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Uncle Charlie - $
Mon May 21, 2012 1:01am|
By Chris Hadorn
KFFL.com's Fantasy Baseball Player Prospecting series highlights the exploits of minor league baseball players, including top MLB prospects. Find out who'll make an impact, whether it's in your rotisserie or head-to-head baseball game next week or in your fantasy baseball keeper league two years from now.
Thanks to perhaps the deepest farm system in baseball, the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals might be able to survive the loss of six-time All-Star first baseman Lance Berkman. He is expected to miss the rest of the 2012 season after suffering a torn ACL in his right knee Saturday night.
The Cardinals will certainly miss Berkman and the .963 OPS he posted in his two years with the club, but fortunately they will be replacing him with one of the minors' top hitting prospects in slugger Matt Adams.
Adams was hitting .340 with nine homers, 27 RBIs, 20 runs scored and a .978 OPS in 141 at-bats with Triple-A Memphis this season.
In 2011, Adams earned Texas League Player of the Year honors after he batted .300 with 32 homers, 101 RBIs and a .923 OPS in 463 at-bats with Double-A Springfield.
Making five stops in the minors from 2009 to 2012, Adams never hit below .300 or slugged below .523 at any level. Bottom line, this 230-pound hoss can hit! Scouts rave about how short and compact Adams' stroke is and how much hard contact he generates on pitches that are not in the meat of the strike zone.
The 23-year-old was overlooked by prospect evaluators because of his low pedigree (23rd-round selection out of tiny Slippery Rock, Pa.), and his massive body raised questions about his athleticism and defensive versatility. But these concerns don't really pertain to fantasy baseball. Nobody expects his or her first baseman to steal bases anyway.
Batting seventh in his major league debut yesterday versus the Los Angeles Dodgers, Adams went 2-for-4 at the plate with a run scored.
Earlier this season, the Redbirds had an opportunity to promote Adams when Berkman suffered a calf injury but did not call up the former because they were concerned he would sit on the bench.
Adams is perhaps being handed the reins to the first base position and should get the majority of starts until first baseman-outfielder Allen Craig (hamstring) returns from the 15-day disabled list.
Upon his return, Craig is expected to eat into Adams' starts versus lefties, but fortunately the former will draw his share of starts in the outfield as well.
A polished hitter, Adams has a chance to register second-tier first baseman numbers as a rookie. His major league equivalency at Memphis this year was .312/.343/.537, so he has the chance to be an impact player immediately.
Fantasy players in all formats should not hesitate to pick him up.
Missed out on Adams? One might want to turn his or her attention to Chicago Cubs first base prospect Anthony Rizzo. Cubs skipper Dale Sveum said yesterday the organization would consider bringing up Rizzo in June. With the Cubs in need of a designated hitter during their road interleague series at Minnesota from June 8 through June 10, there's a strong chance Rizzo will be promoted.
In 156 at-bats with Triple-A Iowa, Rizzo is hitting .346 with 14 homers, 39 RBIs, 27 runs scored and a 1.106 OPS.
Unfortunately for Rizzo, Cubs first baseman Bryan LaHair holds a 1.059 OPS, so the former has no room to play regularly unless the organization moves the latter to the outfield. The Cubs may consider making such a move, though, depending on how Rizzo would perform during interleague play.
Cardinals pitching prospect Carlos Martinez is expected to miss two weeks with shoulder tendonitis. According to the organization, Martinez's shoulder woes aren't serious, but the team is being very cautious because they don't want the Dominican altering his mechanics to compensate for his sore arm.
Martinez, 20, is a high-ceiling pitcher with a heavy fastball that can reach triple digits at times.
The 6-foot, 165-pound righty has gone 2-2 with a 3.00 ERA, no homers allowed and a 34:10 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 33 innings with high Single-A Palm Beach this season.