KFFL.com'sFantasy Baseball Player Prospectingseries 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.
Is it Danny Hultzen time in Seattle? The Mariners announced Thursday that they demoted struggling starter Hector Noesi to Triple-A Tacoma. With the All-Star break looming, the M's aren't in a position where they will need to make a decision on an open rotation spot until their July 16-18 road series in Kansas City.
Even if Seattle decides to go with Japanese rookie Hisashi Iwakuma in place of Noesi, they're still a starter short with Erasmo Ramirez (elbow) going on the 15-day disabled list on July 1.
Since being promoted to Triple-A Tacoma in late June, Hultzen has gone 1-1, with a 5.25 ERA and a 15:12 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 12 innings. Hultzen has allowed at least three walks in each of his three starts. While his command has been erratic, the southpaw has yet to allow a home run in the Pacific Coast League.
The No. 2 overall pick of the 2011 draft was outstanding in Double-A with a 1.19 ERA, a stingy home run rate of 0.2 dingers per nine innings and a healthy whiff rate of 9.4 strikeouts per nine innings.
However, he did have some walk issues (3.8 walks per nine innings) in Double-A as well, and reports indicate that Hultzen has trouble locating both his fastball and changeup at times.
Hultzen has the makings of a No. 2 starter, but right now he's kind of in Trevor Bauer's shoes, where command issues could prevent him from realizing his full potential in the short term.
Considering the holes in their back of the rotation, it's only a matter of time this summer before the M's call upon Hultzen. At the friendly pitching confines of Safeco Field, Hultzen could perform well because of his ability to miss bats and limit hard contact. His walk issues aside, you should add Hultzen with confidence.
Dominican outfielder Carlos Peguero got the call today from Tacoma today after Noesi was reassigned. In 188 at-bats, the toolsy 6-foot-5, 245-pound outfielder hit .293 with 18 home runs, 41 RBIs, 37 runs scored and has posted his best OPS (1.002) since rookie ball.
Throughout his career, Peguero has awed scouts with his light-tower power but hasn't been a multi-dimensional offensive contributor because of a low batting average and high strikeout totals.
Now 25, Peguero has improved his walk rate from 5.8 percent to 9.3 percent this season, so he has made some legitimate gains at the plate.
Peguero probably won't be a perennial All-Star, but he has a chance to have some productive power seasons if he can maintain a .240-.250 average.
Dominguez is expected to join the Astros on the 25-man roster after hitting .234 with seven home runs, 46 RBIs, 27 runs scored and a .647 OPS in 286 at-bats with Triple-A New Orleans.
The former 2007 first-round pick plays Gold Glove defense at third, but the 22-year-old hasn't made much progress with the bat since reaching Triple-A.
Dominguez showed the ability this season to make contact and avoid strikeouts with 31 whiffs in 315 plate appearances, but the rest of his offensive game was subpar.
The 6-foot-2, 204-pound third baseman is critiqued for having a slow bat and lackluster hand-eye coordination.
In NL-only leagues, he will be picked up because of a potential advantageous playing situation where he could compile numbers in particularly categories the RBI and runs categories. Bottom line, he's just not very good with the bat and only should be utilized if the alternative is a bench player.
Meanwhile, Rasmussen joins the Houston organization after going 4-7, with a 3.90 ERA and a 75:36 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 87 2/3 innings with high Single-A Jupiter. Considering the Florida State League is a pitcher's circuit, Rasmussen's numbers are nothing to write home about.
The 2010 second-round pick out of UCLA throws a low-90s fastball, a good slider, a curveball and a changeup.
Some feel the 5-foot-9, 160-pound southpaw is destined for a move to the bullpen, but if he stays in the rotation he profiles as a No. 4 starter. The Astros assigned Rasmussen to Double-A Corpus Christi, so it will be interesting to see how he adjusts to tougher competition.
One sleeper to keep an eye on is San Diego Padres 2B prospect Jonathan Galvez, who is hitting .339 with three homers, 10 doubles, 16 RBIs, 19 runs, four steals and a .945 OPS in 112 at-bats with Double-A San Antonio.
The 21-year-old Dominican missed the first month and a half of the season after sustaining an ankle injury in spring training and also a quad injury in extended spring training.
Left unprotected in the Rule 5 draft last December, Galvez went unselected in large part due to his defensive woes at the keystone. But throughout his career, he has shown the ability to hit for extra-base power and be a force in the steals department. He has made improvements in his pitch selection by lifting his walk rate from 7.5 percent in the hitter-friendly California League to 10 percent in the more challenging Texas League this season.
In Alexi Amarista and Logan Forsythe, the Padres have a pair of young second basemen in the majors, and hit machine Jedd Gyorko has been splitting half his time at the keystone at Triple-A Tucson. Also, Cory Spangenberg was a high draft pick last year. Galvez is not close to threatening for second base playing time. But Galvez does bring eye-popping athleticism and tools to the table, which some of the other second basemen lack, so don't count him out.
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.