Prospect Prospectin'


Prospect Prospectin': Dylan is Illin'

Dylan Bundy is having Tommy John surgery. Why don’t they just give it to middle schoolers at this point and get it over with? That’s a bummer for Orioles fans and for the rest of us who were dying to get a glimpse of baseball’s number one pitching prospect. Alas, we’ll have to endure watching boring old Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, and Shelby Miller and wait until next year to check out D-Buns. Sigh. Anyway, here is a list of prospects you should or should not have on your radar:

Out By A Kyle

Kyle Gibson

The kid is making his debut on Saturday. Some baseball ‘perts aren’t high on him. I like him, and not just because he already had Tommy John surgery in 2011 and got that out of the way... I like him because he’s 6”6’ and pounds the bottom of the strike zone. 

Leonys Is On You

Leonys Martin

He’s hitting bombs. He’s the bomb. He’s stealing bags. He’s my bag. 

Jedd’s Dead, Baby - Jedd’s Dead

Jedd Gyorko

Gyorko had a setback. I’d trade for him now because he still has upside and his value is at rock bottom. The guy has serious power that he hasn’t displayed yet.

Erlin’s Magic

Robbie Erlin

Erlin has been fantastic in his two spot starts versus tough teams this year, Toronto and Philly. Scoop him up in NL-Only leagues because he’s the Padres’ 5th starter right now, and no team has ever scored more than 3 runs at Petco. That’s a fact.

Like A Puig In Hit

Yasiel Puig

Now is the time to buy high, even in re-draft leagues. I’m talking Cespedes. I’m talking Choo.  I’m talking Braun. Yes, Braun. He’s hurt and even when he comes back he might be suspended. Puig is the truth. He won’t keep hitting for the average that he is now, obviously (and in OBP leagues his value plummets), but he has power and speed and isn’t he just the most exciting thing to happen to baseball since they legalized steroids?!

Rats, Zoiled Again

Zoilo Almonte

A switch-hitting prospect with a good batting eye?! I’m sold. Plus, he’s totally on fire right now. So there’s that. Pick him up and hope for another couple HRs over the right field wall in Yankee stadium that’s approximately 7 feet from home plate.

Born Again Yelich

Christian Yelich

This is the 547th time this year I’ve urged you to pick up Yelich. So why not say it again? Pick up Yelich.

Two Time Oscar-Loser

Oscar Taveras

Oscar the Grouch is on the DL for the second time with a right ankle injury. Last time he was out for a month. This time, who knows? But I do know this - Oscar won’t be up before September. Drop him in redraft leagues.

Dem’s Good Eaton

Adam Eaton

Played in a simulated game. Might be up before the All-Star Break. Nom nom nom...



Prospect Prospectin': Take A Chance On Me

Wheeler Wil, Wheeler Wil Rock You

What a week! The two big stories were Wil Myers and Zack Wheeler, both called up on Tuesday. Wheeler pitched 6 shutout innings against the Braves but looked pretty shaky. He’s going to struggle with his command and in re-draft leagues, and just like my colleague Mr. Steers McCrum advised you to sell prospects, I’d consider flipping him for a number 2 or 3 starter if he has another good start or two. Myers has looked comfortable at the plate even though he hasn’t had much success in his first few games (and isn’t it weird how much his batting stance looks like Longoria’s?). Again, in re-draft leagues, I’d consider moving Myers as soon as he has a hot week or two. They’re going to be all-stars eventually, but in all likelihood will both struggle this year.

Take a Chance on Me

Many of the obvious call-ups are in the bigs already, so below are some guys who you can take a gamble on:

C-Mart

Carlos Martinez

The Cardinals are stretching out their young flamethrower to become a starter. His last outing he went 6 innings, allowing 2 runs with 7 baserunners and 5 K’s. He might be up before the All-Star Break.

Tiger Style

Nick Castellanos

Andy Dirks is hitting .238. How long can the Tigers put up with that? It’s only a matter of time before they call up their top prospect who has been raking in Triple-A this year. Stash him now. He can hit for average, has a little power, and is obviously in an amazing lineup.

Stock Up On Twinkies

Kyle Gibson

The Twins have some amazing prospects, namely Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano, who won’t be up until next year at the earliest. Their top pitching prospect (I wrote about him a few weeks ago) will get the call soon though - grab him if you have room, especially in keeper leagues.

Yelich From the Rooftops

Christian Yelich

I feel like I’ve been writing about this guy all year, but he’s only owned in 2% of Yahoo leagues - it’s almost like people aren’t listening to me. Yelich was on the fast track to the show before he went down with an abdominal injury. He’s about to come back and it shouldn’t be long before he gets the call. I mean, Stanton should be on the DL again before long, right?

