Prospect Talk: Three Players I’m Learning To Let Go
As I’ve stated before on this site, I’m a firm believe in the Internet Rule that standalone pieces should not exist. Columns, much like reactions, must have equal and opposite columns.
This is true even if such posts are as benign as my piece last week, in which I highlighted Corey Seager, Henry Owens and Kolten Wong as three players I’m learning to love.
The Internet Gods insist, nay, demand, that I produce a follow-up post, and so here you are. These are three Fantasy prospects I’m learning to move past. Yes, this is largely about closure.
Roman Quinn (SS, PHI)
To say I was a bit higher on Quinn than most coming into the season might be an understatement. I ranked him as the 54th-best Fantasy prospect in baseball, citing him as the “second-fastest player in the minors” and as having “a better shot to stick at SS” than Billy Hamilton. After a 2012 campaign in which he hit .281/.370/.408 with 30 steals in Low-A, I thought my optimism was justified. Many of my colleagues disagreed.
They were right. Many doubted Quinn’s hit tool coming into the year, and after a .238/.323/.346 showing in Single-A, it appears those concerns were well founded. While he boasts a solid 9.1 BB%, Quinn is striking out in a fifth of his plate appearances this season and has failed to show that he’s strong enough to make pitchers afraid to challenge him. He’s also just 32-for-41 in stolen bases, which is right at the threshold of an acceptable stolen base success rate.
All hope is not lost for Quinn. He’s still just 20 so repeating Single-A next year isn’t an issue, and while he’s currently out with a wrist injury it doesn’t appear to be serious. I’d probably keep him near the bottom of a Top 150 Fantasy list because of his speed, but I’m not sure he’d be on a Top 150 generic prospect list and we need to see the bat come alive in 2014. Sometimes, bold rankings don’t pay off.
Sometimes, you need to Quinn while you’re behind.
Gary Brown (OF, SF)
Brown entered the 2013 season as a decent buy-low candidate. While his total 2012 numbers were far from awe-inspiring, Brown hit much better in the latter half of the season and rebounded to finish with a .279/.347/.385 line. A 104 wRC+ in Double-A as a 23-year-old won’t blow anyone away but it’s hardly a disaster, and it wasn’t unreasonable to think that Brown was slowly but surely climbing his way toward a career as a major league regular.
That future looks very much in doubt now as Brown has struggled to the tune of a wRC+ of 73 in 520 Triple-A PA this season. Brown is hitting just .228/.286/.384, is an abysmal 13-for-23 in stolen base attempts and is striking out in 22.3% of his at-bats – a problem he’s never really had before this year. The “good” news is his platoon splits aren’t as pronounced, but that’s largely just because he’s been terrible overall.
I was never a huge believer in Brown, but I did rank him as the 111th-best Fantasy prospect before the season and thought he’d at least warrant a spot in deeper leagues for his stolen base potential. I see no real reason to list him among the Top 200 names now, as he looks unlikely to break into a weak Giants outfield in 2014. It’s a disappointing outcome for a first-round pick, and one that many considered to be “safe.”
Tim Wheeler (OF, COL)
In 2011, Wheeler hit .287/.365/.535 with 33 homers, 21 steals and a wRC+ of 136. I fell in love. I saw a potential Fantasy stud with little blocking him from regular at-bats in Coors Field, and considered him a borderline Top 50 Fantasy prospect before the 2012 season.
Things didn’t go quite as planned last year, as Wheeler broke his hamate bone and missed significant time, but still ended up with a .303/.357/.412 line in 92 games at Triple-A. I chalked his missing power up to his hand injury and considered his new selectively at the plate a positive, willfully writing off his massive drop in pop. Wheeler’s 2011 campaign had seduced me. There’s really no other way to put it.
While hand and wrist injuries can take years to fully recover from and I could keep making excuses for Wheeler, I’m now waking up to the sad reality that his 2011 season was likely a mirage. The 25-year-old is posting a wRC+ of just 81 this season, reaching base at a .331 clip but with little in the way of power or speed. It’s possible he sees some MLB time in September, and I still think he carves out an MLB career as a fourth outfielder, but Wheeler is not destined for Fantasy stardom, and that’s the reality we all must face.