Deep Dynasty Fishing: 10 players to add

May 17, 2008

Listed below are five pitchers and five hitters who could become valuable fantasy contributors, as well as highly sought-after prospects. Get them now before they are long gone! (You may regret not taking the chance on them!)

Peter Bourjos, CF - 3/31/1987, High-A, Los Angeles Angels: A former 10th round pick (2005), Bourjos has a unique set of tools. A blazing speedster, Bourjos has 24 stolen bases as opposed to 2 caught stealing so far in 2008. He's also slugging .480 in High-A, but given that it is the CAL league and given that he slugged .427 last year, I don’t believe he will be a guy who can consistently put up those type of power numbers in the future. His 6-foot-1, 175-pound frame may allow him to continue to improve upon his power potential through physical maturation, but I see him topping out as a 15 home run per year type player. His plate discipline is the one area that he needs to refine (4.9 BB%, 15.9 K% in ’08), but his overall skill-set portrays a potentially valuable fantasy player in the future. With the ability to hit for contact, some power, and swipe 35+ bases annually, Bourjos is someone to pick up if you have the chance.

Michael Brantley, OF - 5/15/1987, AA, Milwaukee Brewers: Similarly to Bourjos, Michael Brantley is another middle-round draft pick who is rewarding his organization in 2008. Taken 205th overall in the 5th round of the 2005 draft, he also profiles to be an exciting leadoff hitter in the future. Brantley is a left-handed hitter who can handle center field and be a catalyst at the top of any order in the future. With great plate disciple and contact skills (11.4 BB%, 5.4 K%, .327 avg. in 2008), Brantley puts the ball in play the majority of his at bats, if he isn’t busy taking the base on balls. Brantley, who just turned 21, is one of the younger players in Double-A, and he's more than handling his own there. His 13 stolen bases to 3 caught stealing in 162 at-bats show his potential to swipe 25 bases in the big leagues. Although he is in a crowded outfield situation in Milwaukee’s organization, Brantley is the only one who profiles as a leadoff hitter, something that Milwaukee lacks as Rickie Weeks continues to struggle. If Brantley continues his success, he could make a major league appearance in September. If he does, he will be one of the youngest players in the MLB.

Edward Cegarra, SP - 2/27/1989, Low-A, Kansas City Royals: Out of Barinas, Venezuela, Edward Cegarra is a talented youngster who is one of many emerging arms in the Royals organization. Spending all of 2007 as a 18-year-old in the Midwest League, Cegarra had his fair share of struggles, as most pitchers his age would. 2008 has been a different story, however. Carrying a ridiculous 49 K:4 BB ratio (48.0 IP), Cegarra is becoming a command specialist who has the ability to miss bats at a strong rate (26.1 K%). The short and slender righty (5-foot-11, 174 lbs) certainly doesn’t have ideal size, but his stuff and command at such a young age are worth getting excited about. His 2.21 FIP shows his dominance in ’08, and continued success will allow him to move up to High-A before year’s end. If Cegarra can continue to command the strike-zone, I believe he has a chance to be a faster riser. Whether he is a reliever or starter in the future remains to be seen. Still, a pitcher with his overall package is valuable to any organization.

Sean Doolittle, 1B - 9/26/1986, High-A, Oakland Athletics: A player who was regarded as highly as Doolittle when he was drafted (41st overall, 2007) usually wouldn’t make a list like this from me, but his struggles last year caused his stock to drop around dynasty leagues. Because of this, there is still a chance that he is unowned in your league, and if he is, don’t hesitate to grab him immediately. Doolittle was considered to be a solid overall package for a first baseman. Then came his struggles in ’07, where he went a combined .243/.341/.347 between rookie ball and low-A. As we look past the terrible start to his professional career, it is clear that Doolittle is breaking out in a big way at his time in Stockton. Although he is doing it in the hitter friendly California league, Doolittle is mashing his way up the prospect charts. With a .361/.436/.690 line to date, Doolittle is showing contact (.361 avg.), power (.329 isoP), and patience (14.2 BB%) at the plate. He still is striking out too much (24.6 K%) but you can live with that out of a slugging 1B. With fellow 1B prospect Chris Carter currently struggling at Stockton, Doolittle appears to be the one with the chance to move rapidly in the system, and eventually have an everyday spot in the bigs.

Freddie Freeman, 1B - 9/12/1989, Low-A, Atlanta Braves: Overshadowed by teammate Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman is another exciting youngster on a talented Rome offense. Being more than a month younger then Heyward, Freeman is more than holding his own in full season ball. The 78th overall pick in the 2007 draft, Freeman is a sturdy 1st bagger with skills beyond his years. Freeman’s .289/.333/.456 line shows he has the potential to hit for big power in the future. Freeman needs to work on his walking ability (5.7 BB%), however his strikeout rate (14.5 K%) is excellent for an 18-year-old first-baseman in low-A. With 14 of his 43 hits being doubles, it is reasonable to believe that a percentage of those will turn into home runs as his body matures. With a strong frame at 6-foot-5, 220 lbs, this lefty has many of the things you look for in a young first base prospect. Look for him and Heyward to be a strong power tandem in the Braves system for the next few years, and while his ceiling his not comparable to his phenomenal teammate, Freeman remains a high-upside talent in a very strong Braves organization.

