Your fantasy baseball rankings look a little stale. KFFL.com's Fantasy Baseball Player Prospecting series highlights the exploits of minor league baseball players, including top MLB prospects. Find out who'll make an impact, whether it's in your rotisserie or head-to-head baseball game next week or in your fantasy baseball keeper league two years from now.
It's perfectly natural for a fantasy player to be apprehensive about picking up a rookie Colorado Rockies pitcher, especially one who has never pitched above the Double-A level.
In the case of Juan Nicasio, managers should keep an open mind. Nicasio is a mature 24-year-old right-hander who fits the bill from both a talent and performance perspective.
The Rockies plan to call up Nicasio from Double-A Tulsa; he is scheduled to make his major league debut versus the St. Louis Cardinals. The Dominican temporarily takes the spot of Jorge De La Rosa, who will miss the season with a ligament tear in his elbow.
Moore dominating in minors
In 56 2/3 innings at Tulsa this year, Nicasio went 5-1, with a 2.22 ERA and a 63:10 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Nicasio has averaged 10.01 strikeouts per nine innings at Tulsa.
Putting Nicasio's performance in perspective, Rockies young gun Jhoulys Chacin averaged 7.49 strikeouts there in 2009, albeit his age-21 season. In his first year at Tulsa, in 2005 (age-21 season), Ubaldo Jimenez averaged 7.57 strikeouts per nine frames. The next season Jimenez's strikeout rate climbed to 10.55 in Tulsa, so Nicasio is in the same neighborhood.
Stuff-wise, Nicasio is no slouch either. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound righty can dial up his fastball in the mid-90s. Although it's not as heavy as Jimenez's or Chacin's, Nicasio's is compensated with pinpoint command. For his career, Nicasio has surrendered an average of only 0.53 home runs and 1.99 walks per nine innings, a testament to his command.
The Dominican also throws two good breaking balls - a hard slider and a curveball. His changeup is his least reliable offering, but he is not afraid to use it. Because Nicasio is a strike-throwing machine, there are going to be times he gets knocked around at Coors Field, however.
Manager Jim Tracy says Nicasio's stay could depend on how he fares in Saturday's start. But that could be all he gets; Aaron Cook is set to return from a rehab assignment next week.
Even with the uncertainty that surrounds his stay, the 24-year-old is worth consideration in NL-only leagues and deep keeper formats. Clayton Mortensen's honeymoon in the fifth spot may end at some point. De La Rosa's spot is a gaping hole, and Nicasio has the goods to fill the void.
The Tampa Bay Rays have been ultra-conservative with the development and acceleration of their top pitching prospects. The chances the fantasy baseball world sees Matthew Moore this season are slim. But what if he could buck the trend?
In Double-A Montgomery's 3-0 loss to Jacksonville last night, Moore took the no-decision after firing six shutout innings of three-hit ball. The southpaw struck out a season-high 11. Moore, 20, has now struck out an eye-popping 76 batters in 52 2/3 innings, an average of 13 whiffs per nine. He has struck out 12.90 batters per nine over the course of 395 innings in the minors.
Last night St. Louis Cardinals fans got a glimpse of Carlos Martinez, the 19-year-old fireballer who some say has an 80 fastball on the 20-80 scouting scale.
At Busch Stadium, Martinez pitched five solid innings of one-run ball in Quad Cities' 3-2 loss to Kane County. Martinez (1-2) took the loss, allowing seven hits and a walk. He struck out five. Martinez, whose heat has been clocked at triple digits this year, was reportedly in the 95 to 97 mph range last night.
While Martinez isn't as polished or close to the majors as top Cardinals prospect Shelby Miller, he has the greater upside of the two hurlers.
About Chris Hadorn
Chris Hadorn has covered minor league and amateur prospects for more than a decade. He writes for San Diego's North County Times and has been a KFFL fantasy baseball contributor since 2006.
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