Let the Fantasy Fix take you on a trip through AA’s Eastern, Southern and Texas Leagues—including the no-hit arm of Kyle Drabek and the toiling of money grabber Aaron Crow. Also, a look at Chris Marrero, Adam Dunn’s possible replacement if he gets traded.

Chris Marrero, 1B Washington Nationals AA Line – .289, 11 HR, 43 RBI
The Nationals 2006 first round pick is slowly working his way through the system, playing in 356 games at the AA level over parts of four seasons.

While Marrero is lauded for his incredible power, he hit .359 in June with 27 singles, 10 doubles and three HRs. His recognition of the strike zone is still a work in progress (25:65 BB to K), but he should fall well short of his 115 K in ’09. Marrero was shifted from the OF to 1B as a result of well below average foot speed (despite a strong arm).

If the Nats have plans to move Dunn at the deadline, the 22-year-old could be next in line.

Matt Dominguez, 3B Florida Marlins AA Line–.239, 9 HR, 41 RBI
The 20-year-old Dominguez is still adjusting to Southern League ball. He hit .186 in 31 games at the end of ’09, and is stuck at .239 this season. He has shown a willingness to work counts and draw walks, but it’s not helping his BA. He finished June at .262, his strongest month, but drew a season-low (for a month) six base on balls. He drew 13 BB in 20 April games, but hit just .239.

Dominguez should grow into a doubles machine, compiling 32 in ’09 and 20 thus far in ’10. A right-handed hitter, his .211 BA against LHP is puzzling.

Carlos Triunfel, SS Seattle Mariners AA Line–.280, 5 HR, 30 RBI

Triunfel broke his leg last April, forcing him to miss almost the entire 2009 campaign. Following the injury, his speed and/or willingness to run has vanished. He stole 30 bags in A ball in ’08, and has attempted only eight SB in ’10, being caught in six of them.

Triunfel is a free swinger, walking 11 times (hasn’t drawn a BB in his last ten games) and K’ing only 36. He’s crushed LHP to the tune of a .320 average in 103 AB. He’s displayed some decent pop for a shortstop, slugging .406 with 20 2B and eight HR in 2008 and has five bombs so far this year.

The Mariners have a black hole at SS on the major league level, but Triunfel is only 20 and still working his way back from a serious injury.

Austin Romine, C New York Yankees AA Line–.285, 6 HR, 44 RBI
The other Yankees catcher, Romine, took the Eastern League by storm, batting .354 in April and .305 in May. June was a reality check, as he hit just .227 for the month.

Despite his struggles with the stick, he still drew 16 BB, scored 15 runs and knocked in 12. He’s already drawn more walks in 2010 than he did in any of his first three minor league stops.

Romine is another strong gap hitter, with 24 doubles in ’08, 28 in ’09 and 21 thus far in 2010. He flashed some speed in ’09 with 11 SB in 16 attempts, but has stolen just one base in one attempt this season.

The Yankees love his glove behind the plate, so he should be on the fast track. Posada is a free agent in 2012, and at 38 should be subjected to DH duties in the near future.

James Darnell, 3B San Diego Padres AA Line–.226, 4 HR, 13 RBI
Darnell started 2010 in the Midwest League (A) where he hit .360 with a HR and eight RBI in seven games. Coming off the heels of a .311 batting, 20 HR, 81 RBI season in ’09, he was quickly promoted to AA.

The Texas League has not been as kind to the former SC Gamecock. Darnell is hitting .226 overall, .211 against RHP and .222 with RISP. He also missed significant time with a finger injury. He’s struck out 31 times in 43 games, but his plate discipline is improving. In 12 June games, he drew seven BB against six K.

The line drive hitter has crushed the ball at every level, and there’s no reason to think he won’t make the necessary adjustments here. But at 23, the clock is ticking.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF New York Mets AA Line–.286, 12 HR, 44 RBI
When Nieuwenhuis puts bat on ball, good things usually happen. He has 22 doubles, 12 homers and a .505 SLG%. In 72 at bats with RISP he’s batting .333 with 36 of his 46 RBI. A left-handed hitter, he’s hitting .303 in 66 AB against LHP. Unfortunately, contact is not made enough. He has 70 K in 68 games this season, and had a 6:31 BB to K ratio in the month of May.

