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Down on the Farm: Reds awaiting Tony rewards

Senior Fantasy Writer
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You guys wanted Aroldis Chapman as a starting pitcher? Well, here he is!

That (slightly edited) observation is brought to you by CBSSports.com user "kgmoney5" -- as fine a commenter as there ever was, judging by that small sample.

It was in reference to arguably the best pitcher in the minor leagues last year. I'm not talking about Dylan Bundy or Jose Fernandez. I'm not even talking about Dan Straily, who was fairly under-the-radar himself before leading the minors with 190 strikeouts last year.

I'm talking about a prospect who has for too long taken a back seat to others within his own organization, who has too long been overlooked because of his draft status, who has too long gone without a half-column singing his praises.

I'm talking about the Reds' Tony Cingrani.

If you're unfamiliar with his exploits, I'll start with the most recent. Making his second start for Triple-A Louisville Tuesday, he allowed no runs on three hits with one walk and seven strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings.

It was disappointing to some.

That's because in his season debut April 4, he struck out 14 in six no-hit innings. If you're keeping score at home, that's three hits, two walks and 21 strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings at the second-highest level of professional baseball.

Maybe comparing him to Chapman is selling him short.

If a relative unknown did something comparable at the major-league level, we'd be warning you that it's just two starts and saving the half-columns for after he delivered two or three more. But in Cingrani's case, it's not just two starts. It's all he's done since the Reds drafted him in -- gasp! -- the third round of the 2011 draft.

Most Owned Minor Leaguers (as of 4/11)
Player Name Own %
1. Wil Myers, OF, Rays 80
2. Jurickson Profar, 2B/SS, Rangers 55
3. Oscar Taveras, OF, Cardinals 51
4. Yasiel Puig, OF, Dodgers 47
5. Travis d'Arnaud, C, Mets 43
6. Billy Hamilton, SS, Reds 42
7. Dylan Bundy, SP, Orioles 42
8. Zack Wheeler, SP, Mets 41
9. Trevor Bauer, SP, Indians 36
10. Dan Straily, SP, Athletics 24

In parts of three seasons, Cingrani has a 1.63 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings. That covers 209 2/3 innings or basically a full major-league season. Rest assured, sample size isn't the concern here.

Is level of competition? Maybe to an extent. After all, only the last 101 2/3 of those innings were at Double-A or higher. But another 56 2/3 were at Class A Bakersfield of the California League, where he posted a 1.11 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 11.3 strikeouts per nine innings last year.

If you're unfamiliar with the California League, it's the one most known for providing hitters with Bugs Bunny numbers, leading to prospect fakeouts such as Aaron Bates, Vinnie Catricala and, yes, even Brandon Wood. It's become so well-known among prospect hounds that pretty much any conversation about a player's home run total at that level ends with "oh, but it's the California League."

That it may be, but it made Cingrani look like Sandy Koufax.

Whoa, whoa, whoa there, Scooter-pants, now you've taken the hype too far. Maybe, but only to compensate for the startling lack of hype he's received to this point.

So why the lack of hype? Like I said, Cingrani lasted until the third round in 2011, which means he was available well after the best of the best had already gone off the board, but that's mostly because he was a reliever his senior year in college, having moved out of the starting rotation after bombing there as a junior. Whatever adjustments he made to his delivery with that transition the Reds thought he could take with him back to the rotation, and to this point, he's proven them right.

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At age 24, he's not quite a finished product, but he's close. Mostly, he just needs to refine his breaking ball, but if his minor-league numbers are any indication, his fastball-changeup combination is good enough that his slider, if that's what they're calling it, only needs to be serviceable. The Reds obviously have some confidence in it reaching that point. They refused to promote Cingrani as a replacement for injured reliever Sean Marshall Wednesday just because they didn't want it to impede with his progress as a starter.

And in doing so, manager Dusty Baker more or less declared him next in line should something happen to one of their starters.

In single-season leagues, I wouldn't add Cingrani over, say, Ervin Santana, but if your options are more like Jake Westbrook and Brad Peacock, why not take a flier and hope for a Mike Leake meltdown or Johnny Cueto injury? It's not any less promising than stashing Drew Smyly.

In fact, it's probably more so. A hard-throwing lefty misidentified as a reliever early in his career only to shock and amaze when moved to the starter role is basically Chris Sale all over again.

And with that comparison, the hype is just about right.

Five on the Farm ... by Michael Hurcomb (@CBSHurc), CBSSports.com

What do Giancarlo Stanton, Brett Anderson, Jordan Zimmermann, Freddie Freeman, Andrelton Simmons and Jason Kipnis all have in common?

If you guessed they were former second-round picks in the MLB amateur draft, then you would be correct. If you are looking for a prize for guessing right, then I've got nothing for you except to say give yourself a pat on the back.

Keeping with that theme, this week I highlight five players taken in the second round of the 2012 draft that have the potential to be on Fantasy radars down the road.

