Fantasy baseball minor league prospect report
MAY 05, 2014 2:18p ET
Fantasy baseball owners continue to watch top tier talent land on the MLB disabled list. Because we’re so focused on our own roster, inside our bubble, we can lose perspective just how many players are out of commission. Here’s a reminder of some of those fantasy baseball studs working their way back to the field: Josh Hamilton, Ryan Braun, Mark Trumbo, Matt Cain, Jason Kipnis, Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, Chris Davis, Alex Cobb, Jay Bruce, Michael Cuddyer, Chris Sale, and Michael Pineda.
With the rash of injuries costing owners fantasy baseball production, it’s critical for you to know what is percolating in the minors. We’ve already witnessed a handful of prospects get the call up to the show with a dozen or so players on the cusp of a promotion.
Marcus Stroman (SP/RP) – Blue Jays
Stats: 2-2 with 1.69 ERA and 12.15 K/9 rate in five Triple-A starts
Analysis: It was only a matter of time before Stroman got the call from the Jays. It just happened to be last weekend. Toronto placed him in the bullpen to start, but expect Stroman to make his way into the starting rotation sooner rather than later. In his MLB debut, Stroman allowed a triple and a sac fly in less than an inning of work. His short stature at 5-foot-9 is a common knock on his long-term chances, but with one of the top K/9 rates in the minors, Stroman has me intrigued.
Trevor Bauer (SP) - Indians
Stats: 3-0 with 1.10 ERA and 8.54 K/9 in five Triple-A starts
Analysis: The baseball community often knocks Yasiel Puig for his perceived lack of maturity on the field, but let’s not give Trevor Bauer a free pass in that department. At only 23 years old, Bauer needed to marinate in the minors a little longer before he put it all together. As the numbers above suggest, the Indians’ prospect has been stellar at Triple-A Columbus. With the back-end of the major league rotation in need of an upgrade, one would think Bauer’s minor league dominance should force the big league club to consider a promotion this month. Josh Tomlin is going to get a chance to become the fifth starter first, but it’s his first big league action since undergoing Tommy John surgery. I stash Bauer.
Gregory Polanco (OF) - Pirates
Stats: Hitting .378 (.434 OBP) with four homers, 22 runs, 25 RBI, and six stolen bases
Analysis: Popular opinion suggest Polanco will join the Pirates come mid-to-late June when his arbitration clock clicks in the Pirates’ favor. Polanco’s hitting well enough to trump the current two-man right field platoon of Travis Snider and Josh Harrison. This is the common case of patience is a virtue and if you have an open roster spot to stash him for the next month and a half.
Jose Ramirez (2B) - Indians
Stats: Hitting .319 (.365 OBP) with four homers, 12 runs, 17 RBI, and eight stolen bases
Analysis: Jason Kipnis to the disabled list re-opened the door for the Indians’ prospect. Ramirez hit over .300 with five runs in 15 games for the Tribe last season. Where he can help you is in the stolen base department. Ramirez stole 38 bases last season at Double A with eight on his 2014 minor league resume. It’s up to the rest of the Cleveland lineup to take advantage of his speed and provide fantasy baseball owners some bonus run production.
Grant Green (2B/OF) - Angels
Stats: Hitting .349 (.395 OBP) with two homers, 18 runs, 28 RBI, and three stolen bases
Analysis: Needing some outfield depth with John Hamilton on the DL, the Angels shifted Green to the outfield before calling him up last weekend. In his big league debut last season, Green struck out 38 times with only 10 walks. So, the then 25-year-old prospect was challenged by big-league pitching, but as the numbers above suggest, he has the bat to produce and help fantasy owners at 2B and middle infield.
Tommy La Stella (2B) - Braves
Stats: Hitting .313 (.372 OBP) with 12 runs and 15 RBI
Analysis: Atlanta’s patience with Dan Uggla is wearing thin and La Stella could see a promotion in the near future. Uggla requires uber-power production in order for the Braves to properly digest his .190 BA and .248 OBP and he’s only belted two homers this season. Let’s be clear, La Stella isn’t going to mimic Uggla’s past power numbers and impact your fantasy roster in those categories, but what he can be is consistent production in NL-only leagues and middle infield in deeper mixed leagues when he arrives in Atlanta.
C.J. Cron (1B/DH) - Angels
Stats: Hitting .319 (.369) with six homers, 19 runs and 26 RBI
Analysis: Raul Ibanez’s ineffectiveness at the plate (.144 BA) forced the Angels to call up the 24-year-old first baseman and DH him. What should we expect? I’m thinking a .285-ish hitter with the ability to hit double-digit homers. He smacked 14 home runs last season (AA) and 27 at High-A during the 2012 season. Plus, if he continues to bat cleanup for the Halos, Cron’s stock will only increase in value.
Matt Wisler (SP) - Padres
Stats: 1-0 with 2.10 ERA and 10.50 K/9 rate in six Double-A starts
Analysis: Welcome to Triple A, Matt Wisler! Here’s a nice slice of humble pie in the form of six earned runs allowed in three innings pitched during your first start. Ouch. However, after striking out 35 in 30 IP in Double A this season, Wisler earned his shot at the next level. Although he’s only 21 years old, some believe Wisler could reach San Diego before the end of the season. Great dynasty / keeper league investment on the verge of taking the mound in a pitcher-friendly park.
Mookie Betts (2B) – Red Sox
Stats: Hitting .405 (.456 OBP) with four homers, 32 runs, 15 RBI, and 13 stolen bases (AA)
Analysis: Dustin Pedroia is signed through the 2021 season. That doesn’t mean he’ll remain in Boston that long and Betts is making one of the strongest minor league pushes to force the Red Sox into finding a spot for him in the lineup – at 21 years old. What do I expect? Pedroia remains in Boston, Will Middlebrooks fades to black, Xander Bogaerts slides over to third and Betts learns shortstop and is up with the big league team middle of next season
Joey Gallo (3B) - Rangers
Stats: Hitting .306 (.415 OBP) with 10 homers, 26 runs and 24 RBI (High A)
Analysis: Adrian Beltre is 35 years old. Gallo is 20 with some work to do in the minors. However, the current third baseman of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans could become a first base and/or designated hitter by the time he reaches Arlington. Scouting reports indicate defense isn’t his strength, but after belting 38 homers last season, most minor league prospectors are well-aware of the offense Gallo could provide once the minor league maturation process is complete. It will be interesting to see if the Rangers run Beltre until he’s on fumes, pray Kevin Kouzmanoff (when healthy) can buy them time or if they seek hot corner assets elsewhere because unless I’m missing something, they don’t possess a ton of third base depth in their farm system.