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These prospects are worth watching

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For Mike Trout, the future seemed mapped out already.

After a year of tearing up the lower levels of the minors, he was putting in his time at Double-A and putting up the numbers you'd expect for a prospect of his caliber. If he wasn't already so far advanced for his age, you'd expect him to move up to Triple-A any day now, but the Angels hadn't hinted of such a promotion. They might not have even considered it. Trout was 19, and they weren't going to rush him. Fantasy owners knew that and were perfectly content stashing him for whenever his time came, be it next year or the year after.

They just didn't expect it to be Friday afternoon.

But so it was when they checked their smart phones during their lunch breaks and discovered their long-term answer was now a short-term fill-in, leaving them to wonder how, in these days of endless Internet analysis, something as crucial as the arrival of a top prospect could catch them so off guard -- how something as simple as a Peter Bourjos hamstring pull could rock the foundation of the Fantasy universe and cause a player's ownership percentage to rise from 24 to 55 overnight.

Granted, Trout's stay in the majors is by no means permanent, but the fact of the matter is he's here now, as are Eric Hosmer, Jordan Lyles, Dustin Ackley, Lonnie Chisenhall and countless other prospects who seemed so close, yet so far away just a few months ago. Which begs the question: Who's next?

Hard to say, as the Trout example showed us. But disregarding injury, a select few stand out as more likely than the rest. They aren't necessarily the best prospects in the minors, but based on their expected arrivals and expected contributions when they arrive, they're the ones most worth monitoring in Fantasy.

Now watch Bryce Harper get called up tomorrow.

1. Desmond Jennings, OF, Rays
Triple-A stats: .275 BA, 12 HRs, 17 SBs, .370 OBP, .827 OPS

As far as prospects go, Jennings was arguably the biggest tease of the first half. Having already made his major-league debut last year, a return within the first few months seemed like a given, especially with the Rays in contention and without a suitable major-leaguer in left field. So what are they waiting for? Clearly, Jennings' performance isn't the problem. The 24-year-old is having a career season power-wise, bouncing back from his wrist issues of a year ago, so perhaps the Rays just want to make extra, extra sure his arbitration clock doesn't begin a year early. Clearly, they could use his on-base percentage at the top of their lineup, so he has to arrive sooner than later. And since he won't be arriving wide-eyed after last year's experience, he's a good bet to make an immediate contribution even in mixed leagues. If you have a free roster spot, why not stash him?

2. Jason Kipnis, 2B, Indians
Triple-A stats: .297 BA, 11 HRs, 11 SBs, .380 OBP, .886 OPS

The Indians gave Cord Phelps a first crack at their starting second base job, but probably because they knew he wouldn't stand a chance once Kipnis arrived. With Phelps' poor showing and subsequent return to the minors, it's only a matter of time before Kipnis makes his debut for an overachieving team needing a boost to remain in playoff contention. Kipnis, a converted outfielder, has been the definition of steady during his time in the minors, hitting about .300 with about a .380 on-base percentage at all four stops. He's a good, steady offensive player with a skill set not all that different from Dustin Ackley's, and with no real stumbles up the minor-league ladder, he has a good chance of making an immediate impact in Fantasy. If he lands somewhere between Jemile Weeks and Ackley among second basemen, as his pedigree suggests he could, you'd like his chances of helping your Fantasy team, right?

3. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Diamondbacks
Double-A stats: .315 BA, 25 HRs, 78 RBI, 1.064 OPS, 63 BBs, 72 Ks

Most Added Minor Leaguers
* as of July 9
Player Change
1. Vance Worley, RP, Phillies 13
2. Guillermo Moscoso, RP, Athletics 3
3. Trevor Plouffe, SS, Twins 2
4. Matt Moore, SP, Rays 1
5. Devin Mesoraco, C, Reds 1
6. Kyle Blanks, OF, Padres 1
7. Nick Franklin, SS, Mariners 1
8. Trayvon Robinson, OF, Dodgers 1
9. Deck McGuire, SP, Blue Jays 1
10. Tyler Skaggs, SP, Diamondbacks 1

At the start of the season, Goldschmidt was considered more of an anomaly than a prospect after hitting .314 with 35 homers and a .990 OPS in the hitter-friendly California League. But instead of regressing as expected when he took the next step up the minor-league ladder, he actually improved, not only maintaining the same big power numbers, but also upping his strikeout-to-walk ratio from 3-to-1 a year ago to nearly 1-to-1 now. He's progressing faster than the Diamondbacks can promote him, which is why general manager Kevin Towers is entertaining the idea of having him skip Triple-A entirely and starting for the big-league club in the second half. Goldschmidt may not have the certainties of Desmond Jennings and Jason Kipnis as an overnight sensation who has yet to play a game above Double-A, but he could potentially make the biggest Fantasy impact of anyone on this list.