Clean Sanchez

Gary Sanchez

The Yankees need some bats in a bad way. Youkilis and Teixeira just hit the DL, joining Granderson, Jeter, and A-Roid. The Yanks aren’t known for calling up young prospects prematurely, and this is pure conjecture, but I think there’s a chance that they could call up Baseball America’s 36th ranked prospect before season’s end to add some pop in their lineup. Chris Stewart is hitting .270 but has approximately zero upside. In keeper leagues, Sanchez is a great guy to stash away long-term.

Pop a Capp in that Ass

Carter Capps

The Mariners’ bullpen is a fustercluck of epic proportions. Wilhelmsen seemed to have a firm grasp on the job, but has been terrible of late. Eric Wedge used Capps for a save, then Oliver Perez, then back to Wilhelmsen who promptly blew another one. The situation is up in the air and all three are worth stashing for the time being, along with Charlie Furbush.

Choosy Moms Choose Jaff

Jaff Decker

I mentioned him last week, and he got promptly sent back down to the minors without a single AB (what’s that called when your cup of coffee isn’t even a cup of coffee?  Just smelling coffee?). Well, with Quentin hurt and Maybin on the DL, Decker got called back up. He has sneaky power and speed and is worth taking a chance on, especially in NL-only leagues.



Prospect Prospectin': Sell Bryce Harper Edition

Here’s a clown question, bro: why do I want to start this week’s PP’in by talking not about a current prospect, but about the hottest prospect in the last 10 years? The answer: because I’m suggesting you sell him in re-draft leagues. Now, I love Bryce as much as the next guy, but you’re not going to be too happy with him if he gets hurt again.

And he will get hurt again.

The guy makes Pete Rose look like Charlie Slacker. He probably hustles around the locker room. He probably hustles at the grocery store. He probably hustles in his sleep. He clearly hustles at the barber since they only have time to cut half his hair. The guy is going to hustle himself right onto the DL many more times in his career unless he can learn how to play smarter. I mean, what the hell was that play in right field at Dodger Stadium? That was bizarre at best and absolutely stupid at worst.

Now is the time to sell him, because even though he’s on the DL, you could still get great value for him, like a Cespedes-type or maybe even a package for a couple of 2nd-tier players. If Bryce comes back later this month and then gets hurt again, his value will be nil this year. You’ll just be stuck with him. So you might as well get what you can now (or as soon as he returns from the DL). You’ll be glad you did. Bryce will learn to play smart eventually, but it doesn’t look like this is going to happen anytime soon.

Cole Hard Cash

Gerrit Cole

When Gerrit Cole was the number one draft pick in 2011 and get a record $8 million signing bonus, expectations were high. Cole met and exceeded those expectations on Tuesday, when he went 6.1 IP with 7 hits, 0 walks, 2 ER and 2 K’s. Watching him blow away hitters with an effortless 99-mph heater was a thing of beauty. Cole’s strikeouts were down in the minors this year, but that was possibly done on purpose to throw fewer pitches in an effort to conserve his arm. For a guy who regularly flirts with triple-digit fastballs (he’s been clocked as high as 102 mph), I’m not too worried about the strikeouts. The K’s will come. Cole will most certainly have his struggles this year, but he looks like he’s going to live up to the pedigree. He’s an obvious buy in keeper leagues, and I’d certainly grab him in re-draft leagues too to see if he can keep it up. Hell, the guy even had a 2-run single in his first career AB... stick him in the Utility slot!

We Bought a Zunino

Mike Zunino

Baseball’s top catching prospect after Travis D’Arnaud got the call and went 1-for-4 in his first game yesterday. His hit looked good, a rip up the middle on an 0-2 fastball. The guy seems pretty beastly, but I’m kind of skeptical that he’s going to come up and immediately produce. He was striking out a 28.4% clip in AAA this year, not to mention the terrible lineup in a pitcher’s park. I grabbed Zunino in a couple leagues - if he starts out hot I’m going to sell, sell, sell. His power is real (he kinda looks like Mini-Gattis), but his promotion seems a tad early and there’s no telling how long he’ll even be up for.

Separate the Wheat from the Jaff

Jaff Decker

With Cameron Maybin hitting the DL again, the Padres called up prospect Jaff Decker to relieve Quentin, Denorfia, or Blanks in the Padres outfield and/or Jesus Guzman at first base. Decker has sneaky 20/20 potential and a great batting eye - even though he was hitting a paltry .251 in AAA this year, his OBP was .370. Decker is definitely worth throwing a couple bucks at in OBP leagues, particularly NL-only. Who knows? Maybe he’ll return to his 2011 ways when he hit more than 20 bombs and swiped 16 bases.

