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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
Nationals recall A.J. Cole, reinstate Tyler Moore from DL
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:58 pm ET) Nationals first baseman/outfielder Tyler Moore (ankle) was reinstated from the 15-day disabled list Thursday. Washington also recalled A.J. Cole from Triple-A Syracuse.

Giants GM Evans says Chris Heston will start Friday at Colorado
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:05 pm ET) Giants general manager Bobby Evans said starting pitcher Chris Heston will take the mound Friday against the Rockies.

"We're looking at Chris Heston. Heston will start for us," Evans revealed on KNBR 680-AM on Thursday morning, per CSNBayArea.com. "We're not sure whether the time off held back his best stuff in his last outing, but we're wanting the best of Chris Heston to show up."


Mets say Matt Harvey should be fine, expected to make next start
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:54 pm ET) Mets starting pitcher Matt Harvey did not end up traveling with the team to Miami on Wednesday, according to ESPN. However, the Mets said he "should be fine."

Harvey experienced dehydration and weakness after his start Wednesday against the Phillies, a team spokesman said. He is expected to make his next start Tuesday against the Nationals.


Tigers activate Kyle Lobstein from 60-day DL, will start Friday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:48 pm ET) Tigers starting pitcher Kyle Lobstein (shoulder) was activated off the 60-day disabled list Thursday. The Tigers also announced he will start Friday's game against the Indians.

To clear a spot on the 40-man roster, Detroit outrighted the contract of reliever Josh Zeid to Triple-A Toledo.


Giants SP Tim Lincecum undergoes hip surgery, done for season
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:42 pm ET) Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum underwent hip surgery Thursday morning and is out for the season, general manager Bobby Evans told CBS Sports Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

The veteran right-hander finishes the season with a 7-4 record and 4.13 ERA through 15 starts. He totaled 60 strikeouts through 76 1/3 innings.


Report: Dodgers 2B Jose Peraza (hamstring) to miss 3-5 days
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:36 pm ET) Dodgers second baseman Jose Peraza is expected to be sidelined 3-5 days due to a sore hamstring, a source told Fox Sports.

The rookie infielder is batting .267 (4 for 15) with one double, one triple, one RBI, three runs, three stolen bases, two walks and two strikeouts in five games.


Twins' Perkins won't go on road trip; Jepsen to close in his absence
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:20 pm ET) Twins closer Glen Perkins will not go on the team's nine-game road trip, which begins Friday at Houston, due to his lingering back injury. The Twins don't return home until Sept. 14 vs. Detroit.

"I honestly don't know what happened. I pitched Tuesday. That day I would have said I felt 90-95 percent," Perkins said, per 1500ESPN.com. "Everything was good, everything was fine, I pitched, I didn't think anything of it after the game. Then when I woke up [Wednesday], I couldn't get out of bed. It completely blindsided me.

"I don't feel any better today [Thursday]. It's going to take a little bit more time this time."

Manager Paul Molitor said Kevin Jepsen will fill-in as closer in Perkins' absence.

"It's a tough thing. Because you can't really inject it, it's not an injury that needs that type of attention," Molitor said of Perkins' injury. "There's not really anything you can do other than to try to find ways to calm it down and do what you can to see if you can get him back out there.

"There's a chance, at least in my mind, that this could be something that lingers. Might have some good days, some bad days here on out."


White Sox's Erik Johnson starting Sunday, Chris Sale pushed to Monday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:15 pm ET) The White Sox made a slight change to their pitching rotation Thursday. The team announced starting pitcher Erik Johnson will start Sunday against the Royals, which will bump Chris Sale to Monday against the Indians.

Johnson, who was added to the roster Tuesday, will make his season debut Sunday after a stellar season for Triple-A Charlotte. He went 11-8 with a 2.37 ERA in 23 outings (22 starts). He also had 136 strikeouts in 132 2/3 innings.

Sale is 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA in two starts against Cleveland this season. He is 7-1 with a 2.42 ERA in 12 starts this season with five days of rest.


Twins SP Phil Hughes days away from throwing simulated game
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:03 pm ET) Twins starting pitcher Phil Hughes (back) threw a bullpen session Thursday without any issues, according to MLB.com. He will throw another bullpen session Sunday before throwing a simulated game during a three-game series in Kansas City, which starts Monday.

Twins 3B Miguel Sano gets chance to rest hamstring injury
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:11 am ET) Twins third baseman Miguel Sano was held out of the starting lineup for Thursday's game against the White Sox. Sano is trying to play through a hamstring injury, and he was rested Thursday since it was a day game after a night game.

"It's a tough thing right now with him. I know he wants to play, and staying in the lineup from here on out is the most important part of the equation," manager Paul Molitor said, per MLB.com. "A day game following a night game heading into Houston isn't going to make a huge difference. I can't tell you exactly that. There's no way to measure how much 40 hours might help."

The hamstring injury didn't seem to bother Sano on Wednesday, as he homered for a third straight game. The rookie third baseman has been on a nice power surge, homering eight times in his last 14 games and slugging .833 in that span.

Since Aug. 5, Sano has a .323/.402/.742/1.144 slash line in his last 25 games. He has six doubles, 11 home runs and 28 RBI in that span.


 
 
 
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