Your Daily Fantasy Rx
by Tim Polko
Brad Baker, 24, RH Closer
Considering a failed prospect by many analysts following two unsuccessful AA stints, Baker stopped starting this year and emerged as perhaps the most dominant relief prospect in the league. He concluded his 2004 campaign by compiling a 1.64 ERA on a 14:3 K:BB in 11 IP with 11 H and 1 HR over 11 AFL appearances, capping a superb season that places him on the cusp of the majors. While San Diego's pen seems fairly loaded right now, Baker still should break camp with the Padres if he echoes these marks in spring training. Most owners should wait until he accumulates a few solid outings before rostering him, but nothing I see here can keep me from recommending Baker as a solid Dollar Days' sleeper in standard leagues.
Any opening in the Padres' rotation should result in a regular starting slot for Germano, who easily ranks as San Diego's most prepared pitching prospect following the trade of Dennis Tankersley to Kansas City. Germano owns excellent control, and his solid ground-fly rate limits his downside, especially when pitching in Petco. Only a questionable strikeout rate concerns me at all, but I still expect him to emerge as a quality big league starter some time in 2005. I see little reason to not target Germano in most deeper leagues.
San Diego foolishly promoted Guzman into the middle of a pennant race, and while I supported the move at the time, Guzman's negligible power left him nothing on which to fall back when he couldn't manage a decent batting average. Yes, his 3.53 #P/PA and 3.17 G-F are decent marks for someone with Guzman's skill set. Unfortunately, he simply must hold an average above .270 to possess much value to the Padres. Hopefully the trade of Terrence Long at least will allow Guzman to win a bench job with a strong spring, and he could supplant Jay Payton in center field rather quickly if he continues developing. I still consider Guzman to rank as the best potential fantasy value among likely NL rookies in 2005 due to his tremendous SB upside, so keep him on your short list for both outfield depth and minor league drafts.
Knott needs both a trade of Ryan Klesko or Phil Nevin and struggles by Xavier Nady to earn regular playing time. Of course, if he overcomes those obstacles on the depth chart, Knott quickly could emerge as an offensive asset. He owns good plate discipline and obvious power potential, however even though his upside intrigues me, don't consider Knott for your team as anything more than a late-round gamble unless he breaks camp in the majors.
While Stauffer enters camp as roughly seventh starter on the Padres' depth chart, the fourth overall pick from 2003 should earn a regular rotation slot by September. He shot to the highest level of the minors in his first professional season while demonstrating excellent control. Yes, Stauffer's high homer rate at Portland concerns me, especially since he didn't post an impressive strikeout rate above A-ball, but thanks to the benefits of playing home games in Petco, I see little downside in targeting him in most leagues. Expect Stauffer to emerge as no less than a Brian Lawrence clone over the next few years.
Barfield's production collapsed at Mobile following his .337/.389/.530 performance at A+ Lake Elsinore(Cal) in 2003. While he maintained a decent power stroke, his batting average and speed skills tumbled, suggesting he needs at least two more years of development time. Of course, Barfield now simply should reach the majors as Mark Loretta's contract ends, so as long as the Padres remain patient, expect Barfield to emerge as an impressive infield power prospect, although drafting him in standard leagues certainly qualifies as a risk after his downturn this year.
In one of the most staggeringly stupid events of the year, Bozied busted his left patellar tendon while stomping on home plate after smacking a game-winning grand slam in July. He missed the rest of the season and now probably ranks behind Jon Knott in line for a big league corner spot. While the Padres at least purchased Bozied's contract, I see little reason to invest here given his unknown upside and an emerging pattern of questionable behavior; Bozied also pursued a taunting fan in the stands last year, so he qualifies as an obvious risk for fantasy owners.
San Diego again opted not to add Gautreau to their 40-man roster, but after demonstrating decent power at Mobile and Portland, he should head elsewhere in tomorrow's Rule 5 draft. He owns a good walk rate despite contact problems, and his ability to cover second and third base offers welcome position flexibility for the dozen teams needing a good, young utility infielder. Assuming he finds a big league job, strongly consider Gautreau during Dollar Days if he fits your roster.
The 2002 12th round pick posted nearly across-the-board improvement after a promotion from the Midwest League. His .353/.400/.647 performance in 102 AFL at-bats earned McAnulty a mostly unexpected 40-man slot, and while he faces significant competition for playing time on the Padres, only contact problems should prevent him from flourishing at AA in 2005. Although drafting him now is a mistake, monitor his progress given the power potential suggested by his 36 doubles and nearly two dozen homers.
Oxspring emerged as a national hero in Australia by leading the Aussie Olympic team to their first silver medal in baseball. Compiling a 4.08 ERA on a 19:8 K:BB in 28.2 IP with 30 H and 4 HR in 7 AFL stats further increases his prospect profile. My main concern here is that Oxspring hasn't held an acceptable walk rate since leaving A-ball, so I suspect a move back to the bullpen would expedite his path to the majors. Given the competition he faces at the top levels of the Padres' system, I similarly see no reason to invest in Oxspring until he begins posting quality big league outings
Tommy John surgery in August of 2003 cost him most of this season, but he remains on the 40-man roster and still should develop into a top short reliever. The Padres' need for a dominant lefty in their bullpen could result in Tucker again ascending the minor league ladder very quickly, however considering he suffered from control problems before his injury, he likely needs at least another year of seasoning. While you shouldn't gamble on him until he registers a few solid appearances in San Diego, feel free to roster Tucker towards the end of the year as a potential keeper since he soon could challenge Akinori Otsuka as Trevor Hoffman' heir.
