All Eyes On ... Alcides Escobar
Now the path is clear for Escobar to start the entire 2010 season for The Crew. This is a guy who hit .304 and scored 20 runs in just 134 plate appearances last season in his limited big league action. He stole four bases in six chances, but that's where his value ultimately lies. In 109 Triple-A games in 2009, Escobar swiped 42 bags and hit .298.
So, at age 23 and in a very potent batting order, can we expect Escobar to become a fantasy force?
First of all, Escobar has no power at this point in his career. He only hit 19 home runs in 2,571 career minor league at-bats. He could develop some Jose Reyes-like power in time, but not within the next two years. Thus, you'd be punting power if Escobar is picked as your shortstop or middle infielder. You can expect maybe five home runs and less than 50 RBI.
Also, Escobar does not walk much. Thus, he's mostly only going to be on base to steal bases and score runs when he's hitting well. With a 23 year-old who has never been a full-timer at the major league level, you're going to see some hills and valleys. Pitchers and scouts will find holes in his swing and exploit them on occasion while he'll make adjustments and get hot from time to time as well. He's a good enough player to hit around .290, but is that really enough to make him fantasy relevant for this season when his OBP is only likely to be around .325?
I would only answer yes to that question if you're looking for help in steals in deeper leagues at the middle infield position. I'll project a .285 average with five home runs, 45 RBI, 70 runs and 40 stolen bases. With those numbers, he shouldn't be anyone's top shortstop, but would be helpful in 16-plus team leagues with an MI spot -- assuming you fill it near the end of the draft.
As for the future, he's capable of developing into the aforementioned Reyes by the time he's 26. So, yeah, Escobar should be owned in formats with a good number of keepers. For the majority of yearly formats, Escober is someone to watch develop from afar in 2010 with your eyes on 2011 and beyond.
To see what this series is all about, check out R.J. White's introduction by clicking here.