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.
This spring, Cincinnati Reds prospect Todd Frazier opened eyes by leading his club with a team-best five home runs and 15 RBIs. Despite the performance, Frazier had no clear shot to play as he was stuck in a third base logjam with veteran Scott Rolen and fellow prospect Juan Francisco. Eventually, the Reds dealt Francisco to Atlanta, but Frazier was still demoted to Triple-A Louisville because he still had options.
Was in a groove
After a 10-game stint at Louisville, Frazier is being called up today, and he will likely replace infielder Miguel Cairo (hamstring) on the 25-man roster.
Frazier, 26, is going to be a bench player, but he promises to start his share of games because (1) Rolen is a fragile veteran who needs his share of rest and (2) he is a versatile glove man who can play all four infield positions and the corner outfield spots.
A .261 lifetime hitter in Triple-A, Frazier is going to struggle making contact in the majors. He averaged a strikeout every 4.59 at-bats over 249 Triple-A games.
On the flip side, Frazier is a capable power hitter who can run a little. He averaged 16.75 home runs and 13 steals per season from 2008-11 in the minors.
Last year, Frazier played a pair of games at both second base and shortstop. If he can gain middle infielder eligibility in one's NL-only league, his power could be very useful there.
According to Dan Hayes of the North County Times, San Diego Padres RHP prospect Casey Kelly was scratched from his Monday night start at Triple-A Tucson and is going to have his sore right elbow examined by team physicians.
It is a discouraging setback for a talented pitcher who was finally starting to pitch to his ceiling. In 12 innings at Tucson this year, Kelly compiled a 2.25 ERA, 14 strikeouts and no walks.
Standing at 5-foot-11, 185 pounds, Milwaukee Brewers RHP Tyler Thornburg draws a wide array of opinions. The 23-year-old utilizes a deceptive delivery that is compared to Tim Lincecum's, but his velocity readings on his fastball (high 80s to low 90s) are not quite as explosive as the latter's.
Thornburg commonly gets labeled with the future reliever tag, but his track record as a starter is quite impressive. In Double-A Huntsville's 5-2 win over Tennessee Monday night, Thornburg retired the first 22 batters he faced and lost his chance at a perfect game by surrendering a one-out single in the eighth.
In 7 1/3 innings, Thornburg struck out 11 batters, while allowing just one run on one hit.
In 18 2/3 innings comprising three starts this year, Thornburg is 1-0, with an 0.98 ERA and a 24:3 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
While scouts are concerned about Thornburg's long-term durability, his control has been his real issue, but so far he has shaved down his walk rate per nine innings from 3.8 in 2011 to 1.5 this season.
The former Charleston Southern star has also struck out 11.8 batters per nine innings during his professional career, a testament to his wicked changeup and decent curveball.
Although Thornburg has shown that he deserves a chance to start, the Brewers have three other starting pitcher prospects (Wily Peralta, Taylor Jungmann, Jed Bradley) with higher ceilings. Whether Thornburg ends up as a middle-of-the-rotation starter or back-end reliever, his progress is worth monitoring as he has shown he can pitch.
A first-round pick in 2007, Colorado Rockies LHP Christian Friedrich was once a fast riser in the system, but elbow woes and ineffective stuff caused him to labor through Double-A the last two seasons. However, Friedrich, now 24, is starting to find his old form again this year.
In Triple-A Colorado Springs' 2-1 win over Las Vegas last night, Friedrich (2-1) got the win after yielding one run on four hits and no walks over seven innings. He fanned six.
The 6-foot-4, 215-pound lefty has a 2.33 ERA and an 18:3 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 19 1/3 innings.
If one missed out on Dee Gordon in a NL-only keeper league, don't worry, there's another speed demon shortstop slowly working his way up the ladder in Billy Hamilton of the Cincinnati Reds. In 39 at-bats with high Single-A Bakersfield, Hamilton is hitting .385 with one home run, six RBIs, 10 runs scored, a 1.156 OPS and 10 steals in 13 tries. Last season he stole 103 bases in 123 attempts at low Single-A Dayton. He's the type of rare rabbit who has the ability to steal 70-80 bases in the majors someday.
Considering the hitter-friendly nature of the California League, Hamilton's hitting stats should be taken lightly this early in the season, but it's great to see that he has drawn more walks (7) than strikeouts (6) already. Last year, he struggled with the strike zone at Dayton by racking up 133 strikeouts to only 52 walks.
The Seattle Mariners signed 17-year-old Dominican outfielder Hersin Martinez for $1.1 million. The teenager is a big boy at 6-foot-5 and is praised for his light-tower power. Like many of the Mariners' toolsy, physical specimens they have signed over the years, Martinez is not considered adept at making contact, so that will be something to gauge when he makes his North American pro debut in the rookie Arizona League this summer.