While the MLB Amateur Draft begins tonight, some of baseball's current top prospects are heading for the big leagues and being added by fantasy owners left and right. Counting on prospects with little or no Major League experience can be a slippery slope. Some of these prospects have been added in over 20 percent of ESPN leagues along with some breakthrough veterans. Who is a buy and who is a sell?
Troy Glaus +40.3 percent
Finally, Glaus seems to be catching on in mixed leagues. Playing first base for the Braves has helped him stay healthy and keeps him from overusing his surgically repaired throwing shoulder. That in itself has been the key to his season so far.
At this point in his career, Glaus is a well known commodity. He'll hit home runs, draw walks and be a good source of RBI, but the AVG isn't likely to rise above where it is right now. Since it likely didn't cost more than a free agent or waiver add to get him, Glaus is a hold right now and a solid bet to hit .260-.270 with 10-15 home runs the rest of this season if he can stay healthy.
His value might be a bit higher in deeper leagues, in which case there might be an opportunity to sell high a bit as he has age and an injury history working against him.
Anibal Sanchez +32.7 percent
Back in 2006, Anibal Sanchez threw a no-hitter in his rookie season. He finished that season with a 2.83 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in 114.1 innings. 2007 was not a great follow-up. That season Sanchez threw only 30 innings while falling to a torn labrum, which would cost him most of the 2008 season as well.
Control and Command are some of the last parts of a pitcher's game to return after a major arm surgery and that was evident last season as Sanchez posted a 4.81 BB/9 in 86 Major League innings.
His control had been better this season, posting a 2.52 BB/9 in April, but that rate rose to 3.86 in May and he walked four in 5.2 innings in his last start.
While his 3.18 ERA remains sparkling, Sanchez's peripheral stats paint him as a pitcher bound to regress in that category. His strikeout rate this season is below average and the upward trend in walks only makes things worse. He doesn't excel at missing bats and he has been fairly hittable overall (67 hits allowed in 68 innings). I'll buy him as a pitcher to use in good matchups, but the Marlins schedule coming up is nothing short of brutal as far as opponent offense is concerned. They face the Phillies, Rays and Rangers over the next couple of weeks.
If you can use Sanchez's ERA and 5-3 record in trade negotiations, do so now. There is a good chance things don't look as good by the end of this month.
Carlos Silva +31.8 percent
This is where fantasy experts can sometimes hurt themselves. Carlos Silva is not the type of pitcher that most sabermetric based analysts promote. He doesn't strike out a ton of batters, he doesn't get an extreme amount of ground balls, he doesn't miss a lot of bats and to this point he has a low .275 BABIP against, which most figure will head toward .300 before long.
So, instead of adding him to our teams, we figure the big blowup is right around the corner and that Silva is not worth adding to the mix. In the meantime, everyone that just let him sit out there missed out on over two months of help in ERA, WHIP and wins.
Silva IS doing some things very well. He doesn't allow many walks and he has increased his ground ball rate over his past two seasons in Seattle. He is also getting ahead in the count, throwing first pitch strikes on almost 70 percent of his batters faced.
That being said, it would be a lot to expect this type of success to continue for long. Silva is the type of pitcher that will always be a sell because his value will be mostly based on factors that are team dependant like wins and the way his defense plays behind him. If you can trade Silva for an impact bat there is no need to hesitate on pulling the trigger.
Ervin Santana +30.9 percent
There are many reasons why pitchers are the most volatile baseball players to project. Injury is one of the biggest factors in that equation. When a pitcher hurts his arm, many aspects of his numbers can get skewed. Santana, for instance, never found his form in 2009 after early season arm trouble. What resulted was an increase in walks, a decrease in strikeouts and a repertoire that was much more hittable than the season prior.
This season, Santana has made big strides toward returning to the all-star pitcher he was in 2008. His whiff rate and chase rate are almost identical between the two seasons. While his K/BB rate isn't as pristine, both his strikeout and walk rates have seen significant improvements.
There are some issues, however, that need to improve as the season goes along. Santana is still giving up the long ball. His 12 home runs allowed put him on pace for a career high. He has also allowed a line drive rate of almost 22 percent, which has translated to 80 hits in 82 innings. Many of those baserunners have been stranded. 83.5 percent of them in fact, which is well above the league average strand rate of about 70-71 percent.
While Santana should be a useful pitcher the rest of the way, it would be quite difficult for him to maintain an ERA below 3.30. He's certainly not as bad as he was last season, but he's not as good as he was in 2008 either. Flip him now for an impact bat if you can.
Buster Posey +30.8 percent
There is little doubt that Buster Posey can hit. He was a polished college bat when drafted and did nothing but hit at every step in the minor leagues. He's off to a great start since being called up late last month, but 31 plate appearances should be taken for what they are, an extremely small sample size. I'll stand by my analysis in this article, which explains why I think Posey will be a valuable fantasy asset for sure, but not one that is going to save your season. He'll hit for AVG, but home runs and RBI might be hard to come by in his home ballpark and in the Giants lineup. I'd sell Posey if there is an owner willing to pay top dollar for his hype. Otherwise, just enjoy the ride.
John Axford +26.9 percent
There's really not much to say about Axford. He is but one of the many closers that pop up out of nowhere during the course of a Major League season. Many expect Hoffman to get his job back eventually (he's only four saves away from 600 for his career), so Axford may be in an on again/off again situation as the season rolls along. That makes him a sell if your team can afford to go on without a few more cheap saves.
Brad Lidge +24.1 percent
Lidge is back and has not allowed a run since his return. He'll be the closer as long as he is healthy. That being said, health is not a sure thing for Lidge. If you have other options at closer and are doing fine in the save category, it wouldn't hurt to shop Lidge around and see how desperate another owners might be to land a closer.
Michael Stanton +23.4 percent
There is no secret when it comes to Stanton's ability. Everyone knows how good he has been at double-A this season. Everyone knows about his prodigious power.
There is little reason to think that Stanton won't hit for plenty of power when he arrives on the big league scene this week, but don't think all of his double-A numbers will translate so smoothly.
While Stanton did show an impressive improvement in plate discipline at double-A, he did continue to strike out with high frequency. His 53 strikeouts in 190 at-bats (28 percent strikeout rate), make it hard to imagine him hitting for much AVG at the big league level this season. According to minorleaguesplits.com, Stanton wasn't hitting many line drives either. 13.7 percent of his balls in play were classified as line drives while his fly ball rate was just over 50 percent. Obviously, with his elite-level power, a lot of those fly balls turn into home runs.
Fantasy owners looking for a boost in power will appreciate Stanton's raw skill, but owners looking for anything resembling the .312/.443/.730 line he put up in double-A might be a bit disappointed.
For the most part, there is no reason to actively sell a player like Stanton, but there might just be an owner out there crazy enough to pay top three round talent to get their hands on the ultra-hyped prospect.