July 13, 2010

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Many people believe the MLB All-Star Game and festivities have no fantasy relevance. Those people clearly didn't realize that the fantasy future was on display this past weekend.

For prospect hounds like me, the Futures Game is one of the highlights of the baseball season. In case you missed Sunday's game, I'm here to provide the scouting scoop on the relevant kiddies. Specifically, let's examine some of the prospects in the game who could still make a 2010 impact and others with superstar ceilings.

On a side note, the United States defeated the World Team 9-1 behind a three-run bomb by Hank Conger. Of course, only you degenerate gamblers would care about the score of an exhibition game. Seek help.

Dan Hudson (SP, CWS)

OK, as you probably know, Hudson didn't actually pitch in the Futures Game even though he was chosen for the United States roster. Instead, D-Huddy was busy facing the Royals in his first start for the injured Jake Peavy. The masses will run away after his poor start on Sunday: four innings pitched, six hits, five earned runs, four strikeouts, and three walks. Don't be so foolish. Hudson has logged over 300-plus innings in the minors and established that he has the stuff (10.39 strikeouts per nine innings, .211 batting average against) to have immediate big league success. Grab him in any 14-team or more mixed leagues and all AL-only formats.

Jeremy Hellickson (SP, TAM)

This dude is more than ready. Check out his sick numbers at Triple-A this year: 105.2 innings pitched, 11-2 record, 2.21 earned run average, 104 Ks, and 26 BBs. Wade Davis (4.69 ERA) won't hold off Hellickson much longer. Joe Maddon doesn't wear those goofy glasses for show; he's too smart to keep a quality arm like "Hellboy" rotting in the minors. In the Futures Game, the 24-year-old righty continuously displayed his pinpoint fastball throughout his two inning stint. Hellickson's command within the strike zone is exactly why he should be owned in more than three percent of Yahoo! Leagues.

Desmond Jennings (OF, TAM)

Admittedly, I'm a tad obsessed with Jennings' fantasy ceiling. Jennings' prospect value actually suffered some deflation at the beginning of the season after wrist and shoulder problems hampered his production and limited his playing time. The 6-2, 200-pound outfielder rebounded in June with a scorching hot .353 batting average and eight stolen bases during the month. As he's done in the minors, (21 SBs, two caught stealings) and he did in the the Futures Game, Jennings will swipe bases with ease in the majors. Jennings will immediately produce in the BA, SB, and runs categories once he's promoted. Whether that time comes before September ultimately depends upon whether B.J. Upton (.230 BA, .395 SLG) is dealt and/or continues to loaf when chasing gappers. Jennings will immediately shoot up our rankings if he's promoted.

Domonic Brown (OF, PHI)

Some people snickered at me when I placed Brown at No. 9 on my Top 50 fantasy prospects list at the beginning of the season. Who's snickering now? In 2010, in 291 ABs between Double-A and Triple-A, Brown is hitting .326 with 19 HRs, a .608 SLG, and 14 SBs. Impressively, the left-handed power hitter has hit left-handed pitching at a .282 clip in his career; his ability to hit southpaws will only accelerate his learning curve in the majors. Unfortunately, Brown only received one AB in the Futures Game because he was pulled with a minor hammy injury. There's a small chance Brown receives an extended look in the second half if Jayson Werth is dealt for starting pitching. For you keeper league owners, there's certainly no question Brown has a starting gig lined up in 2011 because Werth will be a free agent at the end of this season. You better bring some tasty goods if you're thinking of acquiring Brown in any keeper or dynasty league.

Mike Trout (OF, LAA)

The Trout hype is starting to build. In 312 ABs at Low-A, Trout has a .362 BA, six HRs, a .526 SLG, and 45 SBs. Most important, even though he's only 18, he's already displayed excellent pitch recognition skills with a 13-percent Walk rate and .88 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Trout will be a six-category (on-base percentage included) fantasy weapon when he reaches his prime; the power will come as he learns to pull the ball more. Trout may have been the youngest player in the Futures Game, but he was one of the most impressive. He was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and displayed that "it" factor throughout the game. Please refer to my soon-to-be-released fantasy scouting guide for a detailed description of the "it" element. For example, Trout hit a double in the game that was merely a product of hustle because he saw the World Team centerfielder coasting after a routine single. Trout will steal hits and runs due to his top-notch speed and hard-nosed approach. This is a prospect to hone in on if you're out of contention in long-term leagues.

Mike Moustakas (3B, KAN)

"The Moose" is primed to be a star because he has plus-plus power and lines up at a position of scarcity. Moustakas is hitting .355 with 21 HRs and a .417 on-base percentage this year at Double-A. Last year, he struggled with off-speed pitches and was undisciplined with pitches out of the zone. He has improved in both areas in 2010. Specifically, he has raised his BB rate to nine-percent, lifted his BB/K rate to .61, and boosted his contact rate to 84 percent. Moustakas didn't get to show off any of his massive power during the Futures Game, but that's a good thing if you're looking to acquire him.

Julio Teheran (SP, ATL)

I provided a scouting report on Teheran a few weeks ago in this column. Thus, there's no need for me to rehash my glowing praise in detail. The 19-year old was somewhat wild (two BBs) in his one-inning appearance this weekend. Nevertheless, he was still extremely impressive. Teheran always has hitters thinking about his screwball-like changeup. As a result, as Desmond Jennings showed in one AB on Sunday versus Teheran, hitters are many times overmatched when he paints the corners with 95 mph fastballs. There isn't another pitcher in the minors under the age of 22 with Teheran's fastball and change combo. Barring injury, Teheran is a guaranteed future Fantasy ace. You have my word.

Eric Hosmer (1B, KAN)

Yes, I'm actually suggesting that THE Kansas Royals may have two future stars in their grasp. Hosmer is hitting .349 with 27 doubles, seven HRs and a .540 SLG at High-A. He's a different man this year at High-A with his 2009 vision issues behind him. Hosmer's BB/K has gone from .41 last year to 1.14 in 2010. In addition, he has raised his BB rate at the level from .77 last year to .88 in 2010. As you Brian McCann owners know, eye problems can ruin a season. As Hosmer displayed in his 4-for-5, two runs, two RBI hitting clinic in the Futures Game, the first baseman has the ability to sit back on the ball and take the twine the opposite way. The open question surrounding Hosmer is whether he will ever develop impact power. It's not a question for me; those 27 doubles will become bombs as he refines his stroke and packs more muscle on his 6-4, 215-pound frame. Spout off about Hosmer's lack of pop for a first baseman and try to steal him in your long-term leagues. It would probably be best if you waited until after the shine from his Futures Game performance wore off before you make your move.

All statistics as of July 11, 2010.

Hit Bill Root with a tweet @Bill_Root or an e-mail at broot@rotoexperts.com if you have a burning fantasy prospect question. Make sure to check out our Xclusive Edge Rankings for help with your tough lineup decisions.

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