Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Under the Bright Lights

April 26, 2010

By Bret Sayre 

So I spent this past weekend down in Chapel Hill, NC visiting my brother-in-law and his one month old son. Now, you might be asking yourself what this could possibly have to do with this column - and to that, I reply with a mildly sarcastic THREE THINGS! First of all, that is the reason why this is going up a day late (as you will notice, it's not Monday anymore). Second of all, I almost went to the Durham Bulls / Gwinnett Braves game in Durham on Friday night to see future "Under the Bright Lights" impact players Jeremy Hellickson, Desmond Jennings and (to a slightly lesser extent) Freddie Freeman. Unfortunately, as you can probably tell by my use of the word almost, I did not end up making it to the game. And finally, my wife's father actually played in the Yankees minor league farm system in the early 70's, making it all the way to AA. That wasn't much of a stretch, was it? Sadly, my brother-in-law is hoping that his son carries some of that genetic skill so that he can live out the dream he never fulfill of playing for his beloved Yankees. He's going to have to hire Scott Boras as an agent in order to make sure he slips to when the Yankees pick in the 2028 draft. Hey, it could happen. And now onto the callups that are affecting your fantasy teams this week:

Justin Smoak – 1B – Texas

So it turns out that Chris Davis needed to hit .188 with no power in order for the Rangers’ powers-that-be to call up their most prized hitting prospect in April.  Definitely the elite name of the week, Smoak is often compared (unfairly) to Mark Teixeira since they both were high Ranger draft picks at 1B.  Smoak does not have the raw power of Teixeira, but his all-around game compares favorably in all other areas.  He’s a potential 300/400/500 player who will spend a lot of time in the heart of Texas’s lineup and play very good defense at 1B.  Clearly this is nothing to shake your head at.  In keeper leagues, he’s probably already stashed somewhere, but Smoak needs to be owned in all AL-only and deep mixed redraft leagues.  Shallow-leaguers weak at 1B should keep a close eye on him as well.

Redraft:  B  Keeper:  A-

Eric Young Jr – 2B/OF – Colorado

Steals here!  Get your steals here!  If you need speed, pounce on Young now before he finds himself with consistent playing time.  If he can displace Clint Barmes (who is struggling mightily) at 2B, he could steal 40+ bases the rest of this season – and even if he can’t, he can still steal 10-20 bases with only sporadic playing time.  Jim Tracy made it clear earlier in the season that when Young got the call, he was not going to get the call to sit on the bench, so it would appear as though it’s time to see if Young is the Rockies 2B of the future.  He hasn’t been playing great so far this year at AAA, but his minor league track record speaks for itself – he’s got a full-season minor league average of 66 steals per year, and the only season he’s posted an OBP lower than .387 was 2007 (.359).  He could end up the top fantasy rookie of 2010 because of his huge steal potential.

Redraft:  B  Keeper:  B

Brett Cecil – SP – Toronto

Cecil has been dealing in the minors this year so far, no question about it - his 24/4 K/BB ratio in 17 1/3 innings at AAA-Las Vegas is a clear indicator of that (plus, Vegas is a hitter's paradise). Then in his debut on Friday, he throws up an 8/1 K/BB ratio against the Rays, albeit in a loss. If Cecil can keep up this kind of command, he's going to be a nice matchups play for as long as he's in the rotation - and with the unattractive collection of arms in Toronto, it could be a lengthy stay. That probably does not include the start he's got coming up against Boston on Wednesday, but May 3rd against Cleveland, sign me up!

Redraft: C+ Keeper: C

Darnell McDonald – OF – Boston

Many first round picks have had shorter paths to the majors than now 31-year old Darnell McDonald.  The 26th overall pick in the 1997 draft by the Orioles – McDonald got his first cup of coffee with Baltimore in 2004 and second with Minnesota in 2007 (combining for 45 AB in those two stops).  Now, even with his recent playing time in Boston, only has 164 career AB’s – however, he made quite an impression in his debut with Boston with a game-tying HR and game-winning single off the Monster.  Now he’s playing pretty consistently against lefties until Mike Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury return.  He’s probably not worth worrying about at this point unless you’re in a super-deep league.

Redraft:  D  Keeper:  F

Luke Hughes – 3B – Minnesota

There's really nothing exciting about Brendan Harris' new backup in Minnesota outside of the fact that he's Australian. This automatically qualifies him for inclusion in this column eventhough he's effectively worthless in fantasy.

Redraft: F Keeper: F

Brennan Boesch – OF – Detroit

I know everyone is shocked (SHOCKED!) that Carlos Guillen is taking his rightful place on the DL. What people might not know is that the guy taking his roster spot can actually play. Boesch was the Tigers' 3rd round pick out of Cal in 2006 and hit 28 HRs for AA-Erie last season, leading the Eastern League. He continued his hot hitting this season, having compiled a 1.075 OPS in 15 games at AAA-Toledo (with a 1.223 OPS vs RHP). This is especially important because he will not be playing against lefties in Detroit. You could certainly do worse than Boesch in an AL-only league to try and capitalize on his solid start to the season.

Redraft: C- Keeper: D+

Rhyne Hughes – 1B – Baltimore

This write up is going to be very similar to the previous one with one exception - Hughes is not an injury replacement, he's taking over for the body formerly known as Garrett Atkins. Beyond that, Hughes and Boesch are pretty similar players. Hughes hit 25 HRs between AA and AAA last season and kept it up at AAA-Norfolk so far this year with a 1.088 OPS. You know exactly what you're getting with Hughes, a left handed hitter with plus raw power and no idea how to either hit lefties or properly control the strike zone (last season he had a 171/44 K/BB ratio). Between Hughes and Boesch, I prefer Boesch but it's pretty close.

Redraft: D+ Keeper: D

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