May 04, 2010

It's time to add some fresh flavor to NKOTD. This week I present to you my "Fantasy Prospects Faceoff" feature. In this section of the column, I will pit two prospects against each other in a fantasy battle. Specifically, I will give you a scouting report on each prospect and tell you which one is more valuable in keeper leagues. In the first matchup, it's Michael Taylor v. Domonic Brown. The matchup details and ultimate victor are announced in the last section of this piece.

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Jhoulys Chacin (SP, COL)

Despite his minor league success, Chacin plunged off the prospect radar this offseason because of 11 subpar innings last year in the majors. Outrageous. Check out Chacin's career minor league statistics: 481.1 innings pitched, 2.43 earned run average, 7.9 strikeouts per nine innings, 2.7 walks per nine innings, and 1.134 walks plus hits per innings pitched. Chacin was promoted last week to take the injured Jorge de la Rosa's spot in the rotation. The 6-4, 218-pound righty has a diverse arsenal of pitches, but his bread-and-butter weapons are his low-90s sinker and deceptive changeup. After watching every pitch of his start on Sunday versus San Francisco (seven innings pitched, one hit, zero earned runs, seven strikeouts, three walks), I was also extremely impressed by his late-breaking slider.

It's funny, even the buzz today is that Chacin only did well in his first start because he was facing the Giants' weak lineup; he can't catch a hype break. The prospect world has lost faith in Chacin because of his control problems at advanced levels and because of an overreaction to his test run in the majors last year. Trust Chacin's stuff and career numbers. He has the two traits you should covet in young pitchers -- the ability to induce grounders (59.4-percent ground ball rate in his career) and miss bats. Chacin is must-add in NL-only leagues and someone to monitor in mixed leagues.

Chris Heisey (OF, CIN)

There's no reason to even take a peek at Heisey in any non-keeper format. The 25-year-old outfielder was recently called up when Chris Dickerson was placed on the disabled list with a broken wrist. First, Heisey will have to fight for playing time with Jonny Gomes and Laynce Nix, even though Dickerson is out of the picture for a few months. Second, though he has some moderate power and speed, Heisey will struggle from the outset because of his poor pitch recognition skills against more difficult pitching (0.33 walk-to-strikeout ratio at Triple-A in '09, 0.30 BB/K ratio in '10). Take a pass in your NL-only leagues and feel giddy about it. Given the fact he's already 25, I wouldn't go kicking down any doors for Heisey in keeper leagues either.

Trevor Cahill (SP, OAK)

The 22-year old Cahill isn't a prospect any longer after throwing 178.2 innings for the Athletics last year. The noise surrounding Cahill has faded because he didn't "wow" last year (4.63 ERA, 4.53 K/9, 27 home runs allowed). Nevertheless, don't write Cahill off just yet. He got the nod last week when Brett Anderson was placed on the disabled list with a forearm strain. Fortunately, for any of you looking to snatch Cahill, he was torched in his first start against Toronto. Why am I still in this kid's corner? Well, he's posted a K/9 of 8.00 or above at every level except the majors. Further, he's only given up 0.28 home runs per nine innings in the minors and has a 58.6-percent GB rate. Cahill's big 2009 performance was merely a part of his learning curve. It's very likely Cahill will receive 125-plus innings in the majors because of the nature of Anderson's injury and the fact Justin Duchscherer's hip/psyche are held in place by dental floss. Cahill will continue to improve with experience and will certainly rise up RotoExperts' Xclusive Edge Rankings as the season progresses. He's worth a stash in most AL-only leagues because of his stuff, opportunity, and home park.

Mike Stanton (OF, FLA)

Stanton came in as the eighth-ranked prospect on my Preseason Fantasy Prospects List. The 6-5, 235-pound monster has now climbed into my Top 5 because of the way he's humiliating Double-A pitching this year. These stats are drool-worthy after only 23 games: .354 batting average, 12 home runs, .505 on-base percentage, and .866 slugging percentage. Most important, unlike last year at Double-A, Stanton has shown extraordinary plate discipline (23-percent Walk rate). The Marlins' patience with Cody Ross won't last much longer; he's worthless if he's not hitting bombs. Look for Ross or Dan Uggla to be dealt to open up playing time for Stanton. The 20-year-old will get his first taste of the bigs by July after only a short stay in Triple-A.

