If you love grabbing prospects as they come up, it’s been a busy and awesome week in fantasy baseball. In fact, several of the names that were to be prominently featured in this column were already called up and are making an immediate impact. Knowing these names (and when to grab them) can be critical to securing your fantasy championship. Let’s go prospecting!
Called up this week:
This name has been tossed around for quite some time. Profar is generally regarded as not only the top prospect in the Rangers system, but in all of baseball. When Ian Kinsler hit the DL on May 19th, Profar finally got the call. He originally had UTIL eligibility only in most leagues, but he’s playing 2B and batting 9th for Texas, so the positional issue should be sorting itself out soon in your league, if it hasn’t already. Profar has batted over .300 so far, driven in a few runs, and scored a few times, but the most important part is that he doesn’t look overmatched. The problem now is playing time: Assuming Kinsler doesn’t have a prolonged DL stint, he will be back before long, so what are the Rangers going do with Profar? It doesn’t make sense to keep him as a bench bat.
Recommendation: This kid is a stud, and you’re going to be calling this name in the first 4-5 rounds on draft day before you know it, but he’s destined for a ticket back to AAA this year. I’d grab him but don’t drop a solid player to obtain what is most likely a 2-3 week rental.
Baltimore’s top pitching prospect finally got the call on Thursday for a start against the Blue Jays in Toronto. While the final stat line was middling, (4 ER on 7 hits over 5 IP, 5K) the Orioles certainly had to be encouraged by what they saw. Gausman touched 99 on his fastball at various times, blew MLB homer run leader Edwin Encarnacion away with 97 mph gas, and made Colby Rasmus (among others) look foolish with his devastating changeup. Gausman seems to have three plus pitches out of the gate, and will continue to get better.
Recommendation: With the Orioles dynamic offense backing him up, he should be an excellent mixed league option right away. Add him in all leagues.
Expected to be called up soon:
When James Loney is the most feared bat in your lineup, you know you need to be considering making some moves. We’re looking at you here, Tampa Rays. The move most likely to be made in the next couple weeks is to call up one Wil Myers, top prospect. The centerpiece of the James Shields trade absolutely destroyed AA and AAA pitching last year (37 HR combined, .300+ BA, 100+ combined RBI) but has found it harder to mash so far during the 2013 campaign (.247/.335/.412). Myers has dynamic 20+ HR upside, however, and Wil be up by mid June, only waiting that long to avoid the dreaded Super Two service time status. He’ll strike out quite a bit, but should be plugged into the heart of the Rays order before long. Don’t be shocked to see more than a few Myers home run trots as the summer continues.
Recommendation: Myers has the tools to be a stud right now. When he’s called up, definitely make the add. Deeper league owners should be making this add right now if he’s still available.
The #19 selection in the 2012 draft, Wacha has now reached the AAA Memphis Redbirds, and has continued his dominating ways. He’s currently sitting on a 2.05 ERA, 4-0 record, and 0.95 WHIP. Generally a team would want to see more than 9 starts from a prospect at the AAA level before a promotion, but the Cardinals rotation is a total disaster right how after Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, and Shelby Miller. John Gast was already called up to start, and promptly went down with a shoulder injury. Everything is pointing to Wacha being called up, and soon.
Recommendation: Wacha should be called up within the next two weeks. He is worth adding in all deeper formats, and he’s definitely worth your attention if not an addition in shallower mixed leagues. ***Update*** As of Sunday at 1:53 PM, Wacha is getting the call. Grab him if you can!
I’m not attempting to do a Cardinals piece, I promise – St. Louis just has a ridiculously stocked farm system. Somehow I’m not shocked that they contend almost every year. The 20 year-old Taveras had terrorized AAA pitching to the tune of .311/.351/.480 with 4 HR, 5 SB, and 20 RBI through 31 games before going down with an ankle injury on May 12th. Taveras is a 5-tool stud and when he finally makes it to the show, he’s going to make an impact hitting in the stacked Cardinals lineup. It seems likely that the Cardinals corner outfield tandem of Beltran and Holliday is going to miss some time at some point (Beltran is a virtual certainty) so the question surrounding Taveras isn’t ‘if’ so much as ‘when’.
Recommendation: 5 tool studs are rare, and ones you can pick up for free, rarer still. Taveras should be owned in all deep formats at this point, but if he’s available in yours, add him today. He’s owned, but not widely, in shallower mixed leagues, so don’t make the add yet, as the Cardinals will want him to be proven healthy before making the call. Be ready to strike quickly, however, when that day comes.
Folks in Cincinnati have been anxiously waiting for Hamilton to be recalled, but his time is not just yet. You may have heard of Hamilton before; He’s the guy that stole 103 bases in the minors in 2011, and then followed that up by stealing 180 more, combined between the A+, AA, and AAA levels of the Reds farm system. He’s been clocked in the 3.6 to 3.7 seconds range from the batters box to first, which is obscene. Unfortunately for Hamilton, however, you can’t steal first. He hit well through his first few stops in the minors, but has been having issues hitting more talented AAA pitching (.250 BA, .309 OBP in 33 games). Many players hit an adjustment period when they progress to AAA, and most likely Hamilton will make his corresponding adjustments before too long.
Recommendation: Hamilton will be electric when he comes up, but that won’t be anytime soon. File him away in your brain – if the Reds call him up in September for a cup of tea, he’ll be an automatic add in all formats.
Puig started spring training as an more of an afterthought than anything else, but quickly rose to prominence by mashing his way to a .517/.500/.828 slash line. That first number is correct – .517 batting average. With nowhere for him to play, the Dodgers sent him to AA for seasoning, where he’s responded with a .935 OPS that includes 6 HR and 11 SB. The LAD starting outfield of Kemp, Ethier, and Crawford seemingly would not leave much room for Puig to advance and play, but things are starting to turn Yasiel’s way. The Dodgers are in last place, had huge preseason expectations, (along with salary) and manager Don Mattingly benched Ethier for poor play this past week, while also mentioning there have been “internal discussions” about promoting Puig. Despite his total lack of at-bats above the AA level, a promotion appears to be in his future.
Recommendation: Puig is another top-flight prospect that may be promoted soon if the he continues to rake and the Dodgers continue their slide. Keep closer tabs on the situation in standard mixed leagues, and consider a pre-emptive add in deeper formats.