May 11, 2010

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Starlin Castro is a shining example of why you need to appreciate the difference between a prospect and a "fantasy prospect." This North Side newbie is overrated in fantasyland.

That first sentence really stung if you stayed up until 3 a.m. on Saturday morning to snatch the kid once he was added to your league database. Castro is a valuable prospect for the Cubs because of his defensive range, contact skills, and sparkplug energy. Nevertheless, for fantasy purposes, he has miniscule power (nine home runs in three-plus seasons in the minors), horrible base-stealing instincts (caught stealing 16 times in his last 48 attempts) and no plate patience to take advantage of his wheels. He's also only 20-years old, skipping Triple-A, and hitting in an atrocious spot at the bottom of the Cubs order. All of these factors scream "PASS" in non-keeper mixed formats. That bomb in his first major league at-bat simply fueled the overhype machine.

Michael Saunders (OF, SEA)

This dude deserves love if only because he was called up to replace self-proclaimed bad-boy Milton Bradley. Saunders struggled in his major league coming-out-party (122 ABs) last year posting a .221 batting average, zero HRs, and a .279 slugging percentage. The 23-year-old outfielder is solid across-the-board but doesn't possess any top-notch skills. Saunders needs to cut down on the strikeouts (32.8 percent strikeout rate last year) and show some ability to hit lefties (.200 BA last year) to keep receiving regular playing time. Notably, he's ranked 85th this week among outfielders in RotoExperts' weekly rankings. My guess is Bradley returns from his latest meltdown within the next month and sends Saunders back to Triple-A. Take a flyer in AL-only leagues if you need some outfield depth and are banking on another Bradley outburst. By the way, what are the odds Milton sheds insincere tears next time in an attempt to save his career? Spare us.

Steven Pearce (1B, PIT)

Surprisingly, I received three e-mails last week regarding Pearce once he was promoted. Why? Sure, he tore up Triple-A this year (.349 BA, two HRs, .605 SLG), but it was his third year at the level and he's 27. Even though he has some sexy pop, it's much too inconsistent and he's too much of a sucker for breaking pitches to produce in other areas. You're looking at a Quad-A All-Star and a fantasy scrub. He will get some ABs merely because he's on the woeful Pirates. Don't waste a roster spot in NL-only leagues even if you're a blood relative.

Kila Ka'aihue (1B/DH, KC)

I profiled Ka'aihue a few weeks ago in my New Kids column and gave the Kila kid my stamp of approval. Unfortunately, he was promoted last week before Jose Guillen was provided the opportunity to expose his true horrendous self once again. It's going to be difficult for Ka'aihue to get ABs with Billy Butler and Guillen both in the mix. Stash him in AL-only leagues if you have roster space and hope he receives those 350 ABs I've been begging for over the past two years.

Derek Holland (SP, TEX)

Did you miss out on Brett Cecil after he was recently promoted? Here's a chance to grab another post-hype, super soph. It's already been announced that Holland will take the injured Matt Harrison's spot in the rotation at some point this week. Holland has been dominant at Triple-A with a 0.93 earned run average, 8.72 strikeouts per nine Innings, 1.65 walks pe nine innings, and .224 batting average against. My loyal readers will ignore his 6.12 ERA in the majors last year and focus on his career 9.74 K/9, 2.54 BB/9, and .213 BAA numbers in the minors. The baby southpaw has the mid-90s heater, plus-slider, and developing off-speed stuff to make a 2010 dent in mixed leagues. That bloated 2009 ERA merely presents a buying opportunity. Don't sit there conservatively and trigger subsequent regrets.

Freddie Freeman (SP, ATL)

Troy Glaus just isn't the same player with a surgically-repaired shoulder. It's clear from the numbers (four extra base hits in 103 ABs) and the eye test. As a result, you have to keep a close eye on Freeman at Triple-A. The 6-5, 220-pound Freeman is hitting .284, with four bombs, and a .490 SLG down below. Freeman could benefit from being a bit more patient (eight-percent Walk Rate this year), but the Braves don't want to mess with his aggressive approach. Glaus will undoubtedly go on the disabled list at some point this season and give Freeman his initial big league shot. NL-only owners should be on the lookout.

Carlos Carrasco (SP, CLE)

Here's the top prospect Cleveland landed in the Cliff Lee deal with the Phillies last year. You know they're going to give him a long look real soon -- if only to appease the still-frustrated fan base. I've scouted Carrasco numerous times. He has an eye-opening arsenal (7.87 K/9 in career) and impressive velocity. The problems are he's Todd Van Poppel-like putrid with runners on base and he has had significant command issues at advanced levels (4.22 BB/9 at Triple-A in '10). Nevertheless, he's next in line if Jake Westbrook's back becomes a long-term issue or the Indians finally realize that David Huff is more valuable as a batting practice workhorse. Carrasco isn't a mixed league option, but he should be on your AL-only radar.

Jacob Turner (SP, DET)

Turner is the complete package. The 6-5, 210-pound righty has a mid-90s heater, impressive curve, and well-advanced command for his age. The Tigers will surely put the 18-year-old Turner on the fast track like Rick Porcello. In 12.2 innings pitched at Low-A, Turner has a 2.13 ERA, 14 Ks, and one BB. This is one of those young guns you want to target even if he's on someone else's roster. Just spout off about Turner having recent forearm soreness and the possibility of Tommy John surgery in his future. In actuality, the injury seems very minor, but no one ever said you had to be honest with yourself when engaging in trade talks.

Wilmer Flores (SS, NYM)

I am starting to feel extremely guilty about the way I continuously trash Mets' prospect Fernando Martinez. OK, not really. I still thought it would be a good idea to spit props in the direction of another prospect from the organization. Here's a top-notch scouting report on Flores from my man Mike Newman over at "Scouting the Sally." Flores is making nice strides this year at Low-A with a .328 BA, five HRs, and 25 RBIs through 29 games. Most important, Flores is displaying better plate patience and pop (.576 SLG). Undoubtedly, this 18-year-old kid is a project and he's going to lose some fantasy luster when he's moved from shortstop to third base or a corner outfield spot. Nonetheless, he has the projectable frame, contact skills, and bat speed to turn into a stud if everything breaks right -- no matter where he lines up defensively. In fact, your "New Kids" advisor actually sees a touch of Miguel Cabrera in this kid. That should be reason enough to make an investment.

All statistics as of May 9, 2010.

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