Rookies


Squeezing Steals Out Of Anthony Gose

Injuries have defined the Blue Jays' season so far, with the pitching staff feeling the brunt of the impact. The injury bug leaked over to the position player side of things on Monday night, when Jose Bautista came up holding his left wrist after pulling a ball foul down the line in a game against the Yankees. He left the game and x-rays were negative, but an MRI revealed what is either inflammation or a strain depending on who you ask. It's probably a little of both, the two can be related. Either way, Bautista has been placed on the DL and will miss at least two weeks.

To take his spot, Toronto recalled top outfield prospect Anthony Gose from Triple-A. He was hitting .292/.375/.432 with 18 doubles, ten triples, five homers, and 29 steals in 436 plate appearances for Las Vegas at the time of the recall. The left-handed hitting Gose sat on Tuesday night - understandable against CC Sabathia -  before making his first start and going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts yesterday. He is expected to be the everyday right fielder during Bautista's absence with the occasional game on the bench against tough lefties.

The 21-year-old Gose is well traveled already, going from the Phillies to the Astros in the Roy Oswalt trade before being flipped to the Jays for Brett Wallace. ESPN's Keith Law ranked him as the 59th best prospect in baseball before the season, noting that Gose now "stays back better and repeats his swing in a way he couldn't before, resulting in higher-quality contact and the chance for average power." His outfield defense - he's a true center fielder playing right in deference to the incumbent Colby Rasmus - is excellent and enough to keep him in the lineup even when he's struggling at the plate, and playing time is always a concern for fantasy rookies.

Triple-A Las Vegas is one of the most extreme hitters' environments in baseball, inflating offense by almost ten percent according to the park factors at StatCorner. It would be easy to write off Gose as a product of that ballpark if he had a huge home/road split, but this year it was actually a reserve split. He hit .259/.351/.395 in 46 home games compared to .313/.397/.469 in 46 road games before the call-up. Besides, we're not looking at Gose as someone who can come up and mash, adding homers and RBI to our counting stats. He's a steals candidate.

Gose has swiped at least 45 bases in each of the last three seasons - including two 70+ steal seasons - and is likely to get there again this year. He's efficient (74% success rate) but not insanely successful in his stolen base attempts, so keep that in mind if you use net steals. Bautista isn't expected to miss too much time but Gose could still force his way into the regular lineup with an assist from Rajai Davis' recent slump. If he proves useful over the next two weeks, the at-bats will be there for him in left field. You might take a hit in batting average and almost certainly will get no help in the power or run production departments, but steals can be hard to come by this late in the season and few players offer as much stolen base potential as the guy Toronto just called up.



Four Prospects To Watch In The Second Half

As we come out of the All-Star break, we're going to see a number of top prospects join their big league club down the stretch as they push for a playoff spot. Some may have a huge impact like Mike Trout has already had for the Angels while others may just be complementary pieces shoring up the bench or bullpen. Here's a look at four high-end prospects who could assume important roles in the second half and have real fantasy value. I've including their ranking among Baseball America's Top 50 Prospects midseason update for reference.

Matt Harvey | SP | Mets | Baseball America: #34

The Mets got some unfortunate news earlier this week when right-hander Dillon Gee had to be placed on the disabled list after feeling numbness in his fingers. He was diagnosed with a blood clot in his shoulder and may still need surgery. The team has yet to announce his rotation replacement, but right now it seems like the immortal Miguel Batista will be a temporary solution. With Harvey tearing up Triple-A, he becomes the prohibitve favorite to fill Gee's spot if he misses an extended period of time.

Harvey, 23, has pitched to a 3.39 ERA in 18 starts and 98.1 innings for the club's Triple-A affiliate this season. His strikeout (9.3 K/9) and walk (3.8 BB/9) rates are very good, though they're better measured in terms of percent of batters faced -- he's struck out 24.2% while walking 10.0% of the hitters to step in the box against him this year. The walks are a bit of a concern because they will boost his WHIP, but Harvey can miss bats and that will cure a lot of ills. Throw in a pitcher friendly ballpark and you're looking at a potential fantasy weapon down the stretch.

