The combination of a struggling team and a struggling player on said team can make for a volatile situation. The grass is always greener on the other side and often teams look to shake things up by dipping into their farm systems for help at the big league level. Other teams will become sellers as we progress toward the end of July. The three players below have a chance to displace their major league counterpart before long.
Stats: AVG/OBP/SLG, HR/SB
Charlie Blackmon COL – AAA: 261 PA, .345/.402/.586, 10/12
With the Rockies struggling to keep up with the NL West leaders and Dexter Fowler continuing to struggle at the plate, a Charlie Blackmon call-up may be just around the corner. Blackmon has some intriguing skills for fantasy GM’s to consider. He has always shown good speed and stolen base ability — 30-for-43 at high-A in 2009 (133 games). 19-for-26 at double-A in 2010 (86 games). 12-for-17 at triple-A this season. His power has also been showing signs of improvement –.125 ISO in 2009, .187 ISO in 2010 and a .241 ISO so far this season. The combination of speed and some power would help any fantasy team. Blackmon has the skills at the plate to hit for decent AVG at the big-league level as well. He doesn’t strike out much — his 15 percent K-rate in 2009 is his minor league career high — and doesn’t expand the strike-zone too often. The fact that Dexter Fowler strikes out over 30 percent of the time may give Blackmon a distinct advantage at the plate.
The Rockies have already begun to promote some players from triple-A and Blackmon could be next. If he gets everyday at-bats, I could see him helping fantasy owners to the tune of .275-.280 with around five homers and 15 or so stolen bases the rest of the way.
Trayvon Robinson LAD – AAA: 205 PA, .283/.346/.524, 11/6
The Dodgers just can’t find and answer in left-field. Jerry Sands was the hot prospect that got the call earlier this season, but he hasn’t done much of anything. Just as I urged the fantasy GMs approach Sands with caution
, I will do the same with regard to Robinson and his potential call-up. Robinson certainly has some raw skills — he stole 37 bases in 120 games last season — and he had displayed good plate discipline in the past — 14 percent walk rate at double-A last season. However, some of that ability remains a bit too raw at the plate. At double-A last season, Robinson had a 29 percent strikeout rate. So far at triple-A this season, Robinson has a 31 percent strikeout rate. That’s way too many swings and misses to translate to major league success.
Robinson has a career minor league AVG of .282 and a minor league career OPS of .777. Raw skills will only get a player so far and I don’t see those skills making much of an impact should he get a call-up in 2011.
Dayan Viciedo CHW – AAA: 224 PA, .296/.344/.500, 9/0
There was a ton of hype surrounding Viciedo when he signed with the White Sox out of Cuba in the winter of 2008. However, in the years since, there seems to have been more criticism than hype. Viciedo has battled weight problems, performance problems and base-on-ball problems. Last season, Viciedo displayed his power potential, hitting 25 home runs combined between triple-A and the majors, but he only drew 13 unintentional walks all season in 469 plate appearances. So far this season at triple-A, Viciedo is showing an improvement in that category. He has already drawn 13 unintentional walks in 224 plate appearances. While his 5.8 percent walk rate is still not ideal, it is, at least, and improvement.
If things don’t turn quickly on the south side, the Sox could become sellers. While their pitching staff has held the bulk of the trade rumors, the Sox could also look to deal Juan Pierre, who is in the last year of his deal, or Carlos Quentin, who is due for a nice raise as he enters his third year of arbitration. Should that scenario present itself, or should an outfielder fall to an injury, Viciedo would most certainly get the call. If he does, you can expect good power numbers, but due to his free swinging ways his AVG that could vary wildly between .265 and .285.