This time, let’s hit on a recently-promoted outfielder, a shortstop with a masterful mitt and a bat that could help the Giants offense.
In addition to recently-promoted top prospects, this column offers a take on those who are formerly-elite or lesser-known, as well as veteran minor leaguers, all of whom are on the verge of getting a shot in the majors — all with a nod to their fantasy relevance and impact. To help owners get an idea of just how good a player is (or might be), there’s a Talent Rating; but just as important is the Opportunity Rating, which points out the likelihood that a player will make his way to the majors during the year based on various factors (i.e., age, depth chart, recent performance, etc.).
Kole Calhoun, Angels OF
TALENT: 6 (out of 10)
OPPORTUNITY: 9 (out of 10)
CURRENT LEVEL: Majors
MILB STATS:.296/.365/.491, 14 doubles, 5 HRs, 30 runs, 31 RBIs, 6 SBs (2 CSs), 35:16 K:BB over 169 ABs
ON 40-MAN ROSTER:Yes
Fellow FanGraphser Marc Hulet covered Calhoun Wednesday, so check out his take. As for translating that into fantasy advice, the likelihood for Calhoun is that he’s little more than an intriguing add in very deep leagues because he’s shown a good mix of power and speed — he went 20/20 and really enjoyed playing in the offense-first Cal League (High-A) last year. He skipped over Double-A because he’s a bit older (24) and doesn’t have a huge ceiling that would require patience and development. Just called up from Triple-A, he’s getting his shot with the big league club now, not so much because he’s ready to make a major impact, but because there aren’t many Angels in the outfield (sorry), what with Torii Hunter on the restricted list the past two weeks, Vernon Wells out for 8-10 weeks following thumb surgery and Peter Bourjos OPSing just .543. (Funny how this team had so many outfielders that Bobby Abreu was essentially paid to stop playing for them just a couple weeks ago, and now he’d probably be starting for them.)
ETA: Now, at least for the short-term. As for the rest of the season, Calhoun probably falls out of the Angels outfield mix and back to Triple-A when/if 1) Hunter is re-activated, 2) Wells gets back or 3) Bourjos gets going (the first two are “when,” but the third is looking like an “if”). But in a case like Calhoun’s, opportunity is more important than talent, and he has plenty of the former at the moment, so there’s a chance he could stick — as a backup/fill-in — if he performs immediately.
POTENTIAL FANTASY ROLE: OF5 in AL 12-team leagues
Adeiny Hechavarria, Blue Jays SS
CURRENT LEVEL: Triple-A
MILB STATS: .321/.376/.472, 13 doubles, 4 HRs, 38 runs, 29 RBIs, 6 SB (1 CS), 39:17 K:BB over 193 ABs
ON 40-MAN ROSTER: Yes
The Cuban-born Hechavarria has always been a great fielding shortstop who was likely to get to the bigs on the strength of his glove. The bat, on the other hand, was a big question. Through his first year-and-a-half in the minors, Hech was pretty much living up to those expectations. Then he was pushed to Triple-A late last season and showed he could handle the stick some, hitting .389 over 108 ABs. That lent some hope to his future, which has carried over so far in 2012, as he’s on pace for career-highs in just about every offensive category. Caution is necessary, though, considering the “coincidence” that Hech’s productivity coincided with his bump to the hitter-friendly PCL and hitter-loverly Las Vegas — one of the best parks for batters in the minor leagues. Still, Hechavarria, who could help fantasy owners a bit in the stolen base category, has been especially hot in May (.333 BA, .904 OPS and 3 HRs), so he’s likely getting the attention of Jays execs.
ETA: Hech’s glove is ready, and the bat is looking solid enough to get him a shot sooner rather than later, but he most likely needs an injury to either Yunel Escobar or Kelly Johnson — or perhaps a trade — to make his debut. Without that, he may be just a September call-up with an eye toward a role in 2013 that will depend in part on what the Jays decide to do with Johnson, who’s contract is up at season’s end. With Escobar signed through 2015, Toronto could have a slick-fielding middle infield if the club shifts either Hechavarria or Escobar to second.
POTENTIAL FANTASY ROLE: MI in AL 12-team leagues
Roger Kieschnick, Giants OF
CURRENT LEVEL: Triple-A
MILB STATS: .333/.407/.656, 12 doubles, 13 HRs, 43 runs, 33 RBIs, 52:23 K:BB over 183 ABs
ON 40-MAN ROSTER: Yes
Kieschnick — the third cousin of former MLB outfielder-pitcher Brooks — was a third-round choice in 2008 by the Giants. He made a splash in his first season by hitting 37 doubles, 23 homers and driving in 110, but the numbers were inflated by the Cal League. He came back down to earth, posting OPSes of just .673 and .737 while repeating Double-A and dealing with a recurring back injury the past two years. There is power in his lefty bat, though, and Kieschnick looks to be healthy once again, as he’s tearing up the PCL with a .333 average and 13 round-trippers. Also on the plus side? He’s showing a career-best walk rate at 11.0%. For all the pop, however, there’s also plenty of swing-and-miss in his swing: Kieschnick sports a career 23.6% K rate, which has jumped up to 24.8% this year. At 25 and given his flaws, he’s reached the point where he most likely won’t get any better, but he’s also shown enough — especially over his past 10 games (.375 BA, 1.293 OPS, 5 HRs) — that he could certainly help the Giants on offense enough to be worth a gamble.
ETA: Believe it or not, the Giants are actually getting quality production from two of their three outfield spots, thanks to Melky Cabrera (.356 BA, .910 OPS, 6 SBs) and Angel Pagan (.294, .786, 8), but right field has been a ceaseless chain of weak links for years. It’s nigh time — let’s say mid-June — to see if Kieschnick can make more of an impact than perennial-fourth-outfielder-who-starts-more-than-he-should-because-he’s-on-the-Giants Nate Schierholtz.
POTENTIAL FANTASY ROLE: OF5 in NL 12-team leagues
Jason Catania is an MLB Lead Writer for Bleacher Report who also contributes to ESPN The Magazine, ESPN Insider and MLB Rumor Central, focusing on baseball and fantasy content. When he was first introduced to fantasy baseball, Derek Jeter had 195 career hits, Jamie Moyer had 72 wins and Matt Stairs was on team No. 3. You can follow him on Twitter: @JayCat11