Drop It Like It’s Cold

Tony Cingrani

Don’t drop him because he’s cold. Drop him because Johnny Cueto is coming back on Sunday and Cingrani is going to be sent back down. Obviously hold onto him in keeper leagues, but in re-draft leagues feel free to send him packing.



Prospect Prospectin': Captain Obvious Edition

Question #1: How is Yasiel Puig still unowned in 26% of Yahoo leagues?! Pick that stud up! He reminds me of Bryce Harper - hustles everywhere. Hopefully he won’t hustle his way into the right field wall like Bryce.

Question #2: Are any of the guys below still unowned in your league? They’re are all likely to be called up this June. You can use this as a checklist; if any of these dudes are still out there, snag ‘em like a flyball and piss off all of your opponents:

Wil Myers (duh)
Zach Wheeler (double duh)
Oscar Taveras (he’s on the DL but should be owned anyway)
Gerrit Cole (has had some control issues but has the best pure arm in the minors)
Billy Hamilton (probably won’t be up for a while but will be a gamechanger)

Honorable Mention:

Christian Yelich (also on the DL but should still probably be owned)

Now onto some other goings-on around the minors:

Olt Is The New Young

Mike Olt

Nelson Cruz might be suspended because of the Biogenesis scandal, and Olt is probably the number one candidate to replace him. He struggled early in the season, but that can probably be chalked up to the vision issues that put him on the DL. Olt is a stud. Stash him if you have the room.

Seeing Reds

Pedro Villareal

Pedro was called up to make a spot start for Johnny Cueto and was promptly demolished by the Rockies. He can be ignored in all fantasy leagues. The man to own is:

Tony Cingrani

Cingrani should be up again soon. Cingrani was dominant in his first three starts this year (18 IP, 28 K’s, 1.50 ERA), then fell back to earth for his next three (15 IP, 13 K’s, 5.40 ERA). He has been more or less his same old self in three games in the minors since being sent down (lot of K’s but some control issues), and should be an asset to any squad for at least the next couple weeks... and maybe longer if Cueto’s injury lingers. Cingrani threw 78.4% fastballs when he was in the bigs earlier this year; maybe if he starts mixing up his pitches he’ll have more success.

Where In The World is Hector Santiago?

Hector Santiago

He’s not a prospect anymore, but Santiago is worth picking up in AL-only leagues now that Jake Peavy pulled a “Jake Peavy” and hit the DL yesterday for 4 - 6 weeks. He’s outperformed his peripherals (3.40 ERA, 4.43 xFIP), and he walks too many batters, but if you’re desperate for K’s, Santiago has been a strikeout machine the last two years, striking out more than a batter per inning. And after the series against the A’s this week, the White Sox face the Blue Jays, Astros, Twins, Royals, and Mets. Those matchups are all muy delicioso.

Erasmo Money, Erasmo Problems

Erasmo Ramirez

Also not technically a prospect (by 9 innings) but I’m mentioning him anyway. Ramirez was in line to be Seattle’s 3rd or 4th starter before the season began, but was out for the first couple months with an arm injury. He’s back in Double-A getting stretched out, and should re-join the rotation in the next few weeks.

Pros: Excellent control, lot of K’s, pitcher-friendly park, played well last year in the bigs, his name is Erasmo

Cons: Is coming off of injury, probably won’t win many games, not a lot of experience



Prospect Prospectin': Don't Make Me Hit a Pitch

I’m going to talk about two young pitchers in this week’s PP’in: Tyler Skaggs and Michael Wacha. Both are highly touted prospects and worth taking a chance on in basically every league -- especially keeper leagues -- so go for it. But both are big risks because of their age. It’s a fact: pitchers take more time to adapt to the bigs than hitters. Let’s check out the rookie seasons of the pitchers with the best three ERAs of any live ball era pitchers who have pitched more than 1,000 innings:

Clayton Kershaw (yes, he has the best career ERA of anyone who has pitched 1000+ innings):

107.2 IP, 4.26 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 8.36 K/9

Sandy Koufax (I combined his first two seasons):

100.1 IP, 4.13 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, 5.38 K/9

Bob Gibson:

75.2 IP, 3.33 ERA, 1.53 WHIP, 5.71 K/9

They all had control issues across the board. So the question is: why do we fantasy baseballers expect so much of young pitchers, when literally the greatest pitchers of all-time struggled when they first came up?  We shouldn’t. Matt Harvey and Chris Sale are the exceptions to the rule. Even Matt Moore, who was ranked side-by-side with Trout and Harper before 2012, struggled mightily with his control last year and failed to live up to our Harmon-Killebrew-pop-up-high expectations.  So I want to talk about Wacha and Skaggs, and I’m as excited about them as the next baseball-obsessed fan, but I urge you to temper your expectations. And if you’re choosing between rostering one of these guys and, say, a young stud hitter like Profar, Myers, or even Zunino or Yelich -- I’d always go with the hitter, especially in re-draft leagues.