Wil Myers | OF | Royals | Baseball America: #3

The 21-year-old Myers has had a busy week, first starring in the Futures Game before winning the Triple-A All-Star Game MVP Award last night. He's hit a combined .327/.403/.676 with 27 homers in 363 plate appearances split between Double and Triple-A this season, and in reality he probably should have been up a few weeks ago. Lorenzo Cain is just coming back from a groin strain and Jeff Francoeur has been unable to replicate last season's success, so the Royals can make room for Myers if they really want to get him in the lineup. Either way, expect him to rake and become an instant fantasy starter as soon as he's recalled and given an everyday job.

Mike Olt | 3B | Rangers | Baseball America: #11

Olt, 23, has had a huge year - .292/.403/.574 with 22 homers in 348 Double-A plate appearances this summer - and he doesn't figure to need much Triple-A time before being big league ready. The problem is that there's no obvious opening for him in Texas with Adrian Beltre manning the hot corner, though they've had him work out at both first base and right field this season. Of course that also makes Olt one of the very best pieces of trade bait in the game. The Rangers could go big game hunting - Zack Greinke? Cole Hamels? Justin Upton? - with their top third base prospect going the other way. That could land Olt in the big leagues down the stretch and third base is a sneaky shallow position. Keep an eye on Texas and their trade deadline dealings, because they could have big fantasy implications for more than the obvious reasons.

Tyler Skaggs | SP | Diamondbacks | Baseball America: #7

The arrival of Trevor Bauer has been a little underwhelming so far, but he's not the only high-end pitching prospect the D'Backs have on the cusp of the show. Skaggs, a 21-year-old southpaw, pitching to a 2.84 ERA in 13 Double-A starts before jumping to Triple-A and making two starts. His strikeout (8.7 K/9 and 23.2% of batters faced) and walk (2.6 BB/9 and 7.0%) rates are excellent, it's just a matter of making room for him in the rotation. Daniel Hudson's injured elbow opens a starting job that will likely be filled when Joe Saunders comes off the DL (Josh Collmenter is filling in for the time being), but the veteran southpaw always seems to be involved in trade rumors. Skaggs probably has the most to overcome to reach the show in the second half, but he has fantasy impact potential once he does arrive.



Grandal Sparks The Padres, Fantasy Lineups

Catcher is baseball's weakest offensive position - the league average for backstops is .246/.314/.397 this year - and arguably the shallowest position in fantasy. You have the elite guys like Yadier Molina and Joe Mauer, the bottom-feeders like Miguel Olivo and Russell Martin, and not a whole lot in-between. Any time an A.J. Ellis-type surprises, he's plucked off the waiver wire in short order. Unless you're rostering one of the top guys, you almost have to hunt catchers like saves in free agency and ride hot streaks.

The latest catching fad is 23-year-old Yasmani Grandal, a switch-hitting rookie who's clubbed four homers in five games since being called up by the Padres last week. Part of last winter's Mat Latos trade, Grandal became the first player in baseball history to hit a home run from each side of the plate for his first two career big league hits. His pinch-hit, two-run dinger off David Hernandez yesterday gave San Diego their fifth straight win. Overall, Grandal has a .300/.300/.900 batting line in 20 plate appearances, a shiny performance in an insignificant sample.

Baseball America ranked Grandal as the fourth best prospect in Cincinnati's system prior to the trade, then placed him 53rd on their Top 100 Prospects List this spring. "[He] will provide above-average offense" because he "has a balanced approach, controls the strike zone and uses the entire field," they wrote in their subscriber-only scouting report. Grandal backed up that scouting report by hitting .335/.443/.521 with more walks (37) than strikeouts (35) in 235 plate appearances in Triple-A this year before being recalled, and it's worth noting that Tucson is a pretty neutral offensive environment according to StatCorner. He's a career .315/.415/.498 hitter in 709 minor league plate appearances after being the 12th overall pick in the 2010 draft.

Now obviously Grandal will not continue to hit homers at this pace, especially since he's yet to step to the plate at Petco Park since being recalled. His five games since last week have been played in Coors Field (two) and Chase Field (three), some pretty good hitting parks. Petco is quite the opposite. That said, the catcher offense bar is so low these days that Grandal is worth a roster spot just on his potential. He'll always be at the platoon advantage as a switch-hitter and he has the skill set to hit for average and pop some homers. His runs scored and RBI totals don't figure to be anything special given the lineup around him, but getting help in two of the traditional 5x5 scoring categories from your catcher is more than most guys can offer. There aren't many position players on the Padres worthy of a fantasy roster spot, but Grandal is clearly one of them.



