It's another edition of The Kids Are Alright. This week we look at a group of youngsters with a fairly clear path to the Majors: Kansas City right-hander Kyle Zimmer, Miami shortstop/second baseman Derek Dietrich, and Detroit outfielder Avisail Garcia.
Kyle Zimmer - Kansas City Royals
Zimmer is a future frontline starter and one of the many promising young arms in the Royals system. Where have we heard that before? Though the days of Zack Greinke are long gone, Zimmer should make Royals fans and fantasy owners forget all about him.
Zimmer uses a top-notch fastball/curveball combination and has above-average control. A naturally gifted athlete with a background in basketball and water polo as well as baseball, the right-hander was a standout at the University of San Francisco and went fifth overall in last year's Draft. He pitched 40 innings between the Royals' rookie club in Arizona and Class-A ball before the organization shut him down to address a bone chip issue in his throwing elbow. Don't worry--post-surgery, everything is A-OK for Zimmer.
He has the quickest path to the Majors of any Kansas City prospect. He turns 22 this fall and should get a crack at Advanced-A this coming year, with an expected 2014 arrival in Kansas City.
Derek Dietrich - Miami Marlins
Originally a Tampa Bay Rays product, Dietrich was traded to Miami for Yunel Escobar, himself recently acquired from Toronto in the Rays/Marlins megadeal. The Marlins probably targeted Dietrich for his good power, arm strength, and hands up the middle. Fantasy owners would do well to pick him up for the same reasons.
Dietrich's natural position is shortstop, but with the Marlins committed to Adeiny Hechavarria there and with Dietrich's gifts as a middle infielder, he would fit in just fine at second base. Wherever he ends up, he will hit. Dietrich had 22 home runs in Class-A Bowling Green in 2011 and had a 14 home run year in 2012 between Advanced-A and Double-A. His plate discipline is improving, which has helped him shave down the high strikeout numbers customary of his earlier career stats.
Second and third base are both wide open in Miami, meaning Dietrich's future is his own to write. Even with Zack Cox, another good young hitter who could fit in at third, Dietrich's skills would place him at either position. Right now, the Marlins appear to be trotting out minor league journeyman Donovan Solano at second, and Placido Polanco at third. No knocks on Solano, as he hit .298 in 285 at-bats for the Marlins last year (possible cheap pickup for those hurting for MI bench help?), but I write about prospects for your fantasy team.
Watch Dietrich closely if you need a second baseman. He could open the year in Triple-A and would then make it to Miami when needed.
Avisail Garcia - Detroit Tigers
Avisail Garcia was one of the big surprises of the 2012 postseason, aside from the Giants winning it all (hey, I'm allowed to say that. I've suffered with that team my entire life). He burst onto the scene at the end of 2012 and hit .319 for the Tigers over the final month of the year, forcing himself onto their postseason roster. He tore the Yankees a new one in the American League Championship Series, going 5-for-11 with three RBI.
Garcia's smashing debut raises a few questions in Detroit, namely where to play him in 2013. Torii Hunter just signed a new deal to play right field. Nick Castellanos, another gifted power hitting outfielder/third baseman, is close behind. With the best power and arm in the system, the Tigers would have to give Garcia a spot. Left field might be it for him, if only because he's a much better hitter than Andy Dirks.
At 6'4" and 240 pounds, Garcia fits the prototypical power mold. He has potential to hit near .300 while maintaining power, although he still has a problem with strikeouts. Garcia has undergone rapid improvement in the last few years. He had to repeat both halves of the A level before breaking out in Double-A last year. If the Tigers choose to trade him, don't fret. He's a star on any team.
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