It’s that time of year well Major League rosters become flooded with additional players. While many of them turn out to be irrelevant, operating as a pinch runner or bullpen depth, occasionally someone comes along that can really help fantasy owners. Let’s take a look at a few of the bigger names who could reach the Majors in the next few days and try to determine if they hold fantasy appeal
Leonys Martin – Texas Rangers
When the Rangers signed Martin to a five-year, $15.5 million dollar contract in May you had to think that there was going to be a chance that he reached the Major Leagues by the end of 2011. Mike Daly, the Rangers director of intentional scouting, said this about the 23-year old Cuban defector at the time of his signing (quote comes courtesy of ESPN Dallas/Fort Worth, which you can read by clicking here):
“He’s 6-2, 190 pounds and an athletic kid,” Daly said. “We feel like he’s a plus defender in center field. He can throw, he can run and he’s a line drive-type hitter with a knowledge of the strike zone. He can put the ball in the gap. We feel like he can hit, get on base and really defend in center field.”
He’s spent time at three levels this season, hitting .295 with 4 HR, 42 RBI, 52 R and 18 SB. In 171 AB at Triple-A (Pacific Coast League) he’s hit .263 with 0 HR, 17 RBI, 26 R and 8 SB. He has shown the ability to make good contact (23 K) at Triple-A, so he should have the potential to hit for a better BABIP (.304).
Still, at this point he profiles to be a similar player to Endy Chavez (.303, 5 HR, 23 RBI, 33 R, 8 SB in 201 AB). In other words, he’s a slap hitter who doesn’t bring much extra base potential and could steal a few bases. That doesn’t make him much of a fantasy option outside of deeper formats. He just doesn’t have enough upside and is not guaranteed playing time to make him extremely intriguing.
(Update – With the injury to Nelson Cruz, rumors are that Martin will join the Rangers prior to September 1)
Jesus Montero – New York Yankees
We have heard a lot about Montero all year long. If the Yankees trusted him to catch things may be a little bit different, but all reports have been that they aren’t going to use him in that regard.
That means they are looking to him as a DH, which likely means inconsistent playing time. The team is going to want to rest regulars like Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira, so they may opt to rotate those types of guys through the DH spot periodically as they look towards October. They also may want to determine if someone like Jorge Posada offers potential help in the post season, as he has hit .302 with 3 HR in 43 August AB. Obviously, he’s not getting regular time now, but they aren’t going to banish him completely to the bench, either.
As for Montero himself, if he were to play he would definitely bring intrigue. At Triple-A this season (International League), he’s hit .289 with 17 HR, 66 RBI and 51 R in 409 AB. He’s shown improved power since the All-Star Break, hitting 10 HR in 136 AB (7 HR in 273 AB prior to it). Strikeouts are a bit of a concern, though, as he has struck out 97 times (a strikeout rate of 23.72%). Considering that number is generally expected to rise upon reaching the Major Leagues, it has to be a concern (as is his .342 BABIP).
There is no questioning his ability to hit, but there are a lot of factors that appear to be working against him right now. Consider him a flier worth taking in AL-only and the deepest of formats, but don’t expect much from him.
Jerry Sands – Los Angeles Dodgers
He got an opportunity earlier in the season, though he fell flat hitting .200 with 2 HR and 17 RBI in 125 AB. While his time at Triple-A has come in the Pacific Coast League, the numbers bring with them a lot more optimism, hitting .284 with 28 HR and 85 RBI in 345 AB.
His problem during his first stint in the Major Leagues was that he simply was not hitting the ball with any authority. He posted a line drive rate of 14.1% and a HR/FB of 5.3%, making his below average .253 BABIP somewhat believable. Considering he posted a 52 extra base hits in 345 AB at Triple-A (.606 SLG) after 68 extra base hits in 502 AB between two levels in 2010 (.586 SLG), there is no reason to be overly concerned.
Maybe he just needed to adjust to Major League pitching, but I wouldn’t read too much into the numbers the first time around. He didn’t post a huge strikeout rate (22.9%) and did show a good eye at the plate (11.8%). Those numbers give optimism, as does his minor league track record.
For a team that is likely going to be on a tight budget for 2012, finding out if Sands can be a vital part of their lineup makes a lot of sense. If he’s playing regularly (and if Andre Ethier is forced to the DL it should happen), he could make an impact on fantasy races over the final few weeks of the season. That makes him well worth a speculative add in all formats.
What are your thoughts on these three players? Do any of them hold fantasy intrigue for you? Who else are you waiting to arrive in a few days?