Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
      
Fantasy Football Today
Fantasy Football Today Blog
Gameday Inactives
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Scores
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
Fantasy Baseball Today Blog
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

AFL Report: Hitters on the horizon

  •  

The Arizona Fall League -- Major League Baseball's annual showcase for minor league talent -- doesn't have the same star appeal that it did a year ago. This year's rosters lack head-turning names like Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Gerrit Cole and Danny Hultzen, all of whom participated in 2011, but several players familiar to Fantasy owners in long-term keeper leagues packed their bags for an extended stay in the desert this fall. Billy Hamilton, George Springer, Christian Yelich, Robbie Erlin, James Paxton and Jarred Cosart are some of the more notable prospects seeing AFL action. However, in this first review of the 2012 AFL class, we'll focus on players who have a chance to have a Fantasy impact in 2013, including a few who have been ignored in long-term keeper formats.

Below are ten AFL hitters who are worth keeping in mind in various formats on draft day next spring. I'll save the pitchers for a little later, since only a handful have amassed as many as 10 innings so far. For each hitter, I have identified a reason as to why he could be Fantasy-relevant as well as an area where he needs to improve in order to make an impact. AFL stats cited are current for games through Sunday, October 28.

Nick Castellanos, 3B/OF, Tigers
Reason to get excited: He has demonstrated gap power at Class A and Double-A, showing strong potential for a high batting average.
Needs to work on: Home run power. Castellanos got a power boost upon his promotion to Double-A, banging seven homers in 79 games, but he was aided by playing home games in hitter-friendly Erie.
Early AFL returns: 50 AB, .220 Avg, 4 2B, 1 HR, 7 Runs.
2013 potential: Castellanos has a chance to compete to be the Tigers' everyday left fielder next spring, and if that happens, he would be draftable in deeper mixed leagues.

Mike Zunino, C, Mariners
Reason to get excited: The 2012 first-rounder mashed at Double-A (albeit in 51 at-bats) after getting skipped over Advanced Class A. In addition to power, Zunino demonstrated good plate discipline in his first exposure to pro ball.
Needs to work on: No clear weaknesses yet, but we will have to see how he fares as he logs more at-bats in the upper minors.
Early AFL returns: 46 AB, .283 Avg, 2 2B, 1 HR, 9 RBI.
2013 potential: Zunino ould become the Mariners' starting backstop at some point next season, though he's a long shot to make the team in the spring.

Kolten Wong, 2B, Cardinals
Reason to get excited: Wong is a speedy contact hitter who could supply steals, runs and a high batting average.
Needs to work on: Power hitting. Wong had the benefit of playing in a great hitter's park in Springfield (Texas League), but he produced just nine homers and 23 doubles in a full season.
Early AFL returns: 48 AB, .354 Avg, 1 HR, 9 RBI, 1 SB/3 CS.
2013 potential: There aren't any major roadblocks at second base, so by midseason, it could be the right time for Wong in St. Louis. As a starter, he could have some low-end appeal in standard mixed leagues.

Anthony Rendon, 3B, Nationals
Reason to get excited: The former Rice University standout has shown tremendous plate discipline during his limited time in the minors, and there have been some early signs of power as well. Owners should not be discouraged by Rendon's .162 batting average at Double-A Harrisburg; he appeared to be a victim of horrendous luck on balls in play (.163 BABIP).
Needs to work on: Staying healthy. A fractured ankle kept Rendon out for the majority of the 2012 season after he had been hampered by a shoulder injury during his college career.
Early AFL returns: 39 AB, .231 Avg, 4 2B, 0 HR, 5 RBI.
2013 potential: Rendon has the skills to contribute in Fantasy sometime in 2013, but a lack of opportunity could continue to be an obstacle. Rendon's primary position is third base, and he has been playing there in the AFL, but he is blocked in Washington by Ryan Zimmerman. A move to second base could be in Rendon's future, though the Nationals would need to move incumbent Danny Espinosa.

Grant Green, 2B, Athletics
Reason to get excited: After a disappointing 2011 campaign, Green's power numbers rebounded in 2012, and he also cut back on strikeouts and produced 13 steals.
Needs to work on: Patience. Green has yet to register a high walk rate, so he will have to maintain his gains in his strikeout rate if he is to help owners in leagues that use OBP.
Early AFL returns: 38 AB, .263 Avg, .349 OBP, 0 HR, 4 RBI.
2013 potential: After playing shortstop and outfield for most of his minor league career, Green's future now appears to be at second base. Not only does that move give him a better chance at playing time, but at that position, Green could have value for owners in deeper mixed leagues, should he become a regular.

