Setting the Trends: All about the Padres on the wire

Senior Fantasy Writer

Back in April, we welcomed then-Syracuse Chiefs outfielder Tyler Moore as a guest on Fantasy Baseball 360 .

Watching the interview again today, it's almost startling to see the players we highlighted in that Minor League segment: Mike Trout, Andrew Miller, Will Middlebrooks and Jacob Turner. Two months ago, this is what we said about each one:

Trout: "He's doing pretty well!" ... "We could see Trout sooner rather than later."
Miller: "He's been a little wild" ... "Miller's almost like a quad-A guy" ... "At best, he's inconsistent" ... "Three percent chance he could be the closer for the Red Sox this year."
Middlebrooks: "He's banging the ball right now" ... "They could move Youkilis around" ... "It's not out of the question if they really want some kind of punch."
Turner: "I think it could be a while until we see Turner, but still a good pick for those long-term leagues."

Each player has seen some time in the majors this year, to varying degrees of success. Trout leads the pack -- he was called up four days after the show aired and has hit .339, with nine home runs, 15 doubles and 22 steals since his promotion. Miller made his way to Boston on May 6 and has put up a quietly-impressive 1.89 ERA in 19 innings. He has struck out 20 and walked six. Middlebrooks also made it to Boston in early May. He moved Youkilis to first base and eventually pushed him to Chicago. And Turner was brought up for one start in June, holding St. Louis to one run in five innings (although he walked five). He's currently back in the minors.

The point of all this? No clue. It's just really interesting to go back a couple months and see what we said at the time, within in the context of the present day. I'm sure, in September we'll all, as Fantasy owners, look back again on things we said in June about players like Rickie Weeks or Andrew Cashner -- whether it be on message boards, over e-mail, or in trade proposals -- and shake our heads in either disbelief at how close our guesses were or at how terribly off we had been.

On to the Roster Trends!

Most Added Players (as of 7/3)
Player % increase
1. Andrew Cashner, RP, SD 41
2. Franklin Morales, RP, BOS 34
3. Michael Fiers, RP, MIL 29
4. Marco Estrada, SP, MIL 26
5. Yasmani Grandal, C, SD 21
6. Clayton Richard, SP, SD 18
7. Jarrod Parker, SP, OAK 14
8. Freddy Garcia, SP, NYY 14
9. Mike Leake, SP, CIN 13
10. Ike Davis, 1B, NYM 13

Most Added Highlights

Andrew Cashner, RP, Padres
Jump in ownership: 41 percent (from 18 percent to 59)
Reason for the jump: Cashner has a two-start week, relief pitcher eligibility, and gets a lot of strikeouts.
Why you should join the crowd: Before everyone mistakenly speculated on him as the closer replacement for Huston Street earlier this season (a job that went instead to Dale Thayer), Cashner was a hard-throwing starter in the Chicago and San Diego organizations, compiling a 2.75 ERA and 1.20 WHIP over five minor league seasons, striking out almost a batter per inning. Cashner actually started 88 percent of his minor league games, so this isn't a whimsical idea by the Padres: he was brought up as a starter. And he was very successful at starting in the minors.
Devil's Advocate: Since 2010, Cashner has made a total of three starts in the majors. While he has shown a few problems with his control, Cashner's strikeout numbers have remained stellar. Still, a few walks here and there for a reliever can be nullified by striking out the next three. But walking batters as a starter can quickly turn things very ugly. He's also now on the disabled list for up to a month with a strained lat he suffered in just his second start on July 3.

Less than 50, more than 50
Players owned in less than 50% of leagues who should be owned in more than 50%
Player % owned
1. Ryan Cook, OAK, RP 47
2. Carlos Marmol, RP, CHC 46
3. Stephen Drew, ARI, SS 43
4. Mike Leake, SP, CIN 42
5. Salvador Perez, C, KC 43

Yasmani Grandal, C, Padres
Jump in ownership: 21 percent (from nine percent to 30)
Reason for the jump: Grandal is the new starting catcher for the Padres.
Why you should join the crowd: Grandal, along with Yonder Alonso, was the co-centerpiece of the trade that sent Mat Latos from the Padres to the Reds in December. He had a strangely truncated stint with San Diego in early June, in which Grandal had one at-bat before being sent back down. But, this time around, Nick Hundley has been sent to the minors and Grandal is the clear starter. In three starts, Grandal, 23, is hitting .308 with three home runs and four RBI. He hit .314 in three minor league seasons and was on pace for a second consecutive double-digit home run season before his recall.
Devil's Advocate: Of Grandal's three home runs, none were hit at home in spacious PETCO Park. In fact, two were hit in Colorado -- which is as far on the other end of the ballpark spectrum as possible -- and the other was at Arizona, which is also a hitter-friendly venue. And while his minor league numbers are impressive, so were Alonso's, and he has struggled to find any sort of power in his home park thus far. Furthermore, Hundley signed a contract extension in March believed to be worth $9 million. He likely won't stay in the minors for long and -- barring a trade -- will probably return to San Diego with designs on taking back some playing time behind the plate.

Fun Fact!: Only one active player in all of baseball was born on July 4 and will be able to play on his birthday: Pirates reliever Jared Hughes, who was born on July 4, 1985, and currently has a 2.20 ERA. The only other active player born on July 4 (1983) is Sergio Santos, who is currently on the disabled list.

