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John Sickels' Column: John Opens Up the Mailbag

John Sickels

John Sickels

John Sickels writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

As usual, the most recent version of the Top 100 list generated many comments from readers, as well as some email. I’ve answered most of the questions in the comment thread attached to the original piece, but there are some additional thoughts based on reader questions.

JNorman76 asked: “Where does Yuneski Maya fit on the list?”

Nowhere, yet. The Cuban defector is 28 years old, almost 29. While he reportedly has good command of slightly above average stuff, it is hard to rank him among the top prospects until we get more performance data from him. This isn’t an Aroldis Chapman situation where the guy has such good stuff that we can ignore the lack of data. Maya has thrown 11 innings so far, seven in the Gulf Coast Rookie League and four in the Carolina League, producing a 5.73 ERA with a 9:5 K:BB and 10 hits allowed. The most interesting thing given the tiny sample size is his 3.80 GO/AO ratio, which seems to back up reports that he has a good sinker.

Slambert asked: “How about Jared Cosart? I know he was shut down for the season, but he was looking pretty strong before that. Thanks.”

Cosart went down with a sore elbow in late June, and while surgery has been avoided, he won’t pitch seriously again until next spring. I think that is the right move by the Phillies. Before the injury, he was 7-3, 3.79 for Low-A Lakewood, with a 77:16 K:BB in 71 innings, just 60 hits allowed, and a 1.93 GO/AO. Scouts were very impressed with him pre-injury, as he has a mid-90s fastball and a rapidly improving curveball. He definitely has Top-100 ability, if not Top 50, assuming he can stay healthy. Unfortunately that may be a big assumption, as he had shoulder problems in 2009 to go along with 2010’s elbow malady.
11rat11 asked: “You should look at a 1B/3B from the Mariners named Rich Poythress. I know his numbers are inflated from playing at High Desert but the numbers are pretty impressive.”

Poythress is a huge first baseman, 6-foot-4, 235 pounds, drafted by the Mariners in the second round in 2009 from the University of Georgia. He’s hit .311/.376/.568 this year for High Desert, with 29 homers, 115 RBI, 50 walks, and 95 strikeouts in 454 at-bats. As you point out, High Desert is a terrific place to hit: he’s at .339/.414/.581 at home, .280/.335/.555 on the road. The latter number is closer to his true potential; still a lot of power, but not a terrific batting average or OBP considering the league context. He lacks speed and isn’t a great defender at any position. Until we see what he can do outside the Cal League, I rate him as a Grade C+ prospect. Some scouts are concerned that he may have a “slider speed bat” and that his offense won’t carry over to less-friendly environments, but he deserves to show us.

Godeep: “What about Rubby De La Rosa?”

John says: A very intriguing arm, the Dodgers prospect posted a 3.19 ERA with a 55:17 K:BB in 59 innings for Low-A Great Lakes, showing off a 95 MPH fastball and an improving slider and changeup. This earned him a promotion to Double-A, where he has a 0.84 ERA in five starts for Chattanooga, although his K:BB needs work at 23:15. He’s got plenty of stuff and gets lots of grounders, and many scouts are plugging him as a major sleeper. It remains to be seen if he’s a starter or reliever in the long run, but he could be on the outer edges of the Top 100 when all is said and done at the end of the year.

11rat11 asked for input about Angels prospect Mark Trumbo and Twins prospect Billy Bullock.

Trumbo has hit 30 homers for Triple-A Salt Lake this year, with an overall line of .294/.360/.556. His power is real enough, but like Poythress he has a sharp home/road split in his batting average and OBP (.339/.405 at home, .252/.319 on the road), and scouts are somewhat skeptical about him. Also like Poythress, Trumbo lacks speed and agility and is not a good defensive player. He’s not a Top 100 candidate for me; I think his skills are too limited, although he could end up having a good season or two eventually.

Bullock is more interesting: he has 92 strikeouts in 66 innings this year between High-A Fort Myers and Double-A New Britain, collecting 25 saves with a 3.66 ERA. His command needs work (38 walks), but he has plus stuff (94-97 MPH, plus slider) and could end up being a relief force if the control improves. He could get into a Top 100 next year if he takes a step forward with that and shows himself as a potential major league closer. As it stands he looks like good middle relief material at least. The Twins drafted him in the second round from the University of Florida in 2009.

Tom from Chicago asked via email: “Do you think Jake Odorizzi, No. 39 on your list, could get into the top 20 or maybe the top 10 next year?”

Actually, I do. Odorizzi has a 3.58 ERA with a 120:36 K:BB in 108 innings for Low-A Wisconsin this year, with 92 hits allowed. The Brewers prospect has taken a step forward with his low-90s fastball and improving secondary pitches (very good curve, sharpening slider and changeup) and he already throws strikes. He’s also extremely athletic, having been a skilled shortstop in high school, and athleticism is an attribute I look for in a pitcher. Midwest League observers are very impressed with the progress he has made this year, and further progress in 2011 will move him even higher up the charts.

Ken from Independence, Missouri, writes: “Boy, Donavan Tate has really dropped, all the way off the list. Did the Padres make a mistake drafting him last year? Why has he dropped so far?”

There is no doubt about it: Tate has been awful in pro ball, hitting just .222/.336/.344 so far in 25 games in the Arizona Rookie League, with an incredible 41 strikeouts in 90 at-bats. Injuries have been a big problem; he just can’t seem to stay healthy, and he may have one of those wiry bodies that is always vulnerable to tweaks and strains. On the positive side, he’s drawn 15 walks, and has swiped seven bases in eight attempts. Scouts remain high on his superior athleticism, but his approach at the plate is extremely raw, and his health problems (concussion, broken jaw, sore shoulder, thumb sprain, stomach virus) have kept him from getting the one thing he needs most: playing time. It is way too soon to give up on him given the circumstances. But for me, I have a hard time putting him on the Top 100 right now, at least for fantasy purposes, not until we can see if he can hit when healthy.

Phil from San Antonio comments: Robbie Erlin, Texas Rangers, Top 10 next year, bank on it!”

Top 10 may be a bit aggressive, but top 20 is possible if Erlin’s performance this year is any indication: 2.24 ERA in Low-A Sally League, with a 106:16 K:BB in 100 innings, 78 hits allowed. All of his ratios are exceptional, with the exception of a strong fly ball tendency that might turn into excess homers at higher levels. He’s also a bit undersized at 6-feet and 175 pounds, which leads to durability questions. He works with a low-90s fastball and a plus curveball. Drafted in the third round in 2009 out of high school in California, Erlin is certainly a very strong prospect and needs to be on the fantasy radar in long-term keeper leagues.