Your Daily Fantasy Rx
by Tim Polko
San Francisco's Top 15 Fantasy Prospects for 2007
1. Fred Lewis, 26, OF-L
Finally promoted to San Francisco in September after five solid minor league campaigns, Lewis unsurprisingly maintained a high OBP despite limited playing time. His Triple-A performance would warrant an extended shot with almost any other club, however the Giants' signing of Dave Roberts thoroughly blocks Lewis by establishing Todd Linden as the club's fourth outfield and relegating Jason Ellison to the end of the big league bench. However, when the inevitable injuries strike Roberts and Barry Bonds, Lewis tops the list of likely replacements, so I see no reason he can't half of 2007 in the majors. Given his plate discipline and speed skills, Lewis ranks as an excellent late-round gamble, even possessing intriguing potential as possible trade bait if he you can grab him for a buck or two to complete your outfield.
Stolen with the tenth pick in a draft where he probably deserved the top slot, Lincecum may rank as the best long-term pitching prospect in the game. The University of Washington product won the 2006 Golden Spikes award as the nation's top college player, and with a motion carefully crafted with his father to maximize both his physical efficiency and effectiveness on the mound, scouts generally see less risk in Lincecum than almost any other comparable pitcher. His success in the Cal League appears right in line with his college work, giving the Giants no reason to keep him in the minors beyond the time necessary to delay his arbitration clock for the year. With no one blocking him from the #5 slot in San Francisco, expect Lincecum to emerge as a solid $5-10 value following his expected promotion in earlier summer, beginning a career that should place him next to Matt Cain and Barry Zito atop the Giants' rotation no later than 2009. Lincecum looks like a special pitcher, with a ceiling comparable to Roy Oswalt and a fantasy upside currently warranting the top pick in almost all reserve drafts, as well as bids to $10 if you can grab him in your auction.
Ray Durham's two-year extension keeps Frandsen on the bench for the next couple of years, a fair decision by the Giants given the youngster's relative lack of upside. He neither possesses much power nor speed, and given his general lack of patience, we can't even assume he'll post a decent BA. Frandsen also sustained a broken jaw in a minor league game in August, though played through the injury and only recovered over the winter. I see no reason he can't post $4-6 in 2007, but even if further health problems for Durham push Frandsen into the lineup, he shouldn't hit double-digit value sooner than 2008.
Though Misch returned to the Eastern League for a third time to begin the season, he remained as effective as ever, earning another shot at Fresno in the second half. He radically improved upon his 2005 performance in the PCL, demonstrating excellent control and remaining quite effective despite inconsistent dominance. While Misch certainly doesn't appear a favorite of the Giants, he remains on the 40-man roster and likely only needs an injury or two in the majors to receive his shot in San Francisco. If he echoes these stats in the spring, definitely consider FAABing him as soon as the Giants give him so much as a spot start.
Sadler seemed stuck at Double-A until last this summer when he received a shot first in Fresno and then in San Francisco for the last two weeks of the season. The LSU product certainly possesses the strikeout rate necessary to succeed in the majors, but his consistently elevated walk rate could keep him from claiming any significant role. However, he also dominated the AFL, compiling a 1.29 ERA on a 22:4 K:BB in 14 IP, and given the benefits of pitching in AT&T, Sadler could surprise if given the opportunity. Of course, I still recommend waiting until he actually claims regular work in the Giants' pen before rostering him anywhere.
While the 2003 second rounder excelled in the Cal League in 2005, Schierholtz's comparatively awful Double-A campaign didn't surprise me considering his unimpressive plate discipline. A 1.88 G-F also effectively dampened his formerly prodigious power potential as he similarly failed to convert his rising doubles totals into homers. With a poor Hawaiian Winter League campaign poking even more holes in his prospect status, Schierholtz needs a strong 2007 season even to remain on track to join the Giants' bench sometime this decade.
Perhaps the best inning-eater in the system, Begg impressed during his third consecutive tour of the Eastern League. With outstanding control and a solid groundball rate, he probably could transition to Triple-A without difficulty, but given the Giants' conservative handling of him to date, Begg appears unlikely to receive that opportunity without a change of scenery.
Drafted in the first round out of Kent State in June, Burriss immediately leapfrogged the admittedly unimpressive competition to seize the mantle as the Giants' shortstop-of-the-future. Although he obviously lacks power, his combination of baserunning acumen and plate discipline suggests he should climb the club's minor league ladder with ease. Don't be surprised if he reaches the majors as soon as 2008, particularly if San Francisco extends Omar Vizquel a year or two to provide a logical transition to their new leadoff man. Drafting Burriss in the spring probably qualifies as overly aggressive after watching Marcus Sanders' difficulties this summer, but he also possesses the roto potential to merit more fantasy attention right now than almost anyone else who played exclusively in short-season ball in 2006.
