Don’t Sleep on These 12 Sleepers for 2017

In fantasy baseball, it is impossible to have all of your teams loaded with the top-tier talent necessary to win every season. Even keeper leagues have players at the top every year who struggle with injuries. You need depth, you need to find a diamond in the rough, and you need to take gambles in order to win. For that reason, you need to know some players who may fly under the radar. This is a list of 12 players who may be available a little later than you think in your baseball drafts who could ruin the lives of your fiercest competitors.

pollock
Pollock should return to All-Star status after missing most of 2016. Courtesy: CBS Sports

A.J. Pollock, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks

Pollock had all of 46 plate appearances in 2016 due to injuries. It isn’t so much that he is a legitimate sleeper as much as how low he may rank on several draft boards due to his extended absence. Remember, this is a guy who hit .315/.367/.498 with 39 doubles, 20 home runs, and 39 steals in 2015. He was the Yang to Paul Goldschmidt‘s Ying, worthy of an early selection last season. Don’t let him fall too far and reap the benefits if he falls into your lap.

Carlos Gomez, OF, Texas Rangers

Gomez struggled so mightily last season that the Houston Astros released him on August 18th. Two days later, Gomez signed with the Texas Rangers and promptly put up the type of line that Houston was looking for during his time there, erupting to a .284/.362/.543 line with eight home runs and 24 RBI in just 33 games – he had five home runs and 29 RBI in 85 games for Houston. He signed for one-year and $11.5 million to prove himself capable of All-Star production in his age-31 season. He is playing in the right place for another offensive outburst.

buxton
Buxton still has the tools that made you fall in love. Don’t run away now. Courtesy: ESPN

Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota Twins

Buxton has really disappointed a lot of fans and prospect fanatics with a pretty abysmal start to his career. He has struck out 162 times (with just 29 walks) in 469 plate appearances, which has led to a putrid .220/.274/.398 triple-slash in his brief career. While others will look at those numbers and run, you shouldn’t let the prospect fatigue and struggles lead you astray. Look at Buxton’s September from 2016:

Months
G GS PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB BAbip
29 29 113 101 24 29 6 2 9 22 1 10 38 .287 .357 .653 1.011 66 .370
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/4/2017.

While the strikeouts are still worrisome, this supposed clone of a young Eric Davis showed power and the abilities that made people drool. He was given the job for the month of September and ran with it, which is downright scary with his speed tool and the BABIP right where most speedsters have theirs. Look for a breakout in 2017.

tomas
Tomas can’t take a walk, but you don’t need to with power. A healthy lineup around him could lead to more power. Courtesy: Peter Gammons

Yasmany Tomas, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks

Tomas was just a part of my story about overpaid Cuban free agents, so why would I have him on a sleeper list, you ask? Because Tomas has some tools that you can’t find everywhere, namely his power. He tore things up in the second half of 2016, posting a .913 OPS, which is impressive for a guy who walked in just 5.5% of his plate appearances. It meant that the 18 bombs in the second half – and 31 overall – could be overlooked due to how ridiculously horrific the Diamondbacks have handled him. With Jake Lamb locked in at third, it appears that Tomas is officially a slugging outfielder, and his numbers could continue to climb with the return of the previously mentioned Pollock to the Arizona lineup.

Hernan Perez, 2B/3B/OF, Milwaukee Brewers

Over his first 351 career plate appearances (2012-2015), Perez was pretty useless, posting a .235/.251/.307 line with 15 doubles, three triples, one homer, and six stolen bases. Then, at age 25, Perez got an opportunity in Milwaukee, and, boy, did he make the most of it. In the second half of the 2016 season, this previously unknown, organizational depth player went on to post a .281/.313/.449 triple-slash with nine home runs, 14 doubles, two triples, and 24, count ’em…24, stolen bases. He’d total 13 bombs and 34 steals on the season, playing third, second, and outfield. While no one knows whether he will put up similar numbers, Perez has some value, even if it is only in deep mixed leagues. That position flexibility is Zobrist-like, while the production isn’t too far off, either. He would be a nice addition in late rounds for depth purposes, though the addition of Travis Shaw at third could lead to Perez being a one-year wonder.

cotton
Did you know who he was before September? Be honest…Keep an eye on him, but don’t go crazy. Courtesy:sacbee.com

Jharel Cotton, RHP, Oakland Athletics

Cotton was a 20th round pick by the Dodgers in 2012, acquired by the A’s in the Rich Hill and Josh Reddick deal last season. He had long had solid numbers in the minors, striking out 10 per 9 IP over the course of 490+ minor league innings. Upon reaching the majors for the first time in September, Cotton posted video game numbers over five starts with a 2.15 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 23:4 K:BB, and 6 H/9. It is anyone’s guess as to whether the 5’11” right-hander will continue to miss bats at that rate, but you don’t want to be the one who watches someone else benefit from the gamble. He’s penciled in as Oakland’s No. 4 starter, so continue to monitor him this spring.

James Paxton, LHP, Seattle Mariners

If only this guy could stay healthy…which is exactly why he is a sleeper. After making only 20 starts in 2016, Paxton is the type of guy that Brett Anderson would like to be and every other pitcher avoids becoming; however, his final 11 starts were pretty impressive, injury-free, and worthy of fantasy acknowledgment. He posted a 71:9 K:BB over 67.2 innings, a 3.19 ERA and 1.05 WHIP, and a .235 BAA. Seattle made a lot of deals this winter to become contenders, and Paxton could be a “guy” who improves enough or continues to pitch like he did last season, to help make that happen.

Daniel Norris, LHP, Detroit Tigers

Norris had an interesting year, spending a lot of time rebuilding stamina after beating cancer between the 2015 and 2016 season. Upon sticking in the Tigers rotation (from August 9th onward), the young left-hander posted a 3.04 ERA and 55 punchouts in 56.1 innings. While the 1.37 WHIP and 19 walks in the same 56.1 innings is worrisome, Norris has shown the ability to make it work. He will turn just 24 in April and he has to beat Matt Boyd and Mike Pelfrey to earn the No. 5 spot, but, if he wins it, he has the stuff and the teachers (Justin Verlander and Jordan Zimmermann) to learn on the job.

Robbie Ray, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

Run in terror if you’d like, but don’t forget to look at the 11.3 K:9 that Ray posted in 2016. That led to a whopping 218 strikeouts in 174.1 innings. Sure, the 4.90 ERA is gross. Sure, the 1.47 WHIP is disgusting. There is something here. You don’t miss that many bats without having great stuff. This will be Ray’s age-25 season and he will take another step forward because he won’t be posting a .355 BABIP in 2017 and he won’t be losing 15 games again if he throws it by so many opposing hitters in 2017. Keep in mind, Ray’s FIP was 3.76 in 2016. Jose Peraza, 2B/OF, Cincinnati Reds

peraza
There could be a lot of this happening in Cincinnati. Courtesy: Getty Images

Jose Peraza, 2B/OF, Cincinnati Reds

Everyone is going to be on the Peraza bandwagon, with valid reasons. When the Reds traded Brandon Phillips (and millions of dollars that “small-market” teams don’t have) to the Atlanta Braves, it made fantasy baseball fans celebrate. Peraza posted a .324/.352/.411 triple-slash and 21 stolen bases in just 72 games and 256 plate appearances. With Peraza and Billy Hamilton around, the Reds could look a lot like the St. Louis Cardinals of the 1980’s, when Vince Coleman and Willie McGee ran wild on the league. They just have to get on base for that to happen, and Peraza has been more of a hit-tool and speed talent than an on-base machine.

