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Down on the Farm: False hope on the bench

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Remember Dylan Bundy, that blond guy with the blazing fastball who didn't allow an earned run until his ninth start last year?

Just making sure. Considering he has yet to throw a pitch in an actual game this year, I can see how you might have forgotten.

That's not going to change anytime soon, by the way. And by "that," I mean both my tendency to underestimate your memory and Bundy's absence from meaningful competition.

Plagued by elbow soreness since spring training, the Orioles right-hander recently paid a visit to Dr. James Andrews, who discovered nothing more than "flexor mass tightness." Yay for that.

So Bundy gets a shot and sits for six weeks. No big deal, right?

In the grand scheme of things, no, but when have Fantasy owners ever cared about the grand scheme? OK, maybe in dynasty leagues that emulate real life with deep rosters, full keepers, salary considerations and all that, but otherwise, they play for now.

That six-week timetable is how long Bundy will go without throwing. To get back to pitching, he'll basically need another spring training, which means he might not get back to a starter's workload until after the All-Star break, if not later. The Orioles can't afford to take any chances with their most valuable asset.

Then, he'll still have to prove he can shut down Double-A batters on a regular basis. Then, he'll probably need a few starts at Triple-A before he convinces the Orioles he's ready for more than just a late-season cameo. I don't know about you, but I get the sense he'll run out of time.

Most Owned Minor Leaguers (as of 5/2)
Player Name Own %
1. Wil Myers, OF, Rays 79
2. Jurickson Profar, 2B/SS, Rangers 52
3. Oscar Taveras, OF, Cardinals 49
4. Yasiel Puig, OF, Dodgers 41
5. Zack Wheeler, SP, Mets 40
6. Billy Hamilton, SS, Reds 38
7. Dylan Bundy, SP, Orioles 34
8. Gerrit Cole, SP, Pirates 34
9. Travis d'Arnaud, C, Mets 34
10. Mike Zunino, C, Mariners 29

Long story short, this elbow injury makes Bundy's chances of contributing as more than a September call-up pretty slim, which makes his ownership rate of 35 percent somewhat wasteful.

Especially when you consider that regular mixed-leaguers are contributing to that number. American League and dynasty league owners cover only the bottom 10-15 percent.

With the injury, Bundy is the most obvious of what I've deemed the "prospect fakeouts" -- minor-leaguers who seemed close enough to contributing at the major-league level to merit a roster spot coming out of spring training but who don't so much anymore.

Believe me: I'm all about finding and stashing the next Mike Trout or Bryce Harper, but circumstances change. Based on how they have for these five, you can probably do better with your bench space in a single-season mixed league.

Jurickson Profar, 2B, Rangers

That trade to free up a spot for Profar never came this offseason, so where's the opening? Ian Kinsler to first base seems unlikely to me, especially since Profar is hardly forcing the issue with a .231 batting average at Triple-A Round Rock. It'll take a long-term injury to the right player for him to make a significant impact in Fantasy this year, which is too speculative for me. Brian Roberts is probably a better bet at this point.

Oscar Taveras, OF, Cardinals

Taveras' miraculously low strikeout rate makes him a prime candidate to click as soon as he reaches the majors, but with the emergence of Matt Adams, who can bump Allen Craig to the outfield any time the Cardinals have a need there, his path to the majors is no longer so clear. Yes, I know Adams is currently on the DL with an oblique injury, but he might only be a week a way from returning. For Taveras to be more than a late-season call-up, I'm thinking two of Craig, Carlos Beltran, Matt Holliday and Jon Jay would have to suffer long-term injuries.

Yasiel Puig, OF, Dodgers

Puig wouldn't even rank among this group if he didn't hit .517 with three home runs and a 1.328 OPS in 58 spring at-bats, forcing the Dodgers to keep him around until the last possible moment. But his demotion was inevitable. The position where the Dodgers are the deepest is the position he happens to play: the outfield. A long-term Carl Crawford injury or Andre Ethier trade could open the door for him, I guess, but neither is the likely scenario.

Billy Hamilton, SS/OF, Reds

In theory, Hamilton should already be up and contributing with both Ryan Ludwick and his replacement Chris Heisey on the DL, but unfortunately, an early season slump has him hitting only .205 at Triple-A Louisville. His opportunity hasn't passed him by just yet -- Ludwick is out until after the All-Star break -- but he's put himself in such a deep hole that he'll have to rebound and then some to win over the Reds, which will take time. Maybe if you drop him, you keep an eye on him, but Andrelton Simmons and Erick Aybar are more deserving of your time right now.