Drafted out of the University of San Francisco in the tenth round of the 2005 draft, Pereira simply excelled right until the Giants skipping from High-A to Triple-A, at which point his skill rates simply plummeted. Hopefully he'll receive a chance to reestablish himself at Double-A in 2007 before taking another shot at the PCL, though given his success to date, I suspect we'll see Pereira in San Francisco in some capacity by 2008.
A torn labrum sidelined Martinez-Esteve almost all summer, furthering previous concerns regarding his durability and increasing the need for him to move to an AL team. Of course, in addition to his limited defensive skills, he also hasn't posted decent numbers in any setting outside of the hitter-friendly California League. I haven't recommended Martinez-Esteve in past years due to the general belief that his defense may prevent him from claiming anything more than a pinch-hitting role in San Francisco, and after essentially missing the 2006 season, I see no reason to change that opinion.
Following two increasingly impressive tours of the Eastern league, Ortmeier badly regressed at Triple-A, even sliding back to Double-A even though he needs to prove nothing at that level. Both his power and speed significantly decreased, and given the severe competition for any available outfield job in San Francisco, Ortmeier couldn't afford this disaster. He really needs a change of scenery to reestablish his rapidly diminishing prospect credentials.
Drafted out of Vanderbilt in the thirty-fifth round in 2005, Richardson unsurprisingly excelled in both the Arizona Rookie and South Atlantic Leagues. The problem is that he remains quite old for both those circuits, so although his speed and plate discipline skills suggest he should spend time on a big league bench at some point, he easily could stall at any higher level of the system. Don't consider Richardson in any fantasy league until you see some indication that the Giants view him as more than a decent organization filler.
Drafted in the fourth round out of Pittsburgh in 2005 to add even more outfielders at one of the deepest positions on any club's depth chart, Copeland demonstrated intriguing plate discipline and speed skills in his first full season as a professional. However, between his general lack of power, poor 59% SB success rate, and the fact that he entered the year a couple years older than most of his leaguemates, Copeland doesn't really look like a particularly good prospect. Yes, he probably will excel in the Cal League in 2007, but nothing here suggests he belongs on any fantasy roster, especially when we consider the number of comparable outfield prospects already situated higher in the system.
Shoulder problems simply destroyed Sanders' seasons, dropping him from the top ranks of Giants' prospects due to his combination of speed, plate discipline, and defense to fantasy worthlessness given his halted development. The addition of Emmanuel Burriss to the system also increased the competition for middle infield slots in San Francisco. While I still see plenty of roto upside here, Sanders simply doesn't belong on any keeper lists headed into 2007 and will need a strong performance at High-A to merit much draft consideration the following spring.
Generally considered the top power prospect in the system since the Giants gave the 2002 twenty-first round pick nearly a million bucks to forego college, Ishikawa only spent three brief stints in the majors due to his place on the club's 40-man roster. He otherwise didn't even impress at Double-A and now appears a long way from a starting job in San Francisco. Ishikawa really needs to rebound in 2007 or else risks falling out of the club's plans altogether.
Brian Anderson, 23, RH Reliever
The 2005 fourteenth round pick from Long Beach State continues to dominate the low minors, now owning a 56 saves and a career ERA of 1.90 after only a season-and-a-half as a professional. While I don't expect him to develop into more than a competent middle reliever, Anderson's performance to date suggests plenty of upside if the Giants manage to focus on performance rather than tools in his case.
After slowly making his way through the lower minors as a thirty-second round selection from 2002, Bateman excelled as San Jose's closer last year before nicely acquitting himself at Double-A this summer. Although he certainly won't see many save opps. in the majors, his success to date should provide him with a chance in San Francisco fairly soon if he can echo these stats in the Pacific Coast League.
Selected in the third round of the 2004 draft, Bowker unfortunately repeated San Jose this summer, again only posting mediocre stats at the plate despite playing in a pretty sweet hitters' league. With a multitude of superior outfield options higher in the system, he desperately needs a great 2007 to stay in the Giants' plans.
A fifth round pick in 2004, Broshius at least managed to echo his Cal League performance from 2005, but his general lack of dominance gives him little chance to continue pushing toward the majors next summer. He may linger in the upper minors indefinitely unless he improves against left-handers or at least shifts to the bullpen.
