Your Daily Fantasy Rx
by Tim Polko
1. Henry Owens, 27, RH Reliever
Acquired from the Mets last month with Matt Lindstrom for Jason Vargas and Adam Bostick, Owens pitched through a minor UCL last spring to emerge as one of the minors' most promising relievers. Given his complete dominance of the Eastern League and a mild flyball tendency that could cause problems at AAA Albuquerque, Owens' 2006 performance virtually demands that he spend next summer with the Marlins. He offers as much upside as any reliever on the roster, and if given the shot, should emerge as a capable closer. Assuming he doesn't self-destruct in camp, Owens merits a couple bucks in any standard league from owners looking to spend a small excess of cap room in the endgame on a pitcher with significant fantasy upside.
Perhaps Stokes will emerge as Wes Helms' replacement as the right-handed platoon partner for Mike Jacobs. His .93 G-F continues to offer intriguing power potential, and Stokes now owns the plate discipline necessary to take advantage of his longball ability. Yet he just can't stay healthy, this summer suffering a back injury that caused him problems for most of the summer. The good news is Stokes remains fairly young and still should develop into a quality major leaguer, but even a sizzling spring only warrants Dollar Days' bids or perhaps a mid-round reserve pick due his inconsistent offensive output since reaching the upper minors.
Seemingly slotted for Greensboro before the season, Garcia instead opened at Jupiter, where he dominated the Florida State League, and then remained one of the top arms in the circuit following a promotion to Double-A. Finishing the year with Florida, Garcia now ranks as the most promising upper-level rookie pitcher in the system and should break camp in the big league bullpen with a good camp. With MLE skill rates of a 6.6 K/9, 4.0 BB/9, 1.2 HR/9, and 10.0 H/9 as a starter, Garcia should blossom in a limited role next summer. If he starts the year strong, consider FAABing him in late spring as a potential closer for the Marlins in 2008
While the current centerfield options of Cody Ross, Joe Borchard, and Reggie Abercrombie aren't long-term solutions for the franchise, Reed similarly appears unable to seize the job since he lacks power, plate discipline, and game-changing speed. With Hanley Ramirez installed atop the lineup, the club already needs another masher low in the lineup more than another speedster. Although I like Reed more than Abercrombie, he appears unlikely to emerge even as a regular member of the Marlins' bench, rendering him relatively useless to fantasy teams unless he somehow leverages an excellent camp into a pinch-running job.
The Aussie southpaw enjoyed another impressive season in his first campaign above A-ball, demonstrating solid all-around skills with only an elevated homer rate of particular concern. Hopefully the club will give him a long look in spring training since while the Marlins appear loaded with potential starters, Mildren offers intriguing upside as a left-handed middle or long reliever. He easily could emerge as reliable roster filler if given the opportunity.
Superlative defensive skills aren't sufficient reason for Andino to join the big league bench, especially when he lacks baserunning skills, power, and can't manage even a .700 OPS in the hitters' haven that the Topes call home. Only a possibility for teams absolutely desperate for steals, Andino hopefully will remain in the minors for another summer in the hope that he develops some plate discipline to offset his otherwise meager offensive upside.
Netted from the Mets in the Paul Lo Duca swap, Hernandez's second tour of the Florida State League resulted in far superior results than his ten starts in 2005. He demonstrated solid all-around skills though didn't post overly impressive marks in any particular facet of the game. Yet he'll progress to Double-A in the spring, and if he at least echoes this performance, Hernandez will join the Marlins by September as the club appears vigorously opposed to promoting starters from the remarkably pitcher-unfriendly Triple-A squad at Albuquerque.
Capable shortstop with decent power potential, good plate discipline, and a reliable left-handed stroke aren't prevalent at any level. Continued production from Randel at AAA Albuquerque could lead to an extended career as a big league reserve, and if promoted next summer, he could provide a few bucks of unexpected value for a gambling owner.
Selected from Washington in the minor league phase of Thursday's Rule 5 draft, the former sixth round pick looks like another version of Robert Andino, possessing less defensive chops but at least capable of managing marginally acceptable production in the majors. He also should take advantage of home games in Albuquerque to post the best averages of his career. Don't be surprised to see Labandeira spend much of 2007 in the majors as a second utility infielder.