Charlie Morton, RHP - 10/12/1983, AAA, Atlanta Braves: Long ago in 2002, the Atlanta Braves took Charlie Morton with their 3rd round pick. Morton was an inconsistent starter who showed glimpses of dominance throughout his minor league career. Flash forward to 2007 where the 23-year-old right-hander broke onto the scene in the Arizona Fall League by going 4-1 with a 2.57 ERA, 20 K and 8 BB in 21.0 IP. Coming from virtually nowhere (3.78 FIP in AA in ’07, 5.19 FIP in A+ in ’06), Morton has excelled in his stint with Triple-A Richmond so far this year. With impressive statistics all around (8.1 BB%, 21.0 K%, 53 GB%, 2.48 FIP), Morton is waiting in the wings to join the Atlanta Rotation. He should get a spot start within a couple weeks, and if successful could remain there for the a good portion of the season. Showing a big “12-6” curve, that complements a 95-98 MPH heater, Morton clearly has the stuff to be a capable major league starter. Track his following starts closely, as he is one word from Bobby Cox away from being a starter for the Atlanta club.

Juan Ramirez, RHP - 8/16/1988, Low-A, Seattle Mariners: It is becoming more and more understood that statistics such as earned run average aren’t a great way to determine the actual production of a pitcher, and certainly not in trying to predict future success. At quick glance, Juan Ramirez’ 4.28 ERA this year will turn people away immediately. A closer look into the numbers will bring those people back quicker than you can say “electric stuff”. Electric stuff is exactly what Ramirez has, as his fastball is typically clocked in the 91-94 mph range, occasionally touching 95 or 96. The 6-foot-3 righty is very projectable, with the ability to add tick-or-two to his fastball consistency. Ramirez’ core numbers this year are fantastic: 7.9 BB%, 26.2 K%, 59 GB%, 2.18 FIP are all very strong statistics that show how truly dominant he’s been this year, which cannot be determined by his 4.28 ERA. Ramirez can work to improve his command, as that has been a weakness in the past (12.6 BB% in short-season last year). Overall, Ramirez has greatly improved his prospect status, and if he has a few more starts that are on line with what he has already accomplished this year, there is no reason he should continue to be unowned in your league.

Matt Sulentic, OF, 10/6/1987, High-A, Oakland Athletics: When Matthew Sulentic was drafted 98th overall, the 2nd pick for Oakland in the draft (behind Trevor Cahill), he was considered a very talented prospect. Scouts loved his tools and his makeup, and the capability was there for Sulentic to break out in a big way in 2007. Breaking out was the opposite of what Sulentic did last year. In 482 AB’s between the Midwest League and eventually the Northwest League, Sulentic put up a dismal line of .224/.310/.315. Similarly to Stockton teammate Sean Doolittle, Sulentic had lost a lot of the luster on his prospect status. Also similarly to Doolittle, he’s regaining that status this year. So far in ’08 Sulentic has been very productive, to the tune of .299/.372/.488. His discipline is very good (10.3 BB%), as well as showing strong power (.189 isoP) from a shorter player (5-foot-11). His K% is still pretty bad (21.4%), which he will definitely need to work on if he wants to be a productive big leaguer someday. Still, Sulentic is once again considered to be an athletic OF with strong tools across the board as well as great makeup, and those things are now translating into production on the ball-field.

Daryl Thompson, RHP, 11/02/1985, AA, Cincinnati Reds: The newest arm to emerge from a very deep Reds system. Thompson was taken in the 8th round by the now extinct Expos back in 2003. For Thompson, it has been a long road to reach where he is at now. Thompson was not a highly rated prospect coming into the 2008 season, primarily due to his troubles in the Florida State League last year (4.86 FIP). A fly-ball pitcher (37% in ’08), Thompson had always posted good BB and K rates (7.0 BB%, 21.7 K% in ’07), but the home run (19 in 105.0 innings in the FSL in ’07) has haunted him throughout his career. This year, everything is coming together much better for Thompson. His walks, although always strong, are down (5.9%), while his strikeouts are up (26.2%). This is resulting in a 2.45 FIP, much improved from last year. A short righty with a similar body to Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto, Thompson could follow Homer Bailey as the next youngster to join an already bright young Red’s rotation. With Thompson dominating the Southern League the way he has so far, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him move to Triple-A soon.

Ryan Tucker, RHP, 12/06/1986, AA, Florida Marlins: When the 2005 draft approached, the Florida Marlins had a game-plan. They were going with young, high-upside pitching, and nothing was going to stop them. Owning five picks of the first 44 overall, the Marlins dialed up young pitching, all five times. Four of the five were high-school arms, with the 3rd one being Ryan Tucker (The other three were Chris Volstad, Aaron Thompson, and Sean West). Tucker is a sturdy right-hander (6-foot-2. 190), who has taken a long time to breakout. Although his 3.52 ERA at High-A last year was solid, his K% (17.4%) left more to be desired. Here we are in 2008, where Tucker is pitching lights-out in Double-A Carolina. His nearly invisible 0.97 ERA is backed by strong rates across the board (8.9 BB%, 22.1 K%, 47 GB%). Tucker has taken a little longer to pitch constantly compared to rotation-mates Volstad and Thompson, but looks like a solid bet to continue his success all the way to the Florida rotation.


Brett Sullivan can be reached at