Prospect Smackdown: Francisco Lindor vs. Chris Owings
In our first installment of the series, I asked whether Billy Hamilton or Adam Eaton would steal more bases at the major league level in 2014. You The People leaned heavily in favor of Hamilton, with 83 percent of you voting for the fastest man in organized baseball, despite the questions surrounding his playing time.
The high vote total and great engagement in the comments were exactly what I was looking for with this series, so it’s with some enthusiasm that I march on with the Prospect Smackdown series.
As I wrote the initial entry, the format is simple. We’ll give you two players (or sets of players), ask you a question about those players, lay out information about those players and then ask you to vote. The goal here is less to convince you of something and more to learn how you judge the players we scout, rank and analyze every day.
Feel free to vote anonymously or to explain who you vote for and why in the comments, and feel free to suggest future smackdowns, too. And before we get started, here’s wishing a Merry Christmas to those who celebrate!
Prospect Smackdown No. 2 – Who is the better fantasy prospect: Francisco Lindor or Chris Owings?
The case for Lindor
A plus hit tool and plus speed give Lindor intriguing potential as a three-category fantasy force at shortstop. Averages of .300 or better with 20-plus steals don’t seem to be out of his reach and there’s a chance Lindor hits for more (read: any) power has he ages, too. With a stellar defensive skill set and a budding reputation as a potentially “special” player, Lindor is the type of prospect the Indians will likely make room for once he’s ready, which could be as soon as late 2014. If he can hit near the top of the order, he could do a pretty decent Elvis Andrus impersonation, albeit with a bit less speed.
The case against Lindor
Lindor has no power right now, and until he bulks up there’s reason to believe MLB pitchers will simply attempt to overpower him, as they won’t fear the long ball. If that remains the case, we could see Lindor develop into more of bottom-of-the-order hitter, which would obviously limit his R and RBI opportunities. There’s also some “empty average” potential here, especially if Lindor can’t improve his SB% or if he slows down at all as he ages. In a nutshell, the ceiling isn’t that high from a fantasy POV even if he’s an elite MLB prospect.
The case for Owings
At a base level, the case for Owings is that he has a chance to be a five-category contributor in a way that Lindor does not. Owings has the chance to hit for impressive power for a middle infielder, which is a characteristic that Lindor lacks entirely. He’s not a speed demon, but Owings has the wheels to produce double-digit stolen base totals early in his career. While there are holes in his swing, Owings has shown the ability to hit for a high average in the minors. And Owings figures to be a No. 2 or perhaps No. 5/6 hitter in a traditionally composed lineup, which couyld give him more R and RBI opportunities than Lindor. From a fantasy POV, the upside is higher and Owings is ready for the majors now.
The case against Owings
Owings’ high batting averages in the minor leagues are largely bolstered by high BABIPs, and his strikeout rate has been scary in years past. There exists the possibility that Owings won’t hit enough to fully utilize his power, and there’s also the chance that he won’t reach base enough to be a significant contributor in the steals category. Owings also has to compete with Didi Gregorius (and to a lesser extent Cliff Pennington) in the short term, and Aaron Hill is under contract through 2016. Basically, if the D-Backs decide Gregorius is better or scrappier, Owings might be hard-press for consistent playing time.