Sam Selman, SP, Royals
Drafted: Sixth pick in second round (66th overall)
Analysis: After a turbulent start to his college career, Selman shot up draft boards after a stellar 2012 season at Vanderbilt. Selman has a fastball that can reach the high-90s and his slider is filthy. However, his changeup is a work in progress and there are still some concerns he's not completely rid of command issues that have plagued the left-hander in the past. Selman had an impressive debut in rookie ball last season, posting a 2.09 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 13 outings (12 starts). He also struck out 13.3 batters per nine innings. If he develops a third pitch, Selman might develop into a mid-rotation arm and avoid being pegged as a left-handed reliever.

Jeremy Baltz, OF, Padres
Drafted: Eighth pick in second round (68th overall)
Analysis: Baseball America projected Baltz as a fourth-to-sixth-round pick, so it was a bit of a surprise to see San Diego reach for him in the second round. Baltz clubbed 24 homers and slugged .771 as a freshman at St. Johns in 2010. Unfortunately, he didn't reach double-digit home runs the following two years after the NCAA introduced new aluminum bats. Still, he slugged .483 in 2011 and .531 in 2012, so he has power. Baltz's defense is a huge weakness, so if he makes it to the majors, it will be because of his bat. After hitting .281 in 70 games in short-season Class A last year, Baltz is batting .333 with two doubles, two homers and eight RBI through four games in low Class A this year.

Martin Agosta, SP, Giants
Drafted: 24th pick in second round (84th overall)
Analysis: Scouts rag on Agosta because of his frame (6-1, 180), but the Giants thought enough of the right-handed hurler to nab him in the second round. After posting a 5.40 ERA in his freshman season at St. Mary's (Calif.), Agosta bounced back to post a 2.81 ERA in 2011 and 2.18 ERA in 2012. He has a mid-90s fastball and good deception, but his changeup and breaking ball need work. While Agosta had decent strikeout totals in college, he's really stepped it up in his young pro career, striking out 16.1 batters per nine innings through six starts. Agosta could project better as a reliever down the road, but right now he's getting his chance to prove his future is as a starter.

Jake Thompson, SP, Tigers
Drafted: 31st pick in second round (91st overall)
Analysis: Thompson was the Tigers' first draft pick in 2012 since they didn't have a first-round pick after signing Prince Fielder, but Thompson could end up proving to have first-round talent. The Texas high schooler had a stellar pro debut. He posted a 1.91 ERA and 0.84 WHIP in seven starts in the Gulf Coast League (rookie). He also struck out 31 batters in 28 1/3 innings. Thompson was a standout pitcher and hitter in high school before Detroit lured him away from a commitment to TCU. His low-90s fastball has good movement and could be a plus-pitch. His slider has the potential to be even better and he has a good feel for his changeup. The 6-4, 235-pound hurler isn't even close to being major-league ready, but it's not difficult to see this kid has potential.

Nick Williams, OF, Rangers
Drafted: 33rd pick in second round (93rd overall)
Analysis: The 2013 season is going to be a key year for the 6-3, 195-pound Williams. Early on in his high school career, he was targeted as a first-round talent. Unfortunately, he struggled as a senior, which allowed him to slip into the second round. However, Williams adjusted to pro ball well last season. He hit .313 in 48 games and even flashed some speed on the base paths. While the Rangers like Williams' quick hands, amateur scouts knocked Williams for being too spread out at the plate and for alleged trouble recognizing breaking pitches, according to Baseball America. Well, Williams is doing his best to silence the critics. Through five games at low Class A Hickory (N.C.), Williams has three homers and is slugging .900. At this pace, it might not be too much longer before Williams starts filling out rosters in long-term keeper formats.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Scott White at @CBSScottWhite . You can also e-mail us at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
White Sox OF Avisail Garcia dropped weight during offseason
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1:02 am ET) White Sox outfielder Avisail Garcia dropped roughly 15 pounds during the offseason, according to MLB.com.

"I've been eating healthy, working real hard at the gym, Garcia said. "I have to be ready for spring training. I can't go there and be fat." With the weight loss, Garcia is hoping to keep his power potential. "I don't want to lose speed, I don't want to lose power," Garcia said. "I want to be in the middle. I know I can do a little bit of everything, so that's why I've been working really hard on speed, power, hitting and defense, so I can help my team win."

Garcia hit .244/.305/.413 over 172 at-bats last year.


Athletics' Billy Butler would welcome return to Royals
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:35 am ET) Athletics designated hitter Billy Butler said he would love to return to the Royals later in his career, according to the Kansas City Star.

After spending the first eight seasons of his career in Kansas City, Butler signed a three-year deal with Oakland during the offseason. Though he left the Royals, Butler said there is no hard feelings. "It’s disappointing, but you understand that the game’s a business and I didn’t leave on bad terms," Butler said. "I’d be more than happy to come back. That’s home for me. I’ll always be forever tied to the Royals organization and the community there."