Travis d'Arnaud, C, Mets

I get that d'Arnaud was just a John Buck slump away from a promotion coming into the season, but now he's out two months with a broken foot. By the time he rehabilitates the injury and convinces the Mets he's in midseason form, we could be into August. Meanwhile, you've already let Carlos Ruiz and Russell Martin pass you by.

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

The next time you look up the word "ridiculous" in the dictionary, you might find a picture of Miguel Sano. Why you ask? Have you seen what the Twins' third base prospect is doing for Class A Fort Myers?

Through Monday, he led the Florida State league with nine home runs in 24 games, which was four more than Cubs' uber-prospect Javier Baez.

It's not like Sano has been flying under the radar. He came into the year considered a top 15 prospect by Baseball America (No. 9) and MLB.com (No. 12), but what's most impressive is that Sano's power surge is coming in a very pitcher-friendly league.

He has been nothing short of outstanding since beginning his pro career as a teenager (17 years old) in 2010. The 19-year-old prospect is slugging .753 this season and has a career .566 slugging percentage. Like most sluggers he has a high strikeout rate, but Fantasy owners and the Twins would surely deal with it as long as Sano keeps slugging away.

The thinking here is that he's going to stick with the team for most of the first half and likely be promoted to Double-A New Britian somewhere around the FSL All-Star game, which is June 15. The Twins have never been an organization to rush prospects and have been treating Sano with kid gloves since he turned pro. Also, his bat is a glaring distraction from his horrid fielding skills. Sano has already committed five errors this season after committing 42 errors at third base last season. His career fielding percentage is .890. Ouch. Finally, former major leaguer Doug Mientkiewicz is the manager for Fort Myers. Mientkiewicz is probably one of the better coaches in the Twins' organization to teach Sano about preparing for life as a major leaguer.

It wouldn't shock me, though, if the Twins brought Sano up late in the year for a taste of the majors, but his value primarily lies in long-term keeper formats. It could be another year or two before Sano makes a substantial Fantasy impact.

Now, here are five other players making news in the minors ...

Christian Yelich, OF, Marlins
Affiliate: Double-A Jacksonville
2013 stats: .267/.313/.422/.735, one triple, five doubles, eight RBI, six runs, 16 strikeouts in 10 games
I think I was like many who thought Yelich, widely considered the team's top prospect, would have been promoted to the majors in the wake of Giancarlo Stanton's hamstring injury. Alas, the Marlins recalled Marcell Ozuna. Both players started the year on the disabled list because of injuries and neither player logged many games since returning, but Ozuna was tearing up Double-A pitching and Yelich's swing isn't quite up to speed. Although, I have a sneaky suspicion that wasn't the only reason Ozuna was chosen over Yelich. The failures of Jackie Bradley and Aaron Hicks, who had monster springs like Yelich, could have scared off Miami. It's one thing for Ozuna's confidence to be shaken, but it's another to have Yelich struggle and risk never bouncing back. Miami has said all along they will be cautious with Yelich's development and will bring him up when he's ready. I can still envision a 2013 debut, however, especially if Yelich catches fire at Jacksonville, so he's still worth stashing in deeper seasonal formats.

Joc Pederson, OF, Dodgers
Affiliate: Double-A Chattanooga
2013 stats: .304/.381/.620/1.001, two triples, six home runs, seven doubles, seven stolen bases, 12 walks, 16 strikeouts, 16 RBI, 22 runs in 24 games
Pederson's stat line looks like something you would find in a video game with the game play setting on easy, which is exactly what Pederson is making it look like in the minors. If you never heard of Pederson up until now, don't worry. I didn't even know about him until I was in a 24-team keeper league draft this spring and had to dig deep for a list of keepers. Pederson has gone from 2010 11th-round pick to being considered a top 100 prospect by MLB.com (No. 85). Pederson is a career .313 hitter with a .518 slugging percentage in 221 minor-league games. It's not like the Dodgers have a shortage of outfielders, but right now their Double-A outfield features Pederson and Yasiel Puig. How can Dodgers' fans not get excited about that?

Nick Franklin, INF, Mariners
Affiliate: Triple-A Tacoma
2013 stats: .379/.514/.603/1.117, three home runs, four stolen bases, four doubles, eight strikeouts, 14 RBI, 15 walks, 16 runs in 16 games
When the news broke last week that Mariners manager Eric Wedge planned to platoon to Brendan Ryan and Robert Andino at shortstop, I immediately got to thinking this was just a precursor to Franklin's eventual promotion to the majors. The top 100 prospect is off to a stellar start and seems worthy of a promotion, but I'm not overly surprised the Mariners haven't made the move yet. Much like Mike Zunino, I think the Mariners are guessing at when "Super 2" status might kick in so they can save an arbitration year on some of their better prospects. The Ryan/Andino platoon isn't a long-term solution, so Franklin's MLB debut could be just around the corner. Fantasy owners in deeper seasonal formats could consider stashing Franklin on your bench.

