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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
Brewers outright pitcher Ariel Pena to Triple-A
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11/25/2014) The Brewers announced pitcher Ariel Pena has been outrighted to Triple-A Colorado Springs.

The move opens up a spot on the 40-man roster. Pena has yet to appear in a MLB game.


Giants turn attention to Cruz, Scherzer after Sandoval departure
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11/25/2014) With the Red Sox officially signing Pablo Sandoval, the Giants have begun talks with a variety of free agents including pitcher Max Scherzer and outfielder Nelson Cruz, reports CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

Sandoval’s departure allows the Giants to focus their assets elsewhere and the Giants have also expressed interest in Nick Markakis, Torii Hunter and Chase Headley.


Report: Reported Cubs' offer to Jon Lester is not accurate
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11/25/2014) Sources have indicated the reported six-year, $135 million contract the Cubs offered pitcher Jon Lester is not accurate, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Along with the Cubs, the Red Sox, Giants, Braves and Cardinals have expressed serious interest in signing the left-handed pitcher, reports CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

Despite the various teams involved, Red Sox owner John Henry said he is ‘hopeful’ the Red Sox can lure Lester back to Boston, reports WEEI.com.


Pitcher Michael Roth elects to become free agent
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11/25/2014) After being designated for assignment by the Angels, pitcher Michael Roth chose to become a free agent Tuesday, reports MLB.com.

In 2014, Roth made seven appearances and went 1-0 with a 8.76 ERA.


Red Sox designate Juan Francisco for assignment
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11/25/2014) To make room on the roster after the signing of Hanley Ramirez, Red Sox third baseman Juan Francisco was designated for assignment Tuesday, according to the team's website.

The Red Sox recently claimed Francisco off waivers from the Blue Jays. In 2014, he hit .220 with 16 home runs and 43 RBI.


Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish cleared to begin throwing
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11/25/2014) An MRI revealed Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish suffered no damage to his right elbow and has been cleared to begin his normal throwing routine. The Rangers expect Darvish to begin throwing in early December.

Darvish was placed on the DL in August with right elbow inflammation and was later shut down for the season. Before being placed on the DL, Darvish went 10-7 with a 3.06 ERA in 22 starts.


Report: Cubs have made 'significant offer' to Jon Lester
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11/25/2014) The Cubs have made a substantial offer to free agent starting pitcher Jon Lester, according to CSNChicago.com.

"What I'm hearing is the Chicago Cubs have made a significant offer -- significant north of $135 million," David Kaplan of CSN said Tuesday during his "Kap and Haugh" radio show. Kaplan added the Cubs' offer is a six-year deal.

CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman reported Tuesday five clubs are seriously interested in signing the veteran left-handed pitcher. They are the Red Sox, Braves, Cubs, Giants and Cardinals. Lester is expected to make his decision sometime after Thanksgiving.


Free agent Chris Capuano considering playing in Japan in 2015
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11/25/2014) Free agent pitcher Chris Capuano confirmed the rumors of his interest to play in Japan during the 2015 season, reports MLB Network Radio.

“There’s a lot of truth to it,” Capuano said, per MLB Network Radio. “It piqued my interest back in 06. We’re considering it.”

In 2014, Capuano went 3-4 with a 4.28 ERA in 12 starts for the Red Sox and Yankees.


Nationals 3B Ryan Zimmerman back to full strength
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11/25/2014) Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said he is back to full strength after being hobbled late in the season due to a Grade 3 hamstring strain, according to The Washington Post.

"It doesn’t hurt golfing or laying around the house," he said. "It’s good. I always have to continually change things because you have to evolve as you get older. It’s one thing I’ve realized. I’ll change some things up but I’ll be good to go."


Phillies invite five to spring training as non-roster players
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11/25/2014) The Phillies announced Tuesday they signed pitcher Paul Clemens, catcher Rene Garcia, catcher Koyie Hill, infielder Chris Nelson and infielder Cord Phelps to minor-league contracts. All five players received invites to spring training as non-roster invitees.

 
 
 
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