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.
On Tuesday, the Arizona Diamondbacks learned that second baseman Aaron Hill would need to miss four to six weeks with a broken left hand. The Snakes are going through quite the infield shuffle as a result; Martin Prado will move to the keystone and Eric Chavez will become the regular third baseman in the meantime. Shortstop prospect Didi Gregorius was called up from Triple-A Reno to provide more infield insurance.
Hicks might not stick
The 23-year-old from the Netherlands was acquired last December in a three-team trade involving the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds. In February, an MRI exam showed a slight tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, but he didn't need surgery. Gregorius had just started playing games for Reno last week after rehabbing this spring, and his first game in the field was Monday night. In seven games (31 at-bats) he was hitting .387 with two home runs and two RBIs. Despite the limited action in the minors coming off his surgery, Kirk Gibson said he's ready.
Gregorius is one of the more slick-fielding shortstop prospects in the league, and his defense is widely considered major league-caliber already. He possesses all of the tools needed to play the position adequately: a strong arm, excellent range and a great glove. His bat, on the other hand, is lacking. He has only moderate bat speed and not much power to speak of. In 501 at-bats last year with Double-A Pensacola and Triple-A Louisville in the Cincinnati Reds organization, he hit .265 with seven home runs and 54 RBIs and just three stolen bases.
The D-backs haven't revealed exactly how often they plan to play Gregorius, but expect it to be enough to warrant an addition in NL-only leagues. Gibson and management indicated when they first acquired Gregorius that when they brought him up it wouldn't just be to ride the pine. Incumbent shortstop Cliff Pennington is a switch hitter and has experience at second base, too, so the infield arrangement can be shuffled to get Gregorius in there at the 6. Chavez is an aging vet that probably can't be relied on heavily at the hot corner, so we could see Prado move back and forth between third and second often.
While Hill will be out for a while, Willie Bloomquist (oblique) could return before that, which might push Gregorius back to the minors. Bloomquist is dealing with a Grade 2 right oblique strain and was expected to miss two to four weeks when initially diagnosed at the tail end of March. Oblique strains can be tricky, but if he doesn't have a setback, he could be nearing a return. Regardless, Gregorius should be owned in single-universe formats since he should be playing enough.
It's been a whirlwind couple of days for Minnesota Twins outfield prospect Oswaldo Arcia. He was called up Monday when Wilkin Ramirez went on paternity leave and made his major league debut. He recorded his first big league hit in three at-bats but was sent back down to make room for Ramirez yesterday. Today, he was brought back up with Darin Mastroianni (ankle) landing on the 15-day disabled list.
This time, Arcia, who will be 22 next month, should receive pretty regular playing time in the Twins outfield for the next couple of weeks. Josh Willingham has been dealing with the flu in recent days, but he's the only other real proven outfielder in the mix right now. Ramirez and fellow rookie prospect Aaron Hicks are the others, and Hicks is off to a rough start, with two singles in 45 at-bats (20 strikeouts, six walks). Hicks has looked, well, very overmatched, and he was dropped to eighth in the lineup last night. Arcia will get more opportunities if Hicks continues to struggle.
The 21-year-old Venezuelan was beginning his first stint with Triple-A Rochester this year before being called up. He had a breakout season with High Single-A Fort Myers and Double-A New Britain in 2012, setting career highs in doubles (36) and home runs (17). Arcia has a natural hitting approach and solid plate discipline despite the fact that he does come up empty on occasion (107 K's and 51 walks last year). However, he packs a punch in his compact and thick build (6-foot, 220 pounds).
He bats from the left side, so it's possible that Ron Gardenhire will prefer to platoon him with Ramirez with Mastroianni on the shelf. Like Hicks, Arcia doesn't have any major league experience (other than Monday) as he enters the picture in Minnesota, so there is always the risk that he falls flat and struggles with the top level of competition. Arcia does have five-plus major league seasons under his belt, though, and his lefty stick has the kind of power that can make some noise over a short period of time if you're searching for a spark in American League universes.
Hardly a Rocky start....
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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