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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: DESMOND JENNINGS OUTFIELDER TAMPA BAY RAYS

One of the more anticipated prospect arrivals in fantasy baseball over the last year and a half has been Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Desmond Jennings who many compared to his predecessor Carl Crawford.  That was mighty high praise since up until this season, Crawford was a guy who performed annually like a second or third round draft pick.  Once Crawford signed with the Red Sox in the offseason, the door was wide open for Jennings to take his place at the top of the Rays lineup but it took until midseason for him to do so after a failed cup of coffee with the club at the end of 2010.  The results since his promotion however have been out of this world as Jennings ended last night's action (where he hit a home run and stole a base in the doubleheader against the Red Sox) hitting .337 with 5 home runs and 9 stolen bases in only 89 at-bats.  To say that Jennings has been a difference maker down the stretch in fantasy baseball is a huge understatement and he certainly is putting himself on all the must have lists for next season's draft.  So in our latest Fantasy Baseball Status Report, lets take a deeper look at Jennings the player and determine if what we are seeing is just a hot stretch or if he is fulfilling his vats potential.

To start off, the steals and runs have always been a part of the Jennings package as he is blazing fast and is the prototypical leadoff hitter.  So that part of his game is always going to be a part of the equation.  In a full season, Jennings has the ability to steal 40 bases easy and 50 is not out of the question either.  Also 100 runs out of the leadoff spot is the goal for any leadoff guy and Jennings is capable of this for sure. 
As far as the average is concerned, Jennings is being influenced some by a bit of a lucky BABIP but he has a string of .290-.300 seasons in the minors and there is no doubt he can do that at the major league level due to his high contact rate.  So already we are looking at a .290-.300 hitter with the potential for 100 runs and 40 SB. 

Last but not least the power.  The 5 home runs have been a huge surprise when it comes to Jennings who hadnt shown much pop down on the farm.  That is until this season when he hit 12 in the minors before his promotion and carried the power to the majors.  Now I am not suggesting Jennings is a 20-HR guy for sure but its nice to know he has already shown the ability to threaten the 15 mark.  As he continues to fill out, more power will come and so a 20/40 or even 20/50 season cold be the result.  So surely Jennings is a name to know in all fantasy baseball formats as he profiles as someone who could put up second or third round numbers as he continues to develop.

All in all, Desmond Jennings is a guy I am going to try and own in all of my fantasy baseball leagues.  He is a budding star who has all the tools to be the next big power/speed dynamo.  Be sure to reach for him next season when youir draft arrives in the spring. 

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