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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
Roenis Elias likely done for remainder of season
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:46 pm ET) Mariners pitcher Roenis Elias will have an MRI on his injured elbow Thursday, and manager Lloyd McClendon indicated Wednesday that the pitcher is likely done for the remainder of the season, MLB.com reports.

Elias was removed from Tuesday's start due to left elbow stiffness. He'll end the year with a 3.85 ERA and 143:64 K:BB ratio in 163 2/3 innings.


Brewers to exercise $14-million option on Aramis Ramirez
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:42 pm ET) The Brewers intend to exercise the team's $14-million option on third baseman Aramis Ramirez, CBSSports.com baseball insider Jon Heyman reports.

The team has the choice of picking up the option or paying a $4-million buyout, and with the team being "very pleased" with his performance, Ramirez will return to the hot corner with Milwaukee in 2015. He has hit .295/.341/.447 with 15 home runs and 65 RBI in 454 at-bats.


Report: Ryan Raburn to undergo knee surgery
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:36 pm ET) Indians outfielder Ryan Raburn will need to undergo surgery to repair a damaged meniscus, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

The news is likely to keep Raburn from playing again this season, though the team hasn't made an official announcement on his status. If he's done, Raburn finishes the year with a .200/.250/.297 line along with four home runs and 22 RBI in 195 at-bats.


Michael Wacha set to return Saturday vs. Reds
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:30 pm ET) Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha is scheduled to start Saturday's game against the Reds, MLB.com reports.

Wacha was scratched from his previously scheduled start last Saturday, with his manager indicating that the pitcher didn't look right after missing three months with shoulder issues. Wacha owns a 3.14 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 89:30 K:BB ratio in 97 1/3 innings.


John Lackey set to pitch Friday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:28 pm ET) Cardinals pitcher John Lackey is the scheduled starter for Friday's game against the Reds, MLB.com reports.

Lackey had his last start skipped due to a case of dead arm, but he's in line to make two more starts in the regular season. He owns a 3.97 ERA and 151:43 K:BB ratio in 183 2/3 innings, though his performance has dipped since coming to St. Louis.


Darwin Barney slugs third home run Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:21 pm ET) Dodgers infielder Darwin Barney went 2 for 3 with a walk and a solo home run in his team's 16-2 loss to the Rockies Wednesday.

Barney's home run was a blip on the radar in the narrative of Wednesday's game, as it cut the Rockies' lead to 15-1 in the eighth inning. Still, it was his first home run with his new team after starting his Dodger career 4 of 19 in limited action. Barney has hit .235/.287/.341 with three home runs and 21 RBI in 226 at-bats.


Charlie Blackmon homers in 5-for-5 performance vs. Dodgers
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:18 pm ET) Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon was perfect Wednesday, going 5 for 5 with a home run and two RBI in his team's 16-2 victory over the Dodgers.

Blackmon contributed an RBI single to an eight-run first inning and opened up the gates on the blowout with a solo home run in the third. The Rockies would score six more runs in the following three innings. Blackmon had been struggling as of late, going just 10 of 54 in September entering play Wednesday. He has hit .285/.331/.433 with 18 home runs, 70 RBI and 28 stolen bases in 561 at-bats.


Brandon Barnes slugs eighth home run Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:17 pm ET) Rockies outfieler Brandon Barnes went 1 for 2 with a solo home run in his team's 16-2 blowout win over the Dodgers Wednesday.

Barnes reached base on an error in a pinch-hit appearance before putting the cap on an offensive explosion with his eighth-inning home run. He has hit .253/.290/.428 with eight home runs and 24 RBI in 269 at-bats.


Justin Morneau homers, drives in six runs in blowout win
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:17 pm ET) Rockies first baseman Justin Morneau went 3 for 4 with a home run and six RBI in his team's 16-2 shellacking of the Dodgers Wednesday.

Morneau kicked off the run parade with a three-run home run in the first inning, and he would drive two more runs in on a single later in the same inning. His sixth RBI came on a sacrifice fly in the fifth. Morneau is finishing an excellent rebound season in strong fashion, hitting .320/.363/.497 with 16 home runs and 79 RBI in 475 at-bats.


Jorge De La Rosa tosses six scoreless innings in win vs. Dodgers
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:17 pm ET) Rockies pitcher Jorge De La Rosa earned a win Wednesday, giving up just two hits and two walks in six scoreless innings while striking out three in his team's 16-2 blowout victory over the Dodgers.

De La Rosa (14-11) coasted to a win after his offense came through with eight runs in the first inning. It was the first time the Colorado starter didn't surrender a home run in 10 starts. He owns a 4.14 ERA and 132:63 K:BB ratio in 178 1/3 innings. De La Rosa is scheduled to face the Padres in San Diego Tuesday in what should be his final start of the season.


 
 
 
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