losing a year of development doesn't significantly hurt Hamels' progress towards the majors, and the lighter workload might benefit him over the long-term, the uncertainty surrounding his injury definitely concerns me. Hamels qualifies as an extreme risk in most league right now, so while you should consider him if he appears available in deep minor league drafts, also recognize that he shouldn't contribute in the majors before 2006 due to his delayed timetable and the Phillies' respectable upper-level pitching depth.
Solid plate discipline and defensive skills should insure Hernandez spends at least a few seasons in the majors even if he doesn't look like a probable starter due to his limited offensive upside. Elbow problems also limited his playing time this year, so while I expect him eventually to emerge as a quality big league backstop, don't roster Hernandez until you see him register decent averages over more at-bats than just another cup-of-coffee.
Holding a strikeout rate near 8.0 despite leaving A-ball for the first time and starting seven games makes 2004 as a success for Brito. However, continually elevated walk rates and homer rate bump should keep him in the majors for another couple of year. Brito merits no more than an occasional glance until a similar season at AAA pushes him to the cusp of the majors.
Unimpressive command and weak dominance make Bucktrot a likely future reliever. Considering he enters spring training no higher than eighth on Philadelphia's starting depth chart, a move to the bullpen also should expedite his progress to the majors. Despite respectable long-term upside, his questionable skills prevent me from recommending him as more than potential roster filler once he accumulates several solid outings with the Phillies.
The minor league free agent re-signed with Philadelphia last month, however his unimpressive offensive skill set will limit him to more than an occasional promotion as an injury replacement. Despite decent speed and plate discipline, Budzinski's lack of power gives him little value to Philadelphia, so he doesn't desierve much fantasy consideration.
An unexpectedly excellent performance at Reading resulted in Castellano's return to the Phillies, and if he echoes these averages in his first extended AAA experience, he should compete for the backup catcher job in 2006. Castellano owns solid power potential and a good contact rate, leaving only a weak walk rate to limit his upside. Expect him to emerge as a quality second catcher option once he secures steady work in the majors.
Another quality performance finally resulted in Crowell's first big league look since 1997. Of course, the Phillies also rewarded his third straight solid season at Scranton by allowing him to depart for Florida this off-season, so hopefully he'll find a better opportunity with the Marlins. Crowell appears ready to contribute in the majors if given the necessary chance.
The reliever remains the most consistently effective pitcher in the Phillies' system following his second impressive year at Scranton. While Giese's strikeout rate dropped considerably, he kept his walk rate below 2.0 while reducing his hit and homer rates. I expect Giese to challenge for a bullpen job in spring training, eventually emerging as a decent fantasy option during the summer.
Gonzalez lacks power potential, speed, and a high batting average. He also committed 29 errors in 133 games this year. However, he maintained an OBP just shy of .350 for the third straight season despite annual promotions, and if he holds these marks at AAA, he should challenge for a big league roster spot the following spring. Yes, his limited offensive upside shouldn't result in Gonzalez replacing Jimmy Rollins, but Gonzalez still looks like a future Dollar Days' MIF pick since his decent plate discipline supports an acceptable BA.
Although Hitchcox offers some upside as a utility infielder due to his respectable plate discipline, his rather obvious lack of offensive tools should prevent him from spending much time in the majors. He similarly shouldn't contribute to fantasy teams any time soon.
Completing his move to the bullpen surprisingly didn't result in any notable skill improvement from Kubes. He posted his worst overall skill ratios since 2001, which surprises me since he managed a 106:45 K:BB in 174.1 IP while starting all season in 2002. Although he might emerge as a capable lefty specialist at some point, Kubes' lack of dominance should prevent him from contributing to fantasy teams in any significant fashion.
Although Lee's performance didn't improve significantly upon shifting to the bullpen, he appears more likely to reach in the majors in the near future now that he doesn't face competition from Gavin Floyd and Philadelphia's more dominant pitching prospects. Lee even might break camp in the majors if he excels in the spring, however I instead expect to see him spend most of 2005 back at AAA, refining his approach as a reliever and rendering him useless to fantasy teams.
Recently signing with Toronto should give Lundberg an excellent chance to break into the majors next year. He owns solid all-around skills and possesses more upside as a relief than he demonstrated as a starter over several seasons with Texas. Feel free to consider Lundberg for your team as soon as registers a few solid outings in a big league bullpen since he owns the skills necessary to remain successful for the rest of the decade.
Even finally spending a season at AAA doesn't propel Padilla back up prospect lists. The 1998 third round pick remains rather fragile and possesses relatively little long-term upside following his failure to demonstrate much power potential since leaving A-ball. Padilla looks likely to develop into no more than a capable fourth outfielder.
Missing all of 2003 didn't appear to reduce Perez's effectiveness as he reemerged as a quality prospect. Of course, high hit rates limit his immediate upside, and he shouldn't continue starting much longer, but he seems prepared to challenge for a big league bullpen job in the spring. Perez could contribute to fantasy teams as soon he earns a steady job with Philadelphia's relief corps.
Tejeda rebounded in impressive fashion after missing much of 2003 due to visa problems caused by the Phillies. His combination of dominance and decent control almost allows us to overlook his troublesome 1.7 HR/9, however I instead expect Tejeda now will need at least one more full year of seasoning. Don't consider him as anything more than a possibly intriguing mid-season option.
The journeyman southpaw remains a rookie despite accumulating over three full seasons in AAA rotations. He still demonstrates good command and limited downside, but if he doesn't receive a shot as a big league starter soon, Yarnall needs to consider shifting to relief in an attempt to improve his diminished dominance. While I still like his long-term upside, wait until he emerges as a solid contributor in the majors before considering him for your team.
Hank's little brother still looks very raw and possesses less long-term value as an outfielder. Of course, while his high strikeout totals also worry me, he at least managed to smack 40 doubles, an impressive total that suggests the strong possibility of further power development. Waiting one more year before considering him in spring drafts isn't a bad idea, however Blalock also might merit a little consideration in deep leagues that annually draft and keep dozens of prospects.
Bourn should develop into a truly impressive leadoff hitter even if he just echoes this performance while ascending the minor league ladder. Few players possess his combination of speed and patience, which will allow the Phillies to overlook his limited power production. My only concern here is that he turns 22 in a couple weeks and only heads to the Florida State League in 2004, but if you want a long-term SB option, Bourn merits a very high ranking on your draft list.
In-season trades with Cincinnati and Philadelphia, combined with the matriculation of Ryan Madson to the majors only a year after the promotions of Marlon Byrd and Chase Utley, leave few quality prospects remaining in the Phillies' system. Yes, Howard, Floyd, and Hamels look like future All-Stars, and Bourn and Blalock also should develop into quality starters, however the need for the team to consistently compete requires annual mid-season pickups that drain the prospect pool. Other than the top few players ranked below, I see little reason to include most Philadelphia rookies in your planning for spring drafts.
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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