Wacha Back

Michael Wacha

The Cardinals have the best farm system in baseball, and the mark Dave Duncan left on their young pitchers is indelible (before he left, he told Shelby Miller, “if anyone tries to change your two-seamer, call me”).  Wacha is the latest young Cardinal arm to be called up to fill the void left by Carpenter/Garcia/Westbrook/Gast. Wacha was fantastic during spring training and has been killing it on Triple-A to the tune of 4 - 0 with a 2.05 ERA and 0.95 WHIP. But the major red flag against Wacha (other than the fact he’s only a year out of college, obviously) is that he only has been striking guys out a clip of 5.81 K/9 rate. That’s not good. He has a plus-fastball and solid changeup, but his curveball needs some work (although he’s not afraid to throw it). He’s still worth taking a flyer on, but I’d only trot him out there against sub-.500 teams for a month or so to see how he fares... Remember, he only has 60 professional innings under his belt -- and he’s no Bob Gibson.

Skagg Reflex

Tyler Skaggs

Skaggs made his 2013 debut on Monday against the tough Rangers lineup, and absolutely dominated: 6 IP, 9 K’s, O ER, 6 baserunners.  Before the season began, many experts thought that Patrick Corbin would lose out on the rotation spot battle to Skaggs, the more highly-touted of the two. But Corbin has perhaps been the biggest surprise in baseball this year and isn’t going anywhere. Skaggs was called up to start a doubleheader, but showed that he’s ready to take the big step to the bigs after struggling during his cup of coffee last year. It’s only a matter of time before Skaggs will be up in the rotation on a more permanent basis, so he’s worth a stash if you have the room, especially in NL-only leagues.



Prospect Prospectin': AL-Only Edition

Talent Will Only Get You Profar

Jurickson Profar

The jury’s still out on Jurickson. Ron Washington told Buster Olney that Profar would be a good hitter “eventually,” and after all, the kid is only 20 years old. Baseball’s #1 prospect is currently splitting time at second base with Leury Garcia, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be scooped up everywhere. He’s the top prospect for a reason, and has a good a chance as anyone to "pull a Trout” this year. There’s also a good chance he gets sent back down in a week once Kinsler comes back. Kinsler has been playing like an all-star, Andrus just signed a whopper of a contract, Moreland is hitting the cover off the ball, and obviously Beltre isn’t going anywhere. There’s simply no place for Profar right now, but I still think you should scoop him up just in case he goes bonkers and Washington simply can’t bench him. It’s possible, right?

Odorizzi Does It

Jake Odorizzi

Odorizzi took a couple innings to get into a groove against the Blue Jays during his first start of 2013. But eventually he settled down and sat down 9 out of the last 10 batters he faced in a scoreless 3rd through 5th. But the bottom line is this: no one handles their young pitchers like the Rays. Last year they led the majors with a 3.19 team ERA, and set a record for starting 764 consecutive starters under 30 over the last 5 seasons. Yes, Faustberto Carmondez has looked pretty good this year, but it’s only a matter of time before Odorizzi or Chris Archer replace him. I’d grab both of these guys in as many leagues as you can, because down the line whoever gets the job will be startable almost every time out. Odorizzi has two starts next week, and the first one is against the Marlins. Even I could pitch against the Marlins and last a few innings, so you should start Odorizzi with confidence.

Ying-Yang Twins

Samuel Deduno

Okay, so he’s not technically a prospect, but he hasn’t seen much major league action. Even though we were all hoping to get a peek at Kyle Gibson, Deduno was the one who got the call to start Friday against the Tigers. He’s never really dominated at any level, but the Twins are hoping that his performance at the World Baseball Classic this year -- 17:5 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 13 IP, and a great performance in the Dominican victory over Puerto Rico in the championship game -- is an indication that maybe he’s turned a corner.

