Your Daily Fantasy Rx
by Tim Polko
Declining patience really limits the immediate upside of Jones, who played terribly in the majors and probably needs a consolidation season at Tacoma. Given his age and development to date, more minor league experience only should help Jones, who desperately needs to improve his plate discipline or risk continuing to fail at the plate in the majors. Of course, any additional struggles by Jeremy Reed will push Jones back to the majors, and he could post a 20-20 season as soon as 2008. Jones remains an intriguing prospect, the best fantasy target in the Mariners' system, and a good choice anytime after the opening round in any minor league draft.
Rarely discussed among Mariners' prospects, LaHair just could win a starting job if Seattle deals Richie Sexson and he impresses during spring training. Most likely he'll return for a second tour at Tacoma, where any further improvement will elevate LaHair among the top AAAA hitters in the minors. Consecutive breakout seasons also could give him surprising value in trade talks, so if you see him receive a chance with some club in the spring, LaHair's performance should please anyone that gambles a couple of bucks on him.
Not only didn't Feierabend just turn 21 in August, but he progressed from the California League to Double-A San Antonio without suffering any skill decline. He even drastically improved his hit rate, securing his status as perhaps the safest Mariners' pitching prospect. While he certainly could benefit from a few months at Tacoma, I suspect Feierabend could pitch 180 IP for the Mariners with an ERA under 5.00, a surprisingly realistic goal given his youth and lack of dominance. Definitely consider an endgame selection of Feierabend if he opens 2007 I the majors.
While Bohn owns more power than many comparable players, his diminished stolen base total this summer combines with his persistently mediocre walk rate to render him no more than a sixth outfielder. Perhaps he could contribute if ever promoted to a stable bench role, but if the vastly superior Jamal Strong couldn't find playing time with the Mariners, Bohn seems like a poor bet for success. Don't bother rostering him until he changes organizations and starts showing more usable speed.
While Balentien's average plummeted this year, a dramatic doubling of his walk rate allowed him to maintain a respectable OBP. He also produced decent power numbers considering his persistent contact problems. I suspect he needs at least another year or two of seasoning and may never earn regular playing time in the majors, however his improved plate discipline at San Antonio absolutely intrigues me. Keep an eye on his development in 2007, and if his OPS climbs over .800 without affecting his walk rate, his value could skyrocket for a club seeking another right-handed power bat.
Despite a couple of minor knee surgeries in May that cost Clement six weeks of action, he barely spent a fortnight in the Texas League before reaching Triple-A in only his first full professional season. That quick promotion appears a terrible error given his obvious struggles at Tacoma, a problem further compounded by Kenji Johjima's emergence in the majors. Now perhaps the club will deal Johjima for pitching at the deadline if Clement rebounds in his second tour of the PCL, however Clement's defensive inconsistency also might push him to a 1B/DH role. Clement also could find himself included in a deal, a potential waste of the $3.4M bonus the Mariners paid him as the third player selected in 2005. While his bat obviously appears on track for a big league starting job by 2008, Clement simply doesn't possess much fantasy value due to the obstacle presented by Johjima. Don't release Clement if you already own him, but also feel free to deal him for a good offer and certainly don't select him in the spring if no one rostered him last season.
Chen enjoyed his best season to date in his first action above the Midwest League. The Taiwanese veteran of international competition demonstrated solid defense, intriguing speed, and sufficient plate discipline to maintain a BA around .300. He should move to Triple-A in 2007 and then likely join the Mariners as a backup infielder the following year, making him no more than a decent end-round draft pick in extremely deep leagues.
Previously renowned as one of the biggest overdrafts in history, the 36th player selected in 2001 finally emerged as a true prospect, hitting over .300 at both of Seattle's upper-level affiliates and kicking his averages to .342/.388/.430 in the AFL. Of course, Garciaparra also failed to reach 350 AB for the third consecutive summer as knee surgery sidelined him for much of the spring. However, despite possessing his older brother's fragility, Michael also reached Triple-A at the same age as Nomar. He may lack his brother's power, but I see plenty of upside here, especially if the Mariners deal Adrian Beltre and shift Jose Lopez to third base. While spending a draft pick on Garciaparra appears unnecessarily risky, I see no reason not to FAAB him if he follows Seattle's normal custom of recalling top prospects prior to September.
Surprisingly shifted back to the rotation this year despite previous command problems as a starter, Jimenez watched both his strikeout rate and command plummet yet still snagged a September call-up. He'll spend the spring competing for any role on the Mariners, however I just don't see him as a successful starter and doubt he'll earn much fantasy value in middle relief.
Campillo returned to the majors a little over a year after undergoing Tommy John surgery, an impressive accomplishment given his limited minor league track record. Realistically, he enters spring training at the back of the Mariners' pack of starting options, though his extended Mexican League experience makes him a safer gamble than many. Feel free to toss a buck at him in the closing rounds if he breaks camp in the majors.
With some of the best power in the system, promising defense, and sufficient patience to compensate for significant contact problems, Wilson should adjust to the upper minors within the next year or two. However, unless he can reduce his strikeouts, his unimpressive batting average will negate many of his other pluses. He isn't someone to roster in fantasy leagues before improved performance pushes him to the doorstep of the majors.