Diamondbacks Finally Free Trevor Bauer

Before the season started, fantasy owners were counting down the days until Mike Trout and Bryce Harper joined the Angels and Nationals, respectively. Matt Moore of the Rays was a hot target on draft day and the Mariners' Jesus Montero was a sleeper at the catcher position even though he didn't have catcher eligibility yet. The fifth megaprospect everyone was waiting on was Trevor Bauer, the eclectic right-hander taken third overall last summer by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Having drawn Tim Lincecum comparisons because of a unique delivery (here's video) and workout/conditioning routine, Bauer was the Next Big Thing after those other four Next Big Things.

Ranked as the ninth best prospect in baseball by Baseball America coming into the season, the Diamondbacks sent Bauer to Double-A Mobile when they broke camp. He struck out 60 batters and allowed just nine earned runs in 48 1/3 innings across eight starts before Arizona decided hey, we have to promote this guy. Bumped up to Triple-A Reno, Bauer went on to whiff 56 batters while allowing 14 earned runs in 44 2/3 innings across eight starts. In 16 minor league games this season, he owns a 2.23 ERA and an 11.2 K/9, or better put he's struck out 29.4% of the batters he's faced. The league average is somewhere around 19.0-19.5%, just for perspective. Bauer leads the minors in wins (11) and strikeouts (116) as of right now.

Unfortunately -- I'm not sure for who, really -- he won't get a chance to pad those totals. Arizona is calling Bauer up to make his big league debut against the Braves in Atlanta tonight, replacing the injured Joe Saunders. It sounds like Saunders will be back sooner rather than later, but Daniel Hudson's torn UCL means Bauer is in the rotation to stay. His stuff is excellent and his arsenal includes a mid-90s fastball and a "plus-plus curveball" to go with a solid slider, changeup, and splitter according to Baseball America (subs. req'd). Dan Syzmborski's ZiPS system pegs the Bauer as a 4.18 ERA pitcher at the moment, albeit one with a fantastic strikeout rate (9.2 K/9). In a subscriber-only piece at Baseball Prospectus, Kevin Goldstein says the right-hander from UCLA is "among the best fantasy rookie pickups from here going forward," and I think that goes without saying.

As for the drawbacks, Bauer is known to be pitch inefficient, give out walks, and surrender some homers. He's averaged 101 pitches per six innings according to Goldstein, walked 60 batters in 118 2/3 minor league innings (4.6 BB/9 and 11.7% of batters faced), and given up eight homers during that time. That last number isn't scary, but Bauer has admitted to preferring fly balls to ground balls -- fly balls are more likely to turn into outs -- and not being afraid of the long ball on Twitter (@BauerOutage). Since he'll be playing his home games at the hitter friendly Chase Field, expect Bauer to serve up a few dingers. Given his propensity to walk people, more than a few of them will be multi-run shots as well.

Despite that, I still believe Bauer can outperform that 4.18 ERA projection and settle in as a 3.50-ish guy with a strikeout rate near one batter per nine innings, although his WHIP figures to be a little high given his walk issue. That puts his performance in line with guys like Jonathon Niese and Yu Darvish, though his ability to rack up wins will not be the same given the different teams these guys play on. Following his outing against the Braves tonight, Bauer lines up to make starts against the Padres and the Matt Kemp/Andre Ethier-less Dodgers (both games at home in Chase Field) before the All-Star break. Needless to say, fantasy owners should be salivating. He's a long-term fantasy star that figures to be among the highest drafted pitchers in the coming years, but for 2012 and he's a very good rotation option that might hit some bumps along the way.



Recent Call-Ups: Conger, Kirkman, Moore

Let's round up three recent call-ups and their fantasy impact. Two hail from the AL West, the third from the NL East.

Hank Conger | C | Angels

Had it not been for an elbow strain earlier this season, Conger would have been up a long time ago. Chris Iannetta broke his wrist in early-May and the Angels had to turn to Bobby Wilson and John Hester to replace him while their top catching prospect was out. Now that he's healthy -- and Bobby Wilson is on the 7-day concussion DL -- Conger is in the big leagues but playing second fiddle to Hester. He's only started three of eight games since being recalled, including just one of the last six. Hester's solid batting line -- .256/.333/.349 with one homer in 48 plate appearances -- is a hindrance, as is manager Mike Scioscia's affinity for defense-first catchers.