Kyle Gibson

No, Gibson didn’t get the call. But the top-50 prospect will be up eventually and could be a real asset to your squad. At 6'6", Gibson is an intimidating presence on the mound, and has been extremely effective pounding the bottom of the zone and inducing a ton of ground balls, and has even developed a plus changeup. Gibson will probably never be an ace, but at 24 doesn’t have a ton left to prove in the minors, and playing in that ballpark in that division, could definitely be used as a spot starter later this season.

Duck, Duck, Gose

Anthony Gose

The good news? You can probably spend negative $5 of your FAAB to acquire Gose. The bad news? He could be a cheap source of steals, and that’s about it.

Special NL-Only Bonus

Anthony Rendon

The Nats have Rendon playing 2nd base in the minors as of yesterday. This means bad things for Danny Espinosa, who has likely been battling through injury  all season and is struggling to the tune of .159/.188/.290. But Rendon has continued raking in the minors after being sent down, and this move to second base could mean an imminent promotion. In the immortal words of Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber, "Pick 'em up!"



Prospect Prospectin': Stud Stashin' Edition

If teams wait until late May to call up their prospects, they retain control over them for an extra year. If teams wait until the mid-June Super Two cutoff to call up their prospects, they can save themselves some money during the player’s prime years.  That is not as important a consideration of whether or not to call up a player than say, big league readiness, but it’s a more significant consideration than most GM’s admit - after all, they’re basically taking money out of players’ pockets, so they don’t have much incentive to brag about it. But there’s no denying that the players below could help their teams immediately if they were called up, and it’s just a matter of time before it happens. Chances are most of these players are already owned in your fantasy league, but if they’re still out there and you have room, I would suggest scooping one up. Worst-case scenario is you have some tempting trade bait for that one guy in your league obsessed with youngsters (every league has one), and can trade one if one if your starters goes down.

And how much good is Chris Denorfia doing on your bench, anyway? Or Mark Ellis after you picked him up when he was hot for about two games? Drop those types of dudes for one of these studs. When your opponents see that name in the add/drop notification box, they’ll think, “Damn. I thought I could wait a little longer to scoop him up.” Don’t be the guy who waited too long.

The Super Three

These three guys are the top prospects in baseball and are going to be compared to Bryce and Trout once they get called up, which is unfair to them but inevitable I guess. And who knows? Maybe they’ll come up and rake just like those two. One can only hope...

Wil Myers

Damn you and your hot streak, Matt Joyce! I was hoping to see Myers in the bigs by now, but the Rays are extremely careful with their prospects. Myers has nothing left to prove in the minors. Period. He hit .314 with 37 bombs last year (albeit in the PCL), and is raking again this year. He is my #1 impact prospect in baseball this year and the Rays will have to call him up by late summer, if not sooner. I doubt their lineup can keep hitting they way they are (12th most runs in baseball), and are going to need an extra bat.

Oscar Taveras

Chances are Carlos Beltran or Matt Holliday hit the disabled list since you started reading this post. Sure, they can move Craig to the outfield and give Adams first-base once one of those guys goes down, but with his combination of power and speed, the Cards will have to give Taveras a shot at some point soon. He doesn’t walk very often, but Oscar could be an impact-player soon as he ges the chance.

Jurickson Profar

I listed Profar after the first two guys because even though he’s seen big-league action already and they haven’t, I think he’ll make the least impact of the three this year. With Mitch Moreland hitting lights out, there’s little chance they’ll move Kinsler to first to make room for Profar. And with Elvis Andrus’ 8-year, $120 million contract extension, clearly he’s not going anywhere. Nonethelss, Profar is a special talent that could make an impact immediately when he’s called up (again). I got a chance to see him in spring training this year, and he looked damn impressive, notching base hits from each side of the plate. The youngster has struggled a bit this year in Triple-A, but is striking out a lot less and walking more. That's a good sign. Profar should be owned in all leagues, especially with Kinsler’s injury history...

Pirate Booty

The Pirates are going to be incredibly exciting in a couple years, once their 1-2 pitching punch has arrived in the bigs. Who knows? They may even have a .500 record someday.

Gerritt Cole

Cole was the number one draft pick in 2011 and reached Triple-A in his first year in the minors. He has a miniscule 2.45 ERA so this year and there’s no question he’s ready for the show. And with Jonathan Sanchez being released and James McDonald’s injury, it seems like the Pirates could make a move soon, especially if they stay close in the pennant race (they’re only three games behind the Cardinals as of today). Cole’s fastball can hit triple digits, and he also has a nasty slider; once his changeup or curveball become as reliable as his first two pitches, there’s no telling how good he could be. This year he has walked too many batters and not struck out enough, but if the Pirates can stay competitive they’ll have no option but to call up their top prospect.

