Grant Green| OF| Phoenix Desert Dogs (Oakland A’s)
AFL Stats: .308/.366/.571, 91 AB
Last 10 Games: .350/.422/.750, 40 AB
Coming into the season, Baseball America ranked Green the top prospect in the Oakland A’s organization. He picked up some hardware this year, bagging the Futures Game MVP award, but much has changed since that point.
With such accolades, it may have been a bit surprising to some not to see him on the THT Top-100 Fantasy Prospect List. The reason he missed the cut was a position change.
Green was drafted in the first round of the 2009 draft as a bat-first shortstop out of USC who likely would have to change positions. Prior to the Futures Game, he had been developed as a shortstop, but most industry scouting experts stood by their stances that he’d be moved off the position.
Conventional wisdom suggested a typical move to second base would be in his cards, but the presence of Jemile Weeks presented a road block. Instead of a move to second base, the A’s opted to shift Green to center field.
A move to the outfield absolutely crippled his fantasy value. After slugging 20 home runs in the hitter-friendly High-A California League in 2010, his power disappeared moving up to the Double-A Texas League in 2011, where he hit just nine home runs. Looking at some Minor League Park Factors, it shouldn’t be a complete surprise that his home run total suffered from a move up in level and change of league and home ballpark.
Green offers next to nothing in the stolen base department, and his walk-to-strikeout (BB:K) ratio of 39:119 doesn’t portend well as he continues to move up the ladder.
He has played quite well in the Arizona Fall League (AFL), ripping 14 extra base hits, including four home runs. His BB:K ratio is 8:24, which is essentially the same as his 2011 minor league ratio. The problem is, that ratio doesn’t illustrate that his strikeout rate jumped from 20.3 percent to 26.4 percent in the AFL. Yes, 91 at-bats is a small sample, but it doesn’t provide any encouragement that he’s making any strides this offseason.
Statistically, he looks like much the same player with more pop. That could be a product of a hot streak, playing environment, or any number of factors. I’m not sure what the reasoning for his power boost is, but what I do know is that it may have opened up a trade window in dynasty and deep keeper leagues. If I owned Green in either of those league formats, I’d be contacting any and every owner imaginable trying to move him.
Ryan Gennett| 2B| Peoria Javelinas (Milwaukee Brewers)
AFL Stats: .406/.474/.536, 69 AB
Last 10 Games: .421/.488/.447, 38 AB
Ryan Gennett is better known as Scooter, and he has scorched the baseball in the AFL. A reader asked about Gennett last week, and as a second baseman with a reputation for hitting the ball, he’s a great player to profile here. He doesn’t offer much home run power or speed, but his hit tool is what scouting reports laud.
Gennett played in High-A all year, and the AFL is his first exposure against some upper-minor pitchers. He’s a personal favorite of Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein and is a dark horse to sneak onto the THT Top-100 Fantasy Prospect List when it is updated.
He has been mostly a slap singles hitter in the AFL (just five extra-base hits), but his average speed has helped him steal two bases, and he makes a ton of contact. As long as he continues to hit for a high average as he moves closer to the major leagues, he won’t need to offer more than near-average home run power and stolen base output to be fantasy relevant at second base, or at worst, middle infield.
Xavier Avery| OF| Mesa Solar Sox (Baltimore Orioles)
AFL Stats: .329/.424/.494, 85 AB
Last 10 Games: .514/.595/.714, 35 AB
I’ll forgive you if you need to take a second to pick your jaw up off the floor after reading his last 10-game slash. Avery had a rough year in Double-A, hitting .259/.324/.343 with a 24.9 percent strikeout rate and just four home runs. Neither the strikeout rate n or the home run rate alone are a concern, but are disappointing when taken together. Of the two, it’s more likely that he’ll reduce his strikeouts as his game is predicated on athleticism and speed.
The Orioles drafted him as an athlete, and he’s still more athlete than baseball player with his defense and stolen base skills being his best attributes. His success rate in base stealing needs to improve. In the AFL he has been perfect, stealing nine bases with zero caught stealing. He’s just 21 years old, and will be 22 for the upcoming season, so repeating Double-A to work on his hitting is completely acceptable.