Conger, 24, is seen as an offense-first backstop with a line drive swing from both sides of the plate according to Baseball America. He has more over-the-fence power from the left side and his minor league plate discipline rates -- 14.4% strikeouts and 8.7% walks -- are evidence of his contact-oriented approach. This isn't another Mike Napoli situation but it's similar, the Angels are focused more on defense than offense behind the plate and that works against Conger. With Wilson expected back as soon as this weekend, Conger might find himself back in Triple-A. He's a fantasy non-option until we know he's going to get regular at-bats.

Michael Kirkman | RP | Rangers

The Rangers have lost Derek Holland (shoulder), Neftali Feliz (elbow), and Alexi Ogando (groin) to the disabled list in recent weeks and with Roy Oswalt still a few weeks away, they had to dip into their farm system for a replacement starter. Kirkman, 25, has 29 appearances and 48 2/3 big league innings to his credit already, but all of them have come in relief. He's worked primarily as a starter in Triple-A but his performance hasn't been anything to write home about: 5.25 ERA with 9.0 K/9 and 5.8 BB/9. The walks are a problem now and have been throughout his career based on his 4.9 BB/9 in over 600 minor league innings.

I like Kirkman -- who Baseball America ranked as the teams 28th best prospect coming into the season -- more than most because he's a four-pitch lefty with some funk and deception in his delivery. He's slated to start at home against the Astros on Saturday, making him a fine end of the week candidate if you're desperate for counting stats or need to roll the dice on someone for help in the rate categories. Kirkman might not be long for the rotation with Holland reportedly on the mend, but if he sticks around he'll pick up SP eligibility soon enough.

Tyler Moore | OF | Nationals

Bryce Harper garners all of the attention and rightfully so, but the 23-year-old Moore has two straight 30 homer seasons to his credit in the minors and tagged Triple-A pitching to the tune of .310/.372/.660 before being recalled. He hit two homers yesterday -- the first two of his big league career -- and has started three of Washington's last five games after coming off the bench for the previous month. Baseball America only ranked Moore as the team's 16th best prospect coming into the season because of his high strikeout rate (23.5% of all minor league plate appearances) and defensive shortcomings, but they do acknowledge that his right-handed pop is very real. He's totaled at least 70 extra-base hits in each of the last two minor league seasons.

With Steve Lombardozzi starting to come back to Earth a bit -- .238/.289/.333 in the last 33 team games -- Moore could see more time in left field, particularly against left-handers. He's not going to give you much average or even OBP, but Moore will hit some homers and drive in some runs if given the playing time. Keep an eye on their lineups the next few days, if Moore starts to see more and more playing time, grab him if your team is power-starved.



Pryor, Tolleson & Doolittle: Holds Risers

Most of our content at RotoAuthority focuses on standard 12-team mixed leagues with traditional 5x5 scoring, but today we're going to veer off our usual track and look at some recent call-ups who could help in the holds category. Predicting who will pick up holds might be more difficult than predicting who will pick up saves in a given season, but banking on young power arms is never a bad idea. Here are three guys with barely two combined weeks of big league time to their credit who could help you in a holds league, presented in order of fantasy usefulness.

Stephen Pryor | Mariners

A fifth round pick in 2010, the 22-year-old right-hander has three appearances under his belt but already has seen high-leverage work. Pryor entered last night's game with men on first and second and one out with a one-run run lead in the sixth inning against a division rival, coaxing an inning-ending double play before chipping in a scoreless seventh. The 6-foot-4, 245 pounder comes right over the top with a big mid-90s fastball and a power low-80s curveball. His minor league strikeout rates are off the charts (12.3 K/9 and 33.0% of batters faced) but he needs to iron out his strike-throwing abilities (4.6 BB/9 and 12.4% of batters faced). We've seen countless late-game relievers succeed with high walk rates as long as they miss bats, which Pryor certainly does.

Tom Wilhelmsen has filled in nicely for displaced closer Brandon League, who is working setup innings and is likely to moved before the deadline. Pryor should assume eighth inning duties once that happens if not sooner.