Jameson Taillon

This is more of a keeper league suggestion since Cole will most certainly be called up before Taillon (if only because Taillon just suffered a left shin contusion after being hit with a comebacker). Cole probably gets more accolades, but Taillon is an absolute monster in his own right, making the two of them the best pitching prospect duo in baseball (sorry, Mariners). Drafted right out of high school, Taillon stands 6'7"and can throw 99 mph. This season in Double-A he’s striking out over a batter per inning and sports a 3.26 ERA (and a 2.61 FIP). Many experts think Taillon won’t be up until 2014, but if the Pirates are still contending in August, you can bet they’ll take a long, hard look at the hard-throwing Texas native that Baseball America ranked the number-15 prospect in baseball.

Pick him up, then once Taillon makes it to the big leagues, celebrate by tying one on with a glass of Jameson.

 



Prospect Prospectin': Own Rendon

Surprise, surprise, Ryan Zimmerman has hit the DL. To fill in for him, the Nats have called up their top prospect, Anthony Rendon. Davey Johnson has said that when Zim returns he’ll reclaim the hot corner, but after batting only .226 through the first 15 games and a whopping 4 throwing errors, I wonder how long the team can keep justifying playing their $100 million man. Rendon has looked a bit overmatched in his first week in the bigs, but it’s just a matter of time before that sweet swings starts connecting with some fastballs. Rendon was red hot in the minors to begin the year, and has always had the potential to be an all-star... this could be his chance to finally prove what he’s capable of. Obviously scoop him up right now in keeper leagues (if he’s not already owned), and take a flyer on him in mixed leagues as well.

Louie, Louie

Luis Jimenez

Jimenez has been swinging a hot bat and scoring a lot of runs for the Los Angeles Orange County Angels of Anaheim San Diego.  Alberto Callaspo could return from the DL as soon as this weekend, but Jimenez could absolutely replace him at third by the end of the season. Last year Jimenez hit  .309/.334/.495 at Triple-A (which is actually lower than his 5-year minor league average of .302/.338/.518), with had 16 HRs and 17 steals in 122 games.  He’s a plus defender and has shown good power at every level of the minors.  Right now he’s batting two spots in front of Trout - imagine what he could do in that lineup batting after Trumbo.  Mike Scoscia has done stranger things in his day (like consistently benching Napoli), and he loves good defenders, so I can see Jimenez finding his way into more playing time as the season progresses.  He’s worth taking a flyer on in every league - especially if you drafted Moustakas at 3B, who looks like he couldn’t even hit Brett Myers’ wife (sorry, couldn't help it).

Burgos and Fries

Hiram Burgos

Even though his name sounds more like a Rabbi than a big leaguer, Burgos had an outstanding 2012 between High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A, to the tune of a 1.95 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, and 8.1 K/9 in 171 IP. That’s a lot of innings for a minor leaguer, and with Chris Narveson hitting the DL, Burgos could be in line to replace him permanently in the rotation. He pitched well against the Cubs in his debut, allowing only one earned run in five innings and no walks (with only one strikeout, though). In deep leagues or NL-only leagues, Burgos is definitely worth picking up because of his 2012 performance alone.

Pretty Bone

Jonathan Pettibone

John Lannan could miss 6 - 8 weeks, and Pettibone looks stellar in his debut against the Bucs, giving up 2 ER over 5 1/3 IP and 6 K’s and no free passes. At 6”5’, Pettibone looks intimidating on the mound, but is actually more of a groundball pitcher than a flamethrower. Charlie Manuel hasn’t committed to using Pettibone exclusively in Lannan’s absence, but if he stays consistent it will be hard to justify replacing him. In daily leagues, Pettibone is worth grabbing for his matchup at Citi Field this weekend, and in other leagues might worth a stash as well. Plus he’s got an awesome name, so there’s that.

Deep-Seated Issues

Carlos Martinez

The Cardinals bullpen is a disaster. Motte is out, Boggs has been mindbogglingly bad, Rosenthal’s year has been anything but rosy, and the Cards were forced to go with Edward “6 Career Saves in 382 Innings” Mujica. Yes, Mujica has looked pretty good thus far, but it seems like only a matter of time before he fails. That’s where Carlos Martinez comes in. He’s worked as a starter so far in his minor league career, but there are rumors out there that he will be called up to the bullpen, and definitely worth taking a flyer on in deep leagues if you’re hurting for saves. With an upper-90’s fastball and a nasty curveball, Martinez actually profiles better as a reliever than a starter.