Joe Panik, 2B, San Francisco Giants

After getting hit in the head on June 18, Panik battled some concussion symptoms, having played through them by passing concussion protocol through MLB. After the beaning, Panik hit just .215/.305/.346. Prior to that, he was hitting .263/.326/.411. Obviously, there could be something in the Justin Morneau area here that could scare you away from wanting Panik on your fantasy team, but he showed a couple of statistics that would warrant a rebound. Overall, including the times that he was apparently dazed, Panik walked more than he struck out in 2016, while posting career highs in homers (10) and RBI (67). In addition to that, Panik had a woeful .245 BABIP. While the league average is typically around .300, Panik’s was incredibly low. There are always outliers and it appears that Panik was one of them in 2016. Expect a rebound in 2017.

Brandon Finnegan, LHP, Cincinnati Reds

The Reds have a lot of interesting young pitchers. Finnegan was, prior to Anthony DeSclafani‘s return from injury, the only Reds’ pitcher worth owning in fantasy leagues. Like any young pitcher, there were growing pains…lots of them; however, it wasn’t all Finnegan’s fault. The Reds had Finnegan paired with Ramon Cabrera in 12 of his 31 starts and Cabrera was ranked 113th out of 114 catchers in pitch framing. Whether that is something you consider or not, you should know that he should have Devin Mesoraco back there again, barring another injury, in 2017. In addition to the potentially damning battery mate in 2016, Finnegan was able to change something in his approach down the stretch, throwing a changeup more often and posting some ridiculous numbers over his final seven starts: 1.93 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 47:16 K:BB, 37.1 IP, .199 BAA. Sure, the Reds will be one of the worst teams in MLB in 2017…unless they have players like Finnegan continue to grow while on the job. Consider adding him in late rounds and be willing to bail on him if he goes through battles of inconsistency in the middle of the year.

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Diamondbacks Fans: Give Thanks for Hazen

New Arizona VP and GM, Mike Hazen Courtesy: Fox Sports
New Arizona VP and GM, Mike Hazen
Courtesy: Fox Sports

Over the last several years, the Arizona Diamondbacks have had several people involved in running the organization into the ground. They’ve been through managers, having seen Kirk Gibson fired in 2014, Alan Trammell as interim, Chip Hale hired and fired, and, now, having first-year manager Torey Lovullo starting the 2017 season. The instability for this organization doesn’t just start and finish on the field, though. Since 2010, we’ve seen Josh Byrnes, Jerry DiPoto (interim), Kevin Towers, Dave Stewart, and newly-hired Mike Hazen, formerly with the Boston Red Sox, in the general manager role. After winning the 2011 NL West, the Diamondbacks have failed to finish over .500, though they have finished right at .500 twice during that span.

Still, all of the changes at the top have played a major role in the struggles of the organization. No one seemed to know which direction the club was actually heading. About three years ago, I wrote about Towers and his strange deals. When he dealt Justin Upton, Trevor Bauer (along with Bryan Shaw and Matt Albers), and Tyler Skaggs for Mark Trumbo, Didi Gregorius, Martin Prado, Randall Delgado, and a slew of fringy minor leaguers, the team never really cashed-in on anything, and most of those players are now long-gone from the organization or aren’t a large part of their future – a strange concept for a team that is still rebuilding

Last night, Hazen put his stamp on where this club is heading with a “blockbuster” (if you’d call it that), by dealing Jean Segura (the 22nd most valuable position player in baseball, based on WAR), Zac Curtis, and Mitch Haniger  to the Seattle Mariners for Taijuan Walker and Ketel Marte.

Segura is on to his 4th organization Courtesy: azsnakepit.com
Segura is on to his 4th organization
Courtesy: azsnakepit.com

Segura, 27 on Opening Day, will be replaced at shortstop by Marte, who was rushed to the majors by Seattle at the age of 21 in 2015 out of desperation to fill their shortstop hole with just 377 at bats above AA. He’ll play the 2017 season at the age of 23 and he won’t be arbitration-eligible until after the 2018 season. Segura had much more pop in his bat than Marte ever will, but Marte puts the ball in play and has solid speed, which is basically what Segura was in 2014 and 2015 before he had his second breakout season – if that is a thing – in 2016.

Hazen saved some money at shortstop, while acquiring Walker, a potential ace, for his pitching staff. Walker, long labeled full of potential, could make this deal look silly for Seattle if he actually reaches or fulfills that potential; however, we’ve been waiting on that for a few years now, even though Walker will be just 24 on Opening Day. If he can overcome injuries and become more consistent, a familiar statement for young pitchers, this is an easy win for the Diamondbacks, and Mike Hazen has already proven himself worthy of the job. If it crashes and burns, who cares? The Diamondbacks went 69-93 while Segura was a star in 2016, so it was worth the gamble.

Can Walker reach his potential in Arizona? Courtesy: Seattle Times
Can Walker reach his potential in Arizona?
Courtesy: Seattle Times

Mike Hazen had a lot more money to work with in his time with the Boston Red Sox. He may need to be a little more creative in landing talent in the desert, but the 40-year-old has a lot of respect in the game and will continue to put the Diamondbacks in a position to be successful, as long as ownership gives him the time necessary to turn it all around.

Be thankful, Diamondback fans. Mike Hazen finally has a plan for your team.

Trade Deadline Doom and Boom

mericaAs we celebrate Independence Day in the United States, we feel that pounding in our chests from the explosions high above, while many of us listen or watch our favorite baseball teams and eat apple pie. It is the epitome of America in a single day, but many of us are reminded that our teams just aren’t doing enough to win. Some of our favorite teams will be seeking help to improve their chances of winning, while others will begin dumping talent to build a winner next year. With less than four weeks remaining until the non-waiver trade deadline, where does your team stand? Does the additional Wild Card opportunity continue to lead to many clubs standing pat? Who needs what and who could be on the market?

The standings tell an interesting story. In the American League, there isn’t a single team more than six games out of the Wild Card hunt. The Oakland Athletics feature a 38-46 record after some huge deals this winter haven’t truly materialized as Billy Beane hoped; however, the A’s are 13-7 over their last 20 games, so they may not be as willing to deal a Ben Zobrist or Scott Kazmir (both free agents after the 2015 season) to continue the club’s unending rebuild and collection of controllable talent. With other woulda-coulda-shoulda-been contenders just ahead of Oakland in Seattle, Boston, and Chicago, the American League could see plenty of clubs reloading rather than rebuilding when the deadline approaches.

In the senior circuit, the National League has its share of contending teams, but they also have four clubs sitting 11 or more games under .500 (Miami, Colorado, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia). Another team that is on the border of Wild Card contention could be Cincinnati, who sits six games out in the Wild Card; however, with the St. Louis Cardinals leading the Reds by 15 games, the team may need to begin looking into dealing Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Aroldis Chapman, and/or Jay Bruce to get back on the same page as their NL Central foes. Even if the Reds aren’t sellers, names like Cole Hamels, Aaron Harang, Carlos Gomez, Jean Segura, Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, Dan Haren, and Mat Latos will likely head elsewhere from the four bottom-feeding clubs.

So, where could these names end up? Who are the contenders likely to make deals or stand pat?