Shawn Tolleson | Dodgers

Los Angeles called up the 24-year-old Tolleson in the wake of Javy Guerra's knee injury two days ago, though he has yet to appear in a game. The right-hander had video game numbers in the minors, with a sky-high strikeout rate (13.4 K/9 and 38.4% of batters faced) and a low walk rate (2.1 BB/9 and 6.0% of batters faced) in 120 innings since being a 30th round pick in 2010. Tolleson has a sometimes violent delivery that adds deception to his mid-90s fastball, low-90s cutter, and mid-80s slider. It's true late-inning, high-leverage stuff.

As expected, Kenley Jansen has taken over as the Dodgers' closer with Josh Lindblom handling most of the setup work. Ronald Belisario has also seen a few setup innings since coming off the restricted list. Manager Don Mattingly is from the Joe Torre school of bullpen use, meaning Tolleson will first have to prove his worth in miscellaneous middle relief innings before being trusted at the end of the game. Even if he doesn't displace Lindblom, seventh inning guys are underrated holds candidates, especially those who pile up strikeouts.

Sean Doolittle | Athletics

Doolittle, 25, has a story right out of a move script. He was the 41st overall pick in the 2007 draft as a first basemen, struggled with injuries that kept him on the shelf for all of 2010 and just about all of 2011, then converted to pitching and dominating ever since. The southpaw threw one tune-up inning last year before striking out 48 (17.3 K/9 and 51.7% of batters faced) and walking just seven (2.5 BB/9 and 7.5% of batters faced) in 25 minor league innings this season. He was called up to Oakland recently and in his first (and only) appearance, he struck out three of the four men he faced in a mop-up role. He's a fastball-slider guy and clearly has the ability to miss bats.

The A's have two veteran and imminently trade-able relievers in their bullpen in Brian Fuentes and Grant Balfour, creating a potential opportunity for Doolittle down the road. Right-hander Ryan Cook has been brilliant since coming over in the Trevor Cahill trade and currently sets up, so he figures to be the first in line for save chances. Power left-handers will get chance after chance though, so keep the former first baseman in midn when trying to dig up bullpen help later this year.



Jered Weaver's Back Brings Garrett Richards Back

Initially it looked like a hamstring or ankle injury, but earlier this week the Angels lost ace right-hander Jered Weaver to the disabled list with spasms and a strained muscle around a disc in his lower back. It sounds -- and looked -- pretty painful, and right now it's unclear how long he'll be out.

"Hopefully it won't be too long before he's out there pitching, but we don't know what the timetable is going to be," said manager Mike Scioscia to Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles. "I think everyone believes it's going to be manageable, and hopefully it won't be too long, but we have to give him enough time ... It's significant enough where it's going to take a couple of weeks. When he's back in the rotation is when he's healthy, and when that time frame comes isn't certain."

Taking his place in the rotation will be 24-year-old right-hander Garrett Richards, who appeared in seven games (three starts) with the Halos last season. He wasn't very good in his first taste of the show, pitching to a 5.79 ERA with nearly as many walks (seven) as strikeouts (nine) in 14 innings. Richards jumped right from Double-A to the big leagues though, and early this year he was able to get some Triple-A innings under his belt to continue his develop. He's pitched to a 4.31 ERA with unimpressive strikeout (7.67 K/9) and walk (4.63 BB/9) rates in 52 1/3 innings across ten starts. I have to think the Angels would have preferred to give him more minor league time, but duty calls.

Baseball America ranked Richards as the team's third best prospect before the season, saying "a No. 3 profile is the most likely outcome" in their subscriber-only scouting report. PitchFX data available at FanGraphs corroborates their report of a legitimate mid-90s fastball with a hard, mid-80s slider and a nascent mid-80s changeup. It's the kind of stuff that makes you wonder why Richards didn't rack up more strikeouts in the minor leagues, when he posted a 7.9 K/9 and whiffed just 21.1% of the batters he faced. Most hard-throwers are up around 25% in the minors thanks to pure velocity.

Coming into the season, Dan Syzmborski's ZiPS system thought Richards was a true talent 5.48 ERA pitcher at this point of his career. That's really harsh and despite his status as one of the club's top prospects, it's very much in line with what you'd expect given his recent minor league performance. The schedule will help him a little bit in the coming weeks. Richards will start against the Mariners in a few days (the Halos took advantage of today's off day to rearrange their rotation) after throwing a perfect tune-up inning last night, then he lines up for dates against the Dodgers, Giants, and Dodgers again. One of those three games (the first Dodgers matchup) will be in an NL park. You can use him as a matchup guy if you're desperate for counting stats late in the week, but otherwise Richards is unlikely to contribute much in a standard 12-team mixed league with 5x5 scoring. Sit this one out and hope one your opponents decides to roll the dice.