Planning for the stretch run
The most-traded injured players
Player Number of trades in last seven days
1. CC Sabathia, SP, NYY 361
2. Troy Tulowitzki, SS, COL 342
3. Evan Longoria, 3B, TB 311
4. Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, BOS 311
5. Roy Halladay, SP, PHI 285

Freddy Garcia, SP, Yankees
Jump in ownership: 14 percent (from one percent to 15)
Reason for the jump: Garcia is back in the Yankees' rotation, with relief pitcher eligibility and a two-start week.
Why you should join the crowd: Hidden beneath Garcia's 5.94 ERA this season is a 1.99 ERA in his past 11 games (starting from when he was removed from the rotation in May). In 22 2/3 innings, dating back to his first relief appearance on May 2, Garcia gave up just five earned runs and won two games out of the bullpen. It's not an ideal set of numbers to go on -- Garcia could, for instance, have just found a niche in the bullpen -- but it does represent a solid two months of excellent pitching from a player who had a 3.62 ERA last year.
Devil's Advocate: Looking at things from a different angle, Garcia has a 5.94 ERA on the season, despite posting that 1.99 ERA over the past two months. When he was yanked from the rotation, he had a 12.51 ERA. Furthermore, his start on Monday night was far from dazzling: he allowed two runs in 5 1/3 IP (although, to be fair, he was being stretched out). Before his 3.62 ERA last year, he hadn't seen an ERA below 4.34 since 2005.

Tyler Moore, 1B, Nationals
Jump in ownership: 12 percent (from eight percent to 20)
Reason for the jump: In his last five games, Moore is batting .389, with two home runs, seven RBI, and a 1.228 OPS.
Why you should join the crowd: In 60 at-bats this season, Moore has four home runs and is batting .333. He has also mixed in three steals, which is a career high for him, including five seasons in the minor leagues. In those five seasons, Moore made up for his lack of steals by absolutely mashing the ball. He hit 31 home runs in both 2011 and 2010. In 28 games this season at Syracuse, Moore had nine home runs. He told Fantasy Baseball 360 back in April that he saw his power jump a couple seasons ago when he decided, one day in the minors, to forget about things like hand positioning and to, "just hit the ball and go out there and compete with the guy on the mound." He said that he was frustrated with his production, "and that triggered me being kind of angry and going towards the pitcher more." You have to love that kind of attitude.
Devil's Advocate: The problem with Moore is his playing time. The Washington outfield already has a mix of Bryce Harper, Michael Morse, Stephen Lombardozzi, Mark DeRosa, and Rick Ankiel. Moore has started four of the last six, but only one of the last three. While he can play first base, Adam LaRoche currently has that position locked down. There are several scenarios where Moore can work his way into playing time -- most of them coming at the expense of Lombardozzi or Danny Espinosa (who would be bumped to the bench in favor of Lombardozzi at second base) -- there are also scenarios where Moore rides the bench as often as he plays. He has a ton of potential and his recent numbers seem to suggest that his minor league power will translate to the majors; he just happens to be stuck in a playing time pickle, and until he can hit his way into more regular playing time, he will remain just a speculative stash ... albeit one with tremendous upside.

A call to arms
The most owned minor league pitchers
Player % own
1. Danny Hultzen, SP, SEA 27
2. Julio Teheran, SP, ATL 25
3. Shelby Miller, SP, STL 22
4. Daniel Bard, RP, BOS 17
5. Dylan Bundy, SP, BAL 17

A.J. Griffin, SP, Athletics
Jump in ownership: 11 percent (from four percent to 15)
Reason for the jump: In two starts this season, Griffin has a 1.50 ERA and 0.67 WHIP.
Why you should join the crowd: Griffin seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle of Oakland pitchers being called up thanks to injury or ineffectiveness. Between Jarrod Parker, Tyson Ross, Graham Godfrey and Travis Blackley, it's easy to dismiss Griffin as just another pitcher who could be shuttled back and forth between the majors and the PCL. But Griffin, for as little fanfare as he received, has legitimately good numbers in the minors. Over three seasons, he produced a 3.10 ERA and 1.01 WHIP. He struck out around a batter per inning. His transition from reliever (2010) to starter (2011/12) was almost seamless -- Griffin's ERA rose slightly and his strikeout rate dropped a bit, but nothing stark enough to cause worry. Owned in just 15 percent of leagues, Griffin could be an interesting second-half sleeper, especially pitching in Oakland's spacious Coliseum.
Devil's Advocate: It's tough to come up with one outside of the usual "he's young" and "he'll regress" arguments. He passed a pretty tough test in his second major league start, pitching against the Rangers at their home ballpark. In six innings, he struck out four, allowed two hits, and held them to zero runs. The one element that he's missing this year -- in the small sample size of two starts -- is a high strikeout total; he's struck out just eight batters in 12 innings.

Wilin Rosario, C, Rockies
Jump in ownership: Five percent (from 53 percent to 58)
Reason for the jump: Rosario has 14 home runs in 54 games.
Why you should join the crowd: If you're thinking that Rosario's power production has gotten a boost from playing his home games at Coors Field, his splits may surprise you: a .206 average with eight homers at home and a .312 average with six home runs on the road. With fewer at-bats coming at home, Rosario has just a slightly better HR/AB ratio at Coors (.0784) than away from Coors (.0779).
Devil's Advocate: Ramon Hernandez, Colorado's starter, will likely take back at least some of his playing time when he returns from his hand tendinitis DL stint soon. But any kind of hint that Hernandez might be traded, released, or stuck in backup duty should point to an increase in Rosario's value.

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