Monday, March 17, 2008

Down on the Farm: Road Blocked

This week on "Down on the Farm" we are going to take a look at a few prospects that are Major League ready but lack an everyday opportunity on their team as it currently stands. These players will either be in the minors or on the bench waiting for an injury or trade to open up a spot for them. As it stands now these players shouldn't be drafted with the exception of deep keeper leagues, but if they get a chance to start they should all be considered priority waiver wire pick-ups.

(1) Jeff Clement-C Seattle Mariners: If Jeff Clement was a starting catcher he could be one of the top five fantasy catchers in the league. Unfortunately for Clement and fantasy owners he will only be the starting catcher in AAA Tacoma. The former 3rd overall pick of the 2005 draft doesn't have much more to prove in the minors, where he hit .275 (AVG)-20 (HR)-80 (RBI) in just 455 at bats, but figures to get one more year of AAA as the team is set with Kenji Johjima at catcher. The Mariners have considered playing Clement at first base or as their DH to get his power bat in their line-up but already have big money tied into veterans Richie Sexon and Jose Vidro. It looked at one point this off-season that Clement might be traded to the Orioles in the Erik Bedard deal giving him more of an opportunity but the M's decided to hang on to their young catcher. Barring an injury or trade Clement won't be much of a fantasy option in 2008, look for him to breakout in '09 putting up Brian McCann type numbers.

(2) Steven Pearce-1B/OF Pittsburgh Pirates: It's hard to imagine that the second worst team in baseball last year would be able to keep their best minor league hitter out of the opening day lineup but that looks to be the Pirates game plan. Pearce, who last year had a breakout campaign in the minors hitting .333-31-113 in 487 at bats over three levels of minor league ball, is ready to add his bat to the middle of the Pirates order. Pearce who has been a first baseman his entire career is looking to make a position change to the outfield since Adam LaRoche looks to be the Pirates man on first for the foreseeable future. The position change may help Pearce become an everyday starter sooner but still leaves him blocked for now as the Pirates have two of their best hitters in their corner outfield spots, in Jason Bay and Xavier Nady. Pittsburgh has listened to offers for both Nady and Bay but probably won't make a deal until after the season starts. This will give Pearce some time in the minors to adjust to his new position. If Pearce keeps hitting like he did last season look for the Pirates to move Nady well before the trade deadline to make room for him. When a spot is clear for him grab Pearce in your league as he has the potential to put up big time power numbers for your team.

(3) Ian Stewart-3B/2B Colorado Rockies: Ian Stewart has a number of things going for him; he has power he has speed and he possesses a prototypical arm for third base his natural position. Unfortunately for Stewart he has one major thing going against him; Garrett Atkins who has averaged over 20 home runs and 100 RBI's in his three years as a starter. With Atkins firmly entrenched at third, the Rockies are looking to move Stewart off the hot corner to get his bat in the lineup faster. Stewart who last year in AAA hit .304-15-65 with 11 steals in only 414 at bats, looks ready to make the jump to the NL champions but the question remains as to where he will play. Todd Helton looks to stay at first and the corner outfield spots are manned by Matt Holiday and Brad Hawpe, leaving second base as Stewart's only option. While there is an opening there Stewart doesn't figure to be a solid defensive second baseman, likely leaving the job to fellow rookie Jayson Nix. Stewart needs a trade to happen for him to become a fantasy sleeper. If he gets an everyday shot Stewart should hit around 25 home runs and add between 10-15 steals.

(4) Adam Miller-SP Cleveland Indians: Though Adam Miller struggled last season with injuries that limited him to just 11 minor league starts, in which Miller went 5-4 with a 4.82 ERA, he is the Indians top pitching prospect. Miller would probably be in the starting rotation on more than a dozen teams in the league. Due to the strength of the Indians staff, which features Cy Young winner C.C. Sabathia and 19 game winner Fausto Carmona at the top of the rotation and over 21 million dollars of payroll due to Jake Westbrook, Paul Byrd and Cliff Lee, Miller is on the outside looking in. Don't let last season's numbers deceive you, in 2006 Miller went 15-6 with a 2.75 ERA and 157 K's in 153 innings pitched, he is a front of the rotation starter and has a bright future ahead of him. As it stands now Miller figures to spend most of the season in AAA trying to show that he can stay healthy. Unless Lee is traded or more unlikely free agent to be Sabathia is moved, Miller's only chance at making an impact this season is as an injury replacement. Otherwise consider Miller a top sleeper for 2009 as he could take Sabathia's place in the rotation.

Hope everyone has a great week, I will you see you all next Monday!

Related Posts by Subject