Nieuwenhuis stole 17 bases in ’09 and has 12 in 2010. He missed the second half of June with a strained shoulder.

Kyle Drabek, RH SP Toronto Blue Jays AA Line–8-8, 3.20 ERA, 80 K
The second marquee prospect in the Roy Halladay deal, Drabek threw a no-hitter on July 4, recording 13 outs via ground ball and walking only two. He’s been tough to square up all season.

He’s allowed 86 hits in 107 innings of work, and opposing batters are hitting .219 against him. His GO/AO ratio is 1.53, and 2.36 against LHH. However, the base on ball has cost him. He’s walked 45, many of which have crossed the plate. Despite a BAA of .223 in June, he went winless in 5 starts, in large part the result of his 16 BB in 30 1/3.

The Blue Jays have a strong stable of young arms, but he’s not far off from harnessing his stuff.

Casey Kelly, RH SP Boston Red Sox AA Line–1-3, 5.05 ERA, 55 K
Drafted out of high school as a SS, Kelly is now an esteemed pitching prospect. In his first minor league season on the hill in ’09, accumulating 17 starts between A & AA, he pitched to a 2.08 ERA, yielding only 65 hits in 95 innings.

Just as impressive, he issued only 16 BB. He’s already walked 25 in 2010 in 62 1/3 innings, and he’s getting hit hard. Kelly’s allowed 78 hits in 62 1/3, and opposing hitters are roughing him up the tune of a .307 BAA. On a positive note, he’s still inducing ground balls at a significant rate (1.33).

His stuff is not overpowering, but at 20 years of age he’s extremely polished on the mound.

Jordan Lyles, RH SP Houston Astros AA Line–6-5, 2.60 ERA, 85 K
Lyles’ strikeouts are down from A ball (167 in 144 2/3) as expected, but his K:BB ratio of 85 to 22 is excellent. He uses his two-seam fastball adroitly against LHH, holding them to a .227 BA.

Despite his low ground ball rate and a tendency to pitch up in the zone, he’s allowed only seven HR (one every 13 innings).

As Lyles continues to move up the ranks, he will need to be more proficient with his location and keep balls out of the air. He’s a quick riser, but needs seasoning on his secondary offerings.

Aaron Crow, RH SP Kansas City Royals AA Line–5-6, 6.11 ERA, 63 K
Crow was originally drafted by the Nationals at ninth overall in ’08, but did not sign. He throws hard sinking fastballs in the low to mid 90’s. He’s been a ground ball machine in his first season of pro ball, with a 3.08 GO/AO ratio.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, he’s walked 44 in 91 1/3 innings and struck out just 63. All batters are hitting .292 against him, and left handed batters are hitting .335.

He finished June with an 8.72 ERA in five starts. Crow played independent ball in ’09, but has clearly fallen behind the curve.

Christian Friedrich, LH SP Colorado Rockies AA Line – 1-5, 5.34 ERA, 57 K
As the Rockies first round pick in 2008, Friedrich is having no fun in the Texas League. He’s allowed 72 hits in 64 innings, working to a 0.88 GO/AO ratio and LHH are hitting .342 against him. This after mowing through A ball in ’09 with a 2.41 ERA and 159 K in 119 2/3 innings.

Friedrich possesses a low 90’s fastball, 12-6 curve and hard, cutter-like slider. The changeup is also a new offering for him.

Michael Pineda, SP Seattle Mariners – Pineda was promoted to AAA after an 8-1 mark and 2.22 ERA in the Southern League. In three starts since his promotion, he’s 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA, struck out 26 in 19 innings, and his BAA is .164. He’s flown under the radar big time.

Mike Montgomery, SP Kansas City Royals
– Montgomery has been shut down since June 15th with elbow soreness. Apparently it’s just a precautionary measure and he should be fine. He’s 5-1 with a 2.01 ERA between two AA stops in 2010, and is a high ceiling left-handed arm.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on AA Ball.
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Article by Adam Ganeles exclusively for TheFantasyFix.com. Check back weekly for Adam’s excellent fantasy insight and analysis.


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The Fantasy Fix’s AAA Farm Report: June 30, 2010
The Fantasy Fix’s A-Ball Report: Big Numbers but who’s the real deal?

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