Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
      
Fantasy Football Today
Fantasy Football Today Blog
Gameday Inactives
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Scores
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
Fantasy Baseball Today Blog
2015 Draft Prep Guide
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

Down on the Farm: Zunino's arrival imminent?

Senior Fantasy Writer
  •  

Justin Smoak is owned in only 19 percent of Fantasy leagues, and yet how he performs over these first few weeks could change the course of all of them.

That's because he's the path of least resistance for what figures to be the most impactful midseason call-up of 2013.

OK, the second-most. Naturally, I wouldn't want to sell Wil Myers short, but Mike Zunino's potential and perhaps his major-league readiness aren't far off.

How can that be, you ask, if he was the third overall pick just last year?

Well, not only did he play three years of college ball, which immediately gives him a leg up on every other player selected at that point, but he dominated there, winning the Golden Spikes Award in 2012. The last six recipients of that award -- Trevor Bauer, Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg, Buster Posey, David Price and Tim Lincecum -- all made quick ascensions, and with the exception of Bauer and, to a lesser extent, Price, they all lived up to the hype right away.

Plus, all the scouting reports on Zunino are quick to mention his leadership ability, work ethic and baseball acumen -- you know, all those intangibles that might normally hold a player back even when he's hitting the daylights out of the ball.

Not that Zunino isn't hitting the daylights out of the ball.

He had eight extra-base hits in his first five games this season -- his first stint at Triple-A, mind you -- and though a mini slump has brought his batting average down to size, it doesn't change the fact that he's making good, hard contact against some of the best pitchers the minor leagues have to offer. And his plate discipline is exactly what you'd hope for. In 201 minor-league at-bats, he has 26 walks.

Most Owned Minor Leaguers (as of 4/18)
Player Name Own %
1. Wil Myers, OF, Rays 78
2. Jurickson Profar, 2B/SS, Rangers 53
3. Oscar Taveras, OF, Cardinals 50
4. Yasiel Puig, OF, Dodgers 45
5. Billy Hamilton, SS, Reds 41
6. Zack Wheeler, SP, Mets 41
7. Travis d'Arnaud, C, Mets 41
8. Dylan Bundy, SP, Orioles 40
9. Jose Valverde, RP, Tigers 38
10. Dan Straily, SP, Athletics 35

It's all the right ingredients for a quick promotion.

In fact, if he had some silly placeholder like Francisco Cervelli or Nick Hundley blocking him, he might already be the most added player in Fantasy. But right now, the Mariners' starting catcher is Jesus Montero, who's only a year removed from being an elite prospect himself.

Of course, he's not quite the roadblock he appears to be. According to popular opinion, urban legend and perhaps even the naked eye, Montero isn't any more a catcher than David Bowie is an actor. He could do it in a pinch, but you wouldn't want to base the whole production on it.

The Mariners have to know that, despite their claims to the contrary. With Montero slumping in the early going, they've already taken to sitting him -- a 23-year-old whose development hinges on consistent playing time -- for backup Kelly Shoppach. If Montero was Charles Johnson back there, you can bet that wouldn't be happening, but he's a liability when he's not hitting.

Sounds like a perfect candidate for the DH spot, doesn't he?

Which brings me back to Smoak. You probably don't need me to connect the dots. If Smoak continues to hover around the Mendoza line, as he did for the first three years of his career, then the Mariners will likely pull the plug on him once and for all, allowing Kendrys Morales to move to first base, where he belongs anyway, allowing Montero to move to DH, where he belongs anyway, allowing Zunino to reach the majors.

Where he belongs anyway? The one making that decision wouldn't dispute it.

"He just needs to play," general manager Jack Zduriencik recently told ESPN.com. "He's a fast-tracker, and if you brought him to the big leagues today, he'd handle himself."

Granted, saying Zunino would "handle himself" isn't the same as saying he'd dominate, but rarely does a general manager give such a definitive take on a prospect who isn't already on a flight to meet up with the big club.

Check out our Fantasy Baseball podcast!
Stay a step ahead of your competition in 2014 by checking out our popular Fantasy Baseball Today podcasts. Adam Aizer, Scott White and Al Melchior will entertain you and help you dominate all season.
Latest episode | Subscribe!

And obviously, no one knows just how he'll perform once he gets the call, but my guess is his pedigree, skill set and effortless climb up the minor-league ladder put him more on the Posey track than, say, the Montero track.

And Posey won Rookie the Year.

Cautiously, I'll predict Zunino is the Mariners' starting catcher by June, but in all honesty, I wouldn't be surprised if they called him up next week, particularly if they have designs on competing this year.

In leagues where every team starts two catchers, that ETA makes him worth stashing already, ahead of all-or-nothing types like J.P. Arencibia and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, not to mention fellow prospect Travis d'Arnaud, who was the preferred stash just two weeks ago.

And I was saying that even before the foot injury. Unlike Smoak, d'Arnaud's path of least resistance, John Buck, has made the transition more agonizing than it needs to be.

