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January  16, 2000

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Prospects Report - June 28th

Hello, and welcome to the newest section at Rotoworld.com. My name is Matthew Pouliot and I’ll be writing columns twice a week. On Mondays, you’ll get the Minor League Report, filled with prospects and the week’s important call ups, the most recent news on baseball’s future stars will be here at your disposal. Thursdays will have a different flavor. I’ll be giving you the skinny on what is happening around the league in the Strike Zone. Without any further ado, let’s get right to the MLR.

Prospects (All statistics as of Saturday)

Rich Ankiel - LHP Cardinals - It only makes sense to start off the first Minor League Report with the best prospect in the minors. This 19 year old southpaw is on a collision course with the majors. Starting off the year in Double-A, Ankiel was simply outstanding, posting a 6-0 record with an ERA of 0.91. Upon promotion to Triple-A, he has been almost as impressive, a 2-1 record, 2.57 ERA, and is striking out three hitters for every one he walks. Best of all, he’s been on a very strict pitch count, keeping his arm safe and sound. While struggling to remain in wild card contention, the Cardinals can’t wait too much longer to bring this kid up. And when they finally do, I’m thinking shortly after the all-star break, this is a player to jump on, no matter what type of format your league uses.

Aramis Ramirez - 3B Pirates - After playing 76 games with the big club last year, Ramirez is no longer a rookie, but he’s still a prospect. The Dominican-born Ramirez is tearing up the Pacific Coast League this year, to the tune of a .355 average, 13 homers, 43 RBI. He also has walked one more time than he has struck out. Not bad for someone who just turned 21 on Friday. It’s time for Pittsburgh to give Aramis another crack at the third base job, despite the excellent season being put up by veteran Ed Sprague. My advice to Pittsburgh? Recall Ramirez, give him a couple weeks of splitting time with Sprague, and hope he learns a thing or two. Finally, ship Sprague off to any team that will take him while he still has any trade value at all. My advice to you? If you have an opening, give Ramirez a shot if he is called up.

Michael Coleman - OF Red Sox - Two short years ago, Michael’s was a name near the pinnacle of everyone’s top prospects lists. Unfortunately, a bad attitude and injuries have stunted the 23 year old’s development recently, but he’s put it back together this year. His 16 homers, tied for second in the International League, have almost earned him a bus ticket to Boston. Even though his average is a pedestrian .264 and he still strikes out far too often, he could fit into Boston’s plans this year. The Damon Buford/Darren Lewis/Trot Nixon threesome in center and right field for the Sox leave a lot to be desired, especially in the power department. If the Sox do bring up Coleman, it won’t be so that he can sit on the bench. He’ll certainly be given a shot to win a job, and only time will tell if he can.

Grading System

Before we get into the Weekly Call Ups section, let me first introduce you to the grading system I’ll be using.

A - Elite fantasy prospect. The type of player that only comes around only a few times a year. This is a guy to grab no matter what format of league you are using. Example - Rick Ankiel.

B - Excellent fantasy prospect. A player that should be picked up immediately in AL or NL only leagues. Might be worth taking a chance on in 10 team ML leagues. Example - Ruben Mateo.

C - Quality fantasy prospect. A player who could be a good short term acquisition. Questionable whether this player will make much of an impact, but he does have a shot. Example - Michael Coleman if he gets a shot.

D - Moderate fantasy prospect. The type of player with whom you should take a wait and see approach.

F - Why did they call this guy up? Avoid like a Colorado pitcher.

Remember, I’m not necessarily grading these players as prospects. I’m more concerned with short term fantasy value, not what these guys will be doing next year. On with the column.

Weekly Call Ups

Ben Davis - C Padres - The best catching prospect in baseball, Davis is now in the majors courtesy of Jim Leyritz’s broken wrist. The 22 year old switch-hitter was batting .308 with 7 dingers and 44 RBI in 58 games for Triple-A Las Vegas. He won’t come close to that in the majors, but that is fine with the Padres who treasure Davis for his defense. He should get a chance to play five times a week. Grade C-.

Octavio Dotel - RHP Mets - In the strong tradition of Paul Wilson, Bill Pulsipher, and Jason Isringhausen (who was demoted to make room on the roster for this call up), Dotel is the newest Mets savior. His Triple-A record of 5-2 with a 4 ERA is solid. His 84 strikeouts in 52 1/3 innings is excellent, but 32 walks leave something to be desired. It’s going to be all about control for Dotel in the major leagues. If he can get his pitches where he wants them he’ll be very good. If not, for example, his first start Saturday against the Braves, he’ll be in a lot of trouble and back in Norfolk before we even learn to pronounce his name. In his debut, he allowed 6 runs in 4 1/3 innings, surrendering 5 walks. Still, he is a player to keep an eye on. Grade C+.

Brad Fullmer - 1B Expos - Fullmer is back in Montreal after spending 33 games in Ottawa regaining his stroke. With 10 home runs, 28 RBI, and a .286 average in Triple-A, the 24 year old lefty appears ready to tackle major league pitching once again. He’ll be playing first base on a full time basis in Montreal. Grade B.

Ramon Hernandez - C Athletics - A.J. Hinch’s competition for the Athletics "catcher of the future" title has arrived on the scene, thanks to a disabled list trip by Mike Macfarlane. Hopefully, the Oakland brass didn’t bring up Ramon to sit on the bench while A.J. scores the PT. Ramon’s numbers in Vancouver were solid (.263, team-leading 12 HR, 53 RBI), so it’s hard to believe he can’t top Hinch offensively at least. An excellent prospect, but it probably will not translate into fantasy value this year. Grade D.

Ricky Ledee - OF Yankees - Once a mega-prospect, Ledee is now a 25 year old and has mastered the route between Columbus and New York. The lefty will, once again, take his position in the mess that is the Yankees left field situation, getting the occasional start against right-handed pitchers. Judging by his lack of production in Triple-A (.252, 4 HR, 15 RBI in 115 at bats), you don’t want him on your team right now. Grade D.

Fernando Seguignol - 1B/OF Expos - One of the Expos great outfield prospects, Seguignol is getting his chance to earn a job in Montreal while replacing Rondell White, not only in the outfield, but in the heart of the lineup too. His excellent Triple-A numbers (.284, 14 HR, 54 RBI in 65 games) were countered by an awful 3 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio. The fast start he needed in the majors has not materialized, he’s gone just 3 for 19 with 10 strikeouts since the call up. The 24 year old switch-hitter needs to start getting on base, or he will be back in the minors shortly. Grade C (would have been a B- if I was writing this on the day he was called up though).

That closes out Rotoworld.com’s debut column. Feedback welcomed at columns@rotoworld.com. Check back again Thursday for the premier of the Strike Zone.

The skinny on Matthew Pouilot.