Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Jeff Niemann (shoulder) has opted to undergo surgery to fix his right labrum and rotator cuff that is likely to end his season. Roberto Hernandez, the artist formerly known as Fausto Carmona, won the No. 5 rotation spot over Niemann this spring, but he isn't a lock to hold that post down, and he may be better utilized in long relief.
Enter Jake Odorizzi, the Kansas City Royals' once promising young right-hander who was traded to the Rays alongside Wil Myers in exchange for James Shields and Wade Davis last winter. Odorizzi, 23, made his major league debut with KC last year (0-1, 4.91 ERA with four K's in 7 1/3 IP). Before that, he went a combined 15-5 with a 3.03 ERA and 135 punchouts in 145 1/3 frames for Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha.
He dominated in his one start for the Durham Bulls this year, giving up four hits and fanning eight in 6 2/3 shutout innings against Triple-A Gwinnett. Odorizzi has an ace-like repertoire, and the Rays intend for him to deliver on that potential after they lost two pitchers in that offseason trade. The Illinois native is tall and extremely athletic (6-foot-2, 185 pounds) and can effectively locate his late-moving hard stuff within the strike zone. He has a repeatable delivery, which makes it easy for him to achieve consistency with his offspeed pitches.
The Rays are known for developing mediocre hurlers into successful big league starters, so it's intriguing to imagine the possibilities for Odorizzi in this organization. It's entirely premature to expect him to jump into the rotation soon, though, given the way Tampa Bay prefers to avoid rushing their minor league talent to the majors. They are taking an extremely cautious route with Wil Myers, too. However, Odorizzi has an excellent chance of contributing to the rotation if Hernandez doesn't get the job done. Keep him on your radar in all fantasy leagues.
Chris Archer has a tad bit more experience pitching in the majors than Odorizzi does, though, so he may be the choice for a call-up before Odorizzi if the Rays feel he needs more development. Archer doesn't have the high ceiling to match Odorizzi, but he has decent strikeout upside and is also worth watching in deeper leagues if he gets a shot at some point.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim outfielder Kole Calhoun, who was vying for a backup job in spring training, had successful surgery to fix his fractured hamate bone in his right wrist yesterday. He was injured while swinging in a game with Triple-A Salt Lake last Thursday, and he'll be out four to six weeks.
The left-handed swinging outfielder hit .298 with 14 long balls, 73 RBIs and 12 stolen bases for Triple-A Salt Lake last year and received 23 at-bats for the Angels. He was frequently shuttled between Salt Lake and Anaheim as a reserve outfielder. Calhoun has a mature plate approach and can hit for decent power to all fields, but his 5-foot-10, 190-pound stature at 25 years of age limits his upside a bit. He projects to be a fourth outfielder or platoon player in the big leagues, and his recent injury will likely set him back at achieving that goal for another season.
About Keith Hernandez
Keith, an editor with KFFL, joined the team as a Hot off the Wire analyst in 2008 and has been playing fantasy sports since 2005. He is involved in MLB, NFL and NASCAR content. He graduated from the University of California-San Diego in 2005 with a B.A. in Communications and was a four-year starter as a member of the baseball program.
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