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2012 Fantasy Baseball Prospect Report: Baltimore Orioles’ Manny Machado

Fri, Aug 10, 2012

Prospect Report

The Baltimore Orioles surprised everyone Wednesday when they announced the big-league promotion of Manny Machado. The 20-year-old went 2-for-4 with a triple and a single from the nine hole in his major league debut Thursday night.

The baseball community is buzzing over Machado’s promotion, but fantasy owners just want to know: Is he worth a pick-up?

Machado was the third overall pick in the 2010 draft behind Bryce Harper and Jameson Taillon. He had a good showing in a brief rookie ball stint before advancing to the South Atlanta League (A) for 2011. He was promoted to Frederick (High-A) after just 38 games. His first full season of pro ball went well, despite missing a month with a dislocated kneecap. In 430 plate appearances he hit .257/.335/.421 with 36 extra-base hits — 11 homers — and 11 steals in 17 attempts.

The Orioles sent him to Double-A Bowie to start the 2012 season, where he continued to impress. In 459 plate appearances, Machado hit .266/.352/.438 with 42 extra-base hits — 11 homers — with 13 steals in 17 attempts. It was his performance there that led to his promotion to Baltimore.

Earlier this year, Baseball America ranked Machado as the 11th-best prospect (with a 2013 ETA) and a 70/medium grade, meaning some work still remained for him to reach his perennial all-star potential. He also ranked ninth-best on their mid-season list. From BA:

“Machado has all the tools to be an all-star shortstop. He’s an above-average hitter with a knack for making solid contact, and he has the bat speed and strength to generate average power…Machado has good hands and range and a plus arm, so he’ll be a fine defensive shortstop as long as he doesn’t outgrow the position…He’s an average runner.”

Machado is a guy keeper and dynasty league owners will want to stash (if they haven’t already). Make no mistake about his upside. In a conversation last month, one former AL and NL scout told me he prefers Machado over Rangers’ shortstop prospect Jurickson Profar.

For the next two months, however, Machado’s fantasy value is likely limited. He started at third base Thursday night and he’ll likely get most of the starts there for now while J.J. Hardy plays shortstop. Yahoo! already lists him as a shortstop, so he’ll be eligible at both positions very soon.

Although Mike Trout is leading the universe in hitting at 21, he’s a very rare exception. Twenty-year-olds don’t often provide much fantasy value. If you’re looking for a hot young prospect to contribute down the stretch, Pirates’ Starling Marte will probably provide more value than Machado. If I had to guess, I’d say the newest Oriole tops out with no more than a handful of homers and a few steals with a .260 batting average. Unless you’re playing in a very deep league, those numbers are Machado about nothing. (See what I did there?)

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