Mike Trout And Sustainability

The Nationals made waves when they called up Bryce Harper in late-April, so much so that Mike Trout returned the big leagues on the same day and was barely noticed. The 20-year-old Trout has actually out-produced his 19-year-old top prospect counterpart so far, and in fact he's producing like a top-five fantasy outfielder. He's hit .315/.382/.539 in 102 plate appearances this year, clubbing four homers and stealing six bases in his 23 games. There is no question he has the talent to play like this, but the question becomes how long can he keep it up at his age?

Over the last 50 years, only 23 players have qualified for the batting title as a 20-year-old. Alex Rodriguez circa 1996 was by far the most productive of the group, hitting .358/.414/.631 with 54 doubles, 36 homers, and 15 steals. Only three others managed to hit .300 (Ken Griffey Jr., Starlin Castro, and Claudell Washington) and only two others hit more than 20 homers (Griffey and Tony Conigliaro), though eleven of them stole at least 15 bases and five stole more than 20. That isn't to say Trout can't put up numbers like that -- what those guys did has zero impact on him going forward -- it just goes to show how rare it is for a player this young to be that productive.

First of all, I have little doubt that Trout will steal a boatload of bases this season. He stole 56 bases in 2010 and another 54 between the Majors and minors last season, so that's very clearly a huge part of his game. If Trout plays every day the rest of the season, he could steal 30+ bases very easily. Forty might be pushing since it's already late-May, but I wouldn't put it past him. The kid is going to steal a ton of bases for your fantasy team, that's all but certain. At the plate, maintaining a high average might be a little more difficult.

Trout's batting average is propped up by a .381 BABIP at the moment. That's obviously extremely high but it's incorrect to simply say his performance will suffer going forward because his BABIP will come back down to Earth. Trout is exactly the kind of player that will consistently post higher than usual BABIPs, meaning a speed guy who doesn't hit a ton of true fly balls. Guys like Austin Jackson (career .371 BABIP), Carlos Gonzalez (.346), and Emilio Bonifacio (.340) have similar offensive profiles and sky-high BABIPs. Now Trout's BABIP is sure to come down a bit, as .381 is a bit nutty, but he's capable of maintaining a .340+ pace and that will hopefully keep his batting average right around .300 mark.

Over-the-fence power is a different story. Trout did hit 16 homers between the Majors and minors last season but he is stuck in a division with not only some really good pitching, but also some big ballparks. His home park in Anaheim has a home run park factor of 93 for right-handed batters according to StatCorner, meaning it suppresses homer output by righties to roughly 93% of the league average. Safeco Field in Seattle is notoriously unfriendly to right-handers (83 HR factor) and the Coliseum in Oakland is even worse (80 HR factor). The Ballpark in Arlington is his one divisional reprieve (114 HR factor). The Angels will play 76 of their 117 remaining games (65.0%) at home, in Seattle, or in Oakland, so that's going to hurt Trout's power. Double-digit dingers seems inevitable, but I would be skeptical about his ability to threaten 18-20.

One non-statistical concern I have about Trout is his durability. He's not injury prone or anything like that, but reports indicated that he looked noticably worn down late last year and in the Arizona Fall League. Remember, he's still a 20-year-old kid who only has two full seasons under his belt. The 162-game grind is tough, especially for a leadoff hitter and base stealer who takes a pounding sliding into second and diving back to first on pickoff throws. This has nothing to do with Trout's skills and talent, but anecdotally there is a slight concern about his ability to maintain a high-level of performance right through the end of the fantasy season.

Dan Syzmborski's ZiPS system projects a .272/.342/.427 batting line with 11 homers and 26 steals out of Trout for the rest of the season, which is actually a bit below my expectations. That's a valuable player but probably not a top 20 fantasy outfielder. Trout is clearly one of the most exciting and best all-around prospects to break into the big leagues in quite some time, but as Matt Moore and Brett Lawrie owners are finding out, that doesn't guarantee instant and sustainable success right out of the chute.



