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.
About Tim Heaney
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 competes in Tout Wars and LABR and has won several industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, hear him every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore. On Thursdays, he visits 106.1 FM WMTI in New Orleans and Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, where he often crashes other shows, as well.
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