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 in your rotisserie or head-to-head baseball game next week or in your fantasy baseball keeper league a year from now.
Speculators and eager fantasy baseball owners are throwing Minnesota Twins starting pitching prospect Kyle Gibson's name around frequently recently. The Twinkies could use an electric arm in their rotation, and Pedro Hernandez, although he settled down a bit and won his second game Monday against the Chicago White Sox, hasn't been carrying his weight (5.79 ERA, 15 K's and nine BBs in 28 innings over five starts).
When will they Wheeler him in?
Gibson, 25, is more than 19 months removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow that caused him to miss most of the 2012 minor league season. He performed well in the Arizona Fall League last year and has continued that success down on the farm with Triple-A Rochester this year, posting a 2-5 record with a 3.92 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 43 2/3 frames (eight starts). He's only walked 12.
The University of Missouri alum has a major league pitching frame at 6-foot-6, 210 pounds, and he uses his height to his advantage to throw downhill. His heater also creates nice sinking action to keep him down in the strike zone often. He has strikeout upside at the next level thanks to an above-average slider and a changeup that induces plenty of empty hacks from opponents. The skills are undeniably there, but health has been his biggest obstacle in his young career. That appears to be coming around now, too: "He's 100 percent," GM Terry Ryan said Tuesday, April 23. "There's no question -- his arm, delivery, his mechanics. Everything is in good order, which is encouraging."
The Twinkies have high hopes for Gibson, and it's evident as to why after he recently tossed a two-hit shutout in 6 2/3 innings. Even though he's in the clear from his recovery from TJS, Gibson is the club's No. 1 prospect, and like most high-profile pitchers coming off elbow reconstruction, he'll have his workload limited. The Twins have a certain limit in mind this year.
With Gibson's limitations considered, Minnesota's current stable of starters -- Kevin Correia, Scott Diamond, Mike Pelfrey, Vance Worley and Hernandez -- is one of the weakest in the bigs. Gibson was a realistic competitor for the fifth rotation post this spring, so you have to figure he'll get a chance to dip his toe into the major league waters at some point in 2013. That might not be until the tail end of the season's schedule, though, so he may not have much value in mixed redraft leagues. Keeper leaguers and should be more interested, and he'll find his way onto rosters in all leagues in 2014.
Anthony Rendon looked a little overmatched and a bit like a deer in headlights when he made the jump from Double-A Harrisburg to the Washington Nationals in April to replace Ryan Zimmerman (hamstring) at third base last month. Rendon hit .240 with six hits and seven strikeouts in 25 at-bats (eight games), and he also committed three errors. If you wrote him off because of that, you're making a mistake.
Rendon is hitting .436 (17-for-39) with two long balls and nine RBIs in 11 games since returning to Harrisburg, and he's leading the Eastern League in average (.356), on-base percentage (.496) and slugging percentage (.609). The dude is a natural hitter despite what he showed in the majors in his first taste. Rendon has a natural power stroke and has learned to put backspin on the ball to help it travel further. He can also hit for a high average.
Third base is his natural position, and one that he plays extremely well, but the presence of Zimm could block him for a while. Is second base his future position in D.C.? It could be, although he'll have to put in the work to become effective at the keystone. But, heck, if Matt Carpenter did it in St. Louis, Rendon could surely pull it off. Danny Espinosa's struggles (.175/.206/.325 in 126 plate appearances) are causing Davey Johnson to look for other possibilities at the position.
There's a decent chance that Rendon shows his face in Washington again this year, whether it be at second base or the hot corner because Zimmerman finds his way back to the disabled list. If he does, don't pass negative judgment on him because of his showing in April.
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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