Difference Maker: Kendry Morales - Anaheim Angels 1B
Born: June 20, 1983 (age 25)
Origin: Fomento, Cuba
Bats: Switch Throws: Right
It may seem like you’ve been hearing about Morales for a long time…and in fantasy baseball circles, four years is a long time for a player to maintain “prospect” status.
Morales was a celebrated amateur and short-lived professional in Cuba before defecting to the United States in 2004. As a measure of his determination, it took him eight tries to finally set foot on the U.S. soil. The Angels quickly snatched him up with a six year deal and sent him off to Single-A Rancho Cucamonga. Morales, already a millionaire and a minor celebrity, was just 22.
Morales hit well at every minor league level, compiling a .332 career average and swatting 55 homers over 4 seasons. After short big league stints over the course of 2006-08 where he showed respectable power, Morales was anointed the Angels starting first baseman for 2009 once the Yankees signed away erstwhile starter Mark Teixeira.
He will be 26 come June, so the prospect label is beginning to peel off. To make the Angels forget about Teixeira, Morales will need to sharpen his batting eye and show a bit more patience at the plate. However, given that his only competition for at-bats is the journeyman Robb Quinlan, 20 homers and 80 RBI seem well assured for this season.
Closest comparison: he doesn’t project to have the thump of elite first sackers like Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard or Teixeira, but if he takes a walk here and there to help his average, Morales’ numbers should be in the company of Joey Votto, Derrek Lee or Adam LaRoche by year end. As he’ll likely be around towards the tail end of your draft or as a waiver wire pickup, the risk is minimal given the potential rewards. Just note that in some leagues (such as Yahoo), he currently qualifies