Buyers

BARF!!! Courtesy: Twitter.com
BARF!!!
Courtesy: Twitter.com

St. Louis Cardinals

It isn’t an even year, so the Giants won’t be taking the World Series championship. That leaves the Cardinals, who have the best record in baseball, locked-in and ready to seek another title, utilizing the “Cardinal Way”, aka computer hacking, to make it happen. Though they continue to win games, St. Louis is without Matt Adams and Adam Wainwright for the entire season. With Jaime Garcia continuing to struggle to stay healthy, St. Louis could be in the market for another bat or arm. Stephen Piscotty could get a look if Mark Reynolds isn’t the option at first, but the Cards would be wise to shore-up the rotation a bit – just in case another injury strikes. They’re again loaded and talented, and they could take advantage of their strong farm to improve their chances once again.

Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays are just three games out in the AL East and 1.5 games out in the Wild Card. With their lineup featuring so many capable sluggers, they just need some pitching to get over the hump. Toronto continues to develop strong pitching prospects, so they could offer some of that talent to acquire an arm for a big push down the stretch. The Blue Jays’ 4.59 starter ERA ranks 26th in MLB, and you have to wonder if Hamels, Kazmir, or Cueto could help the pitching staff enough to allow Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson, and Edwin Encarnacion to do their thing with the bats.

New York Mets

The Mets’ pitching staff is too good for the club to run out a lineup of Triple-A and MLB bench quality players on a nightly basis. While the club isn’t going to deal their entire farm system and start from scratch, the Mets would be wise to deal some of their young pitching depth to acquire some semblance of an offensive weapon. The Troy Tulowitzki rumors were a big thing earlier this season, but that wouldn’t be enough to help this lineup on its own, especially when he’d be replacing one of the Mets major producers, Wilmer Flores (11 2B, 10 HR, leads team with 34 RBI), at short.

Standing Pat

Chris Sale is untouchable, right?
Chris Sale is untouchable, right?

Chicago White Sox

Chicago would probably burn again if the White Sox trade Chris Sale. At just five games out in the Wild Card, the team isn’t going to fold after spending big on Melky Cabrera, Adam LaRoche, and David Robertson in free agency this past winter, and they still have Avisail Garcia and Jose Abreu to produce in the lineup, along with a deep, strong rotation with Jeff Samardzija, Carlos Rodon, Jose Quintana, and John Danks joining Sale in the group. If the White Sox do anything, they could afford to get a second baseman, as the team has received a .193/.239/.232 from the keystone position this season, easily the worst in baseball.

Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays are somehow managing to compete in the AL East this season, even after dealing with many injuries to their rotation to start the season. When Alex Cobb, Matt Moore, Drew Smyly, and Jake Odorizzi are on the shelf at the same time, you, likely, wouldn’t expect the Rays to still be just three games out in the division and 1.5 games out of the Wild Card. While Tampa Bay could make a few upgrades, they aren’t really in a position to deal from their minor league system due to continued financial limitations, while they are likely to get production from a healthy Moore, Smyly, and Odorizzi in the second half, who will join Cy Young consideration worthy Chris Archer to squander the opposition and win plenty of games.

Arizona Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks already made some noise by dealing (giving away) a player whom they drafted last year, and signed for $2.7 million, Touki Toussaint, along with Bronson Arroyo‘s remaining contract, for 26-year-old utilityman Philip Gosselin. Even without Kevin Towers running things, no one knows what Arizona is thinking. Dave Stewart is now running things for Tony LaRussa out west, so Lord only knows what is going to happen here. However, this club has a superstar in Paul Goldschmidt, an underrated star in A.J. Pollock, and some very nice young pitching in Rubby De La Rosa, Chase Anderson, Robbie Ray, and Archie Bradley. They would be wise to see what this group would do and to not GIVE AWAY good young talent like the club has been doing for the last several years (see Trevor Bauer, Justin Upton, and Tyler Skaggs).

Sellers

Indeed... Courtesy: Philly.com
Indeed…
Courtesy: Philly.com

Philadelphia Philles

Whatever the club can manage to pry away to get rid of Ryan Howard and/or Chase Utley would be wise. This team is 27-55 entering play Saturday, well on their way to the first overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft. It has to be a miracle that Ruben Amaro, Jr. is still employed. He may be a great guy, but he has ruined this franchise for years to come. If the club can deal Hamels and get great prospects WHILE dumping Hamels salary and allowing the team to start fresh next winter, it would be wise to do so. Dealing Jonathan Papelbon to a contender would also be a great move, as a highly-paid closer on a team that doesn’t win games is an absolute waste of time and money.

Cincinnati Reds

I mentioned before that the Reds could stand pat, but they need to deal Cueto and get value out of him, as I wrote recently.  Jay Bruce’s production could make him hard to deal, but the club has Marlon Byrd under contract next year (vesting or team option at $8 million) with Jesse Winker showing he isn’t over-matched in Double-A to fill in the spaces around Billy Hamilton. Perhaps there is a match with the White Sox with Brandon Phillips, though his contract is as steep as his age. The Reds are more likely to play on the moon than get a team to take on Joey Votto‘s contract, so they’ll need some cheap, controllable pieces to collect and pray for production from. With a payroll that continues to be labeled “small-market”, the Reds are in serious danger of being awful in the next couple of seasons without acquiring near-ready talent.

 

 

 

30 Shades of Hot: Take Notice of These Scorching Players

Over the last month, some players have inflated their production to incredible levels. With all of the excitement from the NBA and NHL Playoffs, the Supreme Court, and…the Women’s World Cup…perhaps you’ve missed it. Below are some players who are getting back on track or having career seasons.

Arizona 1B Paul Goldschmidt for MVP?  Courtesy: USA Today
Arizona 1B Paul Goldschmidt for MVP?
Courtesy: USA Today

Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks

Last 30 days: .394/.525/.713, 6 2B, 8 HR, 22 RBI, 15:27 K:BB, 5 SB

You could argue that Goldschmidt has been the best player in MLB this season, even though he ranks 3rd in WAR (4.3) behind the Nationals’ Bryce Harper (5.1) and the Indians’ Jason Kipnis (4.6). Goldy has compiled a .354/.473/.654 line to go along with 15 doubles, 20 home runs, 60 RBI, and a league-leading 59 walks (17 intentional). While the Diamondbacks sit at 35-37, they are just 4.5 games out of the Wild Card hunt. Goldschmidt will continue to be pitched around as the primary source of fear within the Arizona lineup.

Todd Frazier, 3B, Cincinnati Reds

Last 30 days: .354/.381/.770, 14 2B, 11 HR, 26 RBI, 2 SB

Frazier is the Reds’ Ambassador for the upcoming All-Star Game in Cincinnati, utilizing his friendly personality and love of Frank Sinatra to become a beloved figure in Reds Country. He is becoming a beloved figure around baseball, especially fantasy circles, due to his incredible power outburst over the last month. Frazier has been the 4th most valuable position player in baseball (based on WAR, 4.1), as he has become an asset not only for his bat, but his slick glove at the hot corner.

Albert Pujols, 1B, Los Angeles Angels

Last 30 days: .333/.416/.818, 3 2B, 15 HR, 30 RBI, 5:13 K:BB

“Prince Albert” has found the stroke that made him such a force in his Hall of Fame worthy time in St. Louis. After averaging “just” 25 home runs, 91 RBI, and an .810 OPS in his first three seasons for the Angels, many thought the days of 40 home runs, 121 RBI, and 1.037 OPS, his average year in 11 seasons with the Cardinals, were long gone. Pujols currently leads the AL in bombs (23), and will continue to be a part of the two-man wrecking crew that the Angels have with him and Mike Trout in the order.

