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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
Diamondbacks' Enrique Burgos serves up game-winning home run
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:42 am ET) Diamondbacks reliever Enrique Burgos (0-2) picked up a loss to the Cubs in Saturday's 9-6 defeat. Burgos, who hadn't allowed a run in three straight outings, served up a game-winning three-run home run to Anthony Rizzo in the top of the ninth inning.

The Diamondbacks haven't officially named Burgos the closer, though he did successfully record two straight saves earlier in the week. But he took a step backwards with Saturday's performance and it remains to be seen if manager Chip Hale calls on him if a save chance occurs on Sunday.


Cubs RP Pedro Strop records first save of 2015
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:37 am ET) Cubs reliever Pedro Strop picked up his first save of the season in the 9-6 win over the Diamondbacks on Saturday. Manager Joe Maddon decided to give regular closer Hector Rondon the night off, so Strop was tabbed to close out the game.

The right-hander tossed a perfect ninth inning, striking out one, to pick up the sixth save of his career. He now has four straight scoreless outings under his belt.


Cubs 1B Anthony Rizzo ties career-high with six RBI on Saturday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:35 am ET) Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo was the hero in Saturday night's come-from-behind win over the Diamondbacks. Rizzo went 2 for 5 and tied a career-high with six RBI. 

In the fifth inning, Rizzo cleared the bases with a three-run double to give the Cubs a 4-2 lead. Then, with the game tied at six in the top of the ninth, Rizzo hit a three-run home run to put the Cubs up 9-6, which would be the final score.

The homer was Rizzo's ninth of the season and the six RBI give him 29 on the year. 


Cubs SP Jake Arrieta gives six runs in no-decision Saturday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:30 am ET) By definition, Cubs starter Jake Arrieta (4-4) posted a quality start in Saturday's loss to the Diamondbacks. The right-hander went six innings, giving up six runs (three earned) on seven hits. He walked two and struck out seven as his ERA rose to 2.95.

A couple of miscues from the defense, coupled with a sixth-inning home run from D-Backs catcher Tuffy Gosewisch, hurt Arrieta in this one. But luckily for him, his offense was able to erase a deficit, and Arrieta picked up a no decision. He'll hope for better fortunes in his next start Friday against the Royals.


Diamondbacks SP Rubby De La Rosa gets no-decision Saturday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:27 am ET) Diamondbacks starter Rubby De La Rosa (4-2) pitched well in Saturday's loss to the Cubs, all except for one inning. The young right-hander tossed six innings, allowing four runs on four hits. He struck out eight and walked two on the evening.

All of the damage to De La Rosa came in a four-run fifth inning. With the bases loaded and two outs, De La Rosa hit Kris Bryant to force in a run, and then served up a three-run double to Anthony Rizzo. 

Fortunately for De La Rosa, his offense put up six runs on his behalf. Unfortunately for him, the bullpen wasn't able to hold the lead, as he picked up the no decision. He'll take a 4.27 ERA into his next start, scheduled for Friday in Milwaukee.


Twins pitcher Casey Fien begins rehab assignment on Saturday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:21 am ET) Twins pitcher Casey Fien tossed one scoreless inning on Saturday for Triple-A Rochester. Fien did not allow a hit with one walk and no strikeouts in the outing.

Fien is currently on the 15-day DL with a shoulder injury and has not pitched for Minnesota since April 29. He currently owns a 1-2 record with a 4.35 ERA and three strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings of work.


Cardinals not concerned yet about Michael Wacha's innings
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:11 am ET) Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha is scheduled to take the hill again on Sunday against the Royals, his ninth start of the season. Wacha has already logged 50 1/3 innings of work, something the team wants to monitor very closely throughout the season, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

"It's probably something to look at later," said Matheny. "Right now, we don't want him to be concerned with that stuff. And I don't think right now is the time to conserve. I seems like this game shows you when it’s time to conserve.

"We'll monitor his workload as much as possible but when he's throwing the ball well and he feels as good as he does, we need to take advantage of it. But we have some parameters in sight of where we’d like to keep him at."

Wacha, 6-0, has a 2.13 ERA with 31 strikeouts so far this season. 


Mariners' Austin Jackson goes 3 for 5 in seventh rehab game
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:05 am ET) Mariners outfielder Austin Jackson went 3 for 5 with a double in his seventh rehab game for Triple-A Tacoma on Saturday.

Jackson, who is currently on the 15-day DL with an ankle sprain, is now hitting .310 (9 for 29) on his rehab assignment and may be closer to a return. Jackson has been out of action since May 3 when he rolled his ankle. Jackson is hitting .242 with four RBI in 95 at-bats for Seattle this season.


Dodgers CF Joc Pederson blasts 12th home run of the season
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(12:32 am ET) Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson went 1 for 4 at the plate in Los Angeles' 2-0 win over the Padres on Saturday.

Pederson did his damage in the first inning when he crushed a lead off home run over the right field wall off of Ian Kennedy, his 12th of the season. He has now tied a Dodgers' rookie record for most leadoff home runs in season with Johnny Frederick, who set the record in 1929.

Pederson is now hitting .243 with 23 RBI in 136 at-bats this season.


Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen notches third save of the season
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(12:29 am ET) Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen worked a perfect ninth inning on Saturday in Los Angeles' 2-0 win over the Padres, earning his third save of the season.

Jansen did not allow a baserunner and faced the minimum three batter in the inning. He recorded one strikeout and maintained his perfect 0.00 ERA through four innings of work this season.


 
 
 
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