4. Devin Mesoraco, C, Reds
Triple-A stats: .303 BA, 9 HRs, 49 RBI, .378 OBP, .889 OPS

A best-case scenario for Mesoraco in the second half would be if the Reds fell out of contention and shopped one or both of Ramon Hernandez and Ryan Hanigan at the trade deadline. Then again, the 23-year-old is so close to being a finished product that the Reds might decide to go that route no matter where their record stands. Mesoraco, a first-round pick in the 2007 draft, surged up the minor-league ladder last year and has validated that performance by hitting for both average and power with a respectable batting eye at Triple-A Louisville. A catcher who can hit is an immediate prize in Fantasy, regardless of whether or not he's playing every day, and of all the catchers with legitimate offensive potential in the minors, Mesoraco's all-around game is the closest to being major-league ready. His arrival is simply a matter of how much risk the Reds are willing to tolerate.

5. Leonys Martin, OF, Rangers
Double-A stats: .348 BA (112 at-bats), 4 HRs, 10 SBs, 1.007 OPS, 15 BBs, 8 Ks

Martin may not seem like an obvious choice to arrive this year. In fact, the hype on him died down so quickly after his signing in early May -- in part because of a back injury in June -- that he might not even be on your radar in Fantasy. But he's no ordinary prospect. His experience in Cuba gives him an advantage over most minor-leaguers, and it shows in his numbers. The Rangers have had a gaping hole in center field all season, and though the current plan calls for them to move Josh Hamilton there and promote Chris Davis to play left, chances are that's a last-ditch effort before turning the reigns over to Martin, who's clearly on the fast track with his promotion from Double-A to Triple-A over the weekend. Once he arrives, he'll be a fixture at the top of the Rangers lineup, making him valuable in any Fantasy format.

Honorable Mention: Jesus Montero, C, Yankees
Triple-A stats: .289 BA, 7 HRs, .763 OPS, 21 BBs, 62 Ks

Montero's numbers don't seem particularly impressive considering he was the No. 3 prospect according to Baseball America entering this season. In fact, they're worse than they were at the same minor-league level last season. But that's not the main reason the 21-year-old is no more than an honorable mention on this list. His defensive shortcomings eliminated him as an option behind the plate for the Yankees before the season even started, meaning his best chance of making a Fantasy contribution in 2011 was with another organization. That seemed plausible back when Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia were considered last resorts in a makeshift starting rotation. Perhaps the Yankees will decide they still have a big enough need there to part with their top prospect, and perhaps Montero's new organization will still conclude his bat is major-league ready. But as things stand now, he's further from reaching the big leagues than he was in spring training.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter . You can also follow Scott on Twitter ( @cbsscottwhite ) and can e-mail us your questions to DMFantasyBaseball@cbs.com . Be sure to put Prospects in the subject field. Please include your full name, hometown and state.

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Player News
Athletics' Dan Otero earns win Monday with four scoreless innings
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:48 am ET) Athletics relief pitcher Dan Otero came up big for his team Monday, giving up just one hit in four scoreless innings of relief while striking out four and walking none to earn the win in his team's 6-3 victory over the Angels.

Otero (1-1) combined with Evan Scribner and Tyler Clippard to throw six scoreless innings of one-hit ball after starter Kendall Graveman lasted just three innings.

"That's big," Melvin said after the game, per MLB.com. "Confidence for a lot of guys, too. You're talking about Otero getting a little confidence back, Scribner used in a little different role and getting three key outs and finally getting to Clippard in a save situation. We hadn't been able to do that this year."

Otero came into Monday's game with a 6.75 ERA in four innings over five appearances. He said catcher Stephen Vogt spotted something with his left shoulder in his delivery last week, and he's been working to adjust.

"I was just kind of turning my left shoulder in a little bit," he said. "Getting a little too rotational. That's something I've been cognizant of throwing in the outfield, warming up every day. Noticed it tonight it was good, and it helps all my other pitches when I can stay in line, can stay through the catcher instead of spinning off to the first baseman."

Otero has now posted a 3.38 ERA and 6:0 K:BB ratio in eight innings.


