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.
Catch Yelich while you can
Deciding it's time to take the training wheels off formore of their kids, the Miami Marlins summoned Christian Yelich and Jake Marisnick from Double-A Jacksonville. Their Tuesday debuts yielded mixed results: Marisnick went 0-for-4, while Yelich etched three singles in four at-bats for two RBIs.
Since the Fish also demoted Marcell Ozuna, both newcomers should play regularly, but they could be subjected to pine against tough platoon matchups. Yelich's season was stalled by injuries, but the 21-year-old's ceiling is higher than that of the 22-year-old Marisnick, who still should develop into a sturdy power-speed contributor of OF5 material. He's more of a raw athlete and has a bigger stolen-base quotient than Yelich, but he'll probably need more time to adjust offensively.
Yelich holds the tools to grow into a top-shelf hitter one day and should be your first grab, but either would make a fine pickup in deep-mixed games.
Count the Houston Astros among those ready to test their top tots, as well. Jarred Cosart has acclimated himself well to the bigs and should be owned in more leagues. He's now joined by shortstop Jonathan Villar after Jeff Luhnow's crew designated Carlos Pena and Ronny Cedeno for assignment.
At Triple-A Oklahoma City, Villar smacked eight homers, stole 31 bases, legged out eight triples and hit .277/.341/.442 in 339 at-bats this year. The 22-year-old will start at the 6 as Houston looks to establish control over that position. The switch-hitter is 4-for-8 over his first two contests, in which he hit leadoff, with two doubles, three runs scored and a stolen base.
He whiffed 93 times at OKC, which probably won't be OK if it continues in the long term, and he's merely been a top-100 type in his days as a prospect. His fielding needs work, and 2013 has been his apex season, which means he could stand to fine-tune his plate work, as well. The presence of Carlos Correa, Delino DeShields Jr. and Nolan Fontana also clouds Villar's long-term role in Houston.
However, he's at the point where he eventually could complicate that decision and, more pertinently for our purposes, contribute across-the-board stats for leagues that employ a middle-infield spot. He won't perform excellently in one stat -- maybe swipes -- but anyone with category versatility at shortstop remains a welcomed sight in single-universe and more spirited dual-league competitions.
The Chicago Cubs landed farmhands Mike Olt and C.J. Edwards, along with Justin Grimm and a player to be named later, from the Texas Rangers in exchange for Matt Garza. For more on the two chief assets, go here.
That's not all for Theo Epstein's sleuth (look it up): Third baseman/outfielder Kris Bryant won the Golden Spikes Award after being named the best amateur baseball player in the United States. The former University of San Diego masher was widely considered one of the most natural power youngsters, if not the best, in the 2013 MLB draft, in which he was selected second. In a Babe Ruthian feat, as of mid-May, he was out-homering more than three-quarters of all Division I teams.
Some scouts say the 21-year-old (6-foot-5, 220) could become another Troy Glaus or Jayson Werth, for whichever of the four corner spots in which he lands. Though his sometimes long right-handed swing will face bigger tests as he climbs the ladder, he's a patient hitter who actually spent time at leadoff and held his own. Sticks with 35-homer upside can make up for other flaws, too.
He's heading to Class A Boise of the short-season Northwest League and will be one of the most coveted fantasy dynasty stashes whenever eligible. Since advanced college studs often speed through systems, he could make his way to the bigs in mid- or late 2015.
Not long ago, the Atlanta Braves sent down Alex Wood to stretch out into a starter's workload following his productive stint as an MLB reliever. The 22-year-old southpaw will make his second career start in the majors Thursday, following Paul Maholm's (wrist) placement on the DL.
Taveras has to sit a bit more
Wood went five frames last Thursday in his first start for Triple-A Gwinnett; he gave up three hits, one run and two walks while fanning five. He torched opponents for Double-A Mississippi earlier this year with a 1.26 ERA, 57 K's and 14 walks in 10 GS. His fastball, which hits the mid-90s but sits in the lower region as a starter, carries his game. More hindrances can be found in Wood's complex delivery and iffy breaking-ball command, which say he needs to streamline his approach.
His rotation viability for the rest of this campaign probably depends on Brandon Beachy's continued recovery from Tommy John surgery and whether another spot opens up if needed. Still, in NL-only and deep-diving mixed showdowns, he's the latest in a long line of attractive hurler youngsters from a team that mass-produces them. Mono leaguers may have already added him as a LIMA RP.
Oscar Taveras' rehabilitation from a high ankle sprain has hit a snag. The St. Louis Cardinals' blue-chipper, who's on the seven-day disabled list, recently underwent an MRI. Irritation above his ankle and between his leg bones has kept him on the shelf, and he won't do any running for at least another week.
The 21-year-old probably won't be in the majors this year other than in a sporadic role ala Matt Adams come September; the fact he has been playing both center and right field aids his chances to log time, though. His .306/341/.462 line with 32 RBIs in 173 at-bats for Triple-A Memphis reminds us he may one day develop into a fantasy first-rounder.
The Seattle Mariners have another rising SP. Last Wednesday, Victor Sanchez tossed a nine-inning no-hitter, which according to Baseball America is kind of like a unicorn in the low Class A Midwest League because they typically don't let SPs go that deep. The righty didn't register a walk (he hit one) and fanned eight batters.
At Clinton, the 18-year-old holds a 2.75 ERA with 44 K's in 68 2/3 innings (13 GS). He reportedly attacks the zone quite well for someone his age. Showing such control at a young age can propel you quickly. It's not all rainbows, though: The 6-foot, 255-pounder relies on an undeveloped arsenal centered on a low-90s four-seamer, a decent change piece and unpolished breaking options, and the shaky competition probably has inflated his current proficiency.
It'll probably be at least a few years before he sniffs big-league consideration, if his stuff holds up. The M's have had setbacks and/or planned slow ascensions for Danny Hultzen, Taijuan Walker and others, so they won't rush someone like Sanchez with such holes in his game, regardless of results. Either way, minors miners can pocket him for a low-end dynasty spot.
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, he appears on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio on Thursdays and Sundays, and every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.