One of the only decent hitting prospects in the system, the 2005 fourth rounder and former Hurricane simply crushed Sally league pitching for two months while admittedly facing competition generally two-to-three years younger than himself. Sanchez then broke his hand in early June, didn't impress at all upon returning to the Florida State League, and then ended his summer by breaking a toe on his left foot in mid-August. The only particularly good news here is that Sanchez registered a respectable .279/.379/.396 performance with a 19:15 BB:K in 111 AFL at-bats, indicating he should develop into no less than a capable utilityman capable of playing first, third, or even catching. However, nothing here suggests he should develop into an effective starter, leaving him surprisingly minimal fantasy value and giving you little reason to roster him in any league sooner than 2008.
Acquired from the Mets last month with Henry Owens for Jason Vargas and Adam Bostick, Lindstrom only moved to the bullpen in mid-2005 after flopping at Double-A following a successful career in the lower minors. He thankfully rediscovered his command this summer, also demonstrating an impressive groundball rate and flashes of dominance. A good spring easily could result in Lindstrom opening the year in Florida, though I suspect spending another year in the minors, even playing at AAA Albuquerque, won't adversely affect his development.
Another unheralded Marlins' pitcher capable of contributing in the majors, the 2001 eighth rounder noticeably improved during his second tour at Albuquerque. He looks like a solid fit as a long reliever for the Fish, though given the club's willingness to promote high-upside youngsters, Fulchino appears slotted behind Sergio Mitre, Yusmeiro Petit, Renyel Pinto, and several other pitchers. Only a great camp will result in Fulchino seeing more than a brief look in the majors next summer.
A great camp enabled Martinez to jump from the Florida State League to the majors after only three innings in the upper minors. He looked great in April and appeared on the verge of moving into a significant late-inning role before elbow problems sidelined him after just two weeks. He returned from the DL in June, this time lasting just three weeks before further elbow discomfort sent him back to the trainer's room, where doctors eventually determined that he needed Tommy John surgery, performed at the beginning of July. Now Martinez might return as soon as spring training, but don't expect him to reemerge as a potential closer, especially with alternatives like Henry Owens and Jose Garcia available to Fredi Gonzalez. Only owners already rebuilding by mid-season should consider FAABing Martinez in 2007, targeting him as a high-risk, high-upside gamble for 2008 .
Drafted sixteenth overall in 2005 at the forefront of a remarkably deep class of pitchers added by Florida, Volstad pitched effectively in each of the last two summers but hasn't dominated hitters. While he excelled in the second half this year and owns a great groundball rate, his mediocre strikeout rate doesn't suggest much potential at the moment. Of course, Volstad also spent the entire season as a teenager before turning twenty in September, so he has plenty of time to develop into more than a mid-rotation option. Right now he merely merits your occasional attention, not your draft pick in any league.
Another first round pick from 2005, Thompson merely will progress to High-A in 2007. He appears no less than three full years from the majors, a reasonable timetable for someone who won't turn twenty on February. Do not draft Thompson in 2007 unless he quickly dominates the Florida State League and remains effective after an unlikely mid-season promotion to Double-A.
In his fourth season with the Marlins since a 2002 spent in the Northern League, Ashby posted his best stats in ages, albeit in a very limited role. He shouldn't hurt if needed in the majors, but even if the minor league free agent re-ups as expected, he'll only join Florida as short-term injury filler.
Unexpected dominance from Barone in the Sally League led to a quick promotion to High-A, where he remained effective as a swingman despite a far lower strikeout rate. I strongly suspect he'll open 2007 as a Double-A reliever, which seems the best fit for him given the wave of starting pitching talent pushing up the minor league ladder. Barone will need another impressive campaign to remain in the Marlins' plans.
Acquired from Minnesota last winter with Scott Tyler for Luis Castillo, Bowyer missed the entire season with shoulder problems. Since he never underwent surgery, he remains at risk to miss another year of action unless rest somehow alleviates his ailments. Don't bother with Bowyer until he emerges as a reliable contributor in the majors.
Essentially acquired from Boston for Guillermo Mota when the Josh Beckett trade expanded, Garcia's improved dominance in High-A caused a return of his previous control problems. Of course, he also truly dominated right-handed batters with a 50:10 K:BB in 39.1 IP, and the Marlins have no need to rush him through the system. Hopefully they'll give him a full season at Double-A before considering him for the majors in 2008.
