MLB Youth Movement

27 May 2009
The Cubs and the Orioles are infusing some young talent.  The Cubs called up Jake Fox, who has absolutely murdered Minor League pitching at Triple-A Iowa.  Through 40 games Fox hit .423 (63 for 149) with 40 Runs, 14 Doubles, 2 Triples, 17 HRs, and 50 RBIs.  His slugging percentage was .886 with a 1.389 OPS.  Fox is a converted Catcher who will use him at OF, 1B, and 3B according to ESPN’s Bruce Levine.
Baltimore will finally give Matt Wieters the call on Friday.  He has been Baltimore’s top prospect the past two years according to Baseball America.  He struggled initially, but is hitting .305 (43 for 141) with 25 Runs, 9 Doubles, 2 Triples, 5 HRs, and 30 RBIs through 39 games.  He raked at Georgia Tech hitting .359 with 35 HRs and 198 RBIs in his three collegiate years.  He had little trouble making the adjustment to the Minor Leagues hitting .345 with 15 HRs and 40 RBIs in 69 games for Advanced Single-A Carolina and .365 with 12 HRs and 51 RBIs in 61 games for Double-A Bowie Baysox.

Written by Eric Stashin the Rotoprofessor

June 1 tends to be the time when a lot of the top prospects start getting called up.  We are now two weeks away, so let’s take a look at seven prospects (I left out names like Clay Buchholz and Lastings Milledge, who have already seen extended time inthe major leagues) that should be on owners radars, as they could offer potential help once recalled:

  1. Matt Wieters – Baltimore Orioles - He hit 3 home runs over two games earlier this week, breaking a long homerless streak and moving him ever closer to the major leagues.  He’s lowered his strikeouts, with just 5 over his past 10 games (through Saturday) and has his average at .280.  Fantasy owners have been anxiously awaiting his arrival, and I think the patience is getting ready to finally being rewarded.
  2. David Price – Tampa Bay Rays – Struggles or not, I still think he’s going to be the first starter to get the call for the Rays.  We all know he’s an elite talent who can perform on the grandest of stages.
  3. Tommy Hanson – Atlanta Braves - Kris Medlen is getting the first opportunity, but long-term we all know that Hanson has the higher upside.  His time is going to come, considering his 64 Ks in just 47.2 innings at Triple-A.  In his last four starts he hasn’t struck out fewer than seven in a game, totaling 35 over 27 innings.
  4. Kyle Blanks – San Diego Padres - He’s not on too many radars, but in my opinion he really should be.  He’s not only working out in the outfield, but actually appearing in games in LF.  If he proves adequate there, he is going to get his chance.  I know he’s struggling with the bat now, but slumps happen.  He has a power bat that will translate to the majors, as we’ve already discussed (click here to read my review on him).
  5. Chris Tillman – Baltimore Orioles - While a lot of talk focuses on Jake Arrieta, Tillman has been excelling at Triple-A thus far.  In six starts he’s gone 4-0 with a 2.03 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 37 Ks in 31 innings of work.  Considering they are currently using Mark Hendrickson and Adam Eaton in the rotation, it really shouldn’t be surprising to see him in the Orioles rotation soon.
  6. Austin Jackson – New York Yankees – There’s a lot of clamor in New York to give the young centerfielder a chance, given the Yankees early season struggles, and he’s doing everything he can to force their hands.  The 22-year old is hitting .348 with 8 SB in 115 AB and could provide a spark at the top of the Yankees line-up.  Of course, he has been struggling lately, hitting .265 in his past 10 games, but when has something like that slowed the Yankees down in the past?
  7. Aaron Poreda – Chicago White Sox - The 22-year old has been solid in Double-A, posting a 2.52 ERA over 39.1 innings.  The team has proven that they are willing to shake things up, already demoting Jose Contreras and replacing him with Clayton Richard.  It’s very possible that Poreda could replace Richard if he struggles, or maybe even Bartolo Colon.  Either way, it’s likely he makes his major league debut soon.

Which of these players do you think are worth owning?  Obviously, these aren’t the only prospects that may get recalled soon.  Who do you think I missed?

To read the previous article, click here.

Picture courtesy of Icon Sports Media, Inc.