Mike Bumstead, 27, RH Reliever
Bumstead posted his best numbers since A-ball at Portland, however continued inconsistency could keep him in the minors indefinitely. He also rarely demonstrates decent control, so I see little reason even to consider him decent roster filler at this moment.
After self-destructing upon his return to Portland following a respectable .311/.349/.388 performance there in 2003, Castro should head elsewhere as a minor league free agent. He owns decent power, significant latent speed skills, and acceptable plate discipline, but unless he holds both a high batting average and a solid walk rate, Castro won't merit more than a bench job. Don't roster him until he secures regular work as a big league reserve.
Deago couldn't even hold a job with Portland after making a couple of spot starts in San Diego a year ago. The Padres also didn't object to a mid-season loan to the Mexican League, so despite his relative effectiveness at Mobile over the last two seasons, Deago appears unlikely to contribute in the majors any time soon, rendering him useless to fantasy teams.
San Diego wisely purchased Furmaniak's contract this fall, rewarding him for a solid performance at Portland despite two unimpressive stints at Mobile. Of course, he also committed 29 errors in 131 games and won't start for the Padres over Khalil Greene, but Furmaniak should receive a good chance to win a big league roster spot as a reserve infielder in the spring, especially if San Diego deals Ramon Vazquez. While targeting Furmaniak looks like a mistake, he probably won't hurt you if needed as short-term MIF roster filler.
Haad headed to San Francisco as a minor league free agent despite possessing a clearer path to the majors with the Padres. Of course, he also owns little plate discipline, which prevents him from producing consistently. I don't expect him to emerge as a respectable big league catching option without at least another couple years of seasoning.
Acquired from the Giants in 2003 as the primary return for Matt Herges, Hensley only experienced mild deterioration of his strikeout, hit, and homer rates in his first look above A-ball. The 2002 eighth round pick remained quite effective, so although he lacks the upside of many of his Beavers' teammates, Hensley still should develop into a quality big league pitcher even if his currently uncertain future role keeps me from recommending him right now.
The former Cardinals' prospect exceeded his homer total from the previous two seasons in his second full AA campaign. Johnson then built upon this progress by posting a .325/.400/.561 performance in 123 AFL at-bats, which kept on him on the Padres' 40-man roster despite several superior outfield prospects. Although I don't expect him to reach the majors in the near future barring an unexpected contact rate jump, Johnson should develop into a solid reserve option by the end of the decade.
San Diego re-signed the minor league free agent following a surprisingly effect AAA season. McLeary demonstrated some of the best skills of his career in stabilizing the Beavers' bullpen, and a good camp could result in another chance with the Padres. Of course, his high walk rate also makes him a definite WHIP risk, so McLeary probably doesn't merit much fantasy consideration in spring drafts.
Possessing great power and plate patience doesn't mean much for hitting prospects with a .69 contact rate. Sain appears at least a couple years from reaching the majors, so despite his mildly intriguing upside, I see no reason to consider him on any fantasy team right now.
Acquired from San Francisco last year in the Matt Herges deal, Spiehs managed nearly across-the-board improvement in his return to AA. Unfortunately, a 2.29 ERA on a 13:6 K:BB with 22 H and 2 HR over 19.2 IP over 17 AFL appearances didn't earn him a 40-man roster spot, so he now looks like a good target for several teams in tomorrow's Rule 5 draft. Regardless of where Spiehs opens the season, wait until he registers several strong outings before considering him for your team.
While I like Sweeney a lot and believe he could reach double-digit value if given the necessary opportunity, San Diego's moves this winter probably leave him as no more than bullpen filler barring a severe rash of injuries. I simply can't recommend targeting Sweeney despite his intriguing qualitative upside until he demonstrates the ability to remain in the majors past a couple of bad outings.
Spending half his time in the bullpen resulted in Thompson barely maintaining his passable A-ball skills. His relative lack of dominance also should keep him from developing into an effective big league starter, so hopefully remaining a reliever will speed his path to the majors. Like almost any pitcher without impressive starting credentials below AAA, Thompson doesn't deserve consideration in spring drafts.
Two strong months at both Mobile and Portland resulted in an extended audition with the Padres. While Watkins posted a poor ERA, he maintained good control and appears nearly ready to earn regular work in the majors. However, unless Watkins unexpectedly wins a big league roster spot after an excellent spring following his signing with Cleveland, he won't belong on any spring draft lists.
Another quietly effective season should result in a promotion to AAA Portland in 2005. While Whitaker won't develop into an ace due to his unimpressive dominance, consistent control and an abundance of groundballs definitely limit his downside. Drafting him now looks like a mistake given his competition in the upper levels of the system, but Whitaker will merit consideration in most leagues as soon he reaches the majors.
Although promotions and curtailed development leave the Padres with surprisingly few decent position prospects even considering the addition of Matt Bush with the first overall pick this year, San Diego possesses an impressive array of upper-level young pitchers. Germano and Stauffer in particular soon should join Jake Peavy, Brian Lawrence, and Adam Eaton in San Diego's rotation. The Padres likely will try to keep a lefty in their rotation at all times, which should result in eventually dealing Lawrence or Eaton, yet thanks to the benefits of playing half their games in pitcher-friendly Petco, San Diego should develop a couple of quality big league pitchers every year. Of course, Freddy Guzman easily ranks atop the team's prospects for fantasy baseball since he possesses the skills to develop into a Juan Pierre clone, but exercise some caution since the Padres don't appear firmly committed to installing him in center field within the next couple of years.
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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