Giants' 2B Joe Panik - career year or start of something special?  Courtesy: goldengatesports.com
Giants’ 2B Joe Panik – career year or start of something special?
Courtesy: goldengatesports.com

Joe Panik, 2B, San Francisco Giants

Last 30 days: .336/.405/.542, 10 2B, 4 HR, 14 RBI, 12:12 K:BB, 2 SB

Panik likely wasn’t on your list of players who could post a .300/.400/.500 season, but he has been that player over the last month, and very good over the entire season. Panik’s .310/.380/.463 line, 19 doubles, six home runs, and 141 wRC+ (2nd among second basemen in MLB) aren’t all that different from his .296/.365/.403 line over his minor league career, yet, he has nearly reached each of his season-long projections that were set forth by Steamer and ZiPS. His 2.8 WAR has allowed him to show more value than the likes of Dustin Pedroia, Kolten Wong, Brian Dozier, and Jose Altuve. Panik was a first round pick out of St. John’s University in 2011. At just 24, he has shown himself to be quite productive, and, if all else fails, he has a slick glove at second.

Justin Turner, INF, Los Angeles Dodgers

Last 30 days: .361/.418/.639, 6 2B, 5 HR, 17 RBI, 11:7 K:BB

Based on 190 plate appearances, Turner is the 15th most valuable position player in MLB (2.9 WAR). He is having an excellent month, while continuing to shine in the opportunities that he is provided, which are coming in bunches since the Dodgers traded Juan Uribe. While Corey Seager continues to mash in the minors, it is likely Jimmy Rollins at short who is more likely to be replaced than the do-it-all Turner. A career .260/.323/.361 hitter over his first five seasons (2009-2013, 926 plate appearances), the 30-year-old third baseman has hit .334/.400/.526 triple-slash over 512 plate appearances since the start of the 2014 season, with 33 doubles and 17 home runs.

Yovani Gallardo, RHP, Texas Rangers

Last 30 days: 2-0, five starts, 0.87 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 31 IP, 26:10 K:BB, .193 BAA

Gallardo looked like a lost cause early this season, posting a 4.05 ERA and 1.39 WHIP in his first five starts for the Rangers. With the way that the ball flies out of Arlington, it was only a matter of time before the Mexican hurler’s numbers would look even worse. However, that hasn’t been the case. Since May 1st, Gallardo has a 2.51 ERA and 1.11 WHIP over 61 innings, including his impressive run of starts over the last 30 days. While the velocity and strikeout totals continue to dip, Gallardo is finding more success by cutting back on his curve and increasing the use of his slider and change. We’ll see if he can continue to stay hot as Texas heats up.

Braves' RHP Williams Perez - will the league catch up to him?  Courtesy: foxsports.com
Braves’ RHP Williams Perez – will the league catch up to him?
Courtesy: foxsports.com

Williams Perez, RHP, Atlanta Braves

Last 30 days: 4-0, six games (five starts), 2.25 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 1 save, 32 IP, 20:15 K:BB, .219 BAA

Who? Unranked by Baseball Prospectus and MLB.com prior to the season, the 24-year-old has moved quickly through the Atlanta system since reaching full season ball in 2013. He jumped to Triple-A to start the season and made five starts before joining the Braves bullpen. He made all of two appearances before he joined the rotation – minus a random save opportunity on June 13th. In his seven starts, Perez has a 2.14 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. While the walks would need to come down for him to become a more valuable option, Perez has youth and results on his side to this point.

Nate Karns, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays

Last 30 days: 1-1, six games (six starts), 2.65 ERA 1.26 WHIP, 34 IP, 31:12 K:BB, .238 BAA

Karns has stepped up to take on a major role while the Rays battle health issues that have landed Alex Cobb, Jake Odorizzi, and Drew Smyly on the disabled list for extended time this season and Matt Moore continues to work his way back from Tommy John surgery. The 27-year-old late bloomer, drafted in the 12th round of the 2009 MLB Draft, had shown some impressive strikeout skills in the minors (10.3 K:9 over 449.1 minor league innings), but, though he hasn’t reached those numbers to this point, he has certainly shown that he can get major league hitters out. Over 15 starts, Karns has a 3.28 ERA and 1.22 WHIP to go along with his 8.2 K:9. The Rays continue to have a process to maintain success, even after losing Andrew Friedman to the Dodgers from their front office. Karns, acquired by Friedman and Company in February of 2014, looks like a solid, long-term option for the Rays.

 

 

 

 

The Next Big Things in 2015

Courtesy: Joey Gallo Twitter, @JoeyGallo24
Bryant and Gallo at last year’s Futures Game Courtesy: Joey Gallo Twitter, @JoeyGallo24

We’ve seen the arrivals and contributions of the Cubs’ Kris Bryant and, most recently, the Rangers’ Joey Gallo, but they won’t be the last of influential rookies to make splashes in Major League Baseball this year. With Maikel Franco, Addison Russell, Steven Souza, Jr., and Joc Pederson, youngsters will continue to create value in fantasy leagues this season. So…who is next?

C/OF Kyle Schwarber – Chicago Cubs

Year Age Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2014 21 A+-A-A- 72 311 262 55 90 18 2 18 53 5 39 57 .344 .428 .634 1.061 166
2015 22 AA 48 201 161 32 52 7 1 12 35 0 37 42 .323 .445 .602 1.047 97
2 Seasons 120 512 423 87 142 25 3 30 88 5 76 99 .336 .434 .622 1.056 263
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/4/2015.

Schwarber would be best served as a DH or first baseman, but with Anthony Rizzo in town and the Cubs residing in the NL, that isn’t going to happen anytime soon. Schwarber has done nothing but rake since being taken 4th overall in the 2014 draft. He isn’t much of a catcher, however, allowing a whopping 45 stolen bases in 31 games behind the dish. He could certainly provide more punch in the order than Chris Coghlan in left, but he hasn’t played a game in the outfield yet this season. With Jorge Soler’s recent injury, maybe the time for a transition is coming sooner than expected.

3B Miguel Sano – Minnesota Twins

Year Age Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2010 17 Rk-FRk 61 241 212 34 65 16 1 7 29 4 24 60 .307 .379 .491 .870 104
2011 18 Rk 66 293 267 58 78 18 7 20 59 5 23 77 .292 .352 .637 .988 170
2012 19 A 129 553 457 75 118 28 4 28 100 8 80 144 .258 .373 .521 .893 238
2012 19 FgW 20 59 49 11 13 3 0 4 14 1 8 17 .265 .373 .571 .944 28
2013 20 AA-A+ 123 519 439 86 123 30 5 35 103 11 65 142 .280 .382 .610 .992 268
2015 22 AA 46 197 166 33 42 10 1 10 33 4 26 48 .253 .355 .506 .861 84
5 Seasons 425 1803 1541 286 426 102 18 100 324 32 218 471 .276 .371 .561 .931 864
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/4/2015.
Twins' 3B (or DH) Miguel Sano Courtesy: Baseball America
Twins’ 3B (or DH) Miguel Sano
Courtesy: Baseball America

Sano is back at the hot corner after missing all of 2014 due to Tommy John surgery and he’s back to being a powerful producer in Double-A. While Trevor Plouffe has been providing some production at the Major League level, the Twins are in need of some help at the designated hitter spot. Sano’s ability to stay at third has long been debated, so plugging him in at DH would likely provide an upgrade to the .238/.289/.308 line that the Twins’ have received out of that spot in 2015. Sano ripped 35 homers at the age of 20, so it’s easy to see why he is someone to get excited about.