Written by Eric Amzallag
Unlocked Sports – Baseball picks

It’s around this time of year when organizations wise up and start using their best players, regardless of how old they are or what sort of minor league service time they have. There comes a time in an GM’s life when he realizes that having Matt Wieters sitting in AAA, while Greg Zaun acts as your everyday catcher is just asking for trouble, and ridicule from people like me. But moving on, how do we as fantasy owners grade these guys? We’ve never seen them in the big leagues, we have their minor league track records in fancy spreadsheets, but how do we really know?

There are a few guys that you need to keep an eye on, and a few more that probably aren’t worth your time yet.

Let’s take Matt Wieters for our first example. The switch-hitting catcher is like Johnny Bench morphed into Matt Teixeira, and at the catcher position, he provides a ton of value. Scouts say that they have never seen another catcher this good at any point in development, so there is reason to expect that Wieters can be the all around catcher in baseball within the next two seasons. For this year, he’s going to be a huge contributor when he gets called up, so if he’s available in your league, it’s time to snap him up. According to ESPN’s Peter Gammons, his call-up could come sooner rather than later.

Though Wieters is the preeminent prospect position player, there are plenty of pitchers who are poised to make an impact on the big league level this season. One of them is already making noise in the big leagues. Jordan Zimmermann is the gem of the Washington Nationals farm system, and he has the ability to develop into a really good number two pitcher in the National League. He comes with an MLB-ready 97 MPH fastball, and a good assortment of breaking pitches. Even more impressive is that he’s managed to bounce back from trouble in his two starts, posting two wins for a once-struggling Washington club.

But can he help you this year? That depends upon your needs and how deep your league is. In NL-only leagues, he’s certainly worth carrying on the roster. In shorter, mixed leagues, he might not be at that level just yet. Zimmermann will get figured out by NL hitters, and when that happens he might pay the price. One of his problems is that he attacks the plate a little bit too much, and until he learns to hit the corners and keep the ball outside of the zone, he’ll be prone to giving up the long ball.

Soon you will see a guy by the name of Tommy Hanson, the ace prospect of the Atlanta Braves farm system. His call up will probably come in late May, and he has made a mockery of minor league hitting up to this point. He strikes out better than a batter per inning, which is a strong indicator of value in a pitcher. The problem with Hanson is that he probably won’t pitch much past the sixth inning in his starts this season, as his pitch counts will run high from walks and strikeouts. Still, he should be good for a 3.50 ERA and lots of 7 strikeout performances in his time with the Braves. If that sounds like something that can help your team, then pounce on him now if you have the roster space.

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Here’s a group of Catchers that could Breakout in 2009.

Sun photo by Karl Merton Ferron

Matt Wieters - Wieters is Baltimore’s “Can’t Miss” Catching Prospect. He is a switch-hitter that can hit for average and power.  He creamed Minor League pitching last year to the tune of .355, 89 Runs, 27 HRs, 91 RBI, .600 Slugging Percentage, and a 1.054 OPS in 130 games.  His average actually increased from .345 to .365 when he made the jump from Single A to Double A.  He never hit below .355 at Georgia Tech and had 35 HRs in 185 games.  He may start off in Triple A, but he’ll find his way to the Bigs sooner rather than later.

Photo courtesy of Icon SMI

Chris Iannetta - Colorado’s young Catcher was a model of consistency last year playing an equal number of games before and after the All-Star Break.  His Double and HR totals were also identical.He had nearly the same number of At Bats, Hits, RBI, and OPS.  In 104 games (333 At Bats) he had 18 HRs and 65 RBI.  If he can get his ABs around 400 or so he should be able to hit 22 HRs and drive in 75 Runs.  Not bad for a later round pick. 

Photo courtesy of Icon SMI

Pablo Sandoval – He’s not likely going to play a lot of games at Catcher, but he has Catcher eligibility, which makes him attractive.  He hit .345 with 24 Runs, 3 HRs, and 24 RBI for the Giants in 41 games (145 ABs).  That project to 95 R, 12 HR, and 95 RBI.  While I don’t expect him to maintain that average or those numbers, I could see him hit around .300 with 75 Runs and 70 RBI.  In 452 Minor League games he hit .303 with 256 Runs and 273 RBI.

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