Fantasy Baseball Player Prospecting: AFL rosters announced, door open for Taijuan Walker, more

by Tim Heaney on August 28, 2013 @ 12:17:43 PDT


Pages 1 | 2 | all'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.

Preliminary rosters for the 2013 Arizona Fall League were announced Tuesday. For the full initial group, head to Baseball America (no subscription required for this one).

Chicago Cubs INF Javier Baez
Baez headed to AFL

The grooming league will showcase, as usual, many of baseball's top prospects, including Minnesota Twins outfielder Byron Buxton; Chicago Cubs shortstop Javier Baez, outfielder Alfred Almora and third baseman Kris Bryant; Oakland Athletics shortstop Addison Russell; Miami Marlins third baseman Colin Moran and starting pitcher Andrew Heaney; and Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Alen Hanson.

Danny Hultzen will return, as well, trying to make up for a season marred with shoulder woes. Per BA, the Seattle Mariners will probably take a longer look at how the left-hander's awkward delivery may have affected his development. Following a nagging oblique strain, San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Kyle Crick will also look to take a step forward, even though this typically isn't a league where pitchers dominate.


The Mariners' designation of Aaron Harang for assignment could signal the arrival of Taijuan Walker, one of the game's premier young arms, to start as soon as Friday.

After leaving Double-A Jackson in ruins with a 2.46 ERA, 96 K's and 30 walks in 84 innings, he's stumbled a tad for Triple-A Tacoma, but merely to the tune of a 3.61 ERA with 64 K's and 27 walks in 57 1/3 innings. His control, unsurprisingly, took a dip at the highest level, but fantasy players in need of a tide-turner won't let that deter them from bidding.

A hyper-aggressive promotion to Jackson last season threw him off, but his adjustment this year shows budding maturity from the right-hander, who can drink alcohol legally in the States as of last week. He's thrown only 14 2/3 more frames than last year but probably will only get a few starts for Seattle to conserve his progress.

His darting mid-90s fastball and looping but baffling slurve fuel his elite potential. Regardless of the club's potential restrictions on Walker, expect a fake-baseball bidding war, even in mixed leagues.


David Holmberg, meanwhile, made his major league debut last night for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He allowed three runs on six hits and a trio of free passes in only 3 2/3 frames. The southpaw didn't punch out a batter. It's uncertain whether he'll get another try, but Class AA Mobile is headed to the Southern League postseason, so he may be sent back down soon.

In 25 starts and 152 1/3 innings there, the 6-foot-3, 225-pounder posted a 2.66 ERA with an impressive 2.78 walks per nine. The 6.80 K/9, on the other hand, shows he more so relies on deception. His average four-seam fastball last night, per PITCHf/x, was 88.3. Holmberg's approach leans on his diverse arsenal, notably his hammer curveball.

Holmberg doesn't possess Archie Bradley's power arm but might have some of Tyler Skaggs' moxie. Fantasy players with minor league rosters (optimally, NL-only) shouldn't run to grab him despite those shiny numbers. If they keep nearly a full team of farmhands, on the other hand, he's an acceptable bottom-level stash who could fight for a spot in next year's rotation.


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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, 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.

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