Ryan Lavarnway| Boston| Utility| 1 percent Yahoo! ownership
Oliver ROS: .255/.331/.464
Red Sox catching prospect Ryan Lavarnway mashed his way from Double-A all the way to the majors last week. The MLE for his combined stats across both Double-A and Triple-A is .269/.340/.502 with 28 home runs. He debuted at designated hitter filling in for a hurt David Ortiz.
Now that Ortiz is back in the lineup, the Red Sox may Lavarnway back to Triple-A to get everyday at-bats and allow him to work on his catching skills. Even if he is kept on the major league roster, expect him to see only sporadic pinch-hit appearances, an occasional start at designated hitter, and maybe a spot start at catcher. Because he wasn’t in Yahoo’s player database, he opens with utility eligibility due to playing designated hitter in the majors.
Long term, the plan is to have him remain a catcher. When he joined the organization as a sixth-round draft choice, few questioned his bat, but many questioned whether he could stick behind the plate. He has since made huge strides defensively, and while it’s not a foregone conclusion he’ll stay there, it looks a great deal more promising now. Catchers with Lavarnway’s offensive prowess are few and far between, so those in dynasty leagues should jump all over him. For teaser purposes, I’ll mention that he’ll be appearing in the top 20 when an update to the top 100 fantasy prospects is unveiled in the coming weeks.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all dynasty league formats.
Trayvon Robinson| Seattle| OF| 1 percent Yahoo! ownership
Oliver ROS: .248/.301/.400
Part of a three-team deadline deal, Robinson was dealt from the Dodgers to the Red Sox, who then flipped him to the Mariners to acquire Erik Bedard.
The ultra toolsy Robinson had a big season with the lumber in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, hitting for the most power of his young career while mashing 26 home runs. The year before, he displayed his speed in a big way in Double-A, swiping 37 bags.
The biggest knock on his game is his propensity for strikeouts, which he did in about 30 percent of his minor league at-bats this year. With such a high strikeout rate, it’s likely big league pitchers will be able to exploit his aggressiveness in the early going. For sustainable success, adjustments are in order.
That said, so far so good, and the potential for power and speed makes him an appealing dynasty league player. He should also get a test run in large leagues and AL-only leagues. In the short term, a Drew Stubbs-lite performance would be the best owners could reasonably hope for.
Recommendation: Should be owned in most large mixed-leagues that start five outfielders and all AL only formats.
Jesus Montero| New York (AL)| C| 5 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: .290/.349/.456 (Triple-A)
Oliver ROS: .271/.319/.457
Like LaVarnway’s, Jesus Montero’s bat is unquestionably tremendous, but his catching skills leave a lot to be desired. Unlike LaVarnway, it’s difficult to find anyone who believes Montero has a future behind the plate. He hits the ball well enough that he’ll be a valuable commodity in fantasy baseball regardless of where he slots, but his value takes a hit if he’s forced to drop catcher eligibility in leagues.
Because he was in the Yahoo database to open the year, he has catcher eligibility and can be started there on fantasy rosters even if the Yankees bring him up to play designated hitter to close out the year. The Yankees are a near lock to reach the postseason at this point, so if they wish to have Montero’s bat on their postseason roster they’ll need to promote him before rosters expand Sept. 1 for him to be eligible.
Jorge Posada and others who have been trotted out as the designated hitter have underwhelmed, and the Yankees aren’t the type of franchise that needs to pinch pennies manipulating service time. With those factors in mind, I expect to see him promoted sometime before next Thursday.
His MLE for his Triple-A stats is a .260/.312/.399 slash. That line is eerily similar to Posada’s, which stands at .244/.323/.399, so it is debatable whether he’d be an upgrade. Positive scouting grades on his bat, and his 2010 performance, .272/.324/.485 MLE, are reason enough to gamble on the youngster. Those in need of catching help who have bench flexibility should scoop up Montero now and hope a promotion is right around the corner.
Recommendation: Should be stashed in most large mixed leagues using two catchers, some shallower formats and one-catcher leagues, and all AL-only formats where owners have bench flexibility.
Jacob Turner| Detroit| SP| 1 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 3.38 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 5.06 BB/9, 10.13 K/9, 33.3 percent GB
Oliver ROS: No projection
In just his second professional season, Turner has ascended through the minors and already has one major league start. He has spent most of the year in Double-A, where he was successful, but didn’t produce in a way that the stats jump off the page. What those stats don’t include are any context. Turner is just a 20-year-old who was drafted out of high school in 2009. His 7.1 K/9 in Double-A belies his stuff. Small sample size warning in order, but in 16.2 innings in Triple-A and the majors he has struck out 20.
Fantasy gamers can be forgiven if they can’t shake the memory of the Tigers pushing Rick Porcello through the minors before he learned how to use his secondary pitches to strike hitters out. Maybe they won’t make the same mistake twice and they’ll allow this blue-chip prospect the time to blossom into a front line starter rather than the pitch-to-contact innings-eater Porcello has become.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all dynasty leagues and added if he makes a spot September start that’s a favorable match-up.
Matt Moore| Tampa Bay| RP| 2 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 1.83 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 2.45 BB/9, 12.21 K/9 (Double-A and Triple-A combined stats)
Oliver ROS: No projection
Matt Moore’s season has been nothing short of remarkable. His pitching line would be elite for a reliever, but is mind-boggling over 143 innings. He’s always showcased elite stuff, but commanding and controlling it have been problems at times in past seasons. His lowest walk rate before now in full season ball came last year, when he had a 3.79 BB/9.
He has shaved over a full walk off that rate this year while continuing to strike out batters at an eye-popping rate. The Rays may reward his outstanding play by promoting him sometime after rosters expand in September. Even if that’s not the case, if they are serious about contending for the playoffs next year, he’ll be a fixture in the rotation sometime early in 2012. A must own in dynasty leagues already, he has probably made a case for being kept in some shallower keeper formats in spite of having no major league experience.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all dynasty formats, some shallower keeper leagues as well.