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“Alluhring Strategy” Prospect Panic?

1pros·pect

noun \?prä-?spekt\

: the possibility that something will happen in the future

: an opportunity for something to happen

: someone or something that is likely to succeed or to be chosen

Believe it or not, we are nearly a ¼ of the way through the 2014 MLB baseball season and fantasy owners are already beginning to panic. Starting Pitchers are dropping like flies and injuries in general seem to be striking players earlier in the season than usual. As one who primarily plays in dynasty and deep keeper leagues, I’m more concerned with how my prospects are doing, then injuries. Prospects are my pride and joy. My ability to identify and acquire top prospects will ultimately determine if I can successfully build a dynasty.

It seems like I am getting daily messages from concerned fantasy owners on whether to stick with prospects that are struggling during their first taste of the Big Leagues.  In this piece, we are going to take a quick look at a top hitting prospect and a top pitching prospect and see what to make out of their slow starts. Is it time to panic if you moved heaven and earth to acquire one of these guys?

George Springer, HOU (24)

Springer was the #19 ranked overall prospect by MLB.com going into the 2014 season. It was widely believed that the Astros wouldn’t call him up until after the “Super Two” deadline passed sometime in June. Much to my surprise, Houston called him up early in the season and he made his Major League debut, April 16th, 2014. It is curious why a team that had no hope of contending this season, would risk losing a year of player control to bring him up two months early. All that being said, it was exciting for our first blue-chip prospect (other than international vets) to be making their debut. In 2012 and 2013, Springer torched the pitching in the high minors. He had an unbelievable, video-game caliber season in 2013 between AA and AAA.

Click on his name above to see his stats courtesy of www.baseball-reference.com. Notice that George has monster power and speed numbers and decent hit tool numbers, but he struck out 161 times in 492 ABs in 2013. Despite the plus-plus power tool and plus speed tool, he struck out a ton in the minors. Is there any reason to believe it would be different when facing pitchers at the Major League level? The man is learning new pitchers, new parks and carrying the expectations of being the team saviour. As a rGeorge Springeresult, his first 100+ ABs at the Major League level produces only a slash line of .231/.298/.654. He is seemingly striking out  multiple times per game. HE’S A ROOKIE. THERE IS NO NEED TO PANIC. There is nothing in his performance to suggest he won’t be able to produce at this level. Once he gets settled in, his numbers will improve. So at the moment his SO% is 36.8% when the league average is 20.6%. He is going to strike out. He is a slugger. He may never develop a plus hit tool but it doesn’t matter, Springer will get comfortable enough to hit nearly 30 HRs and 30 SBs for several seasons. Sign me up, I’ll live with the Ks. I’ll take a .250 avg. if I can get 30/30 seasons from him. He needs to be on your roster if you play in a league that keeps 10+ players per season.

Marcus Stroman, TOR (23)

Stroman was ranked #48 ranked overall prospect by MLB.com prior to the 2014 season.Marcus Stroman

The Blue Jays desperately want him to be a starter but many scouts believe he projects as a dominate back-end of the bullpen. Marcus immediately began his pro career in 2012 after being drafted in the 1st round, #22 overall by pitching at the A level and then AA later the same year. He pitched strictly out of the bullpen his first season to limit his innings. He spends the entire 2013 as a starter in the AA level. His numbers are consistent with top prospect status with ceiling of #1 Ace starter.

Stroman has the ability to throw 4 pitches with a nasty slider as his put away pitch that gave him a 10.4 SO/9 last season over 20 starts. He picks up this season where he left off in 5 starts in AAA rocking a 1.69 ERA, 1.088 WHIP and sick 12.2 SO/9. So Toronto, dealing with a rash of injuries to their rotation, calls Stroman up to make his debut, May 4th, 2014…out of the bullpen. Again, they are risking the “Super Two” status by bringing him up early in the season and put him in the pen, where he has been downright awful. The thought process behind him being an effective reliever makes sense. His 5’9” frame doesn’t make you think top line starter. Coming in the 9th inning with a plus fastball, plus change-up and nasty, plus-plus slider could translate into an elite closer. Problem is he had been a starter for his last 25 appearances prior to his call up and its a totally different mentality for a young pitcher to adjust to on the fly, especially to Big League hitters. At the time of this piece, he has made 5 appearances and has lasted 6.1 innings and has given up 13 hits and 9 ER. Ouch. If we put things in perspective, 8 of the 9 ERs came in his last 2 appearances. I’ll say it again, HE’S A ROOKIE. THERE IS NO NEED TO PANIC. I don’t pretend to know what Stroman will become, but I do believe he will be special and the Blue Jays still view him as a front-line starter. Despite his recent struggles, he is being considered as “next man up” if Toronto needs another starter. He should begin to contribute shortly and will likely be on all rosters, including redraft, by the end of the year. Deep keeper leagues should all have him rostered. Try and acquire him now as a “buy-low” option from an owner that has a quick trigger. You won’t regret it.

It is important to remember that these guys are both still prospects. Yes, they are expected to do great things, but as Webster defines the word, it is for something that will happen in the future. There is plenty of time to work out the kinks and become fantasy stars for years to come.

Bryan Luhrs
Real Deal Dynasty Sports Leagues, Creator & Commissioner
MajorLeagueFantasySports.com, Fantasy Baseball Writer
http://www.realdealdynasty.com
@realdealdynasty

Faith, Family and Fantasy Sports.These are the three words that best describe me. I am a faithful husband and father of 6 amazing children. I work to earn a living, but I live for every precious moment I can spend with my family and a passion for sports.

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