Carlos Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler are set to take the NL West by storm in 2010. Both speedy outfielders are great additions to long-term keeper leagues, but what happens if you have to make a choice between Dex and CarGo?
Fowler, who turned down a full-ride to Miami in order to sign with Colorado, was the number one prospect in the Rockies' system last year. The former Team USA Olympian skipped Triple-A and made the club straight out of Spring Training.
He had some memorable moments, including five stolen bases in a single game tying a modern rookie record. But by season's end, Fowler had amassed a line of just .263/.363/.406. The .363 OBP is the number to focus on here.
He isn't afraid to take a walk and that's something you don't see with a lot of young players. As a result, Fowler was able to steal 27 bases and score 73 runs in just 433 ABs.
Carlos Gonzalez is about six months older, also a former number one prospect and has 120 more career at-bats than Fowler. He's already been traded for perennial all-stars like Dan Haren and Matt Holliday, so we know what the scouts think of his ability and potential. But let's throw out his 2008 stats when Oakland rushed him to the bigs and instead focus on what he did in the second half of 2009.
CarGo put up a line of .320/.384/.608 with 12 homers and 11 Stolen bases. I won't bother mentioning that Gonzalez out-slugged Albert Pujols in the second half, because that's just an unfair comparison.
CarGo kept it going through the Divisional Series where he was his team's most valuable player. He went .588/.632/.882 and tallied more hits (10) than any other player in either Divisional Series—more than Jeter, Mauer, Pujols, you name it.
Both outfielders are expected to be everyday players in 2010. But Fowler needs to improve against right-handers, as he only hit .240 off of them in 2009. The Rocks don't want to put a rising star into a platoon, but don't be startled if he sits against some of the tougher righties.
Bill James has Fowler hitting .288 with six homers, 79 runs, 43 RBI and 29 SBs. James has CarGo hitting .280 with 18 homers, 78 runs, 73 RBI and 18 SBs. Baseball Prospectus has Fowler going .270 with seven homers, 68 runs, 42 RBI, and just 17 SBs, while Gonzalez is projecting to hit .269 with 16 homers, 67 runs, 70 RBI and 11 SBs.
Both projection systems are being cautious and a tad pessimistic here. But if you can only draft one of these young guns, go with CarGo. While Fowler will be a fixture in center field for years to come, Gonzalez is the player most likely to be elected to multiple all-star games. Draft him in the mid-rounds, and don't be shocked when he goes 20-20 in 2010.
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