RotoWire Partners

John Sickels' Column: Answering Some Prospect Questions

John Sickels

John Sickels writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

Answering Some Prospect Questions

My recent Top 100 Update and Sleeper Prospect List generated good comments from readers. Some of these comments deserve a fuller explanation than I could give in a brief comment reply, so let's explore these queries in a little more detail.

Why doesn't Tim Beckham of the Rays appear on your Top 100 list?

Although all prospect lists are a blending of real-life, fantasy, short-term, and long-term value, the RotoWire list leans more towards the fantasy side. With that in mind, it is hard to make a case for Beckham as a Top 100 prospect for fantasy owners at this point, at least in a short or medium-term context.

Although the tools that made him a first-round pick are still there, his 2009 season in the Sally League was rather disappointing: .275/.328/.389 with poor strike zone judgment, limited home run power, and just 13 steals in 23 attempts. His defense at shortstop was also a bit less impressive than expected, and many scouts believe he faces a move to third eventually, which will increase the pressure on his bat.

Beckham is still just 20 and has plenty of time to rebound, but I rate him as a Grade B- prospect currently, and that makes him fall outside the Top 100.

What about Mariners prospect Carlos Triunfel? Shouldn't he at least be an honorable mention?

Like Beckham, Triunfel isn't a great FANTASY prospect at this point, given his lost injury season, plus questions about his power potential, plate discipline, and defensive position. I was not impressed with the way he looked in the Arizona Fall League; I didn't like his swing, and he's a lot thicker than his listed 175 pounds. That said, I should have included him in the “honorable mention” section along with Beckham, given his youth and tools. We will track Triunfel closely this year and he has a good shot at remerging as a Top 100 guy.

Where would Diamondbacks pitcher Jarrod Parker rank if he was healthy?

In the 20-25 range. We need to see how he recovers from Tommy John before putting him back on top prospect lists. My policy is to be quite conservative about pitchers with major surgery. Tommy John is not an automatically successful procedure by any means, as the Jesse Foppert experience should remind us.

Why wasn't David Freese on your Top 100 list? He's supposed to be the Cardinals starting third baseman this year.

He's too old to be a truly premium prospect at age 27, which reduces his long-term value. In the short run I think he's a good investment, however, which is why I did include him on the sleeper list mentioned above.

I don't think Freese receives enough attention on a national basis, and if he gets off to a good start this year he has a decent chance to be a Rookie of the Year contender if more-heralded prospects falter. He could be a .275, 20-homer hitter with solid defense. Assuming he wins a full-time job in spring training, he would be a good candidate for a full profile as the season gets started, to give folks a chance to know what to expect. I'll put him on my “to-do” list.

How does Angels outfielder Mike Trout stack up?

Trout is actually a personal favorite and was strongly considered for the list: I should have put him in the honorable mention section. In fact, he ranks highly on my Top 50 Hitting Prospect list in the 2010 Baseball Prospect Book, checking in at 28.

Why the discrepancy between the two lists? Again, this gets down to what the lists are for: the RotoWire list is more fantasy and shorter-term in outlook, while the book list is more of a pure baseball and longer-term list.

In the long-term, Trout has excellent tools and shows more skills than is normal for a cold-weather high school outfielder from the Northeast. He also has excellent makeup and work ethic. The main thing he lacks is power, but he is strong enough to develop it eventually. If he has a good 2010 (which I expect), he'll likely rank highly on subsequent iterations of the RotoWire list.

What's your take on Twins third base Danny Valencia? He wasn't in your Top 100 or on your sleeper list.

I thought about him for the sleeper list but decided he was too well-known to really qualify. I didn't consider him for the Top 100. He got a Grade C+ in my book and there are a lot of other guys I would consider ahead of him for the 100.

Valencia has an interesting bat with good power potential, but he had significant problems with his plate discipline after being promoted to Triple-A, drawing just eight walks in 71 games for Rochester. He also shows a tendency towards sloppy defensive play, and Twins front office officials resisted the idea of promoting him for the stretch run last year. His makeup is also an issue: a lot of scouts have strong doubts about his work ethic. It will be interesting to see how he responds this spring: the Twins could really use a good bat at third base for a change.

Compare and contrast Reds pitching prospects Travis Wood and Matt Maloney.

They are similar in terms of style: finesse lefties who change speeds well, though Wood can sometimes get his fastball a bit faster than Maloney. Maloney is bigger (6-4, 220 vs. 6-0, 165) and older (26 vs. 23). Maloney also has two full Triple-A seasons under his belt, while Wood just has eight starts last year at that level. Both project as number four or five starters. Maloney's K/BB and K/IP ratios are superior, but Wood does a better job avoiding home runs. Overall they both rate as Grade C+ or strong Grade C prospects, with Maloney a better bet to contribute in 2010.

Article first appeared 3/4/10