Does anyone believe that Brian Roberts can stay healthy long enough to make an impact in 2012? Over the past two seasons he has a total of 393 AB, so expecting much out of him would appear to be a major mistake.
With Ryan Adams and Robert Andino as the team’s other options on the Major League roster, it shouldn’t be surprising that they have begun looking for alternatives at the position. Enter Ryan Flaherty, who the Orioles selected from the Chicago Cubs in last week’s Rule 5 draft (and is one of the more intriguing players from a fantasy perspective).
Flaherty looked good at Double-A last season, hitting .305 with 14 HR, 66 RBI and 52 R over 302 AB. He struggled upon being promoted to Triple-A, especially in the strikeout department (44 K over 173 AB). That helped lead to a miniscule .237 average.
Surprisingly the left-handed hitter was poor against righties, hitting .213 in 122 AB (30 K). He actually performed well against southpaws, hitting .294 with 1 HR in 51 AB, which does give reason for optimism.
A supplemental first round pick in 2008, there was nothing specifically unbelievable with his Double-A success either. Sure, he benefited from a .332 BABIP, but is that really a number that is impossible to replicate?
While he didn’t hit for much power in 2010 (10 HR over 491 AB), he hit 20 HR in 485 AB in 2009. In ’10 he also had 36 doubles and 3 triples, so he still showed extra base potential. In other words, his home run “explosion” last season at Double-A is a very realistic number.
While Baseball America has not included Flaherty in their Top 10 prospect rankings since 2009 (in part thanks to his down year in 2010), at that time they said:
“Flaherty made significant improvements in 2009. Formerly a dead-pull hitter, he started driving balls the other way, giving him solid power to all fields. He has a polished lefthanded swing and hit .309 in the second half. His arm strength went from subpar to average, and he did a better job of turning double plays. His instincts and makeup enhance his tools.”
You have to like what you hear in that write-up, though one of the biggest questions has always been where he would settle in on the diamond. He’s plated 2B, SS and 3B throughout his minor league career, making him a good fit as a utility player if nothing else.
However, with the potential hole for the team at 2B, would it be a complete surprise if he got an opportunity to emerge as the team’s starter at the position? As a Rule 5 pick he has to stay on the Major League roster all season, all be offered back to the Chicago Cubs. That gives the Orioles even more incentive to give him a shot, especially since they thought enough of him to select him.
He’s far from a lock to be a productive option, but there is the potential that he hits for a good average and some power. It’s enough of a reason to keep him on your radar, especially in the deepest of formats.
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