RHP Jose Berrios – Minnesota Twins

Year Age Tm Lg Lev Aff W L ERA GS GF CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO WHIP H9 SO9 SO/W
2012 18 2 Teams 2 Lgs Rk MIN 3 0 1.17 4 4 0 0 30.2 15 4 4 4 49 0.620 4.4 14.4 12.25
2013 19 Cedar Rapids MIDW A MIN 7 7 3.99 19 0 0 0 103.2 105 58 46 40 100 1.399 9.1 8.7 2.50
2014 20 3 Teams 3 Lgs A+-AA-AAA MIN 12 8 2.77 25 0 2 1 139.2 118 52 43 38 140 1.117 7.6 9.0 3.68
2015 21 Chattanooga SOUL AA MIN 6 3 3.25 11 0 1 1 69.1 63 26 25 20 77 1.197 8.2 10.0 3.85
4 Seasons 28 18 3.09 59 4 3 2 343.1 301 140 118 102 366 1.174 7.9 9.6 3.59
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/4/2015.

After some shoulder troubles in 2014, Berrios has been lights out this season. He continues to increase his strikeout rate, and, at just 21, looks like someone who can help a staff that is already 13th in starting pitcher ERA. Where the Twins lack talent is starters who can miss bats. The team has just 193 strikeouts (28th in MLB) and a .276 batting average allowed (second worst in MLB). The club has had an impressive season, but by adding Berrios down the stretch, they’d likely be adding a pitcher who is more capable of dominance than anyone on the club’s current staff.

2B/SS Trevor Story – Colorado Rockies

Year Age Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2011 18 Rk 47 210 179 37 48 8 2 6 28 13 26 41 .268 .364 .436 .799 78
2012 19 A 122 548 477 96 132 43 6 18 63 15 60 121 .277 .367 .505 .872 241
2013 20 A+ 130 554 497 71 116 34 5 12 65 23 45 183 .233 .305 .394 .700 196
2014 21 AA-A+-A- 108 463 396 69 104 26 8 14 48 23 60 144 .263 .367 .475 .841 188
2014 21 A- 2 8 7 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 1 3 .286 .375 .429 .804 3
2014 21 A+ 50 218 184 38 61 17 7 5 28 20 31 59 .332 .436 .582 1.017 107
2014 21 AA 56 237 205 29 41 8 1 9 20 3 28 82 .200 .302 .380 .683 78
2014 21 Fal 22 97 86 8 22 9 1 1 14 3 11 26 .256 .340 .419 .759 36
2015 22 AA 48 212 180 34 55 13 4 7 30 9 26 58 .306 .396 .539 .935 97
5 Seasons 455 1987 1729 307 455 124 25 57 234 83 217 547 .263 .353 .463 .815 800
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/4/2015.

Troy Tulowitzki is still the shortstop, even with the rumors flying that he could be dealt, but Story is more likely to develop his own narrative as the Rockies’ second baseman. The Rockies may have more interest in dealing the large contract that Tulowitzki has in order to rebuild, but D.J. LeMahieu, the club’s reigning NL Gold Glove winner at second, may be a nice asset, as well. Since he is arbitration-eligible for the first time this offseason, he’ll likely be due a substantial raise thanks to his glove. However, his bat is playing up this season, as the 26-year-old is hitting .339/.394/.495 after posting a .276/.314/.361 line over his first 1,281 career plate appearances. Story could handle the keystone position, allowing the Rockies to clear LeMahieu and his increasing salary and surprising bat. After looking at what Story has done, he’ll be another fine offensive force for the thin-air aided Rockies.

LHP Matt Boyd – Toronto Blue Jays

Year Age Lev W L ERA G GS GF CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2013 22 A-A+ 0 3 2.62 8 5 1 0 0 24.0 14 7 7 4 23 0.750 5.2 1.5 8.6 5.75
2014 23 A+-AA 6 7 3.17 26 26 0 1 0 133.1 120 53 47 33 147 1.148 8.1 2.2 9.9 4.45
2015 24 AA 5 1 1.08 11 11 0 0 0 66.2 37 10 8 16 66 0.795 5.0 2.2 8.9 4.13
3 Seasons 11 11 2.49 45 42 1 1 0 224.0 171 70 62 53 236 1.000 6.9 2.1 9.5 4.45
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/4/2015.

The Blue Jays continue to develop talented pitchers and Boyd could be the next to arrive. Since being drafted out of Oregon State, Boyd has dominated the minors. He is a crafty lefty who works 88-90 with a solid change and curve. He will look the part of Mark Buehrle and could replace the aging lefty in the Blue Jays rotation when Buerhle reaches free agency after the season. He may not be an ace, but Boyd certainly knows how to pitch, and with those bats behind him, he just needs to take the next step to Toronto to continue his mature pitching approach.

RHP Aaron Nola – Philadelphia Phillies

Year Age Lev W L ERA G GS GF CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2014 21 A+-AA 4 3 2.93 12 11 1 0 0 55.1 49 19 18 10 45 1.066 8.0 1.6 7.3 4.50
2015 22 AA 6 3 1.81 10 10 0 0 0 64.2 49 14 13 7 50 0.866 6.8 1.0 7.0 7.14
2 Seasons 10 6 2.33 22 21 1 0 0 120.0 98 33 31 17 95 0.958 7.4 1.3 7.1 5.59
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/4/2015.
Phillies' RHP Aaron Nola Courtesy: crashandburnalley.com
Phillies’ RHP Aaron Nola
Courtesy: crashandburnalley.com

Of the many reasons that Phillies’ GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. has been mocked, one of the larger reasons was the fact that Nola wasn’t invited to spring training. It seems like a strange thing to be ridiculed over, but Nola was certainly deserving of a long look considering the club’s lack of MLB-ready talent. The right-hander hasn’t disappointed in 2015, showcasing his talent at the minor league level. While he won’t get much help from the so-called talent on the Philadelphia roster, he does have enough to be a serviceable option for the Phillies right now.

C/OF Peter O’Brien – Arizona Diamondbacks

Year Age Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2012 21 A–Rk 52 227 212 29 45 10 0 10 34 0 10 62 .212 .256 .401 .656 85
2013 22 A+-A 119 506 447 78 130 39 4 22 96 0 41 134 .291 .350 .544 .893 243
2014 23 A+-AA 106 427 399 67 108 23 2 34 74 0 21 111 .271 .316 .594 .910 237
2015 24 AAA 50 208 189 35 63 15 2 12 47 1 11 42 .333 .375 .624 .999 118
4 Seasons 327 1368 1247 209 346 87 8 78 251 1 83 349 .277 .327 .548 .875 683
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/4/2015.