Tigers' Greene on trade from Yankees: 'I felt like I got dumped'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:41 am ET) Tigers pitcher Shane Greene has given up just one earned run in 23 innings in his first three starts and has played with a chip on his shoulder after being traded by the Yankees this offseason, the Wall Street Journal reports.

"I felt like I got dumped," Greene said of being traded.

Greene went 5-4 with a 3.78 ERA and 81:29 K:BB ratio in 78 2/3 innings with the Yankees last year during his rookie season.

"I proved to myself that I was good enough," Greene said. "I guess I didn’t prove it to everybody else."

Greene is the only starting pitcher not scheduled to face the Yankees during the team's current four-game series. He expected to pitch during the series in spring training after being penciled in as the No. 5 starter, but the injury to Justin Verlander altered the team's rotation plans.

"I knew," Greene said. "April 22 would have been the day if I was No. 5."

Greene's next chance to face the team that traded him will come when the Tigers travel to the Bronx in June.

"I’ll get that chance," he said. "That time will come."


Brewers' Braun has favorable history against Reds' Marquis
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:36 am ET) Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun finally connected for his first home run of the season Monday against the Reds. Still, despite the home run, Braun has gotten off to a slow start in 2015.

Although, he might be able to keep the momentum of Monday's performance going Tuesday.

On the hill for Cincinnati will be veteran right-hander Jason Marquis. Braun has fared pretty well against Marquis in his career. He is batting .520 (13 for 25) with one home run, five doubles, six RBI, three walks and three strikeouts against Marquis.


Padres' Wil Myers on being traded by Rays: 'I felt they'd given up on me'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:27 am ET) Coming into 2015, you could make the argument Padres outfielder Wil Myers hadn't yet reached his full potential or lived up to the hype that followed him as a top prospect in the minors. Apparently, any type of talk like that didn't sit too well with the 24-year-old outfielder.

"He told me early in spring training that he heard little whispers this winter that maybe he was not the player everyone made him out to be," Padres manager Bud Black said, per MLB.com. "I think that bothered him."

Myers has already been traded twice in his young career, with the latest deal being in December that shipped him from the Rays to the Padres. 

"More than anything, I am playing with a chip on my shoulder," Myers said. "Last year was the first bad year I had in my pro career. When Tampa traded me away, I felt they had given up on me.

"Almost everything I do is to be able to prove (the Rays) wrong."

Thus far, Myers is off to a good start to his Padres career. Myers, who is primarily hitting leadoff, is batting .283 with one home run, five doubles, eight RBI and 13 runs in 14 games.

"He told me early in spring training he was going to show that he should hit third, fourth or fifth," Black said. "I said, 'Wait a minute. You are not going to hit third or fourth because of the two guys [Justin Upton and Matt Kemp] we have here. Let's go in my office and sit down. Let's put a projected team together out there. You don't want to hit leadoff, so who's going to hit leadoff?' I told him, 'If you hit leadoff every day you might get the most at-bats in the NL,'" 


Royals' Paulo Orlando makes triples history Monday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:25 am ET) Royals right fielder Paulo Orlando went 1 for 3 with a triple, a walk and two RBI in Monday's 7-1 win over the Twins.

The triple was Orlando's fifth in his first seven games, setting a new major-league record for the fewest games to hit five triples to open a career, MLB.com reports. He said he knows pretty soon after making contact whether he has a chance at a triple.

"Usually when it gets over the infielder's head," he said. "… The whole game, I tried to pull everything. But the last pitcher, we got a report that he threw a little cutter, so I tried to think right side."

Orlando has an added chance at collecting base hits at home due to Kaufman Stadium's spacious gaps.

"It helps," manager Ned Yost said of the bigger ballpark. "But if you watch him fly around the bases, he's going to hit triples in any ballpark when he puts the ball in the gap."

Orlando has hit .269/.345/.654 in 26 at-bats.


Astros' bullpen steps up in win vs. Mariners Monday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:18 am ET) The Astros bullpen delivered five innings of one-run ball Monday to play a key role in the team's 7-5 victory, with lefty Tony Sipp picking up the win after delivering 1 1/3 perfect innings.

"You can tell everyone out there has confidence," Sipp said after the game, per MLB.com. "You can flip a coin and put any guy out there at any given time. And you know it's like a friendly competition -- see who can be the best guy out there and you know, hopefully we're all out there sitting on ones [ERA] at the end of the year, high-fiving, trying to see who can get down to point zero something. It's one of those things like winning [being] contagious; successful bullpens kind of feed off each other also."

