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.
In a surprising move, the Texas Rangers summoned highly regarded LHP prospect Martin Perez from Triple-A Round Rock, where he was 5-5, with a 4.59 ERA and a 49:38 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 84 1/3 innings. Though there's an outside shot he can start Saturday, Perez, 21, will most likely be working out of the bullpen as a long-relief option in low-pressure situations.
Obviously, the expected relief role and the recent performance track record hurt Perez's status as a viable fantasy option in 2012.
But for dynasty players in deep formats, this is an opportunity to acquire a premium talent on the cheap. Bottom line: Perez's talent is too great to ignore. At his best, the Venezuelan southpaw features a low- to mid-90s fastball with nasty movement, a good curveball and a changeup with the potential to be outstanding. This is a lefty who boasts three quality pitches and a smooth delivery that makes him the envy of radar-gun-toting scouts.
According to Drew Davison of the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, the big issue with Perez of late has been fastball command. He hasn't been able to get ahead of hitters early in the count with it. The Rangers are trying to get the lefty to understand that a well-located low-90s fastball is more effective than a mid-90s four-seamer that is thrown with no precision.
Moving to the bullpen might just be the ideal place for Perez to iron out the kinks and polish the imperfections in his craft. In a low-leverage role, he has more liberty to attack hitters with his electric stuff and not focus so much on the cerebral element of setting up hitters over a five- or six- inning span.
Since moving up to Triple-A, Perez's strikeout rate (5.8 whiffs per nine innings) has taken a severe hit, and he's been ordinary to say the least when you combine that figure with his mediocre walk rate (3.9 free passes per nine frames).
Perez is no doubt a gamble, but a worthwhile risk if one is looking to speculate on a gifted pitcher with the ceiling of a No. 2 starter.
Toronto Blue Jays catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud departed Monday's game after sliding hard into second base to break up a double play. He'll miss six to eight weeks after tearing the PCL of his knee. In 279 at-bats with Triple-A Las Vegas, d'Arnaud is hitting .333 with 16 home runs, 52 RBIs, 45 runs scored and a .975 OPS.
An aggressive hitter, d'Arnaud has the makings of developing into one of the game's top hitting catchers, and he will probably play his way to Toronto by September at the very latest if he can recover in time to get some farm games under his belt. It'll be a tough road for that, though.
In recent years, the Oakland Athletics have done a marvelous job of developing and stockpiling quality arms, and their pitcher-friendly ballpark makes many of their young hurlers a sound fantasy investment. Yesterday we did an extensive report on rookie A.J. Griffin, who debuted Sunday, and we have done our share of coverage on former Washington Nationals righty Brad Peacock, a potential No. 2 or 3 starter at Triple-A Sacramento.
Another Sacramento pitcher to keep an eye on is Daniel Straily. The 2009 24th-round draft selection has rather ordinary stuff but has put up some eye-popping numbers this year because he is a strike-throwing machine.
In 92 1/3 innings between Double-A Midland and Sacramento this season, Straily has gone 4-4, with a 3.12 ERA and a 116:26 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He has surrendered six home runs.
The former Marshall star attacks hitters with a low-90s fastball, a good slider and a changeup. His fastball can hit the mid-90s when he really needs it, and he has done a good job of utilizing his changeup more when his slider has its off-nights.
Like Griffin, Straily is a not a pure stuff guy, but he makes up for it with strong command and a good feel for pitching.
The 6-foot-2, 220-pound right-hander has a chance to be a No. 3 or 4 starter at the major league level.