Gary Brown, OF, Giants
Reason to get excited: Though he's not quite Billy Hamilton, Brown's 86 steals over the last two years bode well for future contributions in that category. His combination of speed and contact skills also provide the potential for a .300 average, though that promise wasn't met in Double-A, where Brown batted .279.
Needs to work on: Hitting the long ball. Brown's home run power faded after leaving the hitter-happy California League, and barring signs of development, owners should probably not expect him to hit double-digit homers as a big leaguer.
Early AFL returns: 35 AB, .257 Avg, 0 HR, 3 Runs, 1 SB/3 CS.
2013 potential: Brown probably won't contribute much in '13, but if he takes a step forward in the minors and the Giants need reinforcements down the stretch, he could be a handy late-season pickup.

Nick Franklin, SS, Mariners
Reason to get excited: Franklin maintained his power after making the jump from Double-A to Triple-A in June.
Needs to work on: Reducing flyouts and strikeouts. Increases in both rates left Franklin with a .240 batting average at Triple-A Tacoma.
Early AFL returns: 38 AB, .342 Avg, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 7 Ks.
2013 potential: Franklin has been playing second base in the AFL, which is not a good sign for those who envisioned him as a power-hitting shortstop. He also has a bigger roadblock at the keystone, which should be occupied for years to come by Dustin Ackley. The Seattle Times has reported that the M's have concerns about Franklin's defense at shortstop, so his short-term future doesn't look nearly as bright as it did earlier this year.

Didi Gregorius, SS, Reds
Reason to get excited: The 22-year-old is a good contact hitter who has shown a little bit of pop in a few of his minor league stops. In fact, Gregorius had been the last qualifying batter to strike out in the AFL heading into last weekend..
Needs to work on: Drawing walks. Also, though Gregorius has been a good triples hitter, his speed hasn't translated into many stolen bases.
Early AFL returns: 43 AB, .302 Avg, 3 2B, 0 HR, 3 BBs.
2013 potential: There is nowhere for Gregorius to play in Cincinnati, but with an injury to Zack Cozart or a trade of either him of Cozart, Gregorius would have a chance to show his stuff. As a regular or a utility player with consistent playing time, he would have value for owners in deeper leagues.

Kyle Jensen, OF, Marlins
Reason to get excited: Jensen has power aplenty. While he knocked out 24 home runs at Double-A Jacksonville this past season, it's even more impressive that he belted 22 in the offense-squelching Florida State League in 2011.
Needs to work on: Contact skills. Jensen's penchant for striking out has worsened as he has climbed the Marlins' organizational ladder, and he fanned 162 times in 445 at-bats at Jacksonville.
Early AFL returns: 49 AB, .408 Avg, 5 2B, 2 HR, 11 Ks.
2013 potential: It depends on how the Marlins' address their left field situation in the offseason. Jensen is likely to start the year in Triple-A, but if Logan Morrison shifts to first base and the team fails to find a reliable left field option, the door could be open for Jensen by midseason.

Rafael Ynoa, 2B, Dodgers
Reason to get excited: Speed and plate discipline. Ynoa has the potential to be a stolen base threat and his .364 on-base percentage at Double-A Chattanooga speaks to his promise as a leadoff hitter and run scorer.
Needs to work on: Hitting for power. While Ynoa showed a little bit of home run thump at lower levels, he failed to leave the park in 421 at-bats at Double-A.
Early AFL returns: 47 AB, .319 Avg, .358 OBP, 2 HR, 9 RBI.
2013 potential: The 25-year-old is hardly a prospect, but he has shown some intriguing skills at various stages of his career so far. The combination of a strong showing at Triple-A and a Mark Ellis injury could open the door for an opportunity to help deep league owners.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Al Melchior at @almelccbs . You can also e-mail us at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

  •  
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
Report: Padres 'in touch' with Phillies regarding Cole Hamels
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:09 am ET) The Padres are "in touch" with the Phillies in an attempt to land pitcher Cole Hamels, FOX Sports reports.

The Padres have made plenty of upgrades across the roster since general manager A.J. Heller took over, and it's possible they don't have the ammunition to land the Philadelphia ace in a deal. Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said last week that he didn't expect Hamels to be traded before the start of the season. Hamels went 9-9 with a 2.46 ERA and 198 strikeouts in 204 2/3 innings in 2014.


Report: Orioles sign Mark Hendrickson to minor-league deal
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/31/2015) The Orioles have signed Mark Hendrickson to a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training, CSNBaltimore.com reports.

Hendrickson, who last pitched in the majors in 2011, spent 2014 with York of the independent Atlantic League, posting a 1.54 ERA and 34:11 K:BB ratio in 52 2/3 innings over 55 appearances.


Rangers' Matt Harrison expects to open season on 60-day DL
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/31/2015) Rangers pitcher Matt Harrison said Saturday that he expects to open the season on the 60-day disabled list as he continues to recover from spinal fusion surgery, the Dallas Morning News reports.

