Prospect Smackdown: Rougned Odor vs. Arismendy Alcantara
In last week’s Prospect Smackdown, we took a look at two of the top three or four fantasy catching prospects in the game in Blake Swihart and Gary Sanchez. Despite the latter’s status as an elite prospect a few years ago, TDG readers appear to favor the probability that comes with Swihart, as he earned a hearty 136-46-vote victory over the Yankees backstop.
This week, we move from one shallow fantasy position to another and examine the consensus two best fantasy second base prospects in a battle of hit tools, speed and really, really cool names.
Prospect Smackdown No. 8 – Who’s the better fantasy infield prospect: Rougned Odor or Arismendy Alcantara?
The case for Odor
If you prefer Odor – and many do – the primary reason why has to be his hit tool, which both Baseball America and Jason Parks rated as a potential 70 tool before the season. With superb bat-to-ball ability and sexy bat speed, Odor hit .305/.369/.454 in High-A last season before excelling in a brief stint in Double-A. He projects to have potential low double-digit homer power and is a lock to stay at second base. In a vacuum an MLB ETA toward the end of 2014 would be within his reach, and if we allow ourselves to project contextual factors for a moment, he’d have a home ballpark that would bolster his offense. Put it all together, and we’re looking at a player how could routinely finish as a top-10 fantasy option at his position.
The case against Odor
While Odor’s hit tool could be elite, none of his other fantasy-relevant tools stand out. He doesn’t project to surpass the 15-homer mark with any consistency, and he doesn’t possess the speed to routinely swipe 10-plus bases either. That means that in his prime, he could be a .320 hitter with enough counting stats to be elite. Other years, he could just be bringing an empty average to the table, a la Omar Infante. Add in that Jurickson Profar sits ahead of him on the Rangers depth chart, and it will be tough for Odor to see playing time unless he changes organizations.
The case for Alcantara
Whereas Odor brings a potential plus hit tool to the table as his main weapon, what makes Alcantara so appealing from a fantasy POV is his collection of tools, highlighted by his plus speed. The then-21-year-old middle infielder hit .271/.352/.451 in 571 PA in Double-A last season, playing both shortstop and second base. While he might be able to play the former position, his best fit is as the latter, and that’s especially true in an organization with Javier Baez and Starlin Castro. While he doesn’t project to hit above .300 on a regular basis like Odor does, Alcantara could certainly post respectable averages to go along with 30-plus steals and 10-plus homers. At second base, that’s a monster fantasy player.
The case against Alcantara
While Alcantara’s ultimate fantasy ceiling may be higher than Odor, there’s a case to be made that he has a lesser chance of reaching his ceiling. He’s a switch hitter, but Alcantara produces noticeably weaker contact when hitting from the right side of the plate. That’s not a huge deal, since it means he’s effective as a long-side platoon guy, but it’s something to watch nonetheless. Alcantara also strikes out a decent amount, but did walk at a 10.9% clip last season, which lends itself to some OBP optimism. Alcantara’s power might end up topping out in the range of Odor’s as well, meaning there’s a chance Alcantara ends up as a two-trick fantasy pony (SB, R) if he stalls out a bit. He’s also Craig Goldstein’s favorite prospect, which generally doesn’t end well.