Better Lucky Than Good

Patrick Corbin

He’s not a rookie, but Corbin is relatively unheralded so I’m including him becaues he is an absolute must-add in all leagues. Many assumed that Tyler Skaggs or Randall Delgado would get the first crack at the 5th starter job in Arizona this year, but it’s been the consistent-if-slightly-unexciting Corbin that’s taken the job and ran with it. Corbin has been extraordinarily lucky with over a 90% strand rate through 19 innings this year, but it still takes a confident, skilled starter to shut down the Brewers, Dodgers, Yankees, and Giants in his first 4 games of 2013. 

Buy High

Shelby Miller

Miller is living up to the hype, and boasts a ridiculous 2.16 ERA, 9.36 K/9, and 0.88 WHIP on the season. This youngster is the real deal. In redraft leagues I’d buy now before his value skyrockets ever further, and in keeper leagues I’d consider going so far as to consider giving up a Cliff Lee-type. That’s how good this kid is. It’s Miller time!

 

 



Prospect Prospectin': Don't Lyle-Overpay for Cingrani

Carlton Risk

Tony Cingrani

Cingrani has been downright ridiculous in Triple-A this year, striking out 26 batters in 14.1 IP with only 2 BB and O ER. Minor league bats have been deceived by his low-90’s fastball and his 11-5 curve, but he’s going to have to work on his secondary stuff to last in the big leagues. It’s actually kind of strange that the Reds would call up their best pitching prospect as a temporary fill-in for Cueto, and it’s going to be interesting to see what happens to Cingrani once Cueto returns. If he succeeds, he might replace Mike Leake at the back of the rotation, but calling him up before he develops a solid changeup could easily backfire. In keeper leagues he’s obviously worth taking a flyer on, but in redraft leagues I wouldn’t give up too much FAAB for this hot but unproven commodity who doesn’t have overpowering stuff and may not even have a job in a few weeks.

Praying for Injury

Matt Adams

The worst part about fantasy sports is that evil, guilty satisfaction you get way deep down when an opponent’s player gets injured. Hopefully, I’m the only terrible person who feels that. Luckily, with Cardinals players, you don’t have to pray too hard for players like Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran, and Allen Craig to hit the DL. And once one of them goes down, Adams is going to be the beneficiary of a lot of ABs. Even if the Cardinals stay healthy, Adams is going to force his way into more playing time if he keeps hitting anything close to as well as he is now, batting a preposterous .611 with 3 HRs and 8 RBI in only 20 plate appearances.

 Buy-Curious

Jedd Gyorko

Gyorko hasn’t flashed any of the power he flaunted in the minors last year with his 30 bombs and .547 slugging percentage. In fact Gyorko has a big goose egg in the home run category, which is partially due to the fact that only 43.4% of the pitches he’s seen have been fastballs. He’s been chasing curveballs out of the zone, probably putting too much pressure on himself to produce in the heart of the lineup - which is exactly why he’s a great buy-low candidate. His owners are certainly growing impatient, wondering if this over-hyped prospect was worth the pretty penny they had to pay to acquire him on draft day. Gyorko’s value is only going to increase once he starts taking advantage of Petco’s new fences and once Headley comes back and he gains 2B eligibility. Now is the time to make a lowball offer and see if someone bites - and it wouldn’t hurt to remind them that Alexi Amarista is playing so well right now that he might even steal ABs from Gyorko.... Fantasy baseball is all about taking calculated risks, and Gyorko’s upside is high enough that you can easily justify taking a risk on acquiring him.

Deep League Diamondbacks

Didi Gregorious

Middle Infielders have been dropping like flies - first there was Hanley and Jeter, and now there’s Reyes and Hill, and even Espinosa is dinged up. If you’re hurting at the MI position, check out the Dutch Didi Gregorious, who will in all likelihood be filling in at SS while Pennington is manning second base during Aaron Hill’s absence, and who could easily steal Pennington’s job away from him by the end of the year. Gregorious doesn’t have blazing speed or double-digit pop, but he’s shown glimpses of excellence this year, hitting .387 with 2 HRs and 1 SB in 7 rehab games. Be gregarious and take a flyer on the Flying Dutchman.

A.J. Pollock

The Diamondbacks’ first round draft pick in 2009, Pollock has a full-time job with Eaton and Kubel out of the lineup. Capable of 30+ steals over a full season, Pollock will give you good average, speed, and has even shown glimpses of power, hitting two longballs in one game against the Pirates last week. If you’re in a deep league, you could do worse than this former top prospect in a hitter’s park. 

Adam Eaton

If you’re in need of speed and have room on your roster, stash Eaton now and reap the stolen bases later. Dem's good Eaton!

