Mar 14, 2014; Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Desmond Jennings (8) on base during the third inning against the Atlanta Braves at Champion Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy Baseball: Is Rays’ Desmond Jennings finally ready to break out?



Eventually we get tired of waiting.

Mar 5, 2014; Port Charlotte, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Desmond Jennings (8) hits a 2-run home run during the fifth inning against the New York Yankees at Charlotte Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The waiting game can become tiresome for fantasy baseball owners as we continually wait for once can’t miss prospects to finally break out at the major league level. For some it happens almost immediately. For some players it takes some time. And for some guys it never happens.

We are still waiting on the answer of whether or not we should write Tampa Rays outfielder Desmond Jennings completely off, but the 2014 season could offer up some glimmer of hope still.

That begs the question of whether or not Jennings will finally break out this season?

Once groomed as the top prospect in all of baseball, the emergence of Jennings made the decision of Tampa allowing Carl Crawford to sign with the Boston Red Sox a little bit easier to take.

Not only has Desmond not lived up to the hype of being baseball’s top prospect, he really hasn’t coming close to filling Crawford’s shoes in the Tampa outfield either.

Throughout his four year MLB career, Jennings has posted only as .250/.330/.409 slash line. While he has swiped over 20 bases in each of the past three seasons, Jennings has never hit more than 14 homers in a year or driven in more than 54 runs.

The good news is those numbers came last season and hopefully are ready for a solid bump.

Keep in mind that while many have written Jennings off, he is still only 27 years old.

Look deeper into his numbers and there is more to like.

Jennings showed some improvement in his plate discipline in 2013, reducing his K rate from 21.3 to 19.1 percent. In addition, his .252 AVG was hampered by a .295 BABIP, which is rather low for a player with Jennings’ speed, so I would expect his average to climb somewhat.

He’s also off to a very nice spring in which he is hitting .389 with a 1.061 OPS.

As for the power numbers, they are more of a mystery.

Jennings has some good pop in his bat, evident by his above average 407 feet distance on his homers last season. The problem though is Jennings doesn’t elevate many balls as he boasts a 1.31 GB/FB rate.

More concerning to me is the drop in steals from 31 in 2012 to only 20 last season.

Add all of that up and I don’t envision a breakout coming any time soon.

Quite frankly with an ADP of 11.05 just a week before Opening Day, I feel Jennings is a little overvalued in most drafts.

Sometimes guys just find a way to put it all together, which is still a possibility for Jennings.

However most of the time it is simply a case of they are who we thought they were (cue Dennis Green voice).

That’s more likely the case with Jennings.

I fully expect him to be somewhat productive in 2014, but be cautious and don’t buy into the hype.

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