Moseley's Injury Opens The Door For Joe Wieland

Right-hander Dustin Moseley missed a big chunk of last season with an injury to his non-throwing shoulder, but the news is much worse this year. The 30-year-old suffered "extensive damage" and "changes to the labrum" in his right shoulder in his first start of the season last week according to manager Bud Black, when he allowed five runs in five innings to the Dodgers. Last night, the Padres pulled right-handed pitching prospect Joe Wieland from his start for Triple-A Tuscon after just two innings. Baseball America's J.J. Cooper confirms that Wieland was lifted from the game and told he's headed to San Diego to fill Moseley's rotation spot. As you'd expect, he was thrilled when he got the news.

The Padres have yet to confirm the move, but it appears that Wieland will make his big league debut against the Dodgers this Saturday. San Diego acquired the 22-year-old from the Rangers in the Mike Adams trade last summer, and Baseball America went on to rank him as the seventh best prospect in baseball's third best farm system. "Wieland profiles as a classic No. 4 starter, but his exquisite control suggests he could be a No. 3," wrote Matt Eddy in the subscriber-only scouting report, and he's not kidding about the exquisite control. Wieland walked just 21 batters in 155 2/3 innings last year, a 1.2 BB/9 and 3.4% of the hitters he faced. Just for some perspective, the best walk rate in the big league last year was Josh Tomlin's 3.2%. No one else was below 3.5%. 

Based on the batted ball data at First Inning, Wieland is a bit of a fly ball pitcher and that plays right into his home ballpark. He's a four-pitch guy - upper-80s/low-90s fastball, curveball, slider, changeup - with very strong strikeout rates in the minors, including an 8.7 K/9 and 24.4 K% last season. Dan Szymborski's ZiPS system thinking Wieland can muster a sub-4.00 ERA with nearly a strikeout per inning as a big leaguer this season, and that guy is rosterable in a standard 12-team mixed league with 5x5 scoring. As with any extreme strike-thrower, the risk is too many pitches in the strike zone resulting in lots of hits allowed. Hits have a way of turning into runs, though I still don't think it's crazy to expect a lower ERA than ZiPS projects given Petco Park. Wieland is certainly more usable in fantasy than Moseley, a low-strikeout ground ball guy.

Assuming he starts at Dodger Stadium this weekend, Wieland's next start would come at home against the Chase Utley and Ryan Howard-less Phillies. A date with the Nationals in Petco would follow next. That's three straight pretty favorable matchups, making Wieland a nice early-season waiver wire add. I wouldn't count on him or any Padres' hurler to provide many wins, but he's capable of a lowering your ERA and WHIP rates while chipping in a handful of strikeouts. For a spare rotation piece, those are pretty solid traits. Most fill-in types will kill the rate stats and boost the counting stats, not the other way around. 


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Peter Bourjos Examined

The Angels called up center fielder Peter Bourjos on August 3rd, with Torii Hunter moving to right field to accommodate the rookie.  Serving as the Angels' ninth-place hitter, Bourjos has started all seven Angels games since his promotion.

28 big league plate appearances isn't much of a sample, though Bourjos has scored four runs and swiped two bags in that brief time.  At Triple A this year he hit .314/.364/.498 in 455 PAs (102 games).  He hit 13 home runs with 12 triples and 27 stolen bases in 32 attempts.

Bourjos' game is all about speed.  His wheels enable him to play plus center field defense, so that should keep him in the lineup even if his offensive numbers don't sparkle.  Playing time is not an issue, but can fantasy leaguers expect tons of steals?  In the minors Bourjos attempted to steal 27.6% of the time when he singled or walked (a rate that drops if we include Bourjos' ten HBPs).  I'd like to see more - the game's top thieves typically attempt to steal around 40% of the time.

Using the MLE calculator at MinorLeagueSplits.com, here's how Bourjos profiles over 550 ABs: .256-12-47-78-29.  It's a line worth about $6, similar to the value provided by Alex Rios or Vernon Wells last year.  It's nothing to write home about; you might do just as well grabbing Corey Patterson, Will Venable, or Coco Crisp off a mixed league waiver wire if you're desperate for steals.  We don't know if Bourjos' 12 home run type power will translate to the Majors, especially over the next two months as a rookie.




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