Archie Bradley, SP, Diamondbacks
Affiliate: Class A Visalia
2013 stats: 2-0, 1.26 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 43 strikeouts, 10 walks, one home run allowed in five starts (28 2/3 innings)
Bradley might become the most famous Archie since Carroll O'Connor. Through Monday, Bradley led all minor leaguers with 43 strikeouts and was making batters in the hitter-friendly California League look like chumps. It's not like the scouts didn't feel Bradley had frontline starter potential after he was taken seventh overall in the 2011 MLB draft. However, he's already making significant strides in his young MLB career and Fantasy owners can't wait until Bradley makes it to the majors. Let's hope he doesn't forget to bring his impressive strikeout rate (10.7 K/9 in 166 2/3 innings) with him. Alas, it might be a while until Bradley makes a Fantasy impact. It's not like Arizona can't dip into its Triple-A rotation (Tyler Skaggs, Randall Delgado) for help when the time calls and surely Arizona will continue to monitor Bradley's workload, especially after Orioles star prospect Dylan Bundy has been shut down with arm problems. The Diamondbacks will make sure not to push Bradley too fast, too soon.

Rafael Montero, SP, Mets
Affiliate: Double-A Binghamton
2013 stats: 3-1, 1.95 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 35 strikeouts, three walks, one home run allowed in five starts (27 2/3 innings)
With Zack Wheeler's struggles at Triple-A Las Vegas, Montero might be the best pitching prospect in the Mets' farm system right now. In the spring, vice president of player development Paul DePodesta labeled Montero as an under-the-radar prospect. Well, that's no longer the case. Montero didn't garner a ton of acclaim as a non-drafted free agent, but he's been outstanding since turning pro. He's 19-10 with a 2.24 ERA and 0.93 WHIP in 220 2/3 innings. He is striking out 8.6 batters per nine innings, but most impressive is that he's walking just 1.4 batters per nine innings. Don't be surprised if Montero makes a huge leap up the prospect rankings list this year if he continues at this pace. Unfortunately, DePodesta told the New York Daily News recently that Montero "needs more experience" and the team isn't concerned about where he's on the organizational depth chart, so maybe 2014 is a more realistic timetable to expect Montero to potentially make a Fantasy impact.

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Player News
Report: David Aardsma to throw bullpen next week for teams
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(10:07 am ET) Free-agent pitcher David Aardsma will throw a bullpen session for interested teams next week, according to his agent, Jamie Murphy.

"(Aardsma) is looking to showcase added velocity after a change in mechanics and an extremely intense offseason workout regimen," Murphy told FoxSports.com senior baseball writer Ken Rosenthal.

Aardsma missed the entire 2014 season after suffering a torn adductor muscle. He was last with the Mets in 2013 when he posted a 2-2 record with a 4.31 ERA and 36 strikeouts.


Orioles' Jonathan Schoop trying to cut weight for upcoming season
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(9:37 am ET) Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop wants to raise the level of his game for the 2015 season. The 22-year-old is hoping to be more mentally and physically prepared for the grind of the 162-game season.

"My weight is lower than last year. I want to have more range and be faster. Trying to steal some more bases and be faster for the team on the bases to help put more pressure on the defense." Schoop said. "I learned a lot from my teammates. They helped me a lot. One year of experience. I'm better than last year. Mentally and physically, everything. My ups and downs helped me a lot to know myself better too."

Schoop, who hit .209 with 16 home runs and 45 RBI in 2014, is also taking more advice from his teammates about his approach at the plate.

"Be patient. Don't chase too many pitches. Let them throw strikes and swing at strikes. Just have to work on getting better pitches to hit. See how they pitch you. If I can do that, I'll be better," he said. "I worked on everything (this winter). I want to get faster. You have to work on all of it, speed, defense. I want to be a better player than last year."


Twins' Byron Buxton named No. 1 prospect by MLB.com
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:00 am ET) Twins outfielder Byron Buxton was named the top prospect in baseball by MLB.com Friday.

Buxton played just 31 games in 2014 due to wrist and concussion issues and finished with a .240/.313/.405 line along with four home runs, 16 RBI and six stolen bases in 121 at-bats with high Class A Fort Myers. He also went 0 for 3 at the Double-A level. Buxton is making his second straight appearance atop MLB.com's top prospect list.

