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Prospect Previews: West x Northwest

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First and foremost–happy new year! I trust everybody had a great Christmas, or at the very least an awesome time with family and friends. I know I sure did. Santa brought me FIFA 13. In fact, it’s taking every fiber of my being to sit down and write this article instead of dominating (or at least trying to) the virtual pitch with Lionel Messi. So let’s make this quick so I can get back to my PS3. Yes, I’m 12 years old…

Twitter can be an amazing tool. The speed and ease of which we can attain and share information is incredible. It can also be a very useful tool for networking and interacting if you want it to be. The latter of which I am very grateful for. I’ve truly appreciated all the kind words, RT’s, DM’s, and #FF’s, but there is one particular follower who I’ve gotten close to (or as close as anyone can get just through Twitter). It’s been a virtual “Bromance” ever since I received this reply to one of my tweets:

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That’s right sports fans, it’s the one and only Mr. Chad Scott! Someone who, if you follow me on the Twitter machine, should come as no surprise as I’ve RT’d nearly everything he’s written. His work has also been RT’d by the likes of dynastyleaguefootball.com and dynastyfootballwarehouse.com. He is a man who’s writing I hold in much higher esteem than my own, and if you’re not following him then you’re losing at the Twitter game.

At this point you may be wondering why I’m gushing about my newly found friend. Well, recently Mr. Scott took to Twitter seeking to bring his fantasy football writing skills over to the fantasy baseball world. When he did, I was tasked to recruit him in bringing those talents to The Empire. Needless to say, I did my job. That’s right, I got game.

It’s really a win for all us as this man should be writing much, much more, and write more he will. You can look forward to a weekly column when the baseball season is in full swing, but I thought why wait? What better way for him to get his fantasy baseball-writing feet wet than to do a collaboration piece? So Chad, who hails from Washington state, will be previewing a member of the Seattle Mariners, while I pretend to know what I’m saying when I tell you about a prospect on the team from my home state of Colorado. Hence the “West x Northwest” title. Get it? It’s stupid, I know. Just go with it.

So without further adieu, I’ll step aside and let my guest do his thang! I give you the Dynasty Sports Empire debut of Mr. Chad Scott…

New “Kid” On The Block..

I showed that intro to my better half and her reply was, “Wow…don’t suck.”  Always some great encouragement at the Scott household.  So here’s to me “not sucking” and hopefully living up to the expectations laid before me…

Taijuan Walker: Seattle Mariners

File Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

File Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Age: 20
Height/Weight: 6’5″/195 lbs
Position: RH-SP
MLB ETA: 2014

The Mariners were able to part with young pitching stud, Michael Pineda, last off-season because of the plethora of talented arms they hold in their minor league system. My friend, Luke, has already previewed the other two pitching prospects (Danny Hultzen and James Paxton) so I’ve been tasked with, who I believe, is the top arm in the system Taijuan Walker.

Walker is a 20 year old that is quickly grasping how to throw “ace-like” stuff. Last season in AA Jackson, Walker started “pitching” instead of just “throwing”. While his overall numbers took a bit of a dip, the lessons he learned will no doubt carry over into the 2013 season and beyond. Walker’s repertoire includes a mid 90′s 4 seam fastball (can hit 99 MPH occasionally); a 4 seam circle change that bites down and in to right hand hitters; a slurve that needs work, but will get pro hitters out eventually; and has recently been implementing a cutter in the 88-92 MPH range. He used to throw a slider in high school but the Mariner farm hands won’t let him throw it because it poses the biggest threat to arm problems (see Michael Pineda, eh Yankee fans). In his last 2 seasons, at the minor league level (both A and AA), Walker has thrown 223.1 IP/231 Ks/89 BBs. While we’d like to see less walks, a 2.6 K/BB rate is nice to see with a 20 year old that’s still learning.

While the M’s have one of the best pitchers in the league in Felix Hernandez, there isn’t exactly an all-star cast following him. They’ve just recently traded Jason Vargas to the Angels for Kendrys Morales, so their #2 SP projects to be Hisashi Iwakuma, followed by Blake Beavan, Erasmo Ramirez, and Hector Noesi. There’s no doubt Walker has some of the best stuff inside their organization, but there’s no reason to rush the youngster to the show. I think Walker will break camp going back to AA Jackson and get called up to AAA Tacoma mid summer – leaving a splinter of hope for a late season cup-o-coffee debut.

