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Fantasy Baseball: Prospect Pendulum

Welcome to Prospect Pendulum: a weekly series where we take a look at prospects with stocks on the way up, and others with values in decline. This is Fantasy baseball we’re talking about here, so everything from injury to organizational moves to player performance can factor in to where a player ranks on a given week. We’ll look to dive deeper than most on this platform too, bringing you status updates on players well outside of your typical Top 100 lists.

This week, we examine Anthony Rendon’s MLB debut, an adjustment by Allen Webster and serious injuries to two Top 150 prospects.

ON THE UPSWING

Anthony Rendon (3B, WAS)

With the likes of Ryan Zimmerman and Danny Espinosa on the roster, we knew it was only a matter of time before Rendon would see the majors in 2013. That’s happened a bit sooner than many expected with Zimmerman going down already, and Rendon is getting his first cup of coffee for what should be a lengthy career. Rendon can really hit, and no one doubts this. He’s not a monster power guy, but he’s among the best prospect bets to consistently hit .280, and he’ll challenge for some 20-homer seasons when he’s in his prime, too. For right now, though, pick up Rendon for his average, runs and RBI potential. Rendon will end up heading back down to the minors when Zimmerman is healthy, but I still like his odds to see 250 PA this season.

Allen Webster (SP, BOS)

Anyone who reads me regularly knows that I’m a Red Sox fan, and I think I may have been too low on Webster coming into the season in order to avoid appearing like a homer. I’m coming out as a big Webster backer for Fantasy owners now, though, and I’m willing to bet it’s Webster – not Jackie Bradley or Xander Bogaerts – who has the biggest impact of any rookie for the Red Sox this season. By moving where Webster sets up on the mound, the Sox believe they’ve fixed many of the command problems that plagued Webster during his time with the Dodgers. That’s great news, as he’s always had the stuff to pitch in the middle of the rotation, and perhaps a bit higher than that in the prime of his career. Yes, he’s in the AL East now, and the WHIP may never be a thing of beauty. But Webster is a guy who can strike out eight batters per nine innings, and his potential to rack up wins on a sneaky-good Red Sox team should appeal to Fantasy owners as well. If he gets another start against the Astros this week, plug him in to your lineup.

SWAYING BACKWARDS

Travis d’Arnaud (C, NYM)

At what point can we label a player injury prone if the injuries he suffers aren’t chronic? It’s a difficult question to ask, but one that has to pop up when talking about d’Arnaud, as we learned that the young backstop will miss up to two months with the broken foot he suffered earlier this week. D’Arnaud has played more than 100 games in a season exactly twice in his career – 2009 and 2011 – and will have now missed significant time with injury in three of the past five seasons. Catching is a position that lends itself to injury more than most others, and speculating on d’Arnaud’s ability to catch 120 games a season is fair. The tools haven’t changed; d’Arnaud can be a Top 10 Fantasy catching option when healthy, and he has a chance to be a bit more than that in his prime. He’s not exactly a safe bet for year-in, year-out production, though, and it’s tough to see him grabbing more than 200 plate appearances in 2013 now, too. Don’t drop him in keepers, of course, but look elsewhere for catching help in redraft leagues.

Hak-Ju Lee (SS, TB)

Lee is another player who finds himself “Swaying Backwards” due to injury, but his is much more serious than d’Arnaud’s both in terms of 2013 and his long term outlook. Lee tore several ligaments in his left knee earlier this week, knocking him out for the remainder of the season and putting an end to a campaign that was likely to see him promoted to the majors at some point during the year. Consider that Lee’s prospect status is based largely on his range and speed, and a serious knee injury becomes even more ominous. Lee is devoid of power and has an up-and-down hit tool, meaning the value he provides in the Fantasy world is largely exclusively derived from his speed and position. Shortstops who hit .260 but steal 40 bases – think Everth Cabrera – often find a place on the roster. Middle infielders who hit .260 with 10 steals are largely irrelevant, so we’ll need to monitor Lee’s recovery closely and make sure his speed returns. As a side note, the Lee injury is good for former No. 1 overall pick Tim Beckham, who becomes more likely to see significant MLB time at some point this season.

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