Monday, February 8, 2016

Fantasy Focus: 2016 Breakout Shortstop- Addison Russell

Addison Russell, SS.  B-R, T-R.  DOB:  1/23/1994.  6'0", 195 lbs.  Organization: Cubs

2015:  .242/.307/.389, 29 2B, 13 HR, 8.0 BB%, 28.5 K%.

Addison Russell has been an acclaimed high-ceiling prospect for awhile now.  I'm not sure what Billy Beane was thinking when he let Russell go to the Cubs in the Samardzija trade, but it is increasingly looking like Russell will make Trader Billy regret that deal.  Those are decent enough numbers from 2015 put up while mostly playing 2B.  The Cubbies liked Russell so much they traded away Starlin Castro to make room at SS for him.  He'll have Ben Zobrist helping him out at 2B.  The numbers the Cubs may be looking at is the BA which increased from .226 to .259 in the second half of 2015 and the K rate which dropped from over 30% to around 25%.  Add in that 2016 will be just his age 22 season when players are generally on a steep part of their learning curve and you have a real breakout possibility.

BTW, I also think Carlos Correa is going to break out, but he's going to be no lower than a 2'nd round fantasy draftee this year, so he does not need any publicity.

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #47 Mac Marshall

Mac Marshall, LHP.  DOB:  1/27/1996.  6'0", 180 lbs.

Rookie AZL:  0-0, 2.57, 7 IP, 14.14 K/9, 6.43 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.44.
Short Season:  0-0, 6.59, 13.2 IP, 11.85 K/9, 6.59 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.25.

Mac Marshall has been on scouting radars since before the 2014 draft.  He was a later round pick by the Houston Astros out of HS, but had his promised over-slot bonus blown up by the Brady Aiken mess.  At first, he enrolled at LSU which would have prevented him from being drafted again for 3 years.  After about a month, he left LSU and enrolled in a JC which made him draft eligible for 2015.  The Giants took him in Round 4.  He showed flashes of brilliance but also inconsistency in throwing strikes.  He got promoted to Salem-Keizer, but was shut down and later re-appeared in Arizona for his last 2 appearances.  It should be noted that 5 of his 15 BB's came in 1 game. It should also be noted that all of this is a very small sample size.

Marshall throws both a 4 seam and 2 seam FB. He generally sits 88-92 with the FB but can crank it up to 94.  One thing I like about him is his best pitch is his changeup that has excellent drop and fade to RH batters.  For most pitchers his age, the changeup is just starting to take shape, if they have one at all.  Augusta would seem to be the logical assignment for him to start 2016, but it may depend on his command in spring training.  Ceiling appears to be #3 SP with ETA 2019 or 2020.  Some analysts rank him higher.  I want to see him show better consistency first.  Again, having 3 young pitchers like Bolivar, Webb and Marshall this low on the list tells you how deep the Giants farm system is, even if you think all 3 should be ranked a bit higher.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Fantasy Focus: 2016 Breakout Third Basemen- Maikel Franco

Maikel Franco, 3B.  B-R, T-R.  DOB:  8/26/1992.  6'1", 180 lbs.  Organization:  Phillies.

2015:  .280/.343/.497, 22 2B, 14 HR, 7.8 BB%, 15.5 K%, 335 PA.

Maikel Franco had to wait until mid-May of last year for callup to the majors, a fact that he has filed a grievance with MLB over.  He pretty much raked from that point until August 18 when he suffered a wrist fracture.   He eventually returned to play the final 3 games of the season, so presumably he is healthy for 2015.  He looks like another player who just needs to stay healthy and accumulate the PA's to have his breakout season.  The Phillies won't be a good team in 2016, but that's mostly due to the pitching.  The lineup actually looks like it might not be half bad, so it should not drag Franco's R and RBI totals down too much.  The K and BB numbers are solid so unless the wrist injury lingers, he should be able to continue and build on the foundation he put down in 2015.  You won't draft him ahead of a Josh Donaldson, Manny Machado or Kris Bryant, but if you miss out on the elite guys, Franco should give you your money's worth and more later in the draft.

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #46 Logan Webb

Logan Webb, RHP.  DOB:  11/18/1996.  6'2", 195 lbs.

Short Season:  3-6, 4.92, 60.1 IP, 5.97 K/9, 2.39 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.67.

This line may not look to impressive at first glance but let me break it down a bit for you.  First of all, Webb was competing at age 18 with players whose average age was about 3 years older than he, players like Dansby Swanson, the #1 overall draft pick from an elite college program who could be in the major leagues as soon as this season.   The other take away point is Webb started the season slowly with a K/BB of 7/7 in 20 IP in his first 4 appearances.  After that, he struck out 33 against 9 BB's in 40.1 IP for a 7.38 K/9 and a 1.98 BB/9.  And don't overlook that excellent groundball rate.

I don't really have a current scouting report on Webb.  He hit 96 MPH in high school before the draft, but reportedly was lower after.  In several videos posted on the internet I would estimate that he was hitting the mid-90's with the FB, but it is very hard to judge velocity without radar gun measurements.  Those videos also show a terrific breaking ball with excellent vertical depth as well as a diving changeup that may be a split-change.