The 28-year-old hit .271/.323/.379 over 549 at-bats last year.


Indians to consider multiyear extension for Corey Kluber
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1/25/2015) The Indians will consider a multiyear extension for pitcher Corey Kluber, according to MLB.com.

General manager Mark Shapiro didn't indicate that the two sides were close to a deal, but said Kluber has all the aspects the team looks for when considering a long-term deal. "Corey represents all of the things we look for in players: dependable, reliable person, committed to his work ethic, talented." Shapiro added, "it's something we'll probably look at over the next couple of months. He has all the precursors that we would look for to enter into a multiyear agreement."

The 28-year-old Kluber is set to make the league-minimum next season, and won't be available for arbitration until 2016. He's under team control through 2018, so there's no hurry for either side to agree to a new deal. 

Kluber posted a 2.44 ERA over 235 2/3 innings last year.


Twins' Glen Perkins says he's 100 percent
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1/25/2015) Twins reliever Glen Perkins said he's 100 percent heading into the season, according to MLB.com.

Perkins missed the last two weeks of the regular season due to a forearm injury, but said that's no longer a problem. He took two weeks off once the season concluded, and went for a precautionary MRI just to make sure the injury wasn't serious. "I took two weeks off and started doing shoulder stuff as part of the rehab to strengthen it and everything went well," Perkins said. "I started throwing again in mid-December. The way I've been able to ramp up throwing, everything has been good."

The 31-year-old Perkins posted a 3.65 ERA over 61 2/3 innings last season.


Tigers' Miguel Cabrera not expected to miss much time with injury
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1/25/2015) Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera is not expected to miss much time with his ankle injury, according to the Detroit Free Press

Cabrera had ankle surgery to remove bone spurs shortly after the season, and has been recovering during the offseason. He was recently cleared to ditch his walking boot, and will be re-evaluated by team doctors on Feb. 15. General manager Dave Dombrowski told reporters Cabrera shouldn't miss much time due to the injury. "We're hopeful at that point he gets turned loose," Dombrowski said. "If he's not ready for Opening Day, it's going to be very, very close."

The 31-year-old Cabrera hit .313/.371/.524 over 611 at-bats last year. 


Twins' Joe Mauer says his legs feel strong heading into 2015
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1/25/2015) Twins first baseman Joe Mauer said his legs feel strong heading into 2015, according to the Star Tribune.

Mauer was able to fully participate in an offseason training program after injuries prevented him from doing so last year. Mauer said his left knee, which has given him trouble in the past, feels strong now. :It’s tough to hit when the knee I’ve had problems with isn’t right," Mauer said. "That’s where you get your power from and the ball jumps. I feel good. I’m excited to get out there."

The 31-year-old Mauer is coming off a season in which he hit .277/.361/.371 over 455 at-bats.


Report: Yankees looking to void milestone bonuses for A-Rod
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1/25/2015) The Yankees are looking to void milestone bonuses in Alex Rodriguez 's contract, according to the New York Daily News.

When Rodriguez signed his deal with the club in 2007, it contained bonuses as Rodriguez tied or passed the top home run hitters. Rodriguez, who has 654 career home runs, is just six away from tying Willie Mays, which would trigger a $6 million bonus. He is also set to receive an additional $6 million once he ties Babe Ruth, and another $6 milliion if he ties Hank Aaron.

The team, however, now views those bonuses as worthless due to his 2014 suspension. The team will argue that these bonuses were signed under false pretenses. The club is apparently willing to fight the player's union over the decision should Rodriguez file a grievance. 

Rodriguez, who hasn't played since 2013, has already found it difficult to mend the fences with his team. Rodriguez proposed a meeting with the club where he would publicly apologize for his actions last season, but the team declined the offer. "This is a relationship that is never going to be repaired," one source told the Daily News.


Orioles, Ryan Flaherty avoid arbitration
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1/25/2015) The Orioles have avoided arbitration with infielder Ryan Flaherty, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. 

Flaherty will make $1.075 million next season. He can make an additional $25,000 if he receives 400 plate appearances. The 28-year-old Flaherty hit .221/.288/.356 over 281 at-bats last year.


Angels' Josh Hamilton setting lofty goals for 2015
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1/25/2015) Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton is ready to set some lofty goals for 2015, according to MLB.com.

Hamilton said he's aiming to hit .300, with 30 home runs and 100 RBI this year. After struggling through injuries in 2014, Hamilton said his offseason has been mostly normal. The 33-year-old hit .263/.331/.414 over 338 at-bats last year. 


Angels' Jered Weaver bulked up during offseason
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1/25/2015) Angels pitcher Jered Weaver decided to bulk up during the offseason, according to MLB.com.

Weaver went from 199 pounds to 224 pounds during the offseason. He said the goal was to get bigger and stronger so that he can pitch deeper into games next year. The 32-year-old Weaver posted a 3.59 ERA over 213 1/3 innings. 


 
 
 
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