3 AFL Hitters to Watch
Written by Eric Stashin the Rotoprofessor
Last week, I took a look at three strong starting pitchers who were doing well in the Arizona Fall League. This week, I wanted to take a look at a few hitters who could be major fantasy assets in ‘09:
He’s playing 2B as the Mets try to see if they can use him there over the likes of Luis Castillo and Argenis Reyes. The change in position certainly hasn’t affected his bat. Through Wednesday, he was hitting .400 (16-40) with 1 HR, 11 RBI and 12 R (putting him in the top 5 of the league).
I know, you are all thinking that it’s great he’s getting on base, but with not much speed, you want to see a bit more power from your middle infielder. Four of his hits have been doubles, so there is some hope there, but it doesn’t appear like he is primed to suddenly become a 30 HR hitter over the course of a major league season. I would think something more in the line of 20 HR to be realistic.
Still, he has proven to be an exceptionally good batter. In 131 AB in the major leagues last season, he hit .313 with 2 HR, 17 RBI and 24 R. His OBP was an extremely impressive .397, a number he has carried into the winter. On top of the batting average, he’s walked 8 times, while striking out just 3, giving him an OBP of .480.
The guy is a hitter, flat out, and if he does take the 2B job next season, he will be much more valuable then if he is fighting for an OF spot. Unfortunately, the word has been that he is not so skilled defensively at 2B, so we’ll have to see what the Mets decide to do.
The young Giants SS was fairly unimpressive for the Giants this season, hitting .283 with 1 HR, 18 RBI, 37 R and 13 SB in 240 AB. You really wish he would’ve shown more, because the job is wide open for 2009 and he had the potential to go out and grab it. That’s not to say that his numbers were bad, not by any stretch, but he did little to claim the starting spot outright.
In the AFL, however, Burriss is playing that much better. He’s hitting .321 (17-53), just as a start. He hasn’t shown any power (0 HR) and has driven in just 6 RBI, but he’s a top of the order bat, so that’s not unexpected. You can’t be happy with the 8 R scored, but that could be blamed on the batters hitting behind him, as his OBP is at .371.
So outside of the average, exactly where is the positive part of his winter? It’s in the stolen base department, as he has 7 in 9 tries. Considering the limited number of played appearances he’s had, that is a big number, and one that you have to hope he can carry into the start of the 2009 season.
The biggest question is if he is going to be the Giants leadoff hitter and starting SS to kick off 2009. If he is, that speed is certainly going to make him an option as a flier late in your draft.
A 2B prospect for the Houston Astros, he really has gone under the radar, despite on ‘08 season where he hit .317 with 20 HR, 69 RBI, 102 R and 20 SB at Double A. Maybe that’s partly because the Astros now have Kazuo Matsui signed for another 2 years, blocking his path to the majors.
People had better start taking notice, as Sutton is emerging as one of the best 2B prospects in all of baseball. His strong season has gotten even better in the AFL, hitting .563 (18-32) with 4 HR, 13 RBI, 15 R and 3 SB. The runs were tops in the league. The HR tied for the lead (with Tyler Flowers). The RBI put him in a tie for third, just 2 RBI behind the leaders.
You could have put the credit of his success at Double A as being his second season at the level. The fact that he is continuing to succeed in the AFL just shows that he may have matured at the plate.
His time could come in ‘09, depending on how injuries or struggles factor into things. If that happens, he’s going to be a tremendous middle infield option in all formats, flat out. Keep your eyes on him.
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