The minor league free agent compiled perfectly respectable MLE averages of .275/.334/.403 in 429 AB, numbers worthy of no less than an NRI in 2007 and quite possibly an extended look in the majors as a backup. Of course, the odds of Gonzalez receiving that opportunity appear quite low, but if you see him available at some point and need a MIF, he shouldn't hurt you and might steal a couple of bases.
Rotator cuff surgery cost Hutchinson all of 2005, and his slow return to form this summer makes him a bad fit for an organization far more concerned with younger pitchers with far more upside. Even a full-time move to the bullpen likely won't result in the development necessary to push Hutchinson to the majors with Florida.
The only collegian from the Marlins' quartet of first round pitchers selected in 2005, Marceaux spent the season looking effective but underwhelming in High-A while his fellow first rounders pitched together in the Sally League. While the Florida State League placement seemed appropriate for Marceaux, he appears unprepared for an inevitable promotion to Double-A and might slide into the bullpen a couple years ahead of schedule. He definitely doesn't merit much fantasy attention at this time.
Added to the organization in the sixth round of the 2003 draft, Mitchell enjoyed the best season of his young career after a couple of unimpressive summers in the Florida State League. While he appears highly unlikely to reach the majors for more than a cup-of-coffee, in a system this devoid of upper-level position players, Mitchell just might see a little action if injuries strike the big league club. Unfortunately, he won't merit much fantasy consideration under any circumstances due to his very limited upside.
Returning to the bullpen appears the wisest course of action for Russ, who isn't dominating as a starter and now appears set to face the unforgiving environment of AAA Albuquerque. Unless he somehow remains unexpectedly effective for the Topes, he appears highly unlikely to remains with the Marlins much longer in any capacity other than organization filler.
Ironically, the Missouri State product doesn't possess a true sinker, but his plus fastball still leads to plenty of groundballs. Selected nineteenth overall this June, Sinkbeil appears prepared to ascend the Marlins' minor league ladder alongside 2005 first rounders Chris Volstad, Aaron Thompson, Sean West, and Ryan Tucker. Of course, like his fellow top picks, Sinkbeil merits little fantasy attention until he impresses at Double-A due to the sheer number of quality pitchers available for Florida to recall when seeking a starter.
The least impressive member of a Grasshoppers' rotation that featured a quartet of 2005 first rounders, Tucker's control issues sabotaged his effectiveness in the first half. However, posted a 3.63 ERA on a 72:28 K:BB in 72 IP over 12 second-half starts, likely earning a promotion to High-A alongside Chris Volstad, Aaron Thompson, and Sean West. With less projectability than his teammates due to his shorter stature, Tucker won't belong on any fantasy team sooner than 2008 at the very earliest.
Traded to Florida last winter from Minnesota with Travis Bowyer for Luis Castillo, Tyler's conversion to the bullpen resulted in a shocking loss of control for the former second round pick. Hopefully a return to Carolina will enable him to fix this problem, but with an awful AFL campaign also creating doubts, Tyler's window to impress the Marlins appears increasingly narrow. He needs a solid rebound next summer to remain in Florida's plans.
The 6'8" southpaw, also a member of the Marlins' quartet of 2005 first rounders, dominated in the first half before a sudden flyball spike in July dragged his ERA from below 3.00 to nearly 4.00. Yet his unmistakable long-term potential means the Marlins won't rush his development, likely giving him a full-season next summer in the Florida State League, pitching together with his fellow 2006 Grasshoppers' starters. Perhaps in another year continued development from West will warrant fantasy consideration, but he doesn't belong on any roster for now given the minute likelihood of him seeing the majors before the fall of 2008.
The six-year Royals' veteran wisely headed to pitching-deficient Florida last winter and even pitched effectively at Albuquerque. He deserves a long look in camp somewhere next spring, though as a minor league free agent, he now needs a team with less young pitching than the reconstituted Marlins.
The groundball specialist simply lacks the dominance preferred by the Marlins when the club looks to promote young pitchers. Perhaps improved results at Albuquerque next summer will catch someone's attention, but right now Wolf appears a long way from any regular work in the majors.
