Thursday, June 23, 2011

Still on the Farm: N.L. Edition

Unlike in the American League, the top names in the National League seem like they're much further away or aren't the kind of players who will have a big impact this year. Below is a look at five of the most owned minor leaguers in CBS Sports leagues this year.

Bryce Harper (A-). Age 18. 227 AB, 44 R, 14 HR, 45 RBI, 13 SB, 330/429/586.
Harper's listed here for entertainment purposes only, as they like to say in the gaming (formerly known as gambling) industry. These numbers are spectacular at any level, but the fact that Harper's doing this as an 18-year-old playing against mostly 21-23 year old competition is absolutely stunning. The Nationals don't seem like they're going to rush him, but at some point Harper's going to force their hand.

Paul Goldschmidt (AA). Age 23. 250 AB, 56 R, 22 HR, 61 RBI, 6 SB, 328/450/656.
I profiled Goldschmidt recently, and don't have anything new or notable to add to this write-up.

Yonder Alonso (AAA). Age 24. 256 AB, 35 R, 8 HR, 40 RBI, 5 SB, 313/373/496.
Alonso's numbers are solid, but given all of the hype surrounding him at the beginning of 2010, I think many of us were expecting much more than a poor defensive left fielder with an adequate bat. I could see Alonso hitting .270-.280 in the Majors, but I could also see him hitting 10-12 home runs. To be fair, I shouldn't simply neglect context. Alonso is in the tough-to-hit International League, and those numbers above put him 11th in OPS. Maybe I'm wrong and Alonso is a 15-20 HR guy who will hit .300 in the Majors. Or maybe I'm penalizing him now for not being as incredible as initially advertised. My instincts aren't favorable on Alonso, though, and while I wouldn't completely dismiss him, I'd be cautious. The Reds left fielders haven't exactly lit up the scoreboard yet Alonso remains in the minors. They might not call him up until September, if at all.

Devin Mesoraco (AAA). Age 23. 233 AB, 34 R, 8 HR, 42 RBI, 1 SB, 322/404/545.
Unlike Alonso, Mesoraco excites me a lot. The numbers alone tell me that Mesoraco is a big-time prospect, but a little digging shows that there's a lot of love for him in the fantasy/minor league community. Not included in the stat line above are 26 doubles, and given Mesoraco's development curve, age, and the fact that he plays the most challenging position on the diamond I could see the power improving. Matt Wieters is an object lesson in why we have to be somewhat wary of catching prospects, but it's hard not to be enthusiastic about Mesoraco based on the numbers combined with Jason Grey and Jason Parks' write-ups. There's a chance Mesoraco makes it up to the Majors this year, but my assumption is cup of coffee in September followed by a real chance to win the job outright in 2012 Spring Training.

Brett Jackson (AA). Age 22. 172 AB, 35 R, 7 HR, 27 RBI, 12 SB, 273/392/477.
Jackson's numbers are down, but a large part of that is due to a hand injury he suffered in May. The injury definitely looked like it had an impact on Jackson's power as well as his approach. The power dropped and he was working the count a lot more in May to compensate. June has been better, so it would seem that Jackson's healthy and the issue is behind him. Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune speculated that Jackson will be up at some point this summer, but I suspect that the injury will allow the Cubs to be patient. Here's another case where I'd guess September call-up with an opportunity to make the big club in 2012.

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