The Giants' 2004 third round pick performed much better in his second tour of the Eastern League, but he still seems unlikely to rise above the upper minors. He joins fellow Defenders' alum Jesse Floyd as a Twins' minor league Rule 5 pick, hopefully gaining a slightly clearer path to the majors if he at least can boost his batting average next summer.
Repeatedly stymied by Giants' management in his quest to reach the majors despite impressive numbers in the upper minors, Cervenek headed to Korea for forty games with the Kia Tigers before returning to San Francisco in the summer. While he failed to echo his 2005 stats, Cervenak earned an NRI with Baltimore and hopefully will receive a long look from the Orioles in the spring.
Selected by the Twins with their first pick in the minor league phase of this year's Rule 5 draft, Floyd adds even more depth to an organization already possessing many respectable upper-level arms. Floyd certainly isn't a particularly strong prospect, but with a career 422:158 K:BB in 480 IP, he certainly possesses sufficient promise to warrant this gamble by Minnesota. Continued development could put him in the Metrodome sooner than expected, though Rick Anderson will need to work his magic for Floyd to emerge as more than roster filler for the Twins or fantasy teams.
Basically just a solid organization man, Garcia's unimpressive command in the upper minors gives him little chance to reach the majors as a starter. However, given his past success as a reliever and his still-respectable strikeout rates, he could emerge as decent roster filler if returned to the bullpen.
A Rotohelp favorite for years, Giese still hasn't sniffed the majors despite compiling fairly impressive stats in the upper minors throughout this entire decade. Philadelphia basically let him rot at Scranton for the past four years, though thanks to minor league free agency, he'll receive a chance to advance with San Francisco. Consider him a perfectly decent option as roster filler as soon as he begins succeeding in a big league bullpen.
Owning a .348 career BA and .412 OBP in 738 at-bats prior to this year, Horwitz still saw his average drop a little upon his move to High-A. He really possesses little power or speed, though thanks to very strong plate discipline, he looks like one of the rare hitters who might reach the majors based on a high batting average alone. Of course, his extremely minimal quantitative upside means that Horwitz will possess zero fantasy value until he actually hits the majors, an opportunity he appears unlikely to receive for another year or two.
Knoedler appeared nearly ready to claim a big league job this year but instead ceded an eventual starting job to Eli Alfonzo. The recent signing of Ben Molina to a three-year deal leaves Knoedler in third catcher limbo since only an injury will allow him to reach the majors before September. Don't expect him to post positive fantasy value until he switches organizations.
While Liriano sailed into the upper minors without difficulty, he stalled at Triple-A with Milwaukee and eventually headed to the Phillies on waivers after 2004. He signed a one-year deal with the Giants in February, although his failure to earn a shot in San Francisco once again leaves him without an organization. Liriano certainly could rebound under the right circumstances, but I at least expect him to require a full-time move to relief before he returns to the majors in any significant capacity.
A complete failure at Colorado Springs, Melo rebounded to some extent upon moving to Fresno at mid-season. Of course, he still possesses no more than scant fantasy upside, so even if he impresses some club during camp, even considering him as roster filler seems a stretch despite the fact he enters his fifteenth professional season in the spring.
Simply dominating the Eastern League in the first half earned Palmer an overdue shot with Fresno, and though his skills understandably dropped, he at least secured an AFL berth. Unfortunately, his command faltered in the fall, and considering the Giants already seemed less-than-enamored of Palmer, he'll need an excellent 2007 campaign to stand any chance of reaching the majors in San Francisco.
After cruising through the Northwest, South Atlantic, and Hawaiian Winter Leagues in just a season-and-a-half, Quinowski should push into the upper minors in 2007. However, since he doesn't possess particularly exceptional control and appears vulnerable to the longball, he'll need to remain fairly effective to continue progressing toward the majors.
While Santos advanced to Triple-A in his seven years with the Royals, he only reached the majors this summer after signing with the Giants and lucking into a brief mid-season promotion. Despite his unexpected homer in one of his only appearances in the majors, he quickly returned to the minors and even dropped down to the Cal League due to a lack of at-bats at the upper levels. Given his mediocre numbers at both Fresno and San Jose, I don't know why San Francisco bothered re-signing him since I no longer expect him to emerge as even a decent AAAA option. Santos probably never will merit serious consideration for your fantasy roster.
Completely healthy for the first time in a couple years and receiving his first shot above Double-A, Threets definitely impressed as part of the Grizzlies' bullpen. Yes, he still lacks real control, but with high strikeout and groundball rates, he at least appears on track to emerge as a decent lefty specialist, albeit not one with any foreseeable roto upside.
