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Cameron Maybin Tops List of Prospects to Keep an Eye on in the Second Half

Mon, Jun 29, 2009

Player Projections, Prospect Report

Last week’s Fantasy Focus centered around three prime sell-high targets.

This week, we’ll turn our attention to the minor leagues to find out which prospects are most likely to make a fantasy impact this season.

Jhoulys Chacin

Chacin’s value has skyrocketed since the beginning of the 2008 season, when Baseball America ranked him as the No. 18 prospect in Colorado’s system.

After an 18-3 record with a 2.03 ERA in 177 2/3 innings between Low-A and High-A last year, Chacin entered 2009 as the Rockies’ No. 2 prospect.

Chacin has hit the ground running in Double-A this season, posting a 2.92 ERA, 7.67 K/9, and 2.81 BB/9 in 83 1/3 innings.

The 21-year-old has been especially dominant since May 1, to the tune of a 2.29 ERA, 8.4 K/9, and 2.9 BB/9 in 63 innings.

Chacin features a 92-94 MPH fastball with “heavy sinking action,” according to Baseball America. “He uses the same arm action for his change, which has become an out pitch” for him. His 78-80 MPH curve isn’t quite yet where it needs to be,  but he has shown the ability to throw it for strikes.

His sinking fastball has allowed him to post a career groundball rate of more than 61 percent. Last season, only two pitchers in the Major Leagues induced grounders as often as Chacin did–Brandon Webb and  Derek Lowe.

If his curve develops into a plus pitch, Chacin has the potential to become a frontline starter. As long as he keeps up with his current pace, the Venezuelan pitcher should reach Colorado after the All-Star Break, with a chance to become fantasy relevant soon after.

Cameron Maybin

If you read my 2009 All-Breakout Team post back in April, you know how much I love Maybin. While the projections I set for him at the beginning of the season are no longer attainable, there’s reason to believe Maybin could have a large fantasy impact later this season.

Through 125 at-bats in Triple-A this season, Maybin is batting .320 with one HR and four steals. While his lack of power is concerning, Maybin seems to be improving on his biggest flaw–his strikeout total.

The following table displays Maybin’s strikeout rate in the minors each of the last three seasons.

YEAR K %
2007 28 %
2008  31 % 
2009  16% 

 

This is more encouraging to me than any HR or stolen base total. Maybin’s plus power and plus-plus speed are sure to make him a 30/30 threat in Florida over the next few years.

At the young age of 22, Maybin is still a few years away from reaching his prime. That doesn’t mean, however, that he can’t be productive later this season. I expect Maybin to get the call within the next month, and start producing solid totals in runs, batting average and steals soon after.

Now might be a good time to stash Maybin away if he’s available. In keeper/dynasty leagues, now is a great time to buy low on the former centerpiece of the Miguel Cabrera trade. Get him now while you still can!

Wade Davis

Wade Davis may be the best pitching prospect that many people don’t know about. While David Price and Tommy Hanson have been getting all the attention, Davis has been dominating Triple-A, which leads me to believe a call-up may be just around the corner.

Davis was named the Rays’ minor league pitcher of the year in 2007. After a mid-season promotion to Triple-A in 2008, Davis posted a stellar 2.89 ERA with 9.3 K/9 and 4.08 BB/9 in 53 innings.

Through 84 Triple-A innings this season, Davis has posted a 2.89 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9.

The 2004 third rounder is an intimidating presence on the mound, standing 6’5” featuring a low-to-mid-90s four-seam fastball, and a nasty 11-to-5 curveball. Davis also has a straight changeup and an improved cutter. According to Baseball America, “Davis simply needs to refine the consistency of his overall feel and his delivery, particularly with his release point.” Doing this would help cut down on his walk totals.

The 23-year-old profiles as a future No. 1 starter. His immediate future is likely dependant on Andy Sonnanstine, who owns a horrific 6.61 ERA through 81 2/3 innings for Tampa this season.

Because of this, a promotion for Davis is possible, and would make him a hot commodity on the waiver wire across the fantasy baseball community. This situation is definitely worth keeping an eye on.

Other prospects who have a chance to make a fantasy impact this season include: Clay Buchholz, Matt LaPorta, Chris Tillman, and Justin Smoak.

I know these aren’t the only prospects who will make an impact in the second half, so who did I miss? Feel free to offer up any suggestions!

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