When/if he gets the call this year, I highly doubt the M’s would risk putting him out there as a starter and potentially shaking his confidence. I can see them putting him in as a situational reliever in the right spots for 2013. The early comparisons to King Felix have some validity, but let’s not put that kind of pressure on the kid (just yet). Everything about Walker screams future ace and 2013 will either confirm or, at least, put those kinds of expectations on the back burner. Let’s just enjoy what he and Dylan Bundy might be able to accomplish this season – because, after all,  they just might be the future of major league pitching.

Fantasy Forecast: If everything goes as planned (like that ever happens), I expect to see Walker starting in the Major Leagues in 2014. He has the build and mentality of being a #1 starter- meaning 200+ IP and 200+ Ks which should be his norm when he settles into that a fore mentioned major league role. I do believe Walker is going to be dominant for a long time (shortened fences or not) and am willing to pay the premium for his services on my dynasty squad if given the chance. Dylan Bundy might have a shot at hitting the majors first, but Walker won’t be too far behind.

Now Pinch Hitting….

Just as I suspected. I guess this will be my last prospect previews as Chad will now exercise his dominance and take over the column. Well, it’s been fun. I would fully understand–and support–your decision to stop reading now, but in the event you don’t, here is a preview of who I believe to be the top prospect for the Colorado Rockies:

David Dahl: Colorado Rockies

File Photo Courtesy: USA Baseball

File Photo Courtesy: USA Baseball

Age: 18
Height/Weight: 6’2″/185 lbs.
Position: OF
MLB ETA: 2015

In a year where the Rockies posted a team ERA of 5.22, many thought pitching would be the direction the team would go when pick #10 of the 1st round rolled around in this last year’s draft. Well, that would not be the case as the team selected Dahl, a high-upside, high school outfielder from Birgmimgham, Alabama. And while he may be the hero the Mile High City deserves, he’s not the one it needs right now. He’s a few years away, but he already flashes all the tools necessary to be one of the best players in both realms of the baseball universe.

In a small sample size (67 games), Dahl tore the cover off the ball in his first taste of professional pitching to the tune of .379/.423./.625. Showing excellent bat speed and control as well as the ability to put the barrel of the bat on the ball rarely seen in players his age. All his tools profile to be at least average with the potential to be plus. And the hit tool could eventually be a plus plus weapon, giving him the ability to hit for high averages. Some scouts doubt his over-the-fence power, thinking he’ll be more of a gap hitter–but let’s be honest, in Coors won’t many of those gap hits find there way into the seats? He also has terrific speed and could provide 30+ steals on an annual basis. His ability to potentially stick in center field also gives him added value as there are few with his ability that can impact all categories.

Obviously he’s a few years away from even sniffing the major leagues, but it’s never too early to get excited about players like him in dynasty leagues. If you can exercise some patience and have room at the end of your roster, he’s definitely worth a stash due to his upside. There is some risk attached to him though–as there are with every player with his age and skill level–because there is a big gap between his present skill set and how good he may actually be down the line. But that shouldn’t deter you from making him a part of your team. A player who projects to be a .300+ hitter, could hit 20+ HR’s, steal 30+ bases every year, all the while playing a premium defensive position…and who plays 82 games a year in the most hitter-friendly park in the league? Sign me up.

2013 will see him make the jump to full-season ball. He will be playing against players older and more experienced than him, but his game is polished for his age and the transition should go smoothly. He will have his troubles as he moves up through the system, but he has the talent to rake at every level. Again, patience is key, but expect him to make his debut sometime in 2015.

2 Down. Bottom of the 9th

West x Northwest. Colorado and Washington. Two of the most beautiful states that our great country has to offer. And yes, they currently are the only two states that offer “legaluana”. So feel free to insert your Mile “High” jokes or comments about how nice it was that Peyton Mannng is opening up a bunch of Papa John’s in the Denver area because we’re gonna be so hungry, here______. Got it out of your system? Good. They’re also home to two friends who otherwise would never have found each other if it weren’t for Al Gore and his wonderful invention. The two states also love they’re hardball, and while they don’t boast very successful major league teams, they each have top-shelf talent at the minor league level that could be major factors on your dynasty squadrons.

Hopefully you got your prospect fix and I trust that you got a good taste on what’s to come this upcoming baseball season from the latest and greatest in the line of talented DSE writers. That’s all for this week. So for my special guest- Mr. Chad Scott, I’m Luke Taylor saying: “Laters on the menjay”.

Luke Taylor & Chad Scott
Dynasty Sports Empire
@DSEmpire_Luke@Chad_Scott13

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