Timpner's bizarre season began with a slow start that somehow still earned him a May promotion to Triple-A. He lasted just three weeks before returning to Connecticut, though despite continuing to struggle at the plate, he spent most of the second half at Fresno as injuries created an unexpected opportunity. Of course, his negligible offensive contribution at either level leaves him little chance of contributing in the majors in the near future, so even if you see him promoted to San Francisco, Timpner shouldn't even merit consideration as roster filler in 2007.
Despite spending the last there years as one of the Giants' top pitching prospects, Valdez collapsed at Triple-A, first failing to adapt to a bullpen role and then eventually requiring Tommy John surgery in October. He'll miss all of 2007, and although anyone with his potential for dominance will receive many more chances, Valdez appears highly unlikely to contribute in the majors much before 2009 at the earliest.
Acquired as a minor league Rule 5 pick from Toronto a year ago, Velez blossomed in his first complete campaign in full-season ball. However, given his advanced age, questionable power, and fairly unimpressive plate discipline, he needs to continue succeeding in 2007 to stand a chance of emerging as more than a big league backup. Despite obvious fantasy upside, Velez doesn't deserve much roto consideration until he echoes these stats at a higher level.
I never planned to review Villalona, but as the teenager continues to attract mention from other prospect analysts, I need to include my strong recommendation that you don't even consider drafting him. While he possesses an extremely projectable body, he also wasn't born until August of 1990 and just turned 16 four months ago. At best, he'll spend this summer in Rookie-ball, 2008 in A-ball, and then if everything goes perfectly, he might reach Double-A late in 2009. He stands no chance of playing in the majors for the next three years, so unless your league seems full of really freaky prospect hounds more focused on players' long-term upsides than any fair analysis of their fantasy value, Villalona doesn't even belong on your draft board. Talking him up to get someone else to blow a reserve pick isn't a bad idea, however I suspect even your fellow owners will realize that he will add nothing to any fantasy team as more than a trade chit before 2010.
Although the 2001 eighth round pick finally reached the upper minors, his high hit rate suggests he could encounter significant difficulty as he approaches the majors. Despite the upside indicated by his strikeout and walk rates, Waddell definitely needs to refine his skills further before deserving even a cup-of-coffee with the Giants.
Assuming the Giants eventually finalize all their apparently incomplete free agent deals with Barry Zito, Barry Bonds, Dave Roberts, Ray Durham, Pedro Feliz, Rich Aurilia, Ben Molina, and Ryan Klesko, San Francisco again will field a roster capable of winning the division. Perhaps Zito didn't deserve such a massive contract, but the Giants paid a premium for reliability and now possess no worse than a solid #2 to complement budding ace Matt Cain, Noah Lowry, and Matt Morris. Brad Hennessey and Jonathan Sanchez enter camp as the favorites as the fifth starter, though by next summer, 2006 first rounder Tim Lincecum should fill that slot, leaving Hennessey in long relief and Sanchez to spend a year or two in the bullpen until Morris departs. Few clubs deploy a rotation with this much potential over the next few years, and if Bonds remains an offensive force while avoiding the DL, this veteran-heavy team could make one more playoff push.
Of course, as Bonds also appears on the fact track to retirement, the reinvestment in aging bats this winter leaves little margin for error. No one can disagree with keeping Ray Durham at his bargain price, but Pedro Feliz hasn't broken a .720 OPS in the last two years, the anticipated Ryan Klesko/Rich Aurilia first base platoon appears average at best, and replacing Moises Alou with Dave Roberts creates a giant hole in the middle of the lineup. In addition, Ben Molina won't significantly improve on Eli Alfonzo's 2006 stats, and the expected regression of Omar Vizquel should negate any rebound from Randy Winn. With a minor league system essentially barren of impact bats, Brian Sabean's failure to add any relatively young players like Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Lee, or even an Aubrey Huff pushes the Giants to the brink of a massive lineup reconstruction following Bonds' eventual departure. Hopefully grabbing Bruce Bochy from the Padres to replace Felipe Alou at least will aid the development of an inexperienced bullpen likely to feature only a couple of veterans alongside several youngsters. Receiving above-average performances from the pitching staff appears the best potential salve to the inevitable injuries in the lineup, and if the less experienced projected members of the bullpen and bench struggle out of the gate, Sabean and Bochy likely will rotate the last few roster slots so quickly that no rookie here aside from Lincecum, Lewis, and possibly Frandsen appears positioned to register positive fantasy value or even attract much attention as mid-season trade bait.
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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