Toolsy players have a ton of boom-or-bust volatility, and Avery is no exception. If he makes strides with his contact rate, his stolen base upside is top-flight and plays well in fantasy games. He has a 14:16 BB:K in the AFL and an 18.8 percent strikeout rate, which is promising for next year if he can sustain it to any degree. His 14 walks translate into a 14.1 percent walk rate, a gigantic jump from his 7.8 percent mark in Double-A this year, and would help his OBP and stolen base opportunities with it greatly.
Tuck Avery’s name away as a player to monitor this coming season.
Wilin Rosario| C| Aguilas Cibaenas (Colorado Rockies)
Leiga de Beisbol Dominicano Stats: .265/.306/.574, 68 AB
Last 10 Games: .256/.310/.487, 39 AB
Rosario is playing winter ball in his home country’s Dominican Republic league. As a catching prospect with the ability to hit for power who saw action in 16 games for the Rockies this season, he should be, and likely is, on fantasy gamer’s radars. He has a cannon for an arm, and while he’s refining his technique as a catcher, Rosario will stay at the position and offers the potential to be a plus defender.
From a fantasy perspective, the only importance in his defense is that he will stick at the catcher position for the long haul. Rosario tore his ACL in 2010 and did a tremendous job in a recovery year.
His strikeout rate of 21.4 percent in Double-A is completely acceptable from a power hitter, but his 4.5 percent walk rate is Miguel Olivo-esque. Rosario is striking out in a quarter of his winter league at-bats, and his walk rate remains low, but his power output is awesome. He has nine extra-base hits, including five home runs, and is performing at a level that is an extension of his minor league season. He is 22 years old, and will play all of next season at the age of 23.
Catcher development can be a bit of a roller coaster ride and varies wildly compared to most other positions. Rosario should make his way back to Colorado next season, even if he opens the year in Triple-A, but anything could happen. Exercising patience is the right move. While the catching position is better in fantasy games than it has historically been, offensively talented catchers remain a rarity.
Chris Carpenter| RP| Mesa Solar Sox (Chicago Cubs)
AFL Stats: 10 relief appearances, 12.2 IP, 2 BB, 17 K, 2.84 ERA, 1.11 WHIP
He’ll never be the best Chris Carpenter to pitch in the majors (that would be this guy), but he has a chance to carve out his own niche as a late-inning reliever for the Chicago Cubs. His season was disappointing, even with reaching the majors, but he has a number of positives that make him interesting.
For starters, this was the first season in which the Cubs used him exclusively as a reliever in the minors, where Carpenter’s inconsistent control isn’t as big a hindrance (see: Marmol, Carlos). He throws exceptionally hard, capable of touching triple digits out of the bullpen, and has a groundball slant in his batted-ball profile. He also throws a slurvy slider and a change-up.
Things have clicked in the AFL, and Carpenter’s strikeout rate has soared to 12.1 K/9. In addition to the bump in strikeouts, his walk rate is a pristine 1.42 BB/9, a far cry from his 5.85 BB/9 across three levels (Double-A, Triple-A, majors). He’s an older prospect, 26 and turning 27 in December, but that’s not a big deal as a reliever.
A solid performance in spring training should lead to him breaking camp with the Cubs. If everything breaks right, he could be a right-handed late-inning, non-closing compliment to their southpaw option Sean Marshall. The highwire act Marmol puts on year-to-year with his filthy slider that results in mammoth strikeout totals, but also huge walk totals, could open up the door to a closer gig at some point.
This season, Marshall filled in on occasion when Marmol was at his wildest. It would probably be in the Cubs’ best interest to avoid tying their hands and sticking their left-handed bullpen weapon in the ninth-inning role in the event Marmol coughs up his closer role. Projecting Carpenter to close for the Cubs would be foolish, but it would be equally foolish to ignore the fact that it could happen. Monitor his play in spring training, and bump him up NL-only cheat sheets.