Buster Posey (C, SFG)

Bengie Molina is now talking retirement after the '10 season because he's unhappy with the way the Giants have handled the "Buster Posey situation." Really? Dude, you should have signed with the Mets if you didn't want a talented young backstop breathing down your neck. The writing was on the proverbial wall -- spare us the whining. Posey is off to a solid start at Triple-A hitting .333 with a .422 OBP, but he's not hitting for massive pop with only two dingers and a .471 SLG. Posey is going to be a line drive machine and patient hitter in the majors. That said, those of you who are expecting big power numbers are fooling yourself in a Bengie-like fashion. Due to his frame and compact swing, this isn't a guy who will hit 25-plus HRs per year -- especially because he will call AT&T Park his home. Posey will be in the bigs by at least early June and will see time at first base and catcher. Look for Molina to be dealt in a deadline deal to open up full-time catching duties for Posey. Expect a high batting average and low slugging percentage in '10.

Jose Tabata (OF, PIT)

I've never been a big Tabata supporter, but he's growing on me. The 21-year-old outfielder is currently hitting .330 with two HRs, 12 stolen bases, and a .391 OBP at Triple-A. From a fantasy perspective, it's important that he's swiping more bases and striking out less. Tabata has the speed and contact skills (85-percent Contact rate at Triple-A) to put up solid batting average, runs scored, and stolen base numbers. The power numbers, however, will be extremely average (.134 isolated power at Triple-A last year). Tabata will find a starting spot in the Pirates outfield by July, most likely at the expense of Lastings Milledge. He's not worth stashing in mixed leagues because his short-term upside is limited. In keeper leagues, he's worth grabbing because he has .300 BA/20 SB potential when he reaches his peak.

Tanner Scheppers (RP, TEX)

Scheppers is on track to follow Neftali Feliz's road from last year. The 23-year-old converted starter was dominant at Double-A this year before being promoted to Triple-A last week. Take a look at these sick Double-A numbers: 11 IP, 0.82 ERA, 19 Ks, 0 BBs, and .079 batting average against. Scheppers has a 93-98 mph heater, nasty curve, and developing change in his arsenal. Scheppers will reach Texas by August as a set-up man. You keeper league owners who have Feliz in the fold should already be in love with Scheppers -- he's Feliz's ticket back to a starting role. Scheppers will be Daniel Bard-esque as a set-up man and morph into a stud closer in the long-term if the Rangers send Feliz back to starting. In non-keeper leagues, Scheppers will be an option in the second half if you're in a league with favorable reliever scoring.

Matchup: Michael Taylor (OF, OAK) v. Domonic Brown (OF, PHI)

Taylor -- 24 years old; right-handed; 6-6, 260 pounds; Triple-A.Brown -- 22 years old; left-handed; 6-5, 200 pounds; Double-A.


Taylor -- This former Phillies prospect deserves more hype than he receives. He hit .320 with 20 HRs and 20 SBs last year at Double-A and Triple-A combined. The power will follow Taylor to the majors as he has posted an isolated power above .200 at every level since High-A. Taylor has closed holes in his swing as he has advanced and he has learned to hit the ball to all fields. There's more upside here if Taylor continues to improve his patience at the plate (10.2-percent BB rate at Triple-A last year). Even though he's off to a slow start in '10, Taylor is destined to receive major league playing time this year. The Athletics need his big bat in the lineup (27th in HRs in '10).

Brown -- The comparisons to Darryl Strawberry are fair. Brown has added tools to his game each year in the minors. For example, in '08, he became a more selective hitter bumping his BB/K up to .89 at Low-A. In '09, Brown showed more pop hitting 14 HRs across three levels. In '10, Brown is hitting .333 with three HRs and a .650 SLG. Brown has the projectable frame, power, and speed to hit 25-30 HRs per year and swipe 25-30 HRs per year in his prime.


Brown is this week's "Fantasy Prospect Faceoff" winner. In the short-term, Taylor is the better play because he's two years older and headed to the bigs in the next few months. Nevertheless, he doesn't have Brown's ultimate ceiling. In the long-term, Brown has the edge because of his raw skills, projectable frame and skills, future surrounding cast, and home park. Brown will add more homers to the mix as he adds muscle. Further, if he stays a patient and selective hitter, he will be a six-category fantasy stud.

All statistics as of May 2, 2010.

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