Last week we took a look at some of the prospects that were affected in a negative way by recent transactions. This week it’s time to examine those youngsters whose fantasy stock for 2012 has raised either due to moves their team has made or moves they haven’t made.
Lorenzo Cain, OF, Royals
We examined Cain at length earlier this offseason, but it doesn’t hurt to brush up. With Melky Cabrera being shipped to the Giants in the Jonathan Sanchez deal, Cain will now roam center field for the Royals in 2012. The 25-year-old is coming off a nice season at Triple-A Omaha, as he batted .312/.380/.497 to go along with 16 home runs, 81 RBI and 16 steals. The highly athletic Cain has enough pop to belt double-digit homers on an annual basis, and he has enough speed to be a threat for 30 pilfers in his first full season.
Jesus Montero, C/DH, Yankees
It’s not what the Yankees have done, but rather what they haven’t done that has landed Montero on this list. Instead of bringing in a big-time free agent to fill the designated hitter role, it appears the Bronx Bombers are ready to hand the job to Montero. The 22-year-old’s catching days are likely over, which is good news since he’s a butcher behind the plate. But, he’ll still be eligible at catcher in many leagues and should be able to hit right away. Montero sports a fantastic career .308/.366/.501 batting line in the minors and more than held his own during a cup of coffee with the Yanks last season, hitting .328/.406/.590 with four homers in 69 plate appearances.
Fautino De Los Santos, RHP, Athletics
With Andrew Bailey shipped to the Red Sox, the A’s have an opening at the back end of their bullpen. Assistant general manager David Forst has already said that De Los Santos, who will turn 26 in February, will compete for the job with Grant Balfour and Joey Devine. De Los Santos posted just a 4.32 ERA and 1.32 WHIP over 34 games for the A’s this past season, but he also struck out 43 in 33 1/3 innings and boasts an 11.7 K/9 mark in his minor league career. Balfour is likely the favorite to break camp with the gig, but the job probably belongs to De Los Santos over the long term, and he could take the reins by midseason if Balfour is traded.
Jacob Turner, RHP, Tigers
The Tigers would still like to add a veteran for the back end of their rotation, and there’s a good chance that they end up accomplishing that. But until they do, Turner would be in line to hold down the No. 5 spot. The former first-round pick won’t be legally allowed to drink until May, but he already has three major league starts under his belt and boasts an impressive 3.36 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 212/58 K/BB ratio across 246 1/3 minor league innings. Ideally, he’ll receive some more seasoning at Triple-A, but Turner has plenty of long-term upside and could get a shot at a rotation spot as soon as next April.
Tyler Pastornicky, SS, Braves
Braves general manager Frank Wren has said he’d like Pastornicky to receive more seasoning in the minors, but he’s yet to go out and get a viable alternative at shortstop and the options are growing increasingly thin. Pastornicky, 22, batted .314/.359/.414 with seven homers and 27 stolen bases over 512 plate appearances this past season between Double- and Triple-A. The Braves could sign someone like Ronny Cedeno to keep the seat warm for Pastornicky, but Cedeno is hardly a safe bet to out-produce the youngster. He has the ability to help out in NL-only league right away.
Collin Cowgill, OF, Athletics
A breakout season at Triple-A, where he batted .354/.430/.554 with 13 homers and 30 steals for Reno in the Diamondbacks organization, has some now wondering whether Cowgill can be a regular and not just an extra outfielder. He should certainly get his chance with the A’s, who have next to nothing in the way of outfield depth. Cowgill hit just .239/.300/.304 in 100 plate appearances with the D’Backs this past season, but he has a little bit of pop and can run, which should put him on the radar of AL-only leaguers.