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Rotoworld Takes on NL East Prospects

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Matthew Pouliot from Rotoworld recently wrote an interesting article regarding the possibly major league impact of some of he NL East's top prospects (hat tip to Greg for the link). It is Rotoworld so the write-up is more fantasy-based than anything but still gives a good overview of the possibilities for some of the youngsters next year. Four Atlanta prospects are mentioned in the article: Brent Lillibridge, Jair Jurrjens, Brandon Jones, and Jordan Schafer. Lillibridge is projected to provide the second best fantasy value of any prospect in the NL East behind only Cameron Maybin of the Marlins. The write-up on him is rather long but the key points are that he believes Lillibridge could be a prototypical leadoff man with great speed, extra-base power, a decent average, and a pretty good eye at the plate. His knock on Lillibridge is that by trying to drive the ball, he ends up hurting his overall game. I agree with that 100%. We saw the same thing with Furcal a little bit later in his Atlanta career and I think that Lillibridge shortening up his swing would do wonders for him. I was really quite amazed at his final thoughts on the shortstop.
There is room for Lillibridge to be better in the long run as a complete player, in reality, above just about every shortstop prospect out there. Certainly he has all the makings of a great defensive shortstop with game changing speed and on base ability.
This seems to be more and more the opinion on Lillibridge, however he is still blocked by Yunel in the majors. Two things could give Lillibridge a shot next year; an injury to Escobar or a prolonged. If either of those does happen, Yunel should be very worried because with Brent's tools, it isn't too far of a stretch for him to play his way into a long-term starting role at short. Jurrjens, Jones, and Schafer come a little later in the list. His opinion on Jurrjens seems to be on the more conservative side pointing out an injury history and a propensity to leave pitches up in the strike zone as flaws. Pouliot sees some possible time as Atlanta's fifth starter but is worried that his hitability may not make him the greatest option and thinks time in the minors would be better. I agree with some of his points. I think Jurrjens could succeed but I don't see any reason to start him off in Atlanta unless Hampton proves to be incapable. Chances are he'll get significant time during the course of the year to gain some major league experience. In the article he speaks very highly of Brandon Jones in possible fantasy value, saying that with a good amount of playing time, he'd be moved in front of Maybin in terms of projected 2008 fantasy value. His estimate for his potential is right around 20-20 if he were to play every day, which seems to be well within his reach. I disagree with two key points though. The article mentions that he'll more than likely start off in AAA this season. I think it is pretty much a lock that he'll start off with Atlanta next year, whether it is in a platoon role or a bench role is the real question. Also, the big knock seems to be Jones' glove. Certainly I could see that if he were a center field prospect, however as far as left fielders go, Jones is well above average in that category. Schafer is the last player mentioned as a possibility in a deep mixed league. He seems infatuated with the center fielder (as are most of us), however his time table also seems to be bit on the conservative side, guessing late 2009 and only a cup of coffee if that for this year. I'm pretty sure that opening day 2009, Schafer will be standing in center field and the majority seems to agree with me on that one. If we do end up with Anderson in center for his season though, I'd guess we'll be seeing him much sooner because I can't see the Braves tolerating Andnerson for more than a couple months.
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