Once again Chick combusted after a mid-season trade, this time watching his command disappear after the Mariners acquired him from the Reds for Eddie Guardado. Chick still ranks as a solid prospects but appears headed to the bullpen in the near future due to his continually elevated walk rate. Look for him to emerge as J.J. Putz's primary set-up man by 2008, especially if Seattle deals Rafael Soriano by the 2007 trade deadline.
Shifted from the San Antonio rotation directly to the Missions' closer role, Huber flourished in relief, improving his strikeout, walk, and homer rates. He pitched even better for Tacoma before allowing only two earned runs in sixteen appearances in Seattle. Huber enters camp at the front of a pack of perhaps a dozen pitchers fighting for only three open bullpen spots, but if he spends the year on the Mariners as expected, he'll rank as a regular target for anyone seeking low-risk roster filler throughout the summer.
The 2005 Clemson product quickly reached Double-A, performing adequately albeit not spectacularly at any of his three minor league stops to date. Rohrbaugh's lack of dominance might force him to the bullpen at some point, but given his success in the rotation, the Mariners should see how he handles a full season as a starter in the upper minors. Don't be surprised if Rohrbaugh appears on your waiver wire during the year.
Blackley nicely rebounded from a 2005 season lost to labrum surgery. He still faces a long slog back to his previous level of dominance, but as a hard-throwing southpaw, he at least should develop into a solid reliever. I consider Blackley someone who will merit plenty of fantasy consideration as soon he begins succeeding in the majors, particularly if he soon joins the Mariners' rotation.
Released by the Mariners in January and quickly re-signed to a minor league deal, Atchison surprisingly didn't earn a shot in Seattle in September. Yet he remained very effective in his first full year back from arm problems and should attract plenty of interest as a minor league free agent. Atchison certainly possesses the skills necessary to emerge as an extremely useful middle reliever for several seasons if given the necessary opportunity.
Spending a second season at Double-A didn't produce noticeably improved results for Bazardo, who just doesn't demonstrated the desired dominance in his current role. His all-around respectable skills suggest a move to the bullpen will improve his standing with the organization. Although he just might challenge for a rotation slot in spring training, he appears most likely to spend the year on the Tacoma-Seattle bus, recalled whenever the Mariners need another long reliever.
Great speed and decent plate discipline won't mean much for Boucher if he can't boost his BA. This summer his average dropped nearly a hundred points from the .340 he posted during his 2005 debut between the Mariners' two full-season A-ball affiliates. Like all minor league speedsters, Boucher's fantasy upside intrigues me, but with Tyneresque power and contact problems, he likely will follow similar Seattle prospects of the recent past, peaking at AAA Tacoma before departing the organization.
Limited power and speed effectively cancel the minimal upside suggested by his decent patience. Brown wouldn't hurt anyone as bench filler, but he also offers no real fantasy potential in any format.
A couple of shockingly good months at Tacoma still didn't allow Castro to improve his poor plate discipline. With the Mariners' respectable depth of upper-level middle infield talent, he should find work elsewhere as a minor league free agent.
Outrighted off the 40-man roster two weeks ago, Cortez's recent performances don't compare favorably to most of his competitors for playing time in the big league bullpen. Growing control problems, coupled with a troublesome flyball rate, leave him little margin for error, so I suspect he'll spend the next couple of years as no more than decent AAAA injury filler.
Staying healthy allowed Dorman to post some of the best stats of his career, pitching effectively regardless of his role. His creeping walk rate portends a future in the bullpen, though given the Mariners' multitude of similar options, Dorman should seek an NRI somewhere like Kansas City or Washington as a minor league free agent. Returning to Seattle clearly won't expedite a move to the majors after his failure to earn a promotion this summer.
With a career ERA of 2.28 and a respectable strikeout rate, James only needs to reverse his rising walk rate to shoot to Seattle. Continued success in the AFL despite additional control problems suggest he just might remain effective with his current skill set, but he won't merit any fantasy consideration unless his overall WHIP returns to his impressive A-ball levels.
Bizarrely pushed from A-ball to Triple-A to accommodate Jeff Clement in Double-A, who then leapt to Tacoma after barely unpacking at San Antonio, Johnson spent the second half sharing catching duties with Clement, leaving the Mariners in the highly unusual situation of playing two of their best position prospects at the same position on the same team. Neither catcher flourished in that environment, so hopefully now Johnson will return to Double-A to receive the unquestioned starting job he merited this summer. For now he doesn't rank as more than an afterthought when considering the Mariners' system due to the presence of Clement, Kenji Johjima, and Rene Rivera ahead of him on the depth chart.
Posting his worst strikeout rate as a professional suggests a rather limited ceiling for Livingston, especially considering that a rising hit rate completely neutralizes the value of his excellent control. His best route to the majors looks like angling for a spot in middle relief, though I don't know what role will allow him to post more than minimal fantasy value. Wait until Livingston begins succeeding in the majors before rostering him anywhere.
