Written by: Paul Auber
Hello everyone and welcome back to my little corner of the fantasy baseball world. Spring training is in full swing and opening day is just 30 days away. This week I’ll be telling you about some middle infield prospects who you should consider for your fantasy teams. According to MLB.com and Roster Resources there is only one middle infield prospects who is projected to make an opening day roster this year. Even rebuilding teams like Pittsburgh, Detroit, Kansas City, Tampa Bay and the Chicago White Sox all appear to have their middle infield positions set.
Going with that assumption, I’ll be giving you one opening day starter, plus three prospects who I think will make a significant impact at some point this year. I’m also going to give you three “LEGACY” middle infielders whose fathers had very productive major league careers and are poised to follow in dads footsteps. And, one long term investment.
OPENING DAY STARTER
J.P. Crawford: SS, Philadelphia Phillies – The Phillies, who are in the middle of a youth movement, traded shortstop Freddy Galvis to the San Diego Padres this past offseason to make room for Crawford – an excellent fielder with a strong arm and excellent fielding instincts, Howver, Crawford needs to further develop his hitting skills. Since his promotion to AA in 2016, he has yet to hit above ,265. He showed a little power at AAA Lehigh Valley with 15 home runs last year, but that was the first year in his professional career that he has had double digit home runs on one team. His fielding will keep him as a major league regular, but unless his hitting improves, the Phillies may look in another direction.
Gleyber Torres: 2B/SS, New York Yankees – Originally signed by the Chicago Cubs, the Yankees acquired Torres in the 2016 trade that sent power reliever Aroldis Chapman to Chicago. Many have thought, and some still do, that Torres would be the starting second baseman in New York this season. He’ll probably start at AAA this year due to the fact he had Tommy John surgery last year and the Yankees will be cautious with their prized rookie. The 21-year-old Torres has only had a combined 202 at bats between AA and AAA so there’s no need to rush him as NY has a lineup that is frightening to ALL American league pitchers. With a little more time in the minors, Torres should have no problem taking over for whoever the Yankees use at second base in the short-term.
Scott Kingery: 2B, Philadelphia Phillies – Kingery is a future impact bat. The 23-year-old prospect will be a 20/20 threat throughout his career. He may even approach 30/30 some years. There’s no question about his base stealing ability, but scouts thought his power was the result of his home ballpark in AA Reading. But like his soon to be teammate Rhys Hoskins, Kingery showed his power on the road as well. He finished 2017 hitting .304 with 26 home runs and 29 stolen bases between AA and AAA. Currently blocked at 2B by veteran Cesar Hernandez, the Phillies are giving him some work at third base this spring where incumbent Maikel Franco is coming off a disappointing season.
Willy Adames: SS, Tampa Bay Rays – With all the roster shakeup and belt-tightening in Tampa, one would think Adames would get the call to be their starting shortstop. Despite an excellent year offensively at AAA Durham (where he was an All Star) producing 10 home runs, 62 RBI, 11 stolen bases and a .277 batting average. Adames 24 errors in 472 fielding chances could be what’s holding him back. I imagine gaining an extra year of player control by not promoting him till the end of May or early June has something to do with it as well. Either way, he should be called up before the All Star break.
THE “LEGACY” BOYS
Fernando Tatis Jr: SS, San Diego Padres – Tatis Jr. is the son of Fernando Tatis, whose 11 year career spanned 5 teams. In that time dad accumulated 115 home runs and 50 stolen bases. His 18-year-old son should surpass those numbers in his first 5 years if he keeps producing. Last year Tatis Jr. hit 22 home runs had 75 runs batted in, stole 32 bases, and hit .278 combined between A and AA. To top that off he hit a home run in his first spring training game this year. I could go on and on, but let’s just say this kid is going to be special. He’s a must have in any dynasty league.
Bo Bichette: 2B/SS,Toronto Blue Jays – In my opinion Bichette is a VERY close second to Tatis Jr. He’s the son of 4 time All Star Dante Bichette and looks destined to equal or surpass his father’s career. Bo crushed minor league pitching last year, accumulating 14 home runs, 74 runs batted in, 22 stolen bases and a .362 batting average between the Midwest League (Class-A) and Florida State League (High-A). His many awards include High School All American (1st team) and Midwest League MVP. Bichette, along with teammate Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will make a dangerous tandem once both reach the big leagues.
Raul (Adelberto) Mondesi: 2B,Kansas City Royals – Now that the Royals have embarked on a total rebuild, they may finally give Mondesi the chance he deserves. Raul (Adelberto) has been a top prospect since 2013. After 2 call ups (both rather unsuccessful) he has accumulated more at bats than the rookie status maximum. He shouldn’t be listed here, but hey, he’s a “legacy”. His dad played for 7 different teams and was named National League Rookie of the Year in 1994. His dad stole 229 bases in his career, and the younger Mondesi has speed as his calling card as well. Unfortunately his only batting success has been in the Pacific Coast League where he hit over .300 in both 2016 and 2017. The Royals appear to be trying him out as a supper utility player working him in at second base, shortstop and center field. If he can get his average up into the .250 – .260 range, Mondesi could become a very useful player.
STASH FOR THE FUTURE
Royce Lewis: SS, Minnesota Twins – The Twins selected Lewis with the first pick in the 2017 draft. Scouts raved about Lewis’ power potential, above average speed and advanced baseball instincts. The 18-year-old high school shortstop did not disappoint in his first taste of professional baseball hitting a combined .279 with 18 stolen bases in 204 at bats across two levels of rookie leagues. Because of his age, Lewis will probably be moved along slowly but he’s definitely worth watching.
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