While the club is only 5.5 games out, the recent deal that sent Mark Trumbo to Seattle is a tell-tale sign of things to come in Arizona. The Diamondbacks don’t have the talent to compete with the Giants, Dodgers, and Padres in the NL West. While O’Brien wouldn’t make the team contenders, he certainly provides more offensively than the likes of David Peralta and Ender Inciarte in an outfield corner. He got a case of the yips this spring, unable to return the ball to the pitcher from the catcher spot, so he is likely in the outfield to stay. He has power that will only play up in the desert, so continue to expect impressive power, though the batting average totals are likely to slip as he adjusts to MLB pitching.

LHP Steven Matz – New York Mets

Year Age Lev W L ERA G GS GF CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2012 21 Rk 2 1 1.55 6 6 0 0 0 29.0 16 10 5 17 34 1.138 5.0 5.3 10.6 2.00
2013 22 A 5 6 2.62 21 21 0 1 1 106.1 86 36 31 38 121 1.166 7.3 3.2 10.2 3.18
2014 23 AA-A+ 10 9 2.25 24 24 0 1 0 140.0 132 44 35 35 131 1.193 8.5 2.2 8.4 3.74
2015 24 AAA 6 3 1.98 11 10 0 0 0 68.1 48 17 15 23 70 1.039 6.3 3.0 9.2 3.04
4 Seasons 23 19 2.25 62 61 0 2 1 343.2 282 107 86 113 356 1.149 7.4 3.0 9.3 3.15
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/4/2015.
Mets' LHP Steven Matz Courtesy: NY Post
Mets’ LHP Steven Matz
Courtesy: NY Post

Matz somehow gets lost in the shuffle when the Mets’ young pitching is discussed. With Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero, and Zack Wheeler already reaching the majors, it’s fair to wonder when Matz will get his shot. After dominating since he has returned from Tommy John surgery, Matz is likely the next arm to be called upon – should the Mets have a need. He is a hard-throwing lefty whose stuff seems to continue to gain traction. After missing all of 2010, 2011, and most of 2012, he has been creating a track that leads directly to the Mets rotation. It won’t be long before he gets that shot, which will make the Mets a viable threat in the playoffs with Harvey, Colon, deGrom, and Matz to deal with in a series.

 

2015 Season Preview: Arizona Diamondbacks

Over the next several weeks, The Baseball Haven will be creating season previews for all 30 MLB teams. You’ll find their projected records (based on PECOTA records from Baseball Prospectus, as of 2/15/2015), each team’s top three players (based on Steamer WAR projections from FanGraphs), and some valuable notes on each team, including likely bounce-back candidates, potential breakout players or fantasy sleepers, as well as a look back at offseason transactions which led to each team’s projections. Stop back frequently to see where your favorite team ranks! 

Arizona Diamondbacks

Courtesy: MLB.com
Courtesy: MLB.com

2015 Projected Record: 74-88 (4th in NL West, 25th in MLB)

Manager: Chip Hale (1st season – no prior experience)

Top Three Players: 1B Paul Goldschmidt (5.1), OF A.J. Pollock (2.0), RHP Jeremy Hellickson (1.3)

Bounce-back Player: OF A.J. Pollock

Since the All-Star break of the 2013 season, Pollock has been a different player:

2013 second half –

Split G GS PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB BAbip
2nd Half 55 37 192 170 25 50 5 3 2 14 6 19 27 .294 .368 .394 .763 67 .340
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/28/2015.

2014 – (including .273/.326/.386 in 95 plate appearances after returning from his broken hand)

Year Age Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB
2014 26 ARI 75 287 265 41 80 19 6 7 24 14 19 46 .302 .353 .498 .851 134 132
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/28/2015.

As you can see, Pollock has made some changes to his game to make him an interesting offensive piece, possessing enough pop to be useful, enough speed to be an asset, and the defensive skills to challenge Juan Lagares and Billy Hamilton for the NL Gold Glove in center. Entering his age-27 season, Pollock is now in his prime and he is likely to see additional growth, especially with the offseason to regain strength in his right hand, which was fractured by a pitch and cost him 79 games in 2014. You could say that this won’t be a bounce-back, it will be more of a continuation of the breakout that was occurring. With healthy stars around him, Pollock will be a big piece in an improved offense for the Diamondbacks.

Can Lamb win the 3B job?  Courtesy: foxsports.com
Can Lamb win the 3B job?
Courtesy: foxsports.com

Fantasy Player to Watch: 3B Jake Lamb

People are going to be jumping all over Cuban defector Yasmany Tomas due to his power potential, but he only played “some” third base in Cuba and has already shown some brick hands in drills this spring. Lamb has posted a .959 OPS over five minor league seasons, and, while he struck out 37 times in 133 plate appearance (27.8 percent) in his late-season call-up, Lamb showed some ability to drive the ball by ripping nine of his 29 hits for extra bases. He’s just 24, and, though Tomas has the big contract and high expectations, Lamb shouldn’t be written off. Tomas would be an excellent offensive option in left over the David Peralta/Ender Inciarte/Cody Ross option, and Lamb’s left-handed bat would fit nicely in the mix of Yasmany Tomas, Paul Goldschmidt, Mark Trumbo, and A.J. Pollock – all right-handed hitters in the top and middle of the order.

Offseason Overview:  The Diamondbacks were a very busy organization, changing managers after a whole shift in the front office that led to Tony LaRussa taking over Baseball Operations. While the Diamondbacks may not be as “gritty” as they were the last couple of seasons, that’s probably a good thing, as that wasn’t working for their end-of-year win totals. With a friendly home ballpark and enough offensive talent to make non-Clayton Kershaw-types to quiver in their spikes, the Diamondbacks head into rebuilding mode, having invested heavily in Yasmany Tomas and dealing Wade Miley to the Red Sox for a couple of very promising, major-league-ready arms in RHP Rubby De La Rosa and RHP Allen Webster. They dealt light-hitting Didi Gregorius (who lost his shortstop job to Chris Owings) to the Yankees to replace Derek Jeter, and pried away LHP Robbie Ray from Detroit (who was acquired from Washington last season for Doug Fister), while acquiring RHP Jeremy Hellickson from the Rays for a couple of Low-A prospects.

 

The Verdict: The Diamondbacks were busy and they needed to be. They finished at .500 in both 2012 and 2013, then headed in the wrong direction by losing 98 games in 2014. They suffered through many injuries to their offense and ineffectiveness from their pitching. They needed to scrap it and try again, and they did so while acquiring talent that is ready to help them on Opening Day. Hellickson knows how to pitch and a move to the NL will only increase his ability to get back to the pitcher that he was in 2011 and 2012 (yes, I know the FIP was ugly, so it may have been the averages getting back to reality). RDLR has tremendous stuff, and adding him to the trio of Archie Bradley, Braden Shipley, and Aaron Blair, the Diamondbacks future rotation looks quite potent – and that’s not even with Touki Toussaint in the mix yet. The offense will likely sputter at times due to the weakest links, but they have a dynamic player in Paul Goldschmidt who can keep things going on the worst of days. This team could easily see a 20 game turnaround in 2015, but that would only leave them with 84 wins, which wouldn’t get it done in the NL West this season. The Diamondbacks made some smart moves, but they had so far to go that it will take a couple of more seasons.

Minor League Report, 6/14

Cubs super-prospect 3B Kris Bryant
Cubs super-prospect 3B Kris Bryant

The 2014 season has been quite interesting to this point. With so many teams floating around contention due to unforeseen parity in a game that has had so little over the years, we haven’t seen many top talents reach the big leagues to assist their clubs compete. Gregory Polanco finally reached Pittsburgh, but the Cardinals just sent Oscar Taveras back to the minors following the activation of Matt Adams from the 15-day disabled list. With injuries to Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, Archie Bradley, and Taijuan Walker, the elite level prospects haven’t provided a lot of positive material for minor league analysis. For that reason, you have to reach deeper. Here are some names that you may be familiar with, but, if you’re not, you should get to know a little better.

Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs

Year Age AgeDif Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2013 21 -0.8 A–A+-Rk 36 146 128 22 43 14 2 9 32 1 11 35 .336 .390 .688 1.078 88
2013 21 1.3 Rk 2 7 6 0 1 1 0 0 2 0 0 1 .167 .143 .333 .476 2
2013 21 -0.2 A- 18 77 65 13 23 8 1 4 16 0 8 17 .354 .416 .692 1.108 45
2013 21 -1.8 A+ 16 62 57 9 19 5 1 5 14 1 3 17 .333 .387 .719 1.106 41
2014 22 -2.6 AA 66 286 240 60 86 19 0 22 57 8 41 75 .358 .462 .713 1.174 171
2 Seasons 102 432 368 82 129 33 2 31 89 9 52 110 .351 .438 .704 1.141 259
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/14/2014.

Bryant is a one-man wrecking crew in the Double-A Southern League in 2014, and you should already be familiar with him, as Bryant was the No.2 overall pick out of San Diego in the 2013 MLB Draft. For all of the fears that went along with the holes in his swing, which is still present based on the 75 strikeouts, Bryant can still draw a walk while producing elite-level power from the right side. He may have to move to an outfield corner in the long run due to Starlin Castro being at short and Javier Baez likely moving to third, as the Cubs have Anthony Rizzo locked up through 2021 (including options) at first. Regardless of where he plays, he’ll be an All-Star talent. The Cubs don’t need to bring him up due to their 27-38 record and ongoing rebuild, but the scariest part of his numbers are the fact that they could only get larger with a move to Triple-A and the Pacific Coast League. He could break camp with the Cubs in 2015 and will likely get a nice audition this September.

Victor Sanchez, RHP, Seattle Mariners

Year Age AgeDif Lev W L ERA GS CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2012 17 -4.3 A- 6 2 3.18 15 0 0 85.0 69 37 30 5 27 69 1.129 7.3 2.9 7.3 2.56
2013 18 -3.8 A 6 6 2.78 20 1 1 113.1 106 42 35 4 18 79 1.094 8.4 1.4 6.3 4.39
2014 19 -5.5 AA 3 2 4.06 9 1 1 44.1 45 26 20 10 12 39 1.286 9.1 2.4 7.9 3.25
3 Seasons 15 10 3.15 44 2 2 242.2 220 105 85 19 57 187 1.141 8.2 2.1 6.9 3.28
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/14/2014.

The Mariners have a lot of young pitchers who get a lot of attention with Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, and Erasmo Ramirez each earning some starts at the major league level over the last couple of seasons; however, with those names receiving so much attention, there is a sneaky exciting talent coming up who isn’t getting nearly as much recognition as most players with his skills would, and that is Victor Sanchez. At 19, Sanchez is already in Double-A, having skipped the horrific pitching environment of the California League, and he is pitching very well. Over his last two starts, Sanchez has allowed just two earned runs over 13.2 innings (1.32 ERA), striking out 13 and allowing 11 base runners (0.80 WHIP). Sanchez isn’t a dynamic strikeout pitcher, but he has plus command and, at his age, he may further develop his stuff to take another step forward. He could certainly give up fewer home runs, but when you consider that he is 5 1/2 years younger than the average player in the Southern League, he deserves a break. He’s a very mature pitcher given his age and deserves more attention than he is getting.

Astros OF Preston Tucker
Astros OF Preston Tucker

 

Preston Tucker, OF, Houston Astros

Year Age AgeDif Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2012 21 -0.1 A- 42 187 165 32 53 7 0 8 38 1 18 16 .321 .390 .509 .899 84
2013 22 -1.4 A+-AA 135 601 535 97 159 32 2 25 103 3 56 91 .297 .368 .505 .872 270
2013 22 -0.9 A+ 75 333 298 61 97 18 1 15 74 3 29 45 .326 .384 .544 .928 162
2013 22 -2.0 AA 60 268 237 36 62 14 1 10 29 0 27 46 .262 .347 .456 .803 108
2014 23 -1.2 AA-AAA 66 294 265 42 73 17 0 17 43 3 26 48 .275 .347 .532 .879 141
2014 23 -1.2 AA 65 290 261 41 72 17 0 17 43 3 26 46 .276 .348 .536 .885 140
2014 23 -3.7 AAA 1 4 4 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .250 .250 .250 .500 1
3 Seasons 243 1082 965 171 285 56 2 50 184 7 100 155 .295 .366 .513 .879 495
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/14/2014.

Another Houston Astros prospect who is near ready to make an impact at the major league level, Tucker was just promoted to Triple-A after being near the top of the Texas League in doubles, home runs, and total bases. After thriving in 2013 between High-A and Double-A, Tucker has made the adjustments necessary to continue his progression to Houston to join Jon Singleton and George Springer, while the club waits for Carlos Correa and others in the lower minors to help make Houston a World Series contender in the next three seasons. Even thriving against left-handers, Tucker is capable of being more than just an average outfielder in the majors.

Christian Walker, 1B, Baltimore Orioles

Year Age AgeDif Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2012 21 -0.1 A- 22 93 81 12 23 5 0 2 9 2 10 14 .284 .376 .420 .796 34
2013 22 -0.7 A+-A-AA 103 439 393 51 118 27 0 11 56 2 34 67 .300 .362 .453 .815 178
2013 22 0.4 A 31 131 116 19 41 5 0 3 20 0 11 16 .353 .420 .474 .894 55
2013 22 -0.8 A+ 55 239 215 25 62 17 0 8 35 2 17 41 .288 .343 .479 .822 103
2013 22 -2.4 AA 17 69 62 7 15 5 0 0 1 0 6 10 .242 .319 .323 .641 20
2014 23 -1.6 AA 65 284 258 43 79 10 1 17 58 1 22 58 .306 .363 .550 .913 142
3 Seasons 190 816 732 106 220 42 1 30 123 5 66 139 .301 .364 .484 .848 354
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/14/2014.

After being taken in the 4th round of the 2012 MLB Draft out of South Carolina, Christian Walker had a somewhat productive first full minor league season in 2013 (.815 OPS, just 67 strikeouts in 439 plate appearances), but it was also somewhat disappointing (11 home runs). Walker did play at three levels in 2013, so, perhaps, he wasn’t in one location long enough to make the adjustments necessary to showcase his power, but the 2014 season has been quite different. Walker already has 17 home runs and is sporting an OPS of .913 as of publishing. While his strikeout rate has increased, that is allowing him to produce at higher levels. With Chris Davis under team control through the 2015 season, could you be looking at the future first baseman in Baltimore? It could be the case, but Walker has to continue his offensive outburst if he is going to make it in the majors as a right-handed hitting first baseman.