A fifth round pick in 2004, Lowe posted a perfectly pedestrian 5.47 ERA on a 72:49 K:BB in 104 IP over 22 GS for A Wisconsin(Mid) in his first full professional season in 2005. This year he moved to the bullpen and emerged as one of the brightest stars in the system, shooting to the majors after dominating both California and Texas League batters. He even managed more than seventeen consecutive scoreless innings in the majors before allowing his first run, and true to form for most recent Mariners' pitchers, he landed on the DL only a couple days later. Originally diagnosed with elbow tendonitis, he underwent arthroscopic surgery at season's end, wherein doctors discovered a lack of elbow cartilage that leaves his immediate future very much in doubt. Fantasy owners need to wait until Lowe reemerges as a successful big league reliever before rostering him anywhere.
Drafted fifth overall in June out of Cal, Morrow shot up draft boards purely on the basis of his fourteen starts this spring. He owned a 7.57 ERA in 54.2 IP prior to this season while seeing more time in relief than as a starter. Morrow also only managed a 97:39 K:BB in 96.2 IP in 2006, and if he couldn't avoid walking batters in college, I don't expect him to remain a starter as a professional. The bigger problem here is that Seattle skipped Andrew Miller and then dealt Shin-soo Choo for Ben Broussard only a month after the draft. Choo unsurprisingly outhit Broussard by 135 points of OPS while the difference in salary between the two players approximately equals the difference in bonuses received by Morrow and Miller, who went to Detroit one pick later, reached the majors in August, and nearly pitched in the World Series. The Mariners effectively wasted well over two million dollars on a future right-handed reliever, so don't compound their error by wasting one of your minor league picks on Morrow.
Excellent defense earned Navarro first a mid-season promotion to Triple-A and then an unexpected September cup-of-coffee. Of course, he possesses practically no power and little speed, rendering him effectively useless to fantasy teams. Don't expect Navarro to manage more than a buck or two of positive value at any point.
Despite a stunningly atrocious 88:688 BB:K in 2119 AB, Nelson excelled in his first AAA campaign and now ranks as viable injury filler for Seattle. As you may expect, he absolutely does not belong on any fantasy roster since Nelson's minimal power potential doesn't offset his severe BA downside in any way. Do not draft him and do not target him during the year at any point.
Nothing in O'Flaherty's previous performance presaged this level of success. The 2003 sixth round pick catapulted from A-ball to the majors in only a couple of months, yet he somehow remained effective in the majors. Now stuck on the 40-man roster a year earlier than necessary, he'll receive a long look in spring training as Seattle searches for a second southpaw to join Sherrill in the pen. If O'Flaherty wins the job, he could emerge as viable roster filler by mid-season if his command improves.
Still rated a solid catching prospect headed into 2006, Quiroz departed Toronto for Seattle on waivers at the end of camp, then lost his 40-man spot after only two weeks of the regular season. Further injury problems ruined yet another season, casting Quiroz into minor league free agency this fall despite one solid month at Tacoma. He won't possess any fantasy value until he wins a spot on a big league bench and shows some power without posting a terrible batting average.
7:05: Detroit@St. Louis
With a problematic forecast now clouding the rest of the Series, both teams desperately need a win tonight if conditions allow the game. The Cardinals' momentum appears a little waterlogged, but unless Jeremy Bonderman absolutely dominates, an unlikely occurrence given the Tigers' surprising lack of faith in him during the playoffs thus far, St. Louis should eke out a narrow win to take firm control of the Series.
Quality Mariners' prospects like Kenji Johjima, Chris Snelling, Emiliano Fruto, and Rene Rivera all lost their rookie status this summer while the club foolishly dealt Shin-soo Choo and Asdrubal Cabrera in respective trades for Ben Broussard and Eduardo Perez. Dispatching ten-year Seattle veteran Jamie Moyer to Philadelphia only produced a couple of A-ball pitchers in return, and adding Travis Chick from Cincinnati for Eddie Guardado doesn't balance the offensive talent sent to Cleveland. Even more worrisome is the fact that Seattle rushed Jeff Clement to Triple-A and then didn't draft an obvious star with the fifth pick in June by selecting right-hander Brandon Morrow, who might head to the bullpen and possesses far less upside than later first round picks Andrew Miller, Clay Kershaw, and Tim Lincecum, as well as several similarly impressive batters. At least I still see over a dozen interesting upper-level pitchers who each could emerge as useful fantasy options, led by sleeper prospect Ryan Feierabend. Adam Jones soon should assume a starting role in Seattle, and Michael Garciaparra's progress gives the club another infield option. While investing in most of these players is a bad idea until they gain the Mariners' trust in the majors, gambling a buck or two on Feierabend or Jones could pay welcome dividends.
Current ranking of potentially helpful fantasy depth for teams discussed thus far in 2006, based on both the quality and quantity of players ready to contribute in the majors, as well as consideration of the trade value of low-level minor leaguers from each system:
1. Kansas City Royals(A.Gordon, B.Butler, Ju.Huber, Lubanski)
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