Alex Avila | Detroit | C
True Talent: .241/.311/.358
Next Week Forecast: 0.2 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI, .241 BA, 0.1 SB
Oh, the nepotism! The son of assistant GM Al, Alex was taken in the fifth round in 2008 out of Alabama, where he just became a full-time catcher in 2008. But wait, this guy can play ball! He’s burst into the Tigers’ pennant race and wrested at least half the playing time already. After showing great hitting and on-base skills in the tough Midwest League in 2008, the Tigers vaulted him over High-A to Double-A. He didn’t slow down at all, and even added power (12 HR) and a 44% CS% to his game. If the “True Talent” projection represents his ability now, it will soon be outdated. This guy is on the fast track, and not just due to his family ties.
Julio Borbon | Texas | OF
True Talent: .271/.308/.364
Next Week Forecast: 0.3 HR, 3 R, 2 RBI, .272 BA, 1.6 SB
Borbon is a good prospect, and even better for fantasy purposes, as he’s stolen more than 50 bases in a minor-league season. Ron Washington already trusts him to run, as the eight SB in just 33 PA demonstrate. There’s a crowded outfield situation in Texas, and a relatively pop-less hitter like Borbon doesn’t fit the mold. So, now that Cruz is back, Borbon may see most of his appearances in pinch-running and defensive replacement roles, but is still worth a roster spot in deep AL-only leagues, and is a keeper to keep your eye on.
Doug Fister | Mariners | SP
YTD: 5.8 K/9, 1.8 K/BB, 1.93 ERA
True Talent: 4.8 K/9, 1.2 K/BB, 5.70 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 0.2 W, 2 K, 6.55 ERA
Normally, when a pitcher has a BABIP that’s not near .300, you can presume some measure of luck. But Fister’s minor-league career has seen a .339 BABIP, an outrageously high total, and a good indicator that his junk and sub-90 “fastball” don’t fool hitters, even minor-league hitters. But, as with Rowland-Smith, he’s in a great place for him. His minor-league walk rate is just over 2 (2.11), and he induces enough ground balls to get double plays. Could aid WHIP for AL-only teams, despite the hits allowed.
Freddy Garcia | Chicago | SP
YTD: 6.2 K/9, 3.0 K/BB, 10.38 ERA
True Talent: n/a
Next Week Forecast: n/a
Forget about Carlos Torres and Daniel Hudson—Freddy Garcia will be holding down the fifth spot for another 2-3 starts in Chicago until Jake Peavy takes his place atop the rotation. He didn’t look nearly as bad as the stats indicate in his one start, and he was able to throw over 90. He’s only worth worrying about in the deepest of AL leagues, but he’ll get pulled early if he’s getting hit, so it’s unlikely he’ll cause much harm.
Carlos Guillen | Detroit | IF/OF
True Talent: .276/.353/.431
Next Week Forecast: 0.6 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, .277 BA, 0.4 SB
Guillen came back on July 24, and has hit .289/.373/.500 since. For the first couple weeks, he wasn’t able to bat right-handed, but has started the past 14 games for the Tigers. He’s not ancient—just 33 years old—and has peaked even better than this before, so it’s not out of the question that he could have two excellent months to end 2009. His eligibility at 3b/1b/of makes him versatile, too. Someone to consider, even in mixed leagues.
Brandon Lyon | Detroit | RP
YTD: 6.3 K/9, 1.8 K/BB, 2.84 ERA
True Talent: 6.1 K/9, 1.7 K/BB, 3.78 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 0.1 Saves, 3.80 ERA
Brandon Lyon has an ERA about a point lower than the closer’s, and picked up two wins and a save in August. But Fernando Rodney is still the closer. Both “True Talent” and xFIP indicate that it’s a wash, with neither pitcher showing quite the skill level a team would like to have in their best reliever. Still, given the difference in ERA, and the fact that Rodney isn’t great, Lyon is probably as likely as almost any setup man to move into a closer’s role in September. Jim Leyland isn’t known for his patience, after all.
Jayson Nix | Chicago | 2B
True Talent: .236/.305/.394
Next Week Forecast: 0.7 HR, 3 R, 2 RBI, .231 AVG, 0.6 SB
In 2001, the Rockies thought Nix was worth a first-round pick. When he was hitting 67 extra-base hits (21 HR) and stealing 24 bases in the California League at age 20 two years later, he was regarded as an exciting prospect. My MLP system tabbed him as being a .270/.340/.425 hitter when he reached his prime years (based on 02-03 data). Well, as we all know, he took quite a detour! Expect the power to slide back down, but even with an awful IF/FB% of over 18%, his .232 BABIP should come up with more AB. A very good fielder by both reputation and (limited sample size) stats, there’s no guarantee that Nix will lose the job when Getz returns. A good power/speed contributor for teams in AL Leagues that can afford a hit to AVG.
Ivan Rodriguez | Texas | C
True Talent: .263/.298/.385
Next Week Forecast: 0.3 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, .260 BA, 0.2 SB
As a Cubs fan, this author has a hard time imagining anything but heroics from the guy who slayed some Bears in 2003. But the 37-year-old version isn’t the same, as True Talent indicates. Don’t be shocked if he picks up the rate stats in Texas’ friendly park, and the abundance of young catching options keeps him fresh. The rest will obviously depress his counting stats, but viewing him as “just a backup” would be a serious underestimation. Could be a surprisingly good second catcher in AL Leagues.
True Talent and Next Week Forecasts courtesy of Heater Magazine.