Rymer Liriano, OF, San Diego Padres

Year Age AgeDif Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2008 17 -1.5 FRk 67 267 232 34 46 13 1 9 37 9 28 106 .198 .296 .379 .675 88
2009 18 -2.2 Rk 50 216 197 44 69 8 1 8 44 14 15 52 .350 .398 .523 .921 103
2010 19 -2.5 A–A-A+ 117 481 441 59 102 26 7 3 38 31 32 119 .231 .288 .342 .630 151
2010 19 -2.3 A- 53 225 203 35 55 13 6 0 12 17 17 53 .271 .335 .394 .729 80
2010 19 -2.4 A 50 201 188 21 36 11 1 2 20 11 10 54 .191 .234 .293 .526 55
2010 19 -3.8 A+ 14 55 50 3 11 2 0 1 6 3 5 12 .220 .291 .320 .611 16
2011 20 -1.7 A-A+ 131 580 510 89 152 31 9 12 68 66 53 108 .298 .365 .465 .830 237
2011 20 -1.6 A 116 519 455 81 145 30 8 12 62 65 47 95 .319 .383 .499 .882 227
2011 20 -2.7 A+ 15 61 55 8 7 1 1 0 6 1 6 13 .127 .213 .182 .395 10
2012 21 -2.2 A+-AA 127 520 465 65 130 32 4 8 61 32 41 119 .280 .350 .417 .767 194
2012 21 -1.6 A+ 74 314 282 41 84 22 2 5 41 22 21 69 .298 .360 .443 .803 125
2012 21 -3.1 AA 53 206 183 24 46 10 2 3 20 10 20 50 .251 .335 .377 .712 69
2014 23 -1.2 AA 66 282 252 38 69 14 2 11 40 10 25 73 .274 .344 .476 .820 120
6 Seasons 558 2346 2097 329 568 124 24 51 288 162 194 577 .271 .338 .426 .764 893
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/14/2014.

Even after missing all of the 2013 season due to Tommy John surgery, Rymer Liriano is young for his league. The 22-year-old outfielder is back on track, showcasing all of his tools, though the swing and miss looks to be a bit larger than anticipated after his long layoff. Regardless, in 2011, Liriano showed the speed (66 steals) and power (50 extra-base hits) that make fantasy baseball fans salivate. He could probably make the Padres offense a little better if he were called up today, but he still has some work to do to become an All-Star level talent in the future.

Luke Jackson, RHP, Texas Rangers

Year Age AgeDif Lev W L ERA GS CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2011 19 -2.8 A 5 6 5.64 19 0 0 75.0 83 57 47 9 48 78 1.747 10.0 5.8 9.4 1.63
2012 20 -2.3 A+-A 10 7 4.65 26 1 0 129.2 130 72 67 6 65 146 1.504 9.0 4.5 10.1 2.25
2012 20 -1.6 A 5 5 4.92 13 1 0 64.0 63 37 35 4 33 72 1.500 8.9 4.6 10.1 2.18
2012 20 -2.9 A+ 5 2 4.39 13 0 0 65.2 67 35 32 2 32 74 1.508 9.2 4.4 10.1 2.31
2013 21 -2.2 A+-AA 11 4 2.04 23 0 0 128.0 92 32 29 6 59 134 1.180 6.5 4.1 9.4 2.27
2013 21 -1.8 A+ 9 4 2.41 19 0 0 101.0 79 30 27 6 47 104 1.248 7.0 4.2 9.3 2.21
2013 21 -3.5 AA 2 0 0.67 4 0 0 27.0 13 2 2 0 12 30 0.926 4.3 4.0 10.0 2.50
2014 22 -2.5 AA 7 2 2.86 12 0 0 72.1 50 23 23 5 19 74 0.954 6.2 2.4 9.2 3.89
4 Seasons 33 19 3.69 80 1 0 405.0 355 184 166 26 191 432 1.348 7.9 4.2 9.6 2.26
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/14/2014.

Prior to the 2013 season, Jackson was heading towards becoming an organizational arm, even though he was a first round draft pick in 2010. Then, it all seemed to click last year and over his last 200.1 innings he has a 2.34 ERA, a 1.10 WHIP, and 208 strikeouts. Now, with the Texas Rangers reeling and in need of pitching depth after injuries to Derek Holland, Martin Perez, and Matt Harrison, Luke Jackson has positioned himself for some time in Arlington at some point this summer.

Taylor
Nationals OF Michael Taylor

Michael Taylor, OF, Washington Nationals

Year Age AgeDif Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2010 19 -0.9 Rk-A 43 164 141 14 28 5 3 1 13 1 15 33 .199 .276 .298 .574 42
2010 19 -0.7 Rk 38 149 128 14 25 4 3 1 12 1 14 31 .195 .270 .297 .567 38
2010 19 -2.6 A 5 15 13 0 3 1 0 0 1 0 1 2 .231 .333 .308 .641 4
2011 20 -1.4 A 126 488 442 64 112 26 7 13 68 23 32 120 .253 .310 .432 .742 191
2012 21 -1.6 A+ 109 431 384 51 93 33 2 3 37 19 40 113 .242 .318 .362 .680 139
2013 22 -0.8 A+ 133 581 509 79 134 41 6 10 87 51 55 131 .263 .340 .426 .767 217
2014 23 -1.6 AA 62 271 233 50 77 11 2 16 49 17 32 83 .330 .416 .601 1.017 140
5 Seasons 473 1935 1709 258 444 116 20 43 254 111 174 480 .260 .333 .427 .759 729
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/14/2014.

Michael Taylor is breaking out. After an impressive repeat of High-A in 2013 (57 extra-base hits and 51 stolen bases), Taylor has reached a career-high in home runs in just 62 games, while still showing tremendous speed (17 steals) in his first go-round in Double-A. There is a lot of swing and miss in his bat, but the power and speed skills that he possesses make him an intriguing prospect, especially when you consider that he could be in a pretty electric lineup with Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, and company in the next couple of seasons. With Denard Span due a $9 million option or a $500,000 buyout in 2015, Taylor is likely leaving a lot of questions for Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo and Washington management about just what to do in center field in 2015. If nothing else, Taylor could spend some time in Triple-A next year, or even later this season, before earning a full-time role in 2016.

Jake Lamb, 3B, Arizona Diamondbacks

Year Age AgeDif Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2012 21 0.1 Rk 67 315 280 47 92 22 5 9 57 8 24 51 .329 .390 .539 .930 151
2013 22 -0.7 A+-Rk 69 304 248 48 75 22 0 13 52 0 50 75 .302 .421 .548 .969 136
2013 22 2.3 Rk 5 21 17 4 5 2 0 0 5 0 2 5 .294 .381 .412 .793 7
2013 22 -0.9 A+ 64 283 231 44 70 20 0 13 47 0 48 70 .303 .424 .558 .982 129
2014 23 -1.6 AA 65 273 239 42 78 25 4 11 55 0 25 58 .326 .399 .603 1.002 144
3 Seasons 201 892 767 137 245 69 9 33 164 8 99 184 .319 .404 .562 .966 431
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/14/2014.

Jake Lamb was a 6th round pick out of Washington in 2012, and all that he has done since getting drafted is hit. This season, his numbers in the Southern League are being mocked by Kris Bryant’s absurd outburst, but they are still very, very good. The doubles and home runs show the power potential in Lamb’s bat, and the .996 OPS in 59 at-bats against left-handed pitching shows that Lamb is quite capable of becoming a regular in Arizona. With Kevin Towers around, Lamb could be traded before ever reaching the desert, but he would be an extremely solid option to force Martin Prado off of the hot corner, and joining Paul Goldschmidt as a tremendous offensive threat in the Diamondbacks lineup in the near future.