Interesting article comparing the "big three" third basemen from the 2005 draft: Alex Gordon, Ryan Zimmerman, and Ryan Braun. While nominally a fantasy article, that doesn't really come in until the end, and the comparisons as far as how each player was handled and their possible futures are interesting.
While I do think there is something to the notion that the popularity of fantasy baseball has negatively effected baseball fan loyalty or whatever, I think articles like this show that fantasy ball also can increase fan intelligence, since it shows the interest that somewhat serious fantasy players have in projecting players in general -- which, in a period in which the development of young players is paramount (especially for small market teams like the Royals) should be of interest to any more-than-casual fans.
Of note in this article:
-- Makes a good point that Braun was handled the most "sensibly" in the minors. I think that Royals fans should keep in mind that Gordon only had one year in the minors, and that was AA. I'm not basing this on anything, but I wonder if it wouldn't be helpful to think of at least the first half of Gordon's 2007 as his AAA time, and the second half of 2007 plus the first half of 2008 as his rookie year. It wouldn't help in terms of service time, but it might increase the level of patience fans have with young Alex.
-- Given the universal hype for him pre-2007, Gordon has been the biggest disappointment so far (although he doesn't make much of the fact, particularly from a "real baseball" standpoint, that Gordon so far remaining at third base is one big plus he has versus Braun), but also notes that he is making important improvements this year. Would have been better if he had looked at Gordon's left-right splits (as did our own NHZ earlier this season, which show that, in fact, Gordon's abilities versus RHP improved markedly from 2007 to 2008. Indeed, what's really holding him back is his struggles against lefties. I do think he got better against them the last few weeks of the season. We'll see next year.
-- He sees Gordon as continuing to improve, but probably not breaking out until 2010. I'm not sure I agree with that, but discuss amongst yourselves.