Minor League Hitters to Watch
A couple of days ago, we gave you our Minor League Pitchers to Watch. Today, we look at the Minor League hitters that can give your fantasy baseball team a signficant lift as we roll into late spring and summer.
Desmond Jennings has a bright future.
Desmond Jennings, OF, Rays — It’s hard to imagine why this guy is still in the Minors. When Manny Ramirez decided to call it quits, you would have thought that was the signal for Jennings to become a regular part of the Tampa Bay lineup. Sean Rodriguez has been weak at 2B, hitting just .211 on the year and he’s only a .231 hitter lifetime. So, why not move utility man Ben Zobrist to 2B and give the RF job to Jennings? Or, LF Sam Fuld has cooled off after a big start and he was never expected to be more than an extra outfielder any way. The Rays are a great surprise this year and now that they are in the hunt, how much longer can they keep Jennings in the minors? If they hope to prevent Jennings from becoming a super 2 arbitration-eligible player in 2013, they will have to keep him in the minors until July, because he spent all of September in Tampa last year. That’s simply too long.
Dustin Ackley, 2B, Mariners — As sure as Stephen Strasburg was the #1 pick of the 2009 draft, Dustin Ackley was the sure-fire #2 pick of the draft. Ackley is a converted outfielder that the Mariners will use at 2B. He is well known as having a great eye and has 20 walks already on the season, but that won’t do you a lot of good in most fantasy baseball leagues. At the start of the 2011 season, Ackley was sent down to Triple-A Tacoma to work on his defense and delay his super 2 status. Blocking Ackley for the Mariners are veterans Jack Wilson and Adam Kennedy. Ackley may have to wait if he doesn’t start hitting better, however; he’s only at .246 for the season, but with 5 homers.
Andy Dirks, OF, Tigers – Dirks was a terror during spring training in Lakeland and kept it up in Toledo. In 34 games with the Mud Hens, he has batted .328, smacked six home runs and drove in 20 runs. He also stole 10 bases. With Magglio Ordonez on the disabled list, Dirks was called up earlier today. He will compete with Brendan Boesch and Ryan Raburn for action in the Tigers outfield.
Dayan Viciedo, OF, White Sox — The Cuban Viciedo is known as “The Tank” thanks to his 5′ 11″, 240 pound build. Mark Teahan has been suffering with a right oblique problem. Speculation has centered on the red-hot Dayan Viciedo being recalled from Triple-A Charlotte if Teahen goes to the DL. Viciedo is batting .313 with five home runs and 28 RBI in 33 games. Over his last 10 games he is batting .400 (16-for-40) with two home runs and 11 RBIs. Viciedo hit .308 with five home runs and a .840 OPS in 104 big league at-bats last season. Though he has historically been a third baseman, Viciedo has played every game this year in RF at Charlotte.
Collin Cowgill, OF, Diamondbacks — Arizona is going to have to find a home for Cowgill soon. Cowgill has been on a terror in the minors this year at .322/5/16/8. We like that he appears to have both power and speed. Keep an eye on Cowgill over the next couple of weeks. You just may find yourself a quality NL only player who nobody else in your league has heard of.
Josh Fields, OF-3B, Rockies — Fields is tearing up the minors at Colorado Springs at .356/6/22/3 on the year. It’s hard to imagine how this guy hasn’t caught on somewhere as a regular given that he clubbed 23 homers in 2007 for the White Sox, but the Rockies picked up for a player to be named later from the Pirates. In 713 lifetime MLB at bats, he’s hitting just .234.
Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Padres — Brad Hawpe continues to struggle and the Padres offense is punchless scoring the least amount of runs in MLB. That may open an opportunity for the 21-year-old Rizzo who is hitting .389/10/43/4 at Tucson.
Jeff Baisley, 3B-1B, Angels — With Kendrys Morales down for the year with an injury, it may open up a roster spot for Baisley. Mark Trumbo has moved into the every day first baseman job and Alberto Callaspo is hitting over .300 while playing third so Baisley’s role would likely be as a backup, at least for the immediate future. Although the guys blocking him are playing well, it’s hard to ignore Baisley’s numbers with the San Antonio Missions: .388/9/31/1.