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

Like many first-round picks, the spotlight was focused on Jayson Werth when he was drafted in 1997. By 1999, he cracked Baseball America's Top 100 prospects list, checking in at No. 52. The following year, Werth moved up four spots on the list and made the Top 50. He was a rising star and seemed destined for major-league stardom.

Sometimes well-laid plans go awry. After a second straight poor season of middling performance between high Class A and Double-A, Baseball America dropped Werth from its Top 100 list heading into 2001 and he appeared headed for baseball obscurity.

The Orioles, who drafted Werth, shipped the young outfielder to the Blue Jays in December 2001 and the change of scenery seemed offer the proper motivation. During the 2001 season, his slash line between Class A and Double-A was .271/.382/.472/.853. Werth found himself once again on Baseball America's Top 100 list in 2002 and stayed there into 2003.

It took Werth several more years before having a breakthrough year at the major-league level, but he isn't the first -- and won't be the last -- prospect to endure some trials and tribulations on his path to the majors.

Therefore, this week is dedicated to five players who are following a similar path as Werth endured. They were once highly touted prospects who are starting to make a comeback in the minors and could once again be reappearing on Fantasy radars.

John Lamb, SP, Royals
Last Top 100 ranking: No. 18 by Baseball America in 2011
Lamb was considered the Royals' top pitching prospect before blowing out his arm in 2011. Unfortunately, his return from Tommy John surgery was delayed last season because of tendinitis in his left foot. Lamb made only six starts, posting a 6.92 ERA, and showcased reduced velocity before being shut down. However, the Royals are confident Lamb's velocity will return the farther he distances himself from his surgery date. Baseball America still considers Lamb to have the best changeup in the organization, but he's still working on refining his curveball and getting his command back. Lamb is off to a good start at Class A Wilmington and is on the 40-man roster, so Kansas City thought enough of him to protect the left-handed hurler from the Rule 5 draft. If Lamb can regain his pre-surgery form, he has frontline starter potential.

Michael Choice, OF, Athletics
Last Top 100 ranking: No. 59 by MLB.com and No. 80 by Baseball America in 2012
It's not like the 2010 first-round pick has completely fallen off the radar since MLB.com and Baseball America consider Choice a Top 3 prospect in the A's system. But to drop him off the Top 100 list after one tumultuous season is a little harsh, especially since he is off to a torrid start at Triple-A Sacramento this season. Through 12 games, Choice has four home runs, 15 RBI and is slugging .604. He made some tweaks to his swing last season before breaking his left hand in July, but he's clearly fully recovered. Choice has ridiculous power -- he has a career .507 slugging percentage -- but he might strike out too much to hit for a decent average. Remind you of any former top A's prospect? Chris Carter certainly comes to mind. Choice could make a push to join the A's outfield rotation next season.

Bryce Brentz, OF, Red Sox
Last Top 100 ranking: No. 64 by MLB.com in 2012
It's amazing Brentz didn't crack Baseball America's Top 100 list after he hit 30 homers and slugged .574 in 2011. While his production dropped off last season, it's still not like Brentz's major-league trajectory took a major hit. He hit 17 home runs and slugged .465 in 127 games between Double-A and Triple-A. Not only is Brentz lauded for his power, but he has a cannon for an arm. Eastern League managers rated Brentz's arm tops in the league last season. The knock on Brentz is that he will strike out a lot and chase breaking balls, but if he has a good season at Triple-A Pawtucket he could threaten for regular at-bats at the major-league level in 2014.

Tyler Matzek, SP, Rockies
Last Top 100 ranking: No. 32 by Baseball America in 2011
Matzek's career got off to a stellar start before it quickly spiraled out of control. His problem proved to be he was overly analytical and it messed him up on the mound. The 2009 first round pick took some time off in 2011 to work with his youth pitching coach before resuming his pro career. Matzek ended up leading the California League in strikeouts (153) in 2012, but he also led the league in walks (95). There's no denying Matzek has the arsenal to pitch his way into the major league rotation, but his command needs serious improvement. Matzek is walking 7.0 batters per nine innings in his career. It's clear what's keep him on prospect radars: Matzek's career K/9 rate is 9.7 in 70 career starts.

Jared Mitchell, OF, White Sox
Last Top 100 ranking: No. 55 by Baseball America in 2010
Mitchell's career was derailed in 2010 after tearing tendons in his left ankle. He sat out that season and didn't adjust well once he returned to the lineup in 2011. However, Mitchell had a promising season in 2012, showcasing all the raw tools that made him a first-round pick in 2009. All the White Sox did this spring was rave about Mitchell, who is considered one of the team's Top 10 prospects by MLB.com and Baseball America. However, Mitchell is not without his flaws. He has a huge hole in his swing, which has resulted in 423 strikeouts in 304 minor-league games, and doesn't hit left-handed pitchers well. Mitchell is a patient hitter, but he's batting just .234 in his career and is off to a slow start (.156) at Triple-A Charlotte this season. He's a great athlete, but Mitchell is teetering on that ominous starter or platoon-player line in the majors.

