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.
The New York Mets placed David Wright (strained hamstring) on the disabled list last weekend, and he's expected to miss three to five weeks. The already weak lineup in Queens is now without its top bat. So what did New York do to gain some O? They called up top prospect Wilmer Flores on his 22nd birthday. He deserved the promotion by hitting .321 with 15 home runs and a Pacific Coast League-leading 86 RBIs in 463 plate appearances with Triple-A Las Vegas.
Salazar can pile up K's
The former shortstop has outgrown the position and was strictly playing second base at Vegas before being moved to the hot corner after Wright's injury. His defense over there will continue to be a question; he made an error in his debut Tuesday and had a shaky throw. However, he does possess strong hands and an adequate arm.
His stick is what got him to the bigs, though, after he struggled to adjust at the Class A level in 2008 and 2009. He finally made some adjustments to his approach at the plate that led to a power breakthrough (18 HRs) at High Single-A St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton last year. It remains to be seen if he can translate that to the spotlight of the majors, but he should receive plenty of opportunities as 2013 winds down.
It's unclear if Flores will stick at third, second or even first base in the long term, but for now, all you need to know is that he'll play regularly, at least until Wright returns. Flores will have to improve with the glove to cement an everyday role with the club in the future, no doubt. For now, he should be owned in all NL-only formats, and his expected addition of third base eligibility will make him even more attractive.
With Corey Kluber (middle finger sprain) on the DL and possibly out for the rest of the season, the Cleveland Indians summoned Danny Salazar from Triple-A Columbus. The 23-year-old righty was 4-2 with a 2.73 ERA in 59 1/3 innings (13 starts) for Columbus. He made a spot start in early July against the Toronto Blue Jays and allowed an earned tally while fanning seven in six innings for the victory.
Salazar's heater lights up the radar gun -- he was clocked in the 97 to 99 mph range in his last minor league outing -- and he could stick in the rotation for the rest of the year with Trevor Bauer still toiling on the farm. He's one of countless pitchers who have returned throwing harder after Tommy John surgery; he missed most of the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
Along with his high-90s fastball, Salazar possesses a hard slider and mediocre changeup. Keeping his fastball down in the strike zone has helped him drastically increase his strikeout rate (11.8 K/9 at Columbus this year) and induce plenty of worm-burners.
Consistency might be a problem now that he'll be starting every fifth day in Cleveland, but you can't ignore a guy with this kind of strikeout upside in AL-only universes and even deep mixers, depending on his results. It means a lot that Terry Francona's club is willing to rely on a rook during a pennant chase.
Injuries opening up roster spots and creating opps for youngsters is the theme of today's prospecting report, it seems, so we'll continue with the Chicago Cubs. They recently disabled Luis Valbuena (right oblique strain) and called up infield prospect Logan Watkins from Triple-A Iowa, where he was hitting only .243 with eight homers and 10 stolen bases. Last year, he hit .281 with a .383 on-base percentage thanks to 76 walks in 488 at-bats.
The 5-foot-11, 175-pound, soon-to-be 24-year-old has decent pop for his size and can run a little, too. He stole 28 bases last year at Class AA when he was named the team's Minor League Player of the Year.
He figures to come off the bench for the Cubbies, limiting his appeal to NL leagues, but his ability to get on base often and the lack of inspiring options in Chitown in a lost season gives him hope for more PT down the stretch. Watkins has roamed the outfield a bit before, too.
More prospects: Lambo, Heaney, quick hits on d'Arnaud and others
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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