A member of the Marlins' AAA squad since 2002, Wood recently re-signed for a fifth tour of Albuquerque. Florida rewarded him for his loyalty with a September promotion, giving Wood his first shot in the majors since 1998, and he took full advantage of the opportunity. With Wes Helms departed and no veteran free agent added to this point, the Marlins won't be disappointed if they just keep Wood as a right-handed reserve cornerman. He certainly could mash most left-handed pitching, so while I can't endorse him for fantasy owners at this time, Wood deserves a shot in the majors next summer.
Not to be confused with the Arizona outfielder or San Diego starter, this Chris Young just joined the Marlins in the minor league phase of the 2005 Rule 5 draft. He excelled at Double-A, demonstrating solid skills highlighted by a strong groundball rate. While I doubt a good spring will result in a big league berth, Young appears closer to contributing in the majors than most higher-upside pitchers currently stuck in the lower levels of the Florida system.
Somehow Yourkin pitched more effectively at Albuquerque than almost any of his teammates then further enhanced his profile with a respectable AFL campaign. He enters camp with a decent chance to sneak into the bullpen, however other than solid strikeout and walk rates, Yourkin lacks any defining skill to impress scouts. Don't expect him to accrue much positive fantasy value even if he spends half of 2007 with the Marlins.
No organization in recent memory graduated as much minor league talent as the 2006 Marlins. Hanley Ramirez won NL Rookie of the Year, Dan Uggla finished third, Josh Johnson fourth, and both Anibal Sanchez and Josh Willingham each received a single third place vote to tie for ninth. In addition to the club's top quintet of performers, Mike Jacobs, Scott Olsen, Ricky Nolasco, Taylor Tankersley, Logan Kensing, and Renyel Pinto emerged as solid big leaguers, and only injury prevented Jeremy Hermida from taking full advantage of his new starting job. Lesser-known prospects like Reggie Abercrombie, Chris Resop, and Cody Ross all received extended looks, and finally, Yusmeiro Petit, the Marlins' pitcher with the best minor league stats, floundered in the majors, no doubt due to pitching in an unfamiliar role out of the bullpen. Overall, nearly two dozen rookies played some or all of the season with Florida, and backed by veteran All-Stars Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis, also under 25, the club contended for much of the season in a tribute to the rebuilding effort conducted by GM Larry Beinfest. The post-season switch of NL Manager of the Year Joe Girardi for Fredi Gonzalez, a former coach on the Braves and Marlins, merely rectifies the only significant error from last winter by adding a far better mentor for all the sophomore Fish.
The ugly ramification of rushing so many youngsters to the majors is that Florida's upper-level minor remain bare. Yes, A-ball appears loaded with several high-upside pitchers selected near the top of the last two drafts, but few position players of note appear anywhere in the system. We also see no long-term solutions for catcher or centerfield anywhere in the system, so hopefully Beinfest will address one of those deficiencies this winter, most likely in a cross-state trade with Tampa, sending the Rays a couple of pitchers for Rocco Baldelli or B.J. Upton. Dealing Willis at this year's trade deadline for even more young talent also makes sense given his workload, though Cabrera's situation is far riskier. While he currently ranks among the best young batters in history and plays a premium position, the club's failure to finish a deal during the season, preferably along the lines of David Wright's long-term pact, now will cost Florida upward of $50M due to market inflation assuming Cabrera doesn't refuse to sign in the hopes of receiving a deal upward of $200/10 with some club needed a new face of the franchise, such as San Francisco. Thankfully for Beinfest, he can simply take Cabrera and Willis, if necessary, to arbitration for a couple more years before facing market realities. Practically everyone else on the 40-man roster won't even reach arbitration eligibility for two more seasons, insuring that we'll see a young club develop together for the first time in several years. The Marlins will recall rookies as necessary, as evidenced by the quick promotions of Sanchez and Tankersley this year, so we might see a couple more pitchers reach the majors in 2007. Otherwise, unless Jason Stokes suddenly emerges as an offensive force, the Marlins probably as little viable rookie talent for fantasy owners than almost any other franchise. Only the general pitching depth and the outside chance of someone like Carlos Martinez emerging as a closer keeps me from sending them to bottom of these rankings.
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. Arizona Diamondbacks(C.Young, M.Montero, Callaspo, C.Gonzalez, J.Upton)
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