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Fantasy Baseball Prospects: Corey Seager Potential Stud At Thin Fantasy Positions

Los Angeles Dodgers’ infield prospect Corey Seager has a lot of power for fantasy baseball owners to take note of.

Corey Seager

Despite massive trades in recent years to acquire talent like Hanley Ramirez, Zack Greinke, Adrian Gonzalez, and Carl Crawford, the Los Angeles Dodgers still have a couple of nice prospects in the system. One is Joc Pederson, who made it to the big club as a September call-up and a guy I’ve already written about. Another very good young prospect is LHB Corey Seager.

Background

If that name sounds a bit familiar, it’s because Seager is the younger brother of Kyle Seager, the perennially underrated Seattle Mariners third baseman. Like his brother, he’s a left-handed hitter who plays the left side of the infield. Unlike his brother, though, he’s a shortstop by trade.

Drafted in the first round of the 2012 Entry Draft out of high school, Seager is a bit taller than his older brother; by about four inches, actually. It makes me wonder if he’ll be long moving to third base for the Dodgers, but with Hanley still around, who knows how they use him. Juan Uribe only has one year left on his deal, so it’s really just a matter of where they want Hanley and Seager to play.

First thing that should be known about Seager is that he was not drafted because he has great footwork or a stellar glove at short. Seager was drafted in the first round because his best two tools are his hitting and power. With that in mind, let’s explore how he’s done at the plate.

Seager is a prototypical power lefty, in the sense that he grounds a lot to the right side, but can hit to all fields for power. In an article written by Dustin Nosler over at Dodgers Digest, he heat mapped Seager’s batted balls. Here’s where it stood as of the middle of July:

Corey-Seager_HeatMap

As I stated, a lot of ground balls to the right side – which has become the norm for lefty hitters – but power to all fields. That’s pretty important, because that makes him a tough player to pitch to. Do pitchers come inside, hoping to tie him up, but risk going deep over the right field wall? Do they pitch him away and watch him flick his wrists and drive it to the left-center alley? It’s not easy to get around a guy with that kind of plate coverage.

There are some concerns with how he’s developing, though.

Seager’s first full year was 2013, and by most measurements, it was a success. Seager managed 40 extra-base hits in 426 plate appearances, including 16 home runs. What was really nice, though, is that between his A-ball and High-A time, he managed 46 walks to just 89 strikeouts. Any K:BB ratio that is at least 2:1 or better is good, and Seager did just that. Despite, batting .269, he managed a .351 OBP. Not great, but solid, and certainly good for a 19-year-old in his first full year of professional baseball.

Seager started this year at High-A, where he had 365 plate appearances, the bulk of what he had for the year. He finished at Double-A, totaling 161 plate appearances there. Between his two stops, Seager hit .349 (really good), with a slugging of .602, which is also really good. In those 526 PAs, he finished with an OPS of 1.004. That would indicate a really, really good season, and it was a really, really good season. One problem, though: Seager’s K:BB went from better than 2:1 (89:46) to nearly 3:1 (115:40). That number gets really bad when looking at just his Double-A numbers, where again, he had just 161 plate appearances. Seager managed 39 strikeouts to just 10 walks, or a K:BB ratio of nearly 4:1. That’s a horrific total, and that’s where the problem lies. By OBP, he had a great year (elevated by a BABIP well over .400). By SLG%, he had a great year. That walk and strikeout total, though, is a concern. For fun, Kyle Seager’s career minor league strikeout total was 165 to 130 walks. Keep in mind, for all his power, Kyle Seager has never finished with a batting average at the .280 mark, a target for roto leagues.

Fantasy Outlook

For all of Corey Seager’s power potential at a thin position like shortstop (or third base if that’s where he ends up), that power won’t do much for fantasy owners if there’s a .240 batting average attached to it.

Of course, there’s still a lot of development to come. Succeeding is almost never a bad thing, and that’s exactly what Seager’s done to this point in his career. It’s tough to blame a player for changing his approach at the plate – striking out more, walking less – if the result was a 20 home run season with 50 doubles. Fifty doubles.

Seager had double-digit steals a couple of years ago, but that shouldn’t be the norm. Most scouting reports will say that he’s not a guy who will steal double-digit bases. Expecting a power/speed combination here is misguided. There’s power, and a lot of it.

Those who plan to start a keeper/dynasty league in 2015 will want to keep Corey Seager in mind. Really, it’s irrelevant if he comes up as a shortstop or a third baseman. With the struggles at third base in the fantasy game, it might not really matter which position he plays defensively. Also, remember, he just finished a season at Double-A, it’s likely he will need another full year in the minors, putting the target at September call-ups in 2015.

With that said, he should be on everyone’s radar at this point. With his ability to hit to all fields and 20 home run power in his bat, Seager could legitimately be a .270/20 home run guy at third base, which, for those who might not realize it , might not be done by more than a half dozen third basemen this year.

*As always, thank you to Baseball Reference, FanGraphs, and The Baseball Cube for their resources

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