"My job is to just get as healthy as I can and get myself right so I don’t have something happen like it did last year when I tried to come back," Harrison said. "I’m just going to focus on that and get ready to contribute whenever it may be."

Harrison is dealing with some stiffness in his right side, which will cause him to throw from a distance of 90 feet for a second consecutive week rather than progress to 105 feet. He hopes that he'll get his hips to rotate more and loosen up with more stretching and more throws from the 90-foot distance.


Report: Rays sign Ronald Belisario to minor-league deal
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/31/2015) The Rays have signed pitcher Ronald Belisario to a minor-league deal with an invitiation to spring training, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Belisaro made 62 appearances with the White Sox in 2014, posting a 4-8 record, 5.56 ERA and 47:18 K:BB ratio in 66 1/3 innings. He'll compete for a bullpen spot during the spring.


Dodgers SP Zack Greinke hasn't decided whether to opt out
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/31/2015) Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke said Saturday that he's yet to decide whether to opt out of his contract at the end of next season but added, "There's not really better options anywhere besides here," the Los Angeles Times reports.

Greinke is set to make $23 million in 2015, and he's due another $71 million over the following three seasons if he remains under his current contract. The Dodgers said earlier this offseason that they wouldn't discuss a contract extension with the pitcher during the winter.

Greinke went 17-8 with a 2.71 ERA and 207:43 K:BB ratio in 202 1/3 innings in 2014.


Orioles pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez hoping to bounce back in 2015
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/31/2015) Orioles pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez can't wait to get on the field and get past the 2014 season.

"I can’t wait," Jimenez said at Saturday’s FanFest event. "Whatever happened in 2014 is in the past. There's nothing I can do about it now. I can just look forward and now I’m going to do everything in spring training to get myself ready the best I can for the season and help the team."

Jimenez, who signed a four-year, $50 million deal with Baltimore in 2014, went 6-9 with a 4.81 ERA in 125 1/3 innings pitched. 

"It was pretty hard, coming in with a new team and signing a contract like that and not to do what everyone is expecting you to do, it’s hard," Jimenez said. "It’s hard not to be there for the team, but regardless what happened, I fought a lot. I think I was trying to find a way to survive to be there for the team and do whatever I can do the best. We got really far. I didn’t help a lot, but I tried to do whatever I could with whatever I had."


Royals' Alex Gordon plans to take it slow in recovery
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/31/2015) Royals outfielder Alex Gordon is still recovering from his wrist surgery this offseason and plans to take it slow in his rehab.

"We really don’t have a timetable," Gordon said. "We’re just going to see how it feels. Obviously, it’s spring training. So we don’t want to rush anything. If it feels good, we’ll be aggressive with it. But if it’s not feeling good, we’ll take it slow."

Manager Ned Yost wants to continue to take things slow with Gordon.
"We’ll just take it slow," Yost said. "We’ll see how he feels. We’ll play him one day. Then we’ll give him a day off. Play him another day, five or six innings, then give him a day off. We’ll just see how he’s doing."
Gordon hit .266 in 2014 with 19 home runs and 74 RBI.

Angels, Garrett Richards settle on $3.2 million for 2015
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/31/2015) The Angels and pitcher Garrett Richards have agreed to a contract for 2015 for $3.2 million, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

Richards was asking for $3.8 million while the Angels offered $2.4 million. Richards posted a 13-4 record in 2014 with a 2.61 ERA and 164 strikeouts for Los Angeles.


Orioles' Manny Machado expects to be ready for spring training
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/31/2015) Orioles third baseman Manny Machado is progressing through his rehab and says he's "ready to roll" for the upcoming season.

"I have a lot of time to get ready. That is the key: having a regular offseason," Machado said Saturday. "Was doing my rehab in Sarasota and then went to Miami to do my regular weightlifting and get ready for the season. Been exciting. Looking forward to spring training."

Machado has taken part in baseball activities for the past few weeks since having surgery on Aug. 27 after tearing a ligament in his knee.

"It will be awesome," he said of the prospect of having a normal spring. "I'm dying to get back on the field. Spring training is key for a lot of players to get your at-bats and your reps. I think some take it for granted but it's a very big key for success for the year."

Machado hit .278 in 2014 with 12 home runs and 32 RBI for Baltimore.


Bud Norris remains without update for contract extension
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/31/2015) Orioles pitcher Bud Norris said Saturday nothing has changed between he and the organization for a new contract.

"I haven't heard anything of that," Norris said. "I don't see a reason why I'd want to leave, but that's out of my control."

Norris and the Orioles are preparing for arbitration, when Norris filed for $10.25 million and Baltimore offered $7.5 million. He went 15-8 with a 3.65 ERA and 139:52 K:BB ratio in 165 1/3 innings over 28 starts in 2014.


 
 
 
Rankings