Stephen Strasburg, Jason Heyward, and Desmond Jennings: The Shiny Toys of 2010
By R.J. Anderson
Let’s take a look at three much-hyped prospects and their potential to make fantasy impacts in 2010 and beyond. Worth noting: Since all three players aren’t sure bets to go north with their major league clubs (two are near shoo-ins for demotions), they do not own B-Ranks. The entire equation changes if the league is of the keeper variety though, so keep that in mind.
SP Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals
Strasburg is being drafted 287th overall in non-keeper leagues, despite the Nationals’ stated intention to send him to the minors for mysterious reasons that allegedly have enough to do with money or service time and Strasburg’s lack of professional experience beyond the Arizona Fall League and spring training bullpen sessions. Bloomberg Sports still projects Strasburg projected to finish in the top 200 of wins, games started, innings pitched, walks, and strikeouts. An ERA projection over 6.00 is hard to take seriously, but again, the guy hasn’t thrown a pitch in minor league baseball, so anointing him as a fantasy stud this year is a reach. The lack of available data on him aside, Strasburg’s electric stuff and the Nationals’ desperate need to generate some excitement make his chances of seeing the majors at some point this year something like 95%.
OF Jason Heyward, Atlanta Braves
Strasburg’s division mate, Heyward could be an Atlanta Brave on Opening Day. The conservative projection for the Braves’ outfield has Melky Cabrera, Nate McLouth, and Matt Diaz starting, with Eric Hinske backing them up. None of those players are nearly as skilled as Heyward, and right field looks conveniently open for when the 20-year-old slugger ascends to the majors. Of the three vaunted prospects, Heyward seems the least likely to disappoint in 2010.
OF Desmond Jennings, Tampa Bay Rays
Unlike Strasburg and Heyward, Jennings is not only far less likely to see much – if any – major league time this year, he also has no place on the big league club. The Rays have the immensely talented Carl Crawford and B.J. Upton playing left and center field respectively, and two extremely serviceable players in Matt Joyce and Gabe Kapler to platoon in right. Jennings finds himself in the same spot Joyce did last season, blocked because of a numbers game. A dazzling defender with great plate discipline and speed, Jennings has a history of injuries that could hold him back as well. If you’re looking for rookie outfield help this season, look to Heyward, or possibly the Florida Marlins’ Mike Stanton instead.
Drafting prospects always carries risk, and these three cases are no different. As with any fantasy baseball decision, consider the value proposition. If your leaguemates fall victim to hype, don’t get into a bidding war for Strasburg, Heyward or Jennings. If all it will cost you is a late-round pick and a bench spot, Heyward and Strasburg are both worth a shot; Jennings too, if your league is deep enough.