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.
Oakland Athletics manager Bob Melvin said yesterday he didn't recognize A.J. Griffin when they crossed paths in the clubhouse before Sunday's game versus the San Francisco Giants, but he sure as hell knew who the rookie right-hander was by the end of day.
In his major league debut versus the Giants, Griffin drew a no-decision after allowing just two runs, three hits and one walk over six innings, while striking out four. His most glaring blemish was a two-run home run surrendered to Buster Posey in the first inning. After that, Griffin settled down, and he threw 73 of his 104 pitches for strikes.
The 6-foot-5, 215-pound righty utilized an effective five-pitch mix to keep Giants hitters off-balanced. It included a high-80s-to-low-90s fastball, a changeup, a curveball, a slider and a cutter.
In 94 2/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, Griffin went 6-3 with a 2.66 ERA and an 84:14 strikeout-to-walk ratio this season.
The 13th-round selection of the 2010 draft is commended for his above-average fastball command, and he complements it well with a good changeup with sinking action. His curveball is also a big-league-quality pitch.
The 24-year-old Griffin has the talent level of a fourth starter, but draws high praise for his feel for pitching and ability to throw off hitters with his assortment of pitches.
The former University of San Diego star has a chance to shine in Oakland, where the expanse of foul territory has made it a paradise for pitchers over the years.
In both the college and professional ranks, Griffin has fared well in both starting and relief roles. He is a quality arm who can succeed stretched out in the rotation or in a high-leverage, late-inning situation.
With veterans Brandon McCarthy and Bartolo Colon expected to miss at least two weeks with injuries, Griffin has a chance to make an impression with the big league club. American League-only owners should not hesitate to pick Griffin up if they have a spot to spare.
Arizona Diamondbacks pitching phenom Trevor Bauer is expected to make his major league debut this upcoming Thursday at the Atlanta Braves in place of injured starter Joe Saunders (shoulder). After a promotion from Double-A Mobile, Bauer was 4-0 with a 2.82 ERA and a 56:22 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 44 2/3 innings.
Expect Bauer to have immediate success, with a rate of whiffs that will be at around nine strikeouts per nine innings, at least. He's going to throw some gems because of his swing-and-miss stuff, but his walk problems will lead to a few rough outings as well. Bottom line, though, he's an asset to any fantasy team in any format.
The Chicago Cubs finally freed first base prospect Anthony Rizzo by confirming Monday that they're calling him up from Triple-A Iowa. The 22-year-old was hitting .345 with 23 home runs, 62 RBIs, 48 runs scored and a 1.110 OPS in 255 at-bats. He is expected to get the majority of starts at first base now that the Cubs have moved Bryan LaHair to the outfield.
Kansas City Royals GM Dayton Moore has mentioned right-hander Jake Odorizzi as a potential long-term replacement for starting pitcher Felipe Paulino (elbow), who is done for the season. In 39 2/3 innings at Triple-A Omaha, Odorizzi is 5-0 with a 2.72 ERA and a 38:12 strikeout-to-walk ratio. For AL-only owners, this might be the last chance to stash him.
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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