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We wrap up our divisional prospect coverage this week with an NL West six-pack. We change it up a bit in this edition, highlighting a group of prospects that may not make an immediate impact in the majors, but could be major fantasy contributors for years to come.
Brandon Allen(notes), 1B/OF, Arizona: Heading into the offseason, things were looking up for Allen. But that all changed in the blink of an eye. The additions of Juan Miranda(notes) and Russell Branyan(notes) have clouded his future, much to the disappointment of fantasy players. He jacked 25 homers last season, so the power is there; he just needs an opportunity. Allen also makes a sneaky speed play, as he swiped 14 bags in '10. If he wins a job out of spring training, he could be this year's Gaby Sanchez(notes). If not, he becomes NL-only waiver wire fodder.
Brandon Belt(notes), 1B, San Francisco: Belt jumped from Single-A all the way to Triple-A in '10, and also soared up prospect lists following his combined line of .352/22/112. His new altered swing keeps him more compact and gets him to the ball quicker. I see Belt being a player similar to Lyle Overbay(notes) in his prime, a .290/25/95 hitter with tons of doubles and a high on-base percentage. He could earn multiple All-Star appearances during his career.
Simon Castro(notes), P, San Diego: Castro has a nasty arsenal, but is typically left out of top pitcher discussions pitching for the Padres. His fastball sits in the mid-90s, and he also throws a plus slider, giving him two pitches that could lead him to the top of a rotation in the very near future. The fact that he'll pitch half his games in spacious Petco Park is an added bonus, and one fantasy players shouldn't overlook when he gets the call later this summer.
Dee Gordon(notes), SS, LA Dodgers: Two things stand out about Gordon. He's the son of talented relief pitcher Tom Gordon(notes), and is also ridiculously fast. He stole 53 bases in '10, but was also caught 20 times, a number that is a bit concerning. While he may never offer much power, he has solid contact skills that should allow him to post a consistently high batting average during his career atop the Dodgers order. Rafael Furcal(notes) is fragile, and Gordon is knocking hard on the door.
Jarrod Parker, P, Arizona: Tommy John surgery kept him off the mound in '09. His four-pitch repertoire features a mid-90s fastball and devastating slider, which will be his ticket to big strikeout totals during his career. He'll start in the minors, but could move quickly with a fast start. Proceed with caution, as he may be on an innings limit following the time off. He's worth an immediate add upon his promotion later this summer.
Wilin Rosario(notes), C, Colorado: His .285/19/52 line was done in 270 at-bats prior to a season ending knee injury. Given a full season in friendly confines of Coors Field, there is no telling what kind of ridiculous statistics he could post. He's likely to begin in Triple-A, and is expected to be ready by early April following the completion of his rehab. If he proves healthy and mashes on the farm, a June 1st promotion could be in order.
Discussing a dynasty trade …
I recently completed a trade in a 20-team dynasty league I compete in with a handful of top writers in the fantasy baseball industry. The trade was made with Mark Cooper, who writes for RotoExperts, a great site that I highly recommend for top notch fantasy baseball insight. Here is his spin on the trade, as well as some additional background on his time in the league.
The deal was as follows:
On the surface, some may feel I gave up too much. Personally, I saw this as a no-brainer, and I'll explain why.
Earlier in the day, I acquired Grady Sizemore(notes), giving me a stockpile of outfielders – Sizemore, Ethier, B.J. Upton(notes), Jose Tabata(notes), Logan Morrison(notes), Peter Bourjos(notes), Carlos Gomez(notes). I must start four of that group. I also had early position in our preseason draft, where I selected Jason Kipnis(notes) in the first round, and later high school shortstop Francisco Lindor to restock my middle infield positions.
While I hated giving up Gordon Beckham, having a chance to acquire a top talent just entering his prime at a position of extreme scarcity, was simply too enticing to pass up. I welcome your thoughts on this trade, as well as any discussion on the prospects listed above, in the comments section.
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Rob Steingall is a nationally syndicated fantasy analyst whose work has appeared in newspapers including The Providence Journal.