Fantasy Baseball Player Prospecting: Kevin Gausman, Christian Yelich, more

by Keith Hernandez on May 22, 2013 @ 12:08:10 PDT

 

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The San Francisco Giants placed Ryan Vogelsong (broken right hand) on the DL yesterday, and the right-hander will be out six to eight weeks after having surgery. The Gigantes haven't named a rotation replacement. The easiest and most temporary solution might be moving Chad Gaudin from the bullpen, but that doesn't spark much interest for fantasy owners. Shane Loux (4-1, 3.68 ERA at Triple-A Fresno) is another uninspiring candidate.

San Francisco Giants SP Ryan Vogelsong
Vogelsong stopped

Also at Fresno, Michael Kickham (2-4, 4.72 ERA and 50 K's in nine starts) is the most intriguing option. After an 0-4 start, the 24-year-old southpaw has won two straight and given up two earned runs in 11 innings over that span. He's a physical specimen at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds and fires a low-90s fastball at hitters, as well as a solid slider and improved changeup. An impressive showing at Double-A Richmond in 2012 put him on the prospect map in San Fran.

Even if Kickham doesn't get the call to replace Vogelsong, don't rule him out if the initial replacement struggles. Vogelsong will have a long recovery, so the window is open for Kickham to make an impact. He induces plenty of ground balls to be effective at AT&T Park, and his improved strikeout rate at Class AAA this year should be noted.

Kickham surely has upside, but you can probably wait to own him in deep mixed universes until he earns a stay in the rotation or has a favorable matchup.

***

We already knew Tyler Lyons would fill in for the injured Jaime Garcia (shoulder) for his first major league start versus the San Diego Padres tonight. Now we know that Garcia is likely done for the year after Dr. James Andrews suggested Garcia undergo season-ending surgery to fix a partial tear his labrum.

Lyons, who went 2-1 with a 4.47 ERA in eight starts (46 1/3 frames) for Triple-A Memphis, might just be a temporary solution. Lyons was the ideal candidate for this Wednesday start since his next Memphis start was lined up for the same day. Also, Carlos Martinez, Seth Maness and Joe Kelly aren't stretched out to make the jump to the rotation.

Lyons is a short and stocky left-hander that tops out in the high 80s with his fastball. He has good poise and command on the bump, but he won't be blowing anyone away in the majors. If he doesn't keep hitters off balance and hit his spots, he could be toast, quickly.

With that possibility in mind, Michael Wacha could be making his major league debut soon, too. The upside here is far above Lyons', and this former first-rounder displays a mid-90s heater and mixes in good curveballs, sliders and changeups. He plays the part of a rotation mainstay much more than Lyons does.

At Memphis this year, Wacha is a perfect 4-0 with a 2.05 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 52 2/3 innings over nine starts. Command has been a problem for him in the past, but his three-quarters arm slot has worked out well for him in that arena so far this year. Working against this tall (6-foot-6) righty hurler is the fact that this is his first full professional campaign in the minors after being drafted in 2012.

This is why Lyons and John Gast got nods over him to replace Garcia and Jake Westbrook (elbow), respectively. However, if Wacha continues to perform well in Class AAA ball, the Redbirds may be forced to take a look at him in their rotation. That'll also depend on a variety of factors, though, like how serious Westbrook's injury is and whether Chris Carpenter (thoracic outlet syndrome) can make another miraculous comeback.

Keep Wacha on your radar in deeper leagues. Those in keeper and dynasty formats will have a little more urgency to lock him into a roster spot if they're interested.

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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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