I expect we will see Logan Webb in the Augusta rotation this spring for his age 19 season where he will be pitching in a much more pitching-friendly environment with players approximately the same age as the NWL.  A strong 2016 season would really boost his stock into the upper levels of the Giants Top 50 Prospects.  Ceiling is hard to project at this point.  I would say he probably best profiles as a future #3 SP.  ETA is probably 2019 at the earliest, more likely 2020.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Fantasy Focus: 2016 Breakout Second Baseman- Jonathan Schoop

Jonathan Schoop, 2B.  DOB:  10/16/1991.  6'2", 210 lbs.  Organization:  Orioles

2015:  .279/.306/.482, 15 HR, 2.8 BB%, 24.6 K%, BABIP= .329, 321 PA.

I last year's auction draft, I overpaid for Dee Gordon at $29.  He was worth every penny of that, but if I want him again this year, I'm going to have to pay a lot more than that.  So, I'm thinking about shifting gears away from Gordon's elite SB production to a guy who just might give me over 30 HR's from a position that does not generally produce anything close to that kind of power.  Jonathan Schoop is a big, power hitting 2B in the mold of Jeff Kent or Dan Uggla.  He hit 16 HR's in his rookie campaign in 2014 albeit with an ugly BA of .209.  Last year, he clubbed 3 dingers in the first 9 games of the season, then hurt his knee on a takeout slide.  He did not return until mid-season, but hit .287 the rest of the way.

The guy is a free swinger with minuscule walk rates, but OBP is not a category in most fantasy formats.  His BABIP was not insanely high last year, so there is a fairly good chance that his BA will hold up and the power is obviously there.  An injury free season would yield close to 30 dingers and this kid is still on the upward trajectory of his career, and a fairly steep one at that!  While other managers are overpaying for Dee Gordon, Jose Altuve and Robinson Cano, sit back and grab this guy later in the draft, but don't wait too long!

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #45 Deiyerbert Bolivar

Deiyerbert Bolivar, LHP.  DOB:  4/3/1996.  5'11", 155 lbs.

2014 DSL:  7-1, 1.27, 64 IP, 9.42 K/9, 2.81 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.47.
2015 AZL:  2-1, 2.08, 30.1 IP, 8.90 K/9, 4.15 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.38.

If nothing else, this kid is in the running for most awesome name in the organization.  Signed out of Venezuela in 2013.  His pro debut in the DSL was successful.  He got a late start in 2015 appearing in his first game on July 24.  He started off slowly, building his innings.  In his final two starts, he went 5 innings in each game with a total of just 1 run allowed on 9 hits with 14 K's against just 2 BB's.

Independent scout Chris Kusoliak tweeted that Bolivar's FB sat 89-91 MPH and touched 92.  There is a nice pic of him in his windup on Fourseam Images.  I don't have much more than that.  His small size makes his odds a bit long, but the numbers look good so far.  I and anxious to see where the Giants place him in 2016 and how he performs.  They will likely try to prevent too big an innings jump, so Short Season is a possibility.  His ceiling is probably back end MLB starter vs left specialist.  ETA is, oh, maybe 2020?

Friday, February 5, 2016

Fantasy Focus: 2016 Breakout First Basemen- Ben Paulsen and Chris Colabello

Ben Paulsen, 1B.  B-L, T-R.  DOB:  10/24/1983.  6'4", 205 lbs.  Organization:  Rockies.

2015:  .277/.376/.462, 19 2B, 4 3B, 11 HR, 354 PA.

Chris Colabello, 1B.  B-R, T-R.  DOB:  10/24/1983.  6'4", 235 lbs.  Organization:  Blue Jays

2015:  .321/.367/.520, 19 2B, 15 HR, 360 PA.

I've been putting Brandon Belt out there as a breakout first baseman for so long now, it's gotten embarrassing.  Now that I'm moving on, he'll probably breakout this year, which would be A-OK with me.  The easiest way for a hitter to breakout is for him to keep on doing exactly what he's been doing, but just get more PA's, so I always look for guys who who might make the jump from 200-400 PA's to 600+.  Paulsen and Colabello are two first basemen who might just do that.

With Justin Morneau moving on from the Rockies, Ben Paulsen stands to move into the starting 1B role there.  Of course, the fact that he plays half his games in Coors Field is an added bonus.  The downside might be that he doesn't hit lefties all that well and he might end up in a platoon with Mark Reynolds.  Watch that situation closely and if it looks like Paulsen is going to get the bulk of playing time, he is a great sleeper option for an IF or UT slot on your fantasy baseball roster.

Colalbello is in a similar situation in Toronto.  He platooned last year with Justin Smoak, but then became the full-time starter at 1B in the postseason.  Smoak is still around, but the postseason may be a tea leaf that he could have a big jump in PA's.  His downside is he is a terrible fielder and Toronto has no shortage of DH candidates.   Again, I would not be looking at Colabello as the first 1B you take in your draft or even to draft him at all.  His situation should be monitored closely and he might be a nice IF or UT option later in your draft or as a pickup target into the season.