Can you imagine Carl Crawford with better plate discipline? That is how some describe Tampa Bay's top offensive prospect Desmond Jennings, and he's not far from making an impact in the Major Leagues and on your fantasy team.
Last season at AA, Jennings posted a .92 BB/K rate while hitting .316/.395/.486 (.881 OPS) with eight home runs and 37 stolen bases in only 383 at bats. Also in that stat line were 25 doubles and eight triples. Jennings would finish the season at AAA where he continued to hit for AVG, get on base and steal bases (15 more to be exact). All totaled in 2009, Jennings hit 11 home runs and stole 52 bases in 497 at bats. Looks like Carl Crawford type numbers to me.
Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus describes Desmond Jennings as just that; Carl Crawford with better plate discipline. Projection systems seem to agree:
Even with a conservative approach, CHONE and ZiPS see Jennings as able to hold his own at the Major League level. Bill James, who has a more aggressive approach, especially with young players, thinks Jennings will almost mimic Carl Crawford numbers from the start. The key to Jennings for fantasy owners, however, is the speed. In just around 400 at bats CHONE and ZiPS see Jennings as a near 30 stolen base threat.
Bill James, once again, is even more optimistic. Speed translates better from the minors to majors than just about any other skill set. Last season Dexter Fowler stole 27 bases in 433 Major League at bats. His AA total from the year before was only 20 in 421 at bats. Fowler is one heck of an athlete, Jennings has him beat twofold.
At age 23 and with his injury plagued 2008 far behind him now, the question isn't so much if, but when Jennings will reach the Major Leagues. Currently the Rays do not have a firm option in right field. Though it seems likely that Jennings will start the season at AAA, the chances are extremely good that he reaches the majors sometime in 2010 and possibly before the all-star break.
For fantasy owners Jennings is a must watch in all formats. His stolen base potential alone would be reason enough to snag him off of waivers the second you hear whispers of a call-up. In keeper league formats Jennings is a must own with first round potential down the road. Players with his combination athleticism and baseball skills don't grow on trees.
Desmond Jennings is a star in waiting, waiting to steal some bases and the hearts of fantasy owners alike.