Early Injuries To Three Major Prospects
As though forecasting how a large collection of minor leaguers will translate their skills into Fantasy production is not difficult enough, we must deal with the fickle mistress known as “injury” as well. The past week provided a solemn reminder of the powers of such influence, as three Top 150 prospects received news ranging from “that’s not good,” to “damn, that’s really not good” to “oh crap, that’s terrible.”
How should such players be valued by the Fantasy community now, both in 2013 and the years ahead? Such are the questions I have taken upon myself to answer.
And before we begin – no I am not a doctor. Any medical observations I dive into below are just those – observations. Comments pointing this out would be, at best, redundant. Don’t be that guy, guy.
Travis d’Arnaud (C, NYM)
Ok, so when is it ok to label d’Arnaud as injury prone? Yes, I’m aware that none of his injuries are chronic. In 2010, he missed time with bulging discs. In 2012, he tore his PCL. Now he’s fractured his left foot after following a ball off of said limb in a game early last week.
Here is a list of total games d’Arnaud has played in every season since he hit A-ball: 64, 126, 71, 114, 67. Yes, catchers typically play in fewer games than do their offensive counterparts at other positions, but this is still not a good sign. D’Arnaud has averaged just 80.5 games played per season throughout his minor league career.This specific injury for d’Arnaud is not nearly as scary as last season’s knee injury, but it’s still not good. He’s expected to miss anywhere form four-to-eight weeks, and while it’s unlikely he was going to be called up until late June or July anyway, he’ll likely need a month or two to get back into the swing of things in the minors before he thinks about seeing Citi Field.
The long-term prognosis for d’Arnaud doesn’t change. He’s still a potential Top 10 Fantasy backstop, and he has the potential to perform at that level for quite a while. Catcher is a physically demanding position, though, and I’m unconvinced he’ll show the durability needed to sit behind the plate 120 times a season. Perhaps this means he’ll grab some time at 1B in the near future too, but the bat isn’t special there.
Dylan Bundy (SP, BAL)
Remember how Bundy was special and different from other pitchers because of his athleticism and delivery and it was all going to be ok and he was a few days away from best pitcher in baseball status? Not so much, I guess.
The whispers started in Spring Training, when Bundy was shut down with arm soreness, and now they’re a lot louder. Everyone’s No. 1 pitching prospect is going to see Dr. James Andrews early next week, and you don’t need a medical degree to understand what that means.
We’ve gone down this road before, perhaps most noticeably with Casey Kelly and Manny Banuelos. Every once in a while, you can actually cure a pitcher by shutting him down and slowly rehabbing his arm back to full health. That doesn’t seem to be the case very often, though, and while I’m totally unqualified medically to make that observation, I also to possess the power of memory.
Bundy’s long term status doesn’t change because the recovery rate for Tommy John survivors is so high (sorry, John Lamb). But you damn well better believe this seriously knocks him down my Fantasy rankings, as all of a sudden he’s just another high-risk, high-upside starter who likely won’t be ready until the end of 2014.
This is all a bit premature of course, and hopefully Bundy avoids going under the knife. If you’re playing the odds, though, it’s not wise to bet on Bundy being a productive major leaguer anytime soon.
Hak-Ju Lee (SS, TB)
For Fantasy players, the worst news of the week actually didn’t come from New York or Baltimore: it came from Tampa, where a close-to-the-majors shortstop was dealt a blow that not only knocks him out for 2013, but could have serious ramifications for his long-term Fantasy value too.
Lee tore several ligaments in his left knee in a rough collision at second base a few days back, and the immediate prognosis is an obvious one: he’s out for the season. When you consider Lee’s skillset and why he’s relevant to Fantasy owners in the first place, though, this injury is even worse for his value than it may first appear.
Lee has (or had, if we’re being morose) two major assets in the Fantasy world: he’s close to the majors, and he’s really fast. There’s no power here, and the hit tool is probably just a 5, meaning I wouldn’t hold my breath for averages north of .260-.270 on a consistent basis. The hope for Lee was largely that he could get on base enough to steal 40-plus bags a year, and score a decent amount of runs, essentially serving as a two-category threat.
That upside was fairly modest to begin with, and now that we have reason to doubt Lee’s speed will completely return, the future is not bright. I would drop Lee in keeper or dynasty formats of 150 players or fewer, and I’d be surprised if anyone picks him up soon.