After I posted the Keeper League Building Blocks for second base a reader mentioned a couple of names to me on Twitter that were to surprise exclusions for the reader: Dustin Ackley & Jemile Weeks. The freshly called up prospects without 20 games between the two of them (17, 14 of which are Weeks’) weren’t included on purpose. Anyone who has been reading this site for any amount of time since last year knows I am fan of both, so what gives?
A large portion of it has to do with their scant track records as we haven’t really seen how they will handle the majors leagues. While I am bullish on both, I would certainly like to see more before recommending them as building blocks for a team. Building block is the key phrase. The point of this exercise is to identify the strongest and best players for your 2012 title run. After all, you are trading your best 2011 pieces to your opponents so you need to get the best return possible.
Additionally, the fantasy profiles of each also contributes to their exclusion from a list that focuses so much on key contributors. Ackley is supposed to be an on-base percentage monster (alas he’s yet to walk in his four games… so much for that, amirite???), but if you don’t play in an OBP league that hardly helps especially since he can have a great OBP based on walks with a batting average of .275 or below.
Let’s assume he does get on base at or near the 40% clip we’ve seen from him in his minor league career, who is going to drive him in? They are less awful than last year’s historic futility, but they are still awful. Beyond that, in the short-term he doesn’t profile to excel in any category whether as a pure hitter (batting average), a power producer (HR, RBI) or as a speedster (though he did get a 65 speed grade from Baseball America in their ’11 Handbook). I think he can eventually become a .300+ hitter, but I don’t see it happening right away.
I really like Weeks, but like his brother Rickie he needs to show he can stay healthy which is something he has yet to do for a full season as a professional. Initially he profiles as a speedster who could pile up SBs and use that speed for some extra hits en route to a good enough batting average (.260-.270). Long-term his peak profile is a Ray Durham, but Durham didn’t start offering meaningful power or top .275 until his fourth year in the league.
The progression of youngsters isn’t linear so as hard as it is to project any player, it is even harder to project where Ackley & Weeks will go in 2012 and ultimately that is why I decided not to recommend them as essential building blocks for teams currently selling off their best players for foundational pieces. If you have a deal lined up to get a building block, try to get one of these two thrown in, but don’t make them the centerpiece focus of a deal where you are trading your ace or $35 power bat.