Deep sleepers, round 2

This time around, we’re getting fringier with the $1 options, profiling a pair of flame throwing pitchers who may or may not get an early call up in 2011, and a recently traded center fielder. Let’s start with that latter character.

Cameron Maybin: The Padres recently acquired Maybin for a pair of nice relievers, Edward Mujica and Ryan Webb. As Dave Cameron pointed out in response to the trade, the former Top 10 prospect’s game has one serious hole, a career Major League strike out rate of 31.4%. For a gap power center fielder, that kind of strike out rate caps his potential at league average while limiting his fantasy potential to waiver wire spot starter. Dave Cameron also pointed out the reason why we’re thinking about spending our last dollar on him—strike out rates below 20 percent in 490 AAA plate appearances over the past two seasons.

Even with an improved strike out rate, Maybin doesn’t figure to be terribly valuable in a 12-team fantasy setting. He should be assisted by playing about 99 games in Petco, Coors Field and Chavez Ravine. Spacious settings like those can be kind to players with Maybin’s gap-power skill set. In leagues with a center field slot, Maybin is a useful back up option. Leagues without the center fielder designation will find less use for Maybin, but he can provide decent value if you play the match-ups. Average, home runs and RBI will be problem categories—but so long as he’s only spot starting. He’ll make up for his shortcomings by scoring runs and stealing bases.

Jarrod Parker: The Diamondbacks’ top prospect spent the majority of 2010 on the shelf, recovering from Tommy John surgery. What little time he did spend on the mound came in the instructional league, where scouts were impressed with his recovery and work ethic. Reports indicate that his stuff is close to pre-surgery form, making a call up in 2011 likely. The Diamondbacks are short on depth in the starting rotation behind Daniel Hudson, Ian Kennedy, and Joe Saunders making Parker’s recovery from injury the only barrier to earning a regular turn.

Scouting reports indicate that Parker has the potential to provide an ace-quality presence in Diamondbacks’ rotation. He features a fastball that has reached as high as 98, a sharp slider and a developing change-up. As a fantasy asset, Parker could provide the full package. He has the ability to get plenty of strikeouts thanks to stuff that can overpower opposing hitters. He should also make fair contributions in ERA, WHIP and wins. He might prove prone to the occasional stinker. As Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein recently said, “Parker throws strikes, but at times too many, as he’ll often groove pitches down the middle instead of working both sides of the plate.” The other risk with Parker concerns the timing of his call-up. As long as he remains healthy and effective, an early June nod seems likely, though it’s also quite possible Parker’s debut gets pushed back to 2012. Even as a $1 investment, he could prove to be a bit of a reach in non-keeper formats. He’s probably most useful in a roto league with a tight innings cap. The chance that he could break into the league and provide impact-level statistics makes him a more attractive investment than most other $1 pitchers.

Michael Pineda: Seattle’s top prospect is in line for plenty of Major League action in 2011. Like Parker, Pineda has spent his fair share of time on the trainer’s table, although an entirely healthy 2010 leaves hope that the injury bug is in the rear-view mirror. Pineda flashed brilliant stuff last season in AA and AAA, striking out 154 over 139.1 innings while walking only 42. His fastball is his best pitch, occasionally reaching triple digits, while he also has a good slider and a developing change-up. He will compete for a rotation spot in spring training. Seattle lacks the depth to block Pineda, but they may find an excuse to start him in AAA—if only to push back his service clock. He should find his way onto the roster by mid-April.

From a fantasy perspective, Pineda could wind up as a huge late-round selection. He’s a guy who can rack up tons of strikeouts while limiting walks—and by extension—ERA and WHIP. Safeco and Seattle’s focus on defense should prove helpful, too. Considering that Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez only managed 13 wins last season and the Seattle offense isn’t expected to improve, there’s a good chance Pineda won’t be helpful in the win column.

Right now Pineda is looking like a $1-5 investment. A few factors could change between now and draft day. First, it would not be surprising if Pineda starts catching some serious hype from prospect analysts and fantasy mavens. Thus far, the obscurity of Seattle and an injury shortened 2009 have conspired to keep him out of the limelight, but a dominant spring training outing or two could change that. The other factor is that low walk rate. Sometimes pitching prospects of Pineda’s ilk spend too much time over the plate. This type of issue typically takes a few turns to adjust, so it’s not a major concern—it’s just something to keep in mind when setting your lineup in April.

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Next: The major league life of Cliff Dapper »


  1. Brad Johnson said...

    They’re definitely similar players, but I think Maybin has more growth potential if he can strike out closer to his recent minor league rates. I don’t expect much improvement from Fowler. I’m also more confident that Maybin’s going to get playing time although both guys just need to perform adequately to get everyday reps.

  2. John K said...

    I could have sworn pineda got shut down with injury at the end of this year.  he’ll be interesting to watch in ST

  3. Jeffrey Gross said...

    Thanks brad. First you steal my Beckham/Hill love, now you’re gonna take Pineda away from me!??!

    Good names, i like the analysis

  4. Brad Johnson said...

    Without consulting any numbers, I don’t care for Beechy as a fantasy asset and I have a suspicion that the draft day love for Mike Minor is going to exceed my expectations for him.

    Honestly the only thing I truly know about Beechy is that Carson Cistulli likes to make puns with his name.

  5. Jeffrey Gross said...

    Yeah I was watching the WS with Carson and we both agree we love Beechy. His MLE numbers are strong. Check out ZiPS MLE data for 2010

  6. Brad Johnson said...

    I think we just witnessed Venable’s best season if that answers your question.

    I think in most 12 team leagues both of these guys are going to generally float around waivers. Both guys were scarcely owned in my 5 outfielders league (I got 11 ab’s from Venable over 3 spot starts). The reason Maybin gets the highlight here is because he still has that upside he can figure out. That’s not really there with Venable.

    In leagues that aren’t super deep, I like to maximize upside throughout the draft.

  7. Justen B said...

    Im in a 24 team simulation league using DMB (diamond mind baseball), so if a guy gets playing time in MLB, he’s relevant!

    Right now, Venable would be my 9 hole hitter against RHP as a CF. With the numbers and steal potential he has, those arent the worst numbers for the last guy in my lineup. But, obviously continuing to get a couple CF starts to keep him eligible is the key.

  8. Brad Johnson said...

    Well yes, in a 24 man format Venable is a nice guy to own. I need to do a better job at outlining the format I’m writing for (12 team, deep rosters for this post after the commenters from round 1 indicated that they mostly didn’t play shallow formats).

  9. Justen B said...

    Well, either way, I agree with you that Maybin is definitely the better long term option and potential. Especially considering age.

    As a venable fan though, its easy to look at that .347 .372 .493 September and think…maybe, just MAYBE there’s a chance he could put together a decent year. Looks as if the Padres will give him that chance out of the gate…barring any upcoming trades.

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