30 Prospects in 30 Days: Christian Yelich – OF – Miami Marlins
21 year-old Christian Yelich is an outstanding young outfield prospect for the Miami Marlins. Listed at 6’4 189 pounds, Yelich has what scout Keith Law called “the prettiest swing in the minors.” Yelich is a very intriguing prospect because despite his young age, he has an advanced bat (as showcased by his Spring Training outburst so far) – slash line of .364/.451/.818! Although Yelich was already sent to the minors, the Marlins are, quite frankly, going to suck in 2013 – giving Yelich a path to playing time later in the season.
Baseball Prospectus writer Josh Shepardson rates Christian Yelich as his 23rd best Dynasty League prospect with his potential earnings in the $25-30 range. Shepardson describes him as a “batting average stud with a floor of 15-10 home-runs to go with 15-20 steals – which is excellent value. Prospectus’s PECOTA system currently projects Yelich for 250 plate appearances this season, with a .249 AVG, 5 HR, 26 runs, 26 RBI, and 5 stolen bases. Pro-rate that to 500 at bats, and it appears Prospectus believes Yelich’s outburst this spring doesn’t exactly mean he’s in for a Mike Trout type season. PECOTA gives him a 77% chance to improve and only a 4% chance of breaking out.
MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo rates Yelich as his #13 prospect with an ETA of 2014. Mayo, like Shepardson appear to agree that Yelich’s best years are clearly in front of him, and this is not a breakout talent level prospect. In fact, to complete the scouting trifecta, Baseball America also has Yelich’s ETA at 2014. My question is, is that an ETA of actual stardom? Or is it an ETA of actually playing a game in the majors?
Yelich rates out positively in left field, because his defense is on average a 55-50 grade, but if he can make the transition to center field, his bat has the potential to play huge there. In position specific leagues where you carry a LF, CF, and RF, Yelich moving into CF will be an enormous talent – otherwise, his move to CF is just one that helps an MLB club, rather than your fantasy team.
So his defense won’t win him a job immediately, but his bat has a chance to; here’s the problem, if Yelich doesn’t play this year (mid-season or so?) in left field, who will? The combination of Gorkys Hernandez, the corpse of Chris Coghlan, Juan Pierre, and Justin Ruggiano for the outfield spots of CF and LF, is laughable at best and Yelich’s 50 grade arm plays much better than the noodle arms of both Coghlan and Pierre, so to be honest I really see no reason for the Marlins to delay Yelich.
And besides, if all the scouts are saying Yelich’s ETA is best left as 2014, doesn’t that mean the Marlins will bring him up this year? I mean seriously, have the Marlins shown us any indication of a competent franchise in the past few years? It’s bold, but given his hit tool, I think Yelich is a rosterable commodity in Rotisserie leagues around the All Star Break. .270 with 6 homers, 7 steals and a handful of RBI’s and Runs ain’t too much to expect in a half-season right?