Desmond Jennings helped more than one fantasy baseball owner win their championship last year. 10 homers and 20 steals in just 247 ABs will do that for you.
Jennings is an easy player for me to profile because I had his Baseball Reference page bookmarked way back in 2009.
First, I need to admit my bias when evaluating young players. I tend to gravitate to players who understand the strike zone, know how to take a walk, and make good contact. My bias is that these are the skills that help a player transfer Minor League success into sustained Major League success.
When I read about a 22-year-old with an exact 1:1 BB/K ratio who got on base at a .400 clip and stole 52 bases across two minor league levels in 2009 I was sold.
But as 2010 wore on I thought I had bought a lemon. OK, not a lemon, but not the shiny Ferrari I was hoping for.
I’ve already spoiled the end of the story by leading with Jenning’s great 2011 MLB run. So what is the reasonable thing to hope for in 2012? Should we be concerned about the 2010-early 2011 statistical dip in the minors or should we be salivating over what he showed in late 2011 at the Major League level?
Reason for Pessimism
Prospects flame out all the time. Humans have a tendency to see what they want to see, and block out all the warning signs that clearly would show otherwise, had we just been willing to be objective about them.
Jennings looked great at a young age, but if you look more closely his minor league record you’ll find that it wasn’t one of consistent growth and improvement. There were peaks and dips a plenty. You’d hear how he’d set a record at Durham by going 7-for-7, then he’d run a string of hitless games.
Reason for Optimism
But despite the roller-coaster ride that Jennings could take us on as a prospect, he’d maintain a BB% over 10 and typically keep a K% well below 15 (except last year in the Majors when it spiked to 20.6%, but that is to be expected as he adjusts to Major League pitching). Jennings knows the zone and he’ll get on base, even if his AVG fluctuates due to good ‘ole BABIP.
He was hurt in 2010 and that’s why his status took a dip. Not that you are ever happy to hear that a young player has a tendency to stay dinged up, but Jennings’ numbers suffered due to injuries, which gives us reason to be optimistic about his potential when fully healthy.
Our Draft Kit has Jennings as the No. 75 overall player. For my personal drafts I’ll be going slightly against Crackerjack consensus and will drop him a little lower, taking him after players like Shin-Soo Choo, B.J. Upton and Carl Crawford (the player he is most often compared to), who are ranked just a few spots below Jennings.
My reasoning is that I feel that the fantasy baseball world has been too optimistic about his power based upon last year’s Major League 10 HRs in 247 ABs. Jennings is not a player that will ever hit one out every 24.7 ABs and when I hear he is being projected at 20/40 even in our own projections I wonder if it isn’t too much optimism.
Sure, the math doesn’t lie and those numbers certainly fall within the reasonable projected range, and to report them is valid, but count me in the camp who feel they are on the optimistic end of the range.
Speaking of a projected range:
|Best Case Scenario||588||91||22||59||46||65||84||.291|
|Worst Case Scenario||523||72||12||51||34||48||125||.264|
Crackerjacks Player Rater: 75
Clave’s Player Rater: 87