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Fantasy Baseball Tumbling Dice: The Future Is … Pretty Soon
As we take a breath with the All-Star hiatus, one thing fantasy owners can both have some fun with -- and note for future reference -- is the Futures Game.
The Futures Game is the essentially the Minor League All-Star Game of "Who's Who," so let's take a look at some of the youngsters who played Sunday, and more important whom we might want to play for us within the next year or so.
Christian Yelich (OF, Miami): Think the Marlins suck? Well, maybe this year, but they have some good players on the horizon, and Yelich is one of them. The 21-year-old started this season at the Gulf Coast League (.294-0-0 over five games), then moved to the Florida State League (.231-2-4 over seven games) and finally Class AA Jacksonville and the Southern League (.257-6-28 over 44 games). Yelich has 106 total bases and a pretty good .339 OBP (27 walks to 63 punch-outs) considering his batting average is an aggregate .257 this year. He should be patrolling the Fish outfield with Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna, comprising a very good outfield.
Billy Hamilton (OF, Reds): Everyone knows -- or should -- about the speedy Mr. Hamilton, who swiped 155 bags last year, and has copped 52 more this year at Class AAA Louisville, though his hitting numbers are a tad suspect at .243-5-29 along with a .300 OBP. The Reds are a very good team, so they can allow Hamilton to adjust to higher level pitching, and whether he turns into Chone Figgins early in his career, or later, is up in the air. For now, though, you want Hamilton on your reserve squad.
Arismendy Alcantara (SS, Cubs): It has to be tough to be a Cubs fan these days. In fact, it has been tough being a Cubs fan for a little over 100 years, but Theo Epstein knows what he is doing. Alcantara got a big fly at the Futures Game to go along with .280-13-45 and 22 swipes at Tennessee and the Southern League. Alcantara is still just 21, and the Cubs have some depth up the middle, but watch this guy.
Michael Ynoa (P, Athletics): Anyone who doubts the Athletics' ability to spot pitching talent has not been paying attention the last couple of years, and among their minor league properties is this tall (6-foot-7, 210 pounds) prospect. Ynoa twirled 54 2/3 innings at Beloit and the Midwest League (2-1, 2.14, 48 whiffs, 18 walks, and 45 hits) before moving to the California League and facing a bit of adjustment (0-1, 12.91 over one start) to begin a new level experience. Still, watch his development.
Taijuan Walker (P, Mariners): Seattle's next big pitching thing, Walker, still just 20, is 6-7, 2.10 over 100 innings this year, augmented by 115 whiffs and just 69 hits, although the 35 walks need a little refinement. Part of Walker's resume for the year includes 2-0, 0.56 marks at Class AAA Tacoma after he was promoted to the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League, where so far hitters are batting only .186 against him over 16 innings.
Noah Syndergaard (P, Mets): At 20 years of age, Syndergaard started this season at St. Lucie, going 3-3, 3.11 over 12 starts and 63 2/3 innings before moving up to Class AA Binghamton (2-0, 1.35 over four more starts and 20 innings). The right-hander has 90 strikeouts over 83 2/3 innings this year, with just 20 walks and 79 hits allowed. The Mets are already looking good in terms of a future rotation with Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, and Dillon Gee, so adding Syndergaard to the mix in a couple of years seems to bode well for the Metropolitans.
Garin Cecchini (3B, Red Sox): Boston has promoted some interesting potential replacements for the departed Kevin Youkilis, but Cecchini might prove to be the man of the future at the hot corner. Hitting a cumulative .349-6-41 split between Salem and the Carolina League (.350-5-33) and .347-1-8 over 20 games at Portland and the Eastern League, Cecchini has a terrific 58 walks to 52 strikeouts (.466 OBP) and 15 swipes to add to the mix. Definitely a player to keep track of.
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