This week’s installment covers a banished first baseman, one of baseball’s top prospects and yet another third base option in Denver.
Similar to the other version of this column, which drops on Fridays, the Thursday edition offers a take on players who recently made their MLB debuts or were recalled, from top-end prospects down to lesser-known farmhands and veteran minor leaguers — all with a nod to their fantasy relevance and impact, specifically for this season. To help owners, I’ll include a player’s Talent Rating; but just as important is Cling Factor, which highlights the likelihood that a player will remain in the majors during the year.
Players listed in order of 2011 fantasy impact.
MIXED LEAGUE RELEVANT
Logan Morrison, Marlins
Talent Rating: 8 (out of 10)
Cling Factor: 10 (out of 10)
In one of the more surprising decisions this season, the Marlins demoted Morrison an August 14. Speculation has it that the move was tied to his professionalism rather than his performance, although his .249 batting average at the time was cited by the team as part of the motivation for sending him to the minors to, as GM Larry Beinfest stated, “work on all aspects of being a Major Leaguer.” Well, the lefty-swinging LoMo, who’s known as much for his outgoing personality and entertaining Twitter musings (@LoMoMarlins) as he is for his promising baseball career, spent the required 10 days in the minors and was immediately recalled. Clearly, this was the organization’s way of sending a message more than anything else. While Morrison’s overall production this year has been slightly disappointing, the guy is still hitting with more power than expected — in fact, he smacked his 18th homer of the season in his first game back Wednesday — and he’s worth an add in almost all leagues in the event his owner cut him loose while he was banished.
Mike Trout, Angels
Talent Rating: 10
Cling Factor: 9
Speaking of players hitting home runs in their return to the big leagues, Trout did just that in his first game back during his second stint. While he didn’t take the majors by storm in his first trial in July, Trout remains a special talent, one who is more polished than most his age and yet still raw. The Angels, though, are in need of a boost as they try to chase down the AL West-leading Rangers, so they plan on getting what they can from Trout right now. Granted, he’s not expected to play everyday — manager Mike Scioscia indicated Trout would play about three times a week — but he can still make an impact in fantasy, albeit a minor one. His best asset at this point will be his speed, which he can make use of whether he’s starting or coming off the bench as a pinch-runner, so if you’re an AL-only owner in need of some stolen bases, Trout could manage a handful of swipes over the final month, along with enough production in other categories not to hurt your team. Just pay close attention to when Trout plays and when he sits. In the end, he’s more of a 2012 play, and any opportunities he gets this year will only serve to help him next season.
Kevin Kouzmanoff, Rockies
Talent Rating: 6
Cling Factor: 8
I was never a Kouzmanoff fan, so far be it from me to endorse him in fantasy leagues. Sure, in deep NL-onlies, he should be owned now that he’s getting a chance to stand in the batter’s box with a bat on his shoulder at Coors Field rather than The Coliseum after being traded via waivers for the infamous PTBNL or cash considerations. But fact is, Kouz hasn’t been very good the past few seasons, if ever — he was hitting just .221 with 4 HRs and 17 RBIs in 46 games as an A before being demoted earlier this year — which means he fits right in with the Rockies’ approach to finding a third baseman: throw a bunch of crappy players at the position and see who sticks. According to Evan Drellich of MLB.com: “Seven players have manned third base for the Rockies this season…and Colorado third basemen are collectively hitting just .213 with a .275 on-base percentage.” For what it’s worth, the 30-year-old was hitting over .300 with 13 HRs in just over 250 Triple-A at-bats, so if he can get a few knocks off the bat, there’s a chance he’ll play enough to matter as a stat accruer type, making him a useable reserve in some NL leagues or a possible corner infielder in deeper ones. Of course, he went 0-for-5 in his Rockies’ debut.
If you want quick fantasy analysis of another recently promoted or recalled player, feel free to post in the comments section. I’ll do my best to get to as many as I can.
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