The bullpen has delivered a 2.06 ERA in 48 innings, giving them the third-best mark in the majors. Astros relievers have also struck out 49 batters while issuing just 11 walks.

"The way we're lined up, we've got a lot of weapons in the bullpen," manager A.J. Hinch said. "Eventually, we'd like to not use them so often and so early, but tonight we needed everything we could."


Rockies' De La Rosa pins poor season debut on being 'really excited'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:16 am ET) Rockies starting pitcher Jorge De La Rosa made his season debut Monday against the Padres after missing the start of the season due to a groin injury. Unfortunately, it was a forgettable evening for the veteran left-handed pitcher.

De La Rosa was roughed up for nine runs (seven) earned on nine hits and one walk in two innings. 

"He got ambushed there, and I think it made it tougher to find a rhythm, especially after being out for so long," manager Walt Weiss said, per MLB.com.

De La Rosa blames his struggles on perhaps being a little too antsy to finally make his season debut.

"It's my first start," De La Rosa said. "Been pitching in Triple-A, but it's not the same. I was really excited. Hope I can be more calm next time and get better.

"I was overthrowing a lot. Got excited and was trying to throw as hard as I can. You can't make outs if you don't have command. It happened today. My command wasn't good.

"When I tried to throw in, the ball was in the middle. When I tried to throw away, it ran to the middle, too. I think I can fix it. My command wasn't there. I made really bad pitches today, and they hit it really good."


Confidence a driving force behind Anthony DeSclafani's fast start
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:06 am ET) Reds starting pitcher Anthony DeSclafani has been pitching like a Cy Young candidate to begin the 2015 season, opening the year with a 2-0 record and 0.86 ERA in three starts.

It's been a nice turnaround for the right-hander, who struggled in his first stint in the majors in 2014 with the Marlins.

"Obviously, I believe in myself," DeSclafani said, per MLB.com. "Any big leaguer who is up here believes in himself. I just try to stay consistent in my mindset, on a day-to-day basis, on an outing-to-outing basis.

"You've just got to do your best to execute your pitches and let the defense play behind you. And they've been phenomenal. I've felt great with this team since Day 1. They've been really great and supportive, and I can't ask for anything more than that."

The Reds have been particularly impressed with DeSclafani's approach, makeup and demeanor.

"He's just an inherently confident guy," manager Bryan Price said. "That's one thing we ask our pitchers to do, is to be emotionally stable when they pitch. He's throwing the ball really well; he's throwing three pitches for strikes. He's doing all the little things. He's got a really nice changeup that he's developed here through spring training and into the early part of the season. I think it's a necessary pitch for Anthony to be a quality starting pitcher.

"There's something to be said for young guys getting their feet wet at the big-league level and he's done it with some style. He's been very effective for us. We hope to see that trend continue."


Report: Angels map out comeback plan for Josh Hamilton
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:02 am ET) The Angels have mapped out a comeback plan for Josh Hamilton that could have the troubled outfielder back on the field by early June, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Hamilton would report to extended spring training for two-to-three weeks of work before going out on a minor-league rehab assignment. He's expected to report to Arizona for extended spring training "sooner rather than later," per the report, but the team has yet to make any announcement of a resolution with Hamilton.

Though the tentative plan is in place, it doesn't guarantee that Hamilton will play for the Angels again, but it does give the team time to evaluate the outfielder before a decision needs to be made. The Angels owe Hamilton $83 million through 2017.

"He's part of the team," reigning MVP Mike Trout said. "I'm sure, when he's fully healthy, we'll see him back."


Tigers' Joba Chamberlain gets out of jam in win Monday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9:52 am ET) Tigers pitcher Joba Chamberlain was called upon in the eighth inning of Monday's game against the Yankees with one out and runners on the corners, and he induced a Jacoby Ellsbury groundball that turned into a double play to get his team out of the inning in the eventual 2-1 win.

"I live for this stuff and these situations," Chamberlain said about the eighth-inning role, per MLive.com. "You get to face one of the best players in the league and get a chance to go do your thing."

Chamberlain threw just two pitches to rack up his two big outs Monday.

"He's had experience pitching in the eighth inning for us last year," manager Brad Ausmus said Monday. "And for the vast majority of the year he did it very well. I knew he could handle the pressure."

Chamberlain endured a rough spring but has posted 2 1/3 scoreless innings in his three appearances this season.


 
 
 
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