Thursday, June 6, 2013

Fantasy Funkhouser: Unpopular Opinion Alert - Rookies

Tony Cingrani should be back in the majors soon. You really shouldn't care. (cbssports.com)
Fantasy Funkhouser will review all things Fantasy Baseball. After all, life is a small sample size.

h/t Unpopular Opinion Alert to Jacoby +Grantland 

Maybe it is just me, but in this post Mike Trout world that we live in, the focus on prospects affecting fantasy teams has never been higher. There's more written, talked about, and added rookies than ever before. Now, this also appears to be rather reasonable as you can see (this is where I'd have a table showing the average performance of the top 10 rookies over the past 10 years ... you know, if i had time and a research team) that it does appear that rookies are getting to the bigs and having a bigger impact more than ever before.

I'm giving kudos to the advanced stats and scouting community for better honing the skills of prospects and deploying them appropriately once they reach the bigs. Just because you're Darin Ruf and hit a massive amount of homers in the minors doesn't mean your MLB material.

So I can understand when the next big prospect gets called up there will be a lot more fantasy owners perking up their ears. What I don't understand is why owners can't differentiate star prospects from just regular ones. Hey, I know, I know there's a vast history of top prospects bottoming out and 13th round picks making good and no matter how aggressive scouts and sabermatricians look at ballplayers this will undoubtedly be true forever, but there are prospects to give a look see and there are prospects to get excited about. 

A group of prospects made their debut this year to more fanfare than actual production, and while they haven't been disasters, these are guys that I'm more than happy to look past in 2013 and even more so down the road. So at the risk of causing some prospect lovers to go nuts, here's why I don't like these prospects.

Tony Cingrani, SP - Reds

Cingrani was a guy I wasn't interested in at all. His deceptive delivery and lack of a secondary pitch screamed of once through the league type guy. Well, that one time through the league was pretty great. In 6 starts he struck out 41 batters in 33 innings. He started to struggle a bit in his last two starts before he was sent back to AAA once Johny Cueto was healthy, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt as just rough starts. Not project any downward trend.

Well, with Cueto set to go back to the DL, you can expect Cingrani back in the bigs next week. I'm sure he'll pitch fine, but he strikes me as more of a great bullpen pitcher. Not just a LOOGY, but like a Sean Marshall type. Plus, Cueto is expected to be on the DL for the minimum amount of time, so Cingrani should be returning to the minors shortly.

Nolan Arenado, 3B - Rockies

Can we please not use the, "He plays half his games in Coors" excuse for Arenado? Sure, he has the potential to hit for power, but that's been non-existent. Along with his inability to draw a walk, his value is greatly diminished in Colorado. This was more of an Unpopular Opinion a couple of weeks ago, but now it's just obvious.

Michael Wacha, SP - Cardinals

I'm not one to turn my nose up at the Cardinals. They have the best farm system and best major league team in all of baseball. So when a touted prospect comes up, you should take notice. But when people start talking about Wacha like he's Shelby Miller or a potential ace, it's just not true. Wacha has developed some better than average secondary pitches, but long-term, if the Cards could pencil him in as their 3rd or 4th starter, I'm sure they'd take that. 

Yasiel Puig, OF - Dodgers

Puig exploded onto the scene as Dodgers rookies have a habit of doing. I'm more optimistic about Puig than the other prospects mentioned just because since he is from Cuba, I feel his low ranking on prospect lists is mainly not knowing what to make of the guy since he has virtually zero minor league experience. He has the tools and natural strength to make a big impact, and we've already seen some of that already. Ultimately though, you have to shake your head when you hear comps of Bo Jackson

There will always be Brien Taylors and Matt Bushs but the time to act is when the Zack Wheelers  and Oscar Taverases get the call. Nothing is wrong with taking a flier, after all, that's really what these prospects are, but once you have them keep expectations in check.

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