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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
Jake Arrieta gives owners something to remember
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:32 pm ET) Just in case you were beginning to have some doubts about Jake Arrieta, noticing that he hasn't been quite as dominant in recent weeks with a 3-4 record, 3.67 ERA and 8.3 strikeouts per nine innings in 12 starts since his breakthrough June, he made sure that line of thinking wouldn't haunt you in the offseason, regardless of how his final two starts go, with his performance Tuesday night.

Not only did he record his first complete game and shutout, but he threw a one-hitter, setting a career high with 13 strikeouts. It was a start even better than any of those he had in June, and he did against the same Reds team that beat him up for six earned runs in four inning back on Aug. 28 -- one of two ugly starts that served to inflate his ERA during that 12-start stretch.

The 28-year-old right-hander has maintained his velocity throughout and, apart from a trio of three-walk games at the beginning of July, hasn't encountered any of his past control issues. And for all his strikeouts, he has one of the lowest home run rates in the majors, making him the best of both worlds as far as quality pitchers -- a groundballer who won't give up a bunch of cheap singles pitching to contact.

In other words, he checks off every box on the list.

The one exception, of course, is durability. Until he goes 200 innings, you have reason to wonder if he can. But once all the established aces go off the board, Arrieta will rank as high as any pitcher in 2015. Top 25 seems like a lock.


Jake Lamb, David Peralta still out for Diamondbacks
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:18 pm ET) Diamondbacks third baseman Jake Lamb (quad) and outfielder David Peralta (back) remain absent from the lineup Wednesday against visiting San Francisco.

Lamb has had just one at-bat since Friday after an encouraging 7-for-19 stretch. Peralta has been sidelined since Sept. 5.


Nolan Arenado down again Wednesday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:09 pm ET) Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado is set to sit again Wednesday against the visiting Dodgers with a chest contusion. Rafael Ynoa has been tabbed to man the position.

Arenado was on a 1-for-13 slide before going down.


Hanley Ramirez again a no-go Wednesday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:03 pm ET) An elbow strain that prevented oft-injured Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez from playing Tuesday night also has him sidelined Wednesday afternoon in Colorado.

Ramirez, who has missed more than 30 games this season, boasts a stat line of .277/.362/.444. He had nine hits in 17 at-bats before his latest physical setback.


Dee Gordon catching break Wednesday against Rockies
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:00 pm ET) Red-hot Dodgers second baseman Dee Gordon will cool his heels Wednesday afternoon in Colorado. He is out of the lineup in favor of Darwin Barney, who will also assume his leadoff spot.

Gordon owns a 10-game hitting streak with seven multi-hit games. He is 18 of 41 during that stretch with 14 runs scored and four stolen bases.


Brad Peacock start Friday pushes Dallas Keuchel back a day
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:49 am ET) Astros right-hander Brad Peacock, who lost his Monday start to back soreness, has returned to the rotation, thanks to a pain-free bullpen session Tuesday. He is set to start Friday night against Seattle, the Houston Chronicle has reported.

The move pushes ace lefty Dallas Keuchel back to Saturday, giving him an extra day of rest.


Steve Pearce could be in line for occasional break
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:39 am ET) The promotion of prospect Christian Walker could mean a bit of rest for blossoming Orioles first baseman Steve Pearce downt the stretch after the team clinched the American League East title Tuesday night, per the Baltimore Sun.

Pearce has received more significant playing time than at any point in his major league career. He has been particularly hot lately with eight hits, including two home runs, in the last 17 at-bats. Despite having made his debut in 2007, his 320 at-bats this year nearly doubles his previous single-season high.


Yonder Alonso seeking return to Padres next year
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:32 am ET) Padres shelved first baseman Yonder Alonso is hoping he will be asked back in 2015 after losing the last seven weeks of this season to a wrist injury that required surgery.

"I don't deal with the business side of it, but I think we have really good people here, really good guys that make really good decisions (as far as) the guys that came in," Alonso told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "They know the game, they know baseball and they know what I can bring."

What Alonso brought this year was a stat line of .240/.285/.397 and seven home runs in 267 at-bats. He finished with a flourish with 11 hits in his last 17 at-bats, including two taters.

Alonso could be non-tendered next season in his first year of arbitration eligibility.


Rusney Castillo not much help this year
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(11:31 am ET) Rusney Castillo's debut for the Red Sox Wednesday night in Pittsburgh shouldn't create the mad dash to the waiver we're used to seeing for midseason callups. If you play in a traditional weekly league, you have just one more opportunity to set a lineup, and nothing he does in the next five days would compel you to switch from what you already have (outside of AL-only leagues, of course, where he's probably been owned since the day he signed).

And I suspect it won't be so noteworthy anyway. Other than the 22 at-bats he got during the minor-league playoffs, he hasn't played competitive baseball in over a year. And now, he's competing against the best the world has to offer.

But his arrival is still welcome news in Fantasy. Often, the most difficult players to assess going into a new season are the ones imported from overseas, where the competition is questionable and the available scouting reports are limited. The Red Sox are removing much of the mystery by giving us this sneak peak.

So what would be a successful debut for Castillo? My latest post to the Fantasy Baseball Today blog discusses just that. Be sure to give it a look.


Offseason back surgery an option for Angel Pagan
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:22 am ET) The bulging disk that has plagued Giants center fielder Angel Pagan much of the year could require offseason surgery, per the San Francisco Chronicle.

That, however, is one of several options.

Pagan missed his second straight game Tuesday with the back issue. Bruce Bochy is hoping to plug him back in Wednesday as the team continues its fight for a playoff spot. Pagan has been one of the team's most dependable players when healthy. He owns a stat line of .302/.342/.391 with 56 runs scored in 381 at-bats.


 
 
 
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