For the past few years, the Futures Exchange has been largely one voice, bringing you all you need to know about prospects from a fantasy perspective.
Then, someone brought up a critical point, a point that we couldn't believe we'd failed to consider:
"Hey," they said, "two heads are better than one, aren't they?"
There was quick and resounding agreement. If we had the resources, why wouldn't we double your pleasure?
So, for the 2009 season, the Exchange will be a two-headed monster, as we'll be teaming up to make you the smartest fantasy player in your league.
The categories will stay the same -- we wouldn't want to confuse you too much -- but with a twist, as each of us will contribute one pick per level. You'll see very quickly what we mean: Lisa picks, then Jonathan picks, and so on. Easy enough, right?
For our opener, we've decided to focus on some of the top prospects from MLB.com's Top 50 list, breaking them down based on where they've started their seasons. We've also been guided by Movin' On Up, Lisa's weekly feature for keeping tabs on prospects who've cracked the bigs.
So enjoy -- and remember, if something goes wrong, you've got two of us to blame now.
In the bigs
Lisa's pick: Dexter Fowler, OF, Rockies
The 23-year-old switch-hitter was a long shot to make the big club, as the organization thought he might be better served playing every day at Triple-A Colorado Springs. That caution was thrown to the wind, though, when the fleet-footed Fowler came on strong at the end of Spring Training. The Rockies are easing him in, and as a result, he didn't make his debut until the third game of the season, when the Diamondbacks sent their first lefty to the mound. Fowler capitalized immediately, lacing the first pitch he saw from Doug Davis out of the park, and he has since gone deep a second time while swiping a bag. While he's not a prototypical power hitter, the youngster could very well continue making an impact with his surprising pop. At the very least, he will get the chance to prove himself against both southpaws and back-of-the-rotation righties moving forward.
Jonathan's pick: Trevor Cahill, SP, A's
A phone call away
Lisa's pick: David Price, SP, Rays
One of two young arms called upon to fill holes in the A's rotation -- No. 13 Brett Anderson is the other -- Cahill should be of interest to just about any fantasy player, especially those in AL-only formats. The young righty got over the inital jitters that led to a five-walk display in his debut and was much sharper in his second outing. Yes, he'll walk a few along the way (3.70 BB/9 in his Minor League career), but Cahill's WHIP has always been strong thanks to a very low hit rate. Look for a few more Ks along the way, too, once he really settles into a groove. There might be some bumps along the way for the 21-year-old, but there's something seriously wrong if you're in a keeper league and aren't thinking about this guy.
The decision to start Price in the Minors at Triple-A Durham has nothing to do with his stuff (still outstanding) or his spring performance (ditto -- 2-0, 1.08 ERA). On top of their rotation depth, the Rays' decision was rooted in caution; Price didn't make his pro debut until last May, so he's being carefully monitored on a 75-pitch limit while he works on fastball command with the Bulls. Price made his season debut April 11 in style, tossing 3 2/3 innings of four-hit ball against the Norfolk Tides and Matt Wieters (who went 0-for-1 with a walk against the left-hander). Of his 74 pitches, 50 were strikes. Translation: His return to the bigs could come at any time.
Jonathan's pick: Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pirates
A year away
Lisa's pick: Brian Matusz, SP, Orioles
Throughout Spring Training, it looked like it was McCutchen, and not annointed starting left fielder Nyjer Morgan, who was ready for a starting gig. Of course, in a display of just how little spring action means, Morgan has gotten off to a red-hot start in the bigs. If that continues, McCutchen's arrival in Pittsburgh could be delayed a bit longer than the Evan Longoria-like scenario that many fans have hoped for. Still, Cutch looked like he belonged at the highest level and has been solid on the farm to start the season (.278 AVG, 2 SB in 18 AB), so be ready to grab him whenever he's given the chance to step up.
The Orioles don't like to rush their prized prospects and will often leave a top pitcher at one level for an entire season. However, don't assume that will be the case with Matusz, last summer's fourth overall pick who's begun the year at at High A Frederick. Making his official pro debut after signing late, the poised southpaw turned in 5 2/3 strong innings for the Keys on Opening Night. The 22-year-old is armed with outstanding secondary stuff to complement his solid fastball and slider, a repertoire that could help him move up in a hurry.
Jonathan's pick: Buster Posey, C, Giants
This category will typically be reserved for Double-A players, but Posey is an exception because his stay in the California League is expected to be short-lived. The kid can flat out rake, as was clear when he launched his first homer of the season Sunday, and he should be able to hit for both power and average from a premium position. The only thing that might keep the 22-year-old from being fast-tracked to the bigs is his defensive work, as he's a converted infielder and is thus a bit behind the curve when the pads go on. That said, Posey is a terrific athlete and a quick study, so it won't take too long for him to begin moving up the Giants' ladder.
Further down the road
Lisa's pick: Jason Heyward, OF, Braves
Many people believe the 19-year-old "local boy" from the Atlanta suburb of McDonough is the best hitting prospect to come through the system since the club's mid-1990s heyday. Fans at High A Myrtle Beach will find out why this summer, as the 6-foot-4, 230-pound right fielder possesses the rare skills from which true five-tool talents are born. The club's first-round pick two years ago, Heyward's physical ability is matched by his work ethic, and he proved himself capable of big-time everyday production by hitting .323 with 11 home runs, 52 RBIs and 15 steals at Class A Rome last year. The 19-year-old is probably still at least two years away, but then again, the same could have been said for current Braves center fielder Jordan Schafer in the fall of '07.
Jonathan's pick: Mike Moustakas, 3B, Royals
After a slow start to his first full season with Class A Burlington last year, Moustakas made some impressive adjustments to bat .321 with a .557 slugging percentage in the second half. Still, the fantasy world revolves around a "What have you done for me lately" mentality, so the key is to see if the '07 No. 2 overall pick carries that success to the start of '09 in High A ball. Moustakas is 3-for-16 (.188 AVG) thus far, but four games is a small sample size. Fear not: this 20-year-old can swing the bat.