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Daniel Murphy, New York Mets
The Mets designated Brad Emaus, who won the second base job this spring, for assignment. His average resides under the Mendoza Line, albeit in quite limited action; he's not an asset if he's not hitting.
Morton putting it together
The club also called Justin Turner, 26. He had a dull spring but began the season with Triple-A Buffalo 12-for-40 with three doubles and two triples. The right-handed hitter will get a shot, but he'll be on the wrong end of the stick in split duty. The former Baltimore Orioles and Cincinnati Reds farmhand doesn't present much upside, at least in the counting cats.
Murphy, 26, is the real winner. His defense is still a work-in-progress at the keystone, but he has played solidly in the early going. The left-handed hitter, with more major league experience, should be more consistent. He hasn't knocked socks off yet, either (7-for-31), but he has picked up a hit in each of his starts. In a platoon, the left-handed Murphy is on the good side. He could approach double-digit homers and hit for a solid batting average if he gets 400 at-bats.
Shallow mixed: Pass
Deep mixed: Watch
Jerry Sands, Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers have scored the fewest runs on average in the NL, and they're desperate for a spark. The promotion of Sands, 23, and a top MLB prospect, could be a move that is less than desperate, however. He belted 35 homers and hit .301 between Class A Great Lakes and Double-A Chattanooga last season. The big concern is whether the club is rushing him. Don Mattingly doesn't believe so; he has raved about the right-handed 6-foot-4, 220-pound slugger's approach since skippering his team in the Arizona Fall League last year.
Sands went 1-for-3 with a sac fly and two K's in his debut on Monday. Fantasy owners are going to have to expect some ups and downs. If he picks up where he left off at Class AAA Albuquerque (.400/.422/.875, five home runs, 17 RBIs), though, the downs will be down the road a bit. He hits well to all fields, and there's evidence that he's learning to improve his plate discipline relatively quickly.
Donnie Baseball will play Sands regularly, mostly in left field initially but also at first base against tough southpaws. He is also a threat to the struggling James Loney's playing time, should the Blue find a different solution in left. There is risk of failure, but great reward also awaits.
Shallow mixed: Watch
Deep mixed: Acquire
Charlie Morton, Pittsburgh Pirates
OK, the first thing you'll need to consider here is how ridiculous this might sound. The second is that you're really happy you have such an open mind.
Morton, 27, has always been a middling prospect with good stuff but no consistent, demonstrable command of it. An experiment in spring training hasn't fixed those issues immediately, but the results in that department are encouraging. What's even more so is that his windup, which is indeed reminiscent of Philadelphia Phillies hurler Roy Halladay's, seems to have added some easily observable late life to his pitches, particularly a two-seamer that he has used to devastating effect early on (68.7 percent grounder rate).
There are some statistical extremes at play. Few of the bad ones have had negative effects yet, and most of the good ones have resulted in positives. Plus, big leaguers easily learn to adjust before too long. All that aside, it's pretty encouraging. As a recent development, it also leaves much more room for growth. While most, deservedly so, will remain skeptical, they're effectively eliminating the possibility of improvement. A buy may result in little, but, at minimum, stashing him on your bench to wait for more evidence yay or nay isn't going to hurt, and Morton could be quite a low-cost find.
Shallow mixed: Watch
Deep mixed: Consider
About Nicholas Minnix
Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.
The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.
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