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Padres rookie Cory Spangenberg: worth a fantasy investment?

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Cory Spangenberg
Cory Spangenberg
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Looking through the mailbag of questions, we find this query regarding San Diego Padres rookie Cory Spangenberg:


"I picked up Cory Spangenberg back when he came out of college and hid him on my farm roster. For a while it didn't look like he would do much but I held onto him and now he is in the majors and doing pretty well. But I have a trade offer for him, for a couple of C+type minor league pitching prospects. Should I hold onto Spangenberg?"----Brian in Cedar Park, Pennsylvania.

Well it is hard to make any sort of specific recommendation without knowing who the two Grade C+ pitching prospects are, how close they are to the majors, and your specific league/team context, but we can certainly do a rundown on Spangenberg.

As you know, he is currently hitting .271/.340/.375 in 55 plate appearances for the Padres. He hit .290/.315/.452 in 65 PA last year for the Pads, so that gives him a career slash of .282/.325/.418 with a wRC+ of 112 in 120 PA. He's stolen seven bases in 46 games and I'm assuming your attraction here is to the combination of stolen bases and batting average.

How realistic is it for him to maintain that slash?

I think it is very close to what we should expect actually. His career minor league line was .296/.356/.405 with 104 steals in 374 games. He has always drawn good reviews for his speed and line drive hitting ability, which were good enough to make him a first round pick in 2011 after all. In the Baseball Prospect Book this year, the projection was that he should "have a long career as a guy who can hit .270-.280 and fill a couple of defensive slots." So far, 2015 has done nothing to change that assessment.

The two main questions for Spangenberg have always been power and defense. Although he is unlikely to ever become a home run hitter, he's shown a little more pop over the last couple of years, good for enough doubles and triples to maintain credibility with pitchers. It would be nice if he drew more walks and his OBP will probably always been dependent on batting average and some good BABIP luck, but he's shown some progress with that this year. He isn't supposed to be a great fielder, although he is a versatile one and depending on the league he can qualify at second, third, and the outfield. The speed, batting average, and roster flexibility should boost his value in many fantasy contexts.

So, sell or hold? Again, I can't say without knowing what the other options are. Spangenberg may seem fungible and likely isn't a long-term franchise-bedrock player, but it would NOT be a surprise to see him run up some seasons where he hits .300+ and steals 20 bases. He could also have some seasons where the liners don't fall and he hits .240.

Bottom line: Spangenberg isn't a "never trade" guy, but he's not a cypher either and should not be given away, especially if the prospects in question are not close to the majors.