Monday, April 19, 2010

Under the Bright Lights

April 19, 2010

By Bret Sayre

There are very few things as a baseball fan that compare to seeing your favorite team call up a well-hyped homegrown prospect. That one moment when they're called up to the plate, the fan in all of us straddles the edge of our seat as we witness the peak of their potential. That's right - no matter how good this prospect ends up, he will never be as good as he is in your head right before he prepares for his first taste of MLB action. Unless, of course, he's Jason Heyward and cranks a 400+ ft monster HR in his first at bat. But as you know, Jason Heyward is a man among boys.

No matter how often these prospects come up and disappoint, the next one is always the savior of the franchise. That's the eternal optimism of being a fan - and it only gets more unrealistic the worse the major league team is. In fact, I'm pretty sure every Nationals fan expects Stephen Strasburg to come in and pitch a shutout every time he takes the mound. But for now, Washingtonians will have to wait for their savior. Yet just 200 miles or so up I-95, there's another hype train leaving the station, and that's where we start this week.

Ike Davis - 1B - New York (NL)

The funniest thing about the Ike Davis hype is that the terribleness of the Mets is directly proportional to the potential of Davis as a player. Now don't get me wrong, Davis is a good prospect, but the way his name is being thrown about in New York lately makes me think there are going to be a few more disappointed Mets fans when this all shakes out. Davis offers some power and a strong defensive presence at first base, and when your current options are Mike Jacobs, Daniel Murphy or Fernando Tatis, that sounds great. Just don't expect too much here. If he hits enough to hold on to the 1st base job, the best case scenario is that he hits about 20 HRs with a serviceable average (maybe .260-.270) - certainly worth a big bid in NL-only leagues right away and a speculative add if you're weak at 1B in a mixed league. Just be prepared in case he hits .220 and is sent back down when Murphy comes back in a few weeks.

Redraft: C+ Keeper: B

Wade LeBlanc - SP - San Diego

Anytime a pitcher in the Padres system comes up to the majors, it's automatically watch-worthy. However, LeBlanc actually had success in his 9-start stint in the majors last season, going 3-1 with a 3.69 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. The tough part here is that he was only called up to start against Arizona on Sunday in the place of injured starter Chris Young. But the good part? It's Chris Young that he's replacing - and that guy seemingly gets hurt all the time. So pick him up, and spot start him in favorable matchups - just not this coming week in Cincinnati.

Redraft: C- Keeper: D

Kris Benson - SP - Arizona

Yes, this Kris Benson. Needless to say, you don't want any part of him.

Redraft: F Keeper: F

Lou Montanez - OF - Baltimore

Montanez looks like he'll be one of the initial benefactors of Felix Pie's unfortunate injury which may keep him out for up to three months. He is someone to keep an eye on in really deep mixed and AL-only leagues, as he could get on a roll and be worth a short-term pickup. He put up manageable numbers in his debut two years ago - .295, 3 HR, 14 RBI in 112 AB - but he's also got a career 36/9 K/BB ratio so he is not going to be a guy you want to be patient with.

Redraft: D Keeper: F

Scott Olsen - SP - Washington

Now here's a name you'll remember. Olsen is attempting a comeback from surgery from a torn labrum in July, and was impressive enough that scribes were a bit surprised when the Nationals chose Garrett Mock over him to be their fifth starter. Now, only two short weeks into the season, they've changed their minds and Olsen made his debut against the Phillies on Thursday. He looked pretty decent for a questionable guy coming off shoulder surgery against the best lineup in the National League. If he can build up arm strength and stay in the rotation, he could offer up some value in NL-only leagues - but he will never reach the potential he had after his impressive 2006 season with the Marlins.

Redraft: D Keeper: D-

Justin Maxwell - OF - Washington

Maxwell is a guy who is all potential and projection, but few results so far. Probably the best athlete in the Nationals system, Maxwell has yet to show that he can hit high-level pitching consistently - although he showed his fantasy potential in Washington late last season, with 4 HRs and 6 SBs in 89 at bats. Project that out over a full season and you see why he's a guy you need to keep an eye on. If he can even hit .250 or .260, he could be Chris Young with a little more speed. He'll start off playing against lefties, but could be more if he shows he can fulfill some of that potential.

Redraft: C- Keeper: C

Kam Mickolio - RP - Baltimore

Mickolio is the ultimate end-game sleeper in the Baltimore bullpen with everyone seemingly imploding in save opportunities. With a power fastball and 196 K's in 188 minor league innings, it's easy to envision him taking over the closer role someday - however, Mike Gonzalez's contract makes that somewhat less likely this year if he were to stay healthy. Then again, it is Mike Gonzalez we're talking about here..

Redraft: D Keeper: C-

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