In his February 19th post, our Benevolent Dictator Bret Sayre detailed what exactly you’d be seeing here at TheDynastyGuru in terms of content between now and the start of the MLB season. The bulk of the content would be carried by the series on “The Opportunity Seekers”. What will that entail exactly? I’ll steal from Bret’s post to give you an idea:
We will be focused on players who are either going to have full-time positions for the first time or are in competition for one. This will focus more heavily on 2013 rookies, but will also touch on players who just haven’t quite made that next step for fantasy purposes. Each spotlight will take a look at what the player can bring to the table, both in the short-term and long-term, along with what you need to watch in their performance.
So now that you have an idea of the type of guys we’ll be discussing, let’s start with an example of a 2013 rookie who is full of prospecty goodness, Jedd Gyorko. He is a hot name in leagues right now because of his “imminent” arrival. I put quotes there because we always assume a highly touted prospect can overtake his mediocre counterpart because it makes logical sense in the short term. If Gyorko is better than Logan Forsythe or Alexi Amarista, why wouldn’t the Padres hand him the reins at 2B? The answer is a complicated mess that includes both good and bad decision making. Things like:
- Delaying his free agent status by a year
- Avoiding Super-2 status
- Giving him more seasoning
- Allowing the team to hold onto another player until the prospect is deemed ready
Now, one might take exception to any of these and with good reason. But we don’t get to make the decisions and what we have to realize is that, as fantasy players, we are at the whimsy of the people who do make the decisions. So instead of projecting our belief of who should/could/would start at certain positions and what makes sense to us, we need to keep in mind what the likely choice will be. Unfortunately that often involves keeping a prospect in the minors longer and than we would like.
It’s not all bad either, because most of the time the guys making the decisions know significantly more than you or I do, and they end up making the right call. We could say the Padres have nothing to lose by giving Gyorko the job out of Spring Training but making someone earn a starting job is always a good thing and we should keep in mind that Gyorko hasn’t even spent a full season in Triple-A. On the subject of things Gyorko has not done, play second base a lot is one of them. He’s played 48 of 271 games at the keystone in his minor league career and the questions about his ability to play it at the major league level persist, as one might expect.
With all of that said, prospects do win jobs out of Spring Training and Gyorko could be one of them. Cory Brock of MLB.com writes:
The Padres will give rookie infielder Jedd Gyorko every chance to win the second base job, even though he’s only played 48 games at the position as a professional.
So, despite all the reasons above for potentially not handing the job to Gyorko, the Padres appear ready to do just that as long as he performs up to snuff in Spring Training. Let’s look at what he could be capable of doing if he can win the job. In May of 2012 I wrote about Gyorko at FakeTeams saying:
Gyorko’s hitting mechanics are, much like his swing, steady and balanced. He does not have a stride, resulting in minimal weight transfer, which is a factor in his limited power supply. What Gyorko does better than anything else is put the barrel of the bat on the ball. He pairs that ability with a strong idea of the strike zone, allowing to make solid contact on pitches that he is looking for. Gyorko is unafraid to go the other way and is able to strike the ball with authority to right field. In an ideal situation, Gyorko’s power would be average, but playing half his games in PETCO will likely result in below average power production. Instead, Gyorko’s line drive/doubles approach should suit him well in his future home park, similar to future infield mate Yonder Alonso.
Despite a career year in regards to power (28 home runs between Double- and Triple-A), Gyorko is very much the same player described above as 24 of those home runs came at the bandbox that is Tuscon. What this means for fantasy is that we’re looking at a potential above average bat when it comes to fantasy second baseman or an average bat if he can’t hack it defensively and ends up at third base. Gyorko is solid, barreling the ball well enough to get power despite lacking a ton of leverage in his swing. He should have doubles power and be able to use the gaps well, but his home runs will likely result in the 12-15 range early on in his career. I can see him scraping 18 or 20 in a career year, but PETCO, closer walls or no, isn’t going to help him get there. Gyorko does offer a good eye at the plate, so for those in OBP or OPS leagues, he will see a big boost in value there. His lack of power shouldn’t take him off fantasy owners boards though, as he compensates for less power with a good idea of what he’s doing at the plate. Strong OBP’s will help Gyorko retain value in OPS leagues despite average power. I don’t like the idea of comps, but Neil Walker’s production his first few seasons is what I’d be willing to expect out of Gyorko, with a little more on-base and perhaps a shade less slugging due to the home ballpark.
I like to caution against expectations getting too high even for uber prospects like Wil Myers, so for someone with a lower ceiling like Gyorko I think we need to be extra careful before projecting too much immediate success. If we keep our expectations in line, Gyorko shouldn’t disappoint.