I Think I McCann, I Think I McCann

Evan Gattis

My colleague Alex Steers McCrum thinks he's a "sell," and it wouldn't be a bad idea to sell high on Gattis, but if he’s still available in your league, scoop him up and play him until McCann gets back. His whole team is en fuego, plus anyone who can do this off a high-and-tight 96-mph Stephen Strasburg heater deserves some love!



Prospect Prospectin'

I want to start this week’s “Prospect Prospectin’” by talking about Roberto Hernandez, formerly known as Fausto Carmona, formerly known as Prince. I might want to hide my true identity as well if I was the owner of a career 4.64 ERA and 5.33 K/9.  Sure, he’s a sinkerball pitcher with an outstanding defense behind him, but the Rays have approximately 1,353 prospects who are better pitchers than Hernandez, namely:

Chris Archer
Archer will be up, and he’ll be up soon. Jeff Niemann just went under the knife, and he was the only player besides Hernandez blocking Archer’s path. Let’s weigh Archer’s pros and cons:

Pros:
- Strikeouts
- Tends to strike opposing batters out
- Lots o’ K’s

Cons:
- Control
- Tends to walk too many batters
- Lots o’ BB’s

That’s Archer in a nutshell. If he can get his walks down, he’s got ace potential. In his first Triple-A start this year he only walked one batter in 5 innings, which is promising. A few more starts like that and we’re going to see Archer blowing big-league hitters away with his nasty stuff like he did during his cup of coffee last year (11.05 K/9 in 29.1 IP). And fantasy owners can start Archer with confidence knowing that the Rays handle their pitchers better than any team in baseball (last year they led the majors with a 3.34 ERA), meaning they won’t call him up until he’s ready. Stash him now, then reap the rewards when Faustberto Carmondez inevitably blows up.

Buy-Curious

Julio Teheran

Okay, so his first start was bad. Like gave-up-five-runs-to-the-lowly-Cubs-and-only-struck-out-two-batters-bad. But he’s still the same pitcher that was one of the most highly touted prospects going into 2012, and looked like freakin’ Bob Gibson in spring training this year, posting a 1.04 ERA in six starts and showing a glimpse of what his potential could be. Okay, so spring training stats are meaningless, and he could absolutely be a bust again this year, but isn’t he worth taking a chance on? If someone in your league dropped him after his rough first outing, he’s definitely worth picking up and stashing away, and I’d even put out a few low-ball trade offers out there for him. The reward could be huge, plus who would you rather hold onto that’s on your roster? Dillon Gee? Phil Humber? I didn’t think so. Fantasy baseball is all about taking risks, and Teheran is a risk worth taking at this point, especially if you can get him for dirt cheap or off waivers.

Drop It Like It’s Cold

Leonys Martin

Before the season started, Ron Washington said of Martin that he was going to “turn him loose” on the basepaths this year. This would be great for fantasy purposes...if Martin could reach the basepaths at all. In a platoon with Craig Gentry in center, Martin has struggled mightily, to the tune of 1 hit and 1 walk in 13 ABs. Small sample size, sure, but unless you’re in a deep league with daily roster changes, you can drop Martin for a hot hitter and pick him up down the road if he finally starts to get it going.

Aaron Hicks

The guy isn't ready for major league pitching. Period.

Third Base Studs You Should Stash Now, Brag Later 

Nolan Arenado

Arenado was the talk of the town last year, but was never called up since the Rockies were out of the playoff race by, well, May. Now all he has in his way is Chris Nelson, who is only batting .261 and has virtually no upside. Meanwhile, Arenado is picking up where he left off in spring training, hitting .438 with 2 bombs in 18 plate appearances. Arenado is not long for the minors.

Anthony Rendon

There was talk of Rendon being promoted last year, but the injury-prone Texan finished yet another year on the DL. With the also oft-injured Ryan Zimmerman and Danny Espinosa already playing through a shoulder injury, it seems like only a matter of time before the now healthy Rendon makes his way to the show. Pick him up now before someone else has the foresight to.

No Longer a Prospect But I’m Mentioning Him Anyway

Garrett Richards

With Jered Weaver out for at least a month, the Angels’ top pitching prospect Garrett Richards will take his spot in rotation. If you’re a Weaver owner looking for a replacement, or in dire need of wins or K’s, Richards could be a worthy add with his strikeout upside (but be forewarned, he has struggled with control). Even if he doesn’t pitch lights out, he’s in line for some wins with that lineup backing him up, and it’s worth mentioning that Richards had the best spring* of any Angels pitcher, posting a 1.45 in 6 games.

*I know spring training stats are meaningless and I keep referring to them. Deal with it.

 




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