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 .

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

  •  
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
Red Sox 2B Brock Holt back in lineup after two-game absence
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4:02 pm ET) Red Sox second baseman Brock Holt has returned to action for the Wednesday night game against the White Sox.

He had been out the last two games with a knee issue.


Red Sox put CF Mookie Betts on DL, promote OF Jackie Bradley
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:54 pm ET) A head injury has Red Sox center fielder Mookie Betts on the disabled list and Jackie Bradley promoted from Triple-A Pawtucket, per Comcast Sportsnet.

Betts sustained the injury trying to make a catch in the Tuesday night game. It has yet to reported if he's on the 7-day concussion DL.

His loss is a blow to Boston. Betts owns a .265/.317/.438 slash line and has scored 52 runs this season.


Marlins SS Miguel Rojas (shoulder) remains out of lineup
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(3:42 pm ET) Marlins shortstop Miguel Rojas is not in the lineup for his team's matchup against the Nationals on Wednesday. 

Rojas is out with a lingering shoulder injury and will be replaced by Adeiny Hechavarria at shortstop.


White Sox put 2B Emilio Bonifacio on DL, call up 2B Leury Garcia
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:41 pm ET) The White Sox have placed utility man Emilio Bonifacio on the 15-day disabled list with a left oblique strain and have promoted second baseman Leury Garcia from Triple-A Charlotte, per the Chicago Tribune.

Bonifacio, who sustained the injury Tuesday, has been a huge disappointment this season. He has played in just 45 games and is hitting .169.

Garcia played in only one game for the White Sox this year in a brief July stint and was sent down Sunday.


Royals SP Jeremy Guthrie collapses in sixth in defeat to Indians
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:29 pm ET) Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie pulled a Houdini act early in his Wednesday performance in Cleveland. But he couldn't escape a disastrous sixth inning and the result was a defeat that evened his record at 7-7.

Guthrie finished having allowed seven earned runs on 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings with one walk and three strikeouts.

The right-hander gave up three hits and a walk and hit two batters over the first two innings, but trailed at that point just 2-0. But the Indians smashed six straight hits against him with one out in the sixth, including home runs by Giovany Urshela, Francisco Lindor and Michael Brantley.

Guthrie has been clobbered for 17 runs on 38 hits in his last 23 1/3 innings pitched and has raised his ERA to 5.65. His rotation spot could be in jeopardy in the wake of the acquisition of stud starter Johnny Cueto.


Indians SP Corey Kluber goes complete in defeat of Royals
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:17 pm ET) Indians right-hander Corey Kluber has spent much of this season as the least-supported starter in the American League. But he could certainly relax Wednesday.

Backed with 12 runs, Kluber cruised to a victory over Kansas City for his second complete game of the year. He allowed only one run on five hits with one walk and six strikeouts.

He had a shutout going into the ninth, but then tired enough to surrender the lone walk, double and sacrifice fly. He finished having thrown 112 pitches.

Kluber has six quality starts in his last seven outings and boasts a 3.44 ERA.


Rays SP Chris Archer loses despite striking out 11 batters
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(3:16 pm ET) Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer got the short end of the stick during his start against the Tigers on Wednesday, and despite striking out 11 batters he picked up his eighth loss of the season.

Archer allowed two unearned runs on three hits in seven innings of work. The 11 strikeouts gave Archer his sixth double-digit strikeout performance of the season.

Archer (9-8) now has a 2.54 ERA with 173 strikeouts and 33 walks in 141 2/3 innings this season. 


Report: Mariners RP Charlie Furbush could start rehab next week
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:04 pm ET) Mariners lefty reliever Charlie Furbush is expected to accompany the team on its road trip that begins Thursday and throw another bullpen session, per ESPN. He could then begin a rehab assignment on Aug. 6 or 7 for Triple-A Tacoma.

Furbush has been sidelined since July 7 with a biceps injury.


Tigers closer Joakim Soria picks up 23rd save of the season
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(3:04 pm ET) Tigers closer Joakim Soria recorded his 23rd save of the season on Wednesday against the Rays.

Soria closed out the ninth inning of a pitchers duel with ease, as he struck out two of the three batters he faced.

Soria now has a 2.85 ERA this season in 41 innings of relief.


Tigers SP Justin Verlander tosses gem in win over Rays
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(2:59 pm ET) Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander was absolutely dominant in his start against the Rays on Wednesday.

Verlander allowed just one run on four hits over eight innings of work. He struck out a season-high 10 batters, while flirting with a no-hitter through the first 4 2/3 innings of the game. Verlander's no-hitter was broken up by an Asdrubal Cabrera solo home run with two outs in the fourth inning.

Verlander is now 1-3 with the win. He has a 4.86 ERA this season with 35 strikeouts and 12 walks in 50 innings this season.


 
 
 
Rankings