The rest of MLB.com's top-five prospects (in order) are Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, Astros shotstop Carlos Correa, Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor and Cubs shortstop Addison Russell. None of the quartet appeared in the top five of last year's MLB.com prospect list, though all four cracked the top 12.


Red Sox designate Drake Britton for assignment
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) The Red Sox designated pitcher Drake Britton for assignment Friday, clearing a roster spot for pitcher Alexi Ogando.

Britton appeared in seven games with the Red Sox in 2014, tossing 6 2/3 scoreless innings while striking out four batters and walking two. He posted a 5.86 ERA and 37:38 K:BB ratio in 58 1/3 innings with Triple-A Pawtucket.


Peter Moylan 'doing fantastic' in return from Tommy John
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) Free-agent pitcher Peter Moylan indicated Friday that he's "doing fantastic" in his return from his second Tommy John surgery, the Houston Chronicle reports.

"I’m doing fantastic, mate. Dropped 35 pounds," Moylan said. “My goal is to be 100 percent by end of spring. Ball is coming out great, though. Probably have to throw for some teams right around the start of spring to gauge interest, but there have already been some nibbles, which is encouraging."

Moylan underwent the procedure last March after receiving a non-roster invitation from the Astros. He's throwing from about 70 percent strength off a mound and in the process of deciding whether to sign a a deal in the near future or after the season begins. He hopes to resume pitching in the big leagues by midseason at the earliest.

Moylan has made 309 appearances since debuting in 2006, compiling a 21-9 record, 2.80 ERA and 213:121 K:BB ratio in 276 innings.


Braves' Shelby Miller: Sinker is 'going to take me to the next level'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) Braves starting pitcher Shelby Miller had an up-and-down season with the Cardinals in 2014. He began the season by going 6-2 with a 2.79 ERA before going 2-7 with a 5.11 ERA over his next 16 appearances (15 starts).

Miller, however, was able to finish the season on a high note, going 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA and .190 opponents' batting average over his final seven starts. Miller attributes his success down the stretch to incorporating a sinker into his repertoire, per FOX Sports South.

"I said I'm going to throw some of these, and we'll see where it's at," Miller said of a conversation he had with catcher A.J. Pierzynski before an Aug. 23 start against the Phillies. "It felt good so we just went with it. I started throwing it literally within three days. It's a good pitch that I picked up quick.

"I still need a lot of work with it. I need a lot of work with all my pitches. There's all sorts of ways to get better. But I think that's definitely a pitch that will help me be more efficient and take me deeper into games. That's [the sinker] going to be a huge pitch for me this year that's ultimately going to take me to the next level. Not only that but kind of mixing it all together, becoming more of a complete pitcher more than a thrower."

Miller added he will also begin to work more on his changeup, which he threw just 2.2 percent of the time in 2014, per FanGraphs.com.

"I know [Braves pitching coach] Roger [McDowell] has been known for changeups," Miller said. "A lot of great pitchers have come through this organization, [and] that's a pitch I would love to pick up. I want to be able to throw it more consistently, [and] have a little bit more confidence in it."


Scott Baker agrees to minor-league deal with Yankees
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) The Yankees agreed to a minor-league deal with pitcher Scott Baker, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. If Baker makes the major-league roster, he will be paid $1.5 million.

Baker made 25 appearances (eight starts) for the Rangers in 2014, going 3-4 with a 5.47 ERA. He had 55 strikeouts in 80 2/3 innings.


Rockies designate Jayson Aquino for assignment
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) After completing a two-team trade Friday, the Rockies decided to designate Jayson Aquino for assignment, the team announced.

Aquino spent 2014 bouncing around the minor league, pitching in 18 games with a 5.13 ERA in 107 innings pitched. He went 5-10 with 83 strikeouts in stints with both Double-A Tulsa and Class A Modesto.


Report: Red Sox express willingness to trade Edward Mujica
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) The Red Sox have expressed a willingness to trade reliever Edward Mujica, a source told FOX Sports. The right-handed reliever is set to make $4.75 million in 2015.

Mujica, who was an All-Star with St. Louis in 2013, went 2-4 with a 3.90 ERA and eight saves in his first season with Boston in 2014.


Orioles 1B/OF Steve Pearce agrees to $3.7M salary for 2015
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) The Orioles avoided arbitration with outfielder/first baseman Steve Pearce, agreeing to a $3.7 million salary for 2015, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. Pearce reportedly filed for $5.4 million, while the Orioles reportedly offered $2 million.

Pearce is coming off his best season as a major leaguer, batting .293 with a .373 on-base percentage, .556 slugging percentage, .930 OPS, 21 home runs, 26 doubles and 49 RBI in 102 games.


 
 
 
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