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Eric Thames, Toronto Blue Jays
The winner in the Adam Lind DL placement sweepstakes, Thames is expected to receive PT in left and at DH. How much is uncertain, but the left-handed hitter provides the Jays with another left-handed presence, something they largely lack.
Along those lines, Thames, 24, ripped it against right-handers in the minors. Last year with Double-A New Hampshire, he smoked 27 homers in 496 at-bats, which propelled him to a .288 batting average, 104 RBIs and 95 runs and the Fisher Cats' MVP award. He had a quality spring and continued raking at Triple-A Las Vegas (.342-6-30, with three stolen bases).
Thames could flow in TO
The 6-foot-1, 205-pounder reportedly has a pretty simple approach, which should mesh with Toronto's hitting philosophy. His numbers with the 51s come with an asterisk (hitter's league, hitter's park), but he definitely packs punch. He may also be improving his ability to make contact while also jumping a level, judging from his reduced strikeout percentage this year, but the Pacific Coast League can make any hitter look more patient. Still, there's legit potential here, with an outside shot that Thames convinces the Blue Jays he should stick when Lind (back injury) is healthy.
Shallow mixed: Pass
Deep mixed: Watch
Tony Campana, Chicago Cubs
The Cubs called up this runt (5-foot-8, 160 pounds) to replace Tyler Colvin, who needs to play every day, on the 25-man. Clearly, Campana, 25 in a couple of weeks, will not be doing that with Chicago; Mike Quade has been consistent in his use of Alfonso Soriano, Marlon Byrd and Kosuke Fukudome, while Reed Johnson backs each of them up. If the club needed a long-term regular, they'd likely turn back to Colvin or someone else, unless Campana surprises.
Don't write off Campana entirely, however. While his record of plate discipline in the minors doesn't suggest that he'll carry over his .303 average and .359 OBP (.342 and .383 in 129 plate appearances with Class AAA this season), he may provide need-based depth. He has been successful on eight of nine base-stealing attempts in his first year at Triple-A; last season he thefted 48, and in the two years prior, a combined 121. Perhaps he's the NL version of Jarrod Dyson.
Shallow mixed: Pass
Deep mixed: Pass
Danny Duffy, Kansas City Royals
The Royals may be full systems go in what is shaping up as the first year of their major league roster overhaul. The club plans to purchase Duffy's contract from Triple-A Omaha in time for him to make a spot start on Wednesday against the Texas Rangers. Bruce Chen (strain in his back) could be out for a few more weeks. Kyle Davies (shoulder issues) hit the DL. Sean O'Sullivan has fared well but wasn't expected to be a long-term answer upon his insertion; Vin Mazzaro's Monday meltdown and otherwise poor showing has made that possible, however.
In other words, if Duffy impresses, he could stick around. After some time away from baseball last year, his rededication seems to be paying off, with an accelerated path to the Storm Chasers and now the bigs. Duffy, 22, has posted rates of K's per nine in double digits in his minor league career. To close 2010 and open 2011, he has made big strides in the reduction of his BB/9 (2.50 this year). For Omaha, he's 3-1 with a 3.00 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 43 K's in 36 innings.
Before you drool all over yourself, some knocks: He tends to give up the long ball (perhaps mitigated at Kauffman Stadium), and he has spent little time at any level beyond advanced Class A. If this hard-throwing lefty is successful immediately, once big leaguers adjust, he may be in for big-time some statistical reckoning. It'll be interesting to see how Duffy responds to this call, but the potential is worth exploration if you have space.
Shallow mixed: Watch
Deep mixed: Watch
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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