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News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fantasy baseball: Should you start Desmond Jennings?

The obvious answer seems to be yes.

Entering Tampa Bay's late game Tuesday night at Oakland, in his first three games since the Rays promoted him from Triple-A, Jennings has ...

-- Two hits in each contest.

-- One steal in each game.

-- Batted .547 with two runs scored, two RBI, three steals and a 1.667 OPS.

So he's a slam-dunk, no-doubt-about-it, Jay-Bilas-would-love-to-tell-you-about-his-upside choice as a fantasy starter, right?


Jennings is 24 and, by most accounts, could be a very good major-leaguer for a long time. But there is a reason he was dropped from No. 6 on Baseball America's list of the top prospects in the game entering 2010 to No. 22 prior to this season.

In a combined 737 at-bats in Triple-A in 2010 and '11, Jennings batted .277 with 150 runs, 15 homers, 75 RBI and 54 steals.

The steals and runs scored totals are outstanding. The other three are mediocre for an outfielder, which makes me wonder if Jennings is being overrated in fantasy because: 1. He's a big name in the minor-league ranks; and 2. His terrific start with the Rays.

When he received the call from Class AAA Durham, Jennings was leading the International League in runs scored with 68 in 89 games. His other numbers, aside from steals, were pedestrian -- .275, 12 homers, 39 RBI and 17 steals. In 1,919 at-bats overall in the minors, Jennings hit .294 with 382 runs, 41 homers, 200 RBI, 188 steals and an .822 OPS.

I could be wrong, and Jennings could be excellent for the majority of the last two months of the major-league season.

Or the lessons we've learned thus far from five of the biggest position player prospects in the game could be a sign that Jennings will cool down considerably and might produce decent stats at best in his first extended action with Tampa.

To wit:

-- Entering Tuesday, Tribe third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall was batting .246 with two homers and four RBI in 61 at-bats as a rookie.

-- Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown was batting .247 with five homers, 17 RBI, three steals and a .743 OPS.

-- Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas was hitting .202 with one homer, eight RBI and a .515 OPS.

-- Angels phenom Mike Trout was batting .179 with a .546 OPS.

-- The only rookie position player and top-20 prospect who seems to be enjoying consistent success is Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer. The 21-year-old entered Tuesday batting .283 with nine homers and 40 RBI in 283 at-bats.

Jennings could prove me wrong. He'd be far from the first to accomplish that task, which, if you ask my wife, is among the most simple.

But I wouldn't anoint him as The Next Big Thing.

Heck, I wouldn't even start him unless I was in an AL-only league and needed some help in steals and/or runs scored.

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