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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: Marlins, White Sox discuss John Danks trade
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:14 pm ET) The Marlins and White Sox have discussed a potential trade involving pitcher John Danks, FOX Sports 1 reports.

Danks would be a nice lower-cost addition for a playoff hopeful that doesn't want to break the bank for an ace. He owns a 4.40 ERA and 92:46 K:BB ratio in 131 innings.


Shane Victorino removed for precautionary reasons Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:12 pm ET) Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino was removed from Wednesday's game for precautionary reasons, the Providence Journal reports.

Manager John Farrell saw "a change in his gait" in the outfield, leading to Victorino coming out midway through the game. He was 0 for 2 before exiting and has now hit .268/.303/.382 with two home runs and 12 RBI in 123 at-bats.


T.J. McFarland to return to team Thursday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:06 pm ET) Orioles pitcher T.J. McFarland will be activated from the bereavement list Thursday, masnsports.com reports.

McFarland was placed on the bereavement list Monday. He owns a 3.07 ERA and 23:11 K:BB ratio in 41 innings.


Michael Wacha to undergo MRI Monday, could throw soon
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:04 pm ET) Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha will undergo an MRI on his injured shoulder Monday, and if the tests go how the team expects, he'll begin a throwing program soon after, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

Wacha is eyeing a return to the team in September, and while he could come back as a reliever, general manager John Mozeliak "has a feeling" he'll return as a starter. His role for the remainder of the season will be determined by whatever the team believes is best for his long-term health.


Dioner Navarro drives home three runs in win vs. Red Sox
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:00 pm ET) Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro went 3 for 4 with three RBI in his team's 6-1 win over the Red Sox Wednesday.

Navarro began the scoring with an RBI single in the top of the first inning. He then drove in his second run with another single in the fifth inning before making it a hat trick with his third RBI single in the sixth. Navarro has hit .272/.313/.382 with seven home runs and 45 RBI in 327 at-bats.


Mark Buehrle surrenders one run in win vs. Red Sox
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:00 pm ET) Blue Jays pitcher Mark Buehrle earned a win Wednesday, giving up one earned run on six hits and one walk in 6 2/3 innings and striking out two in his team's 6-1 victory over the Red Sox.

Buehrle (11-7) was 10-1 through his first 12 starts but hadn't secured a win since June 1 before finally getting his 11th victory Wednesday. He owns a 3.11 ERA and 82:37 K:BB ratio in 142 innings. Buehrle is on track to face the Orioles Tuesday.


Brandon Workman takes loss in return to Red Sox
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9:59 pm ET) Red Sox pitcher Brandon Workman took a loss Wednesday, giving up five runs (two earned) on four hits and four walks in five innings and striking out two in his team's 6-1 defeat against the Blue Jays.

Making his return Wednesday after Jon Lester was scratched due to trade discussions, Workman (1-4) gave up two runs in the top of the first inning before running into trouble in the fifth when the third run scored on an error by the pitcher. Two more would come around in that inning. Workman owns a 4.08 ERA and 43:23 K:BB ratio in 57 1/3 innings. His next start is to be determined, based on how the rotation looks after the trading deadline.


Adam Jones smacks 21st home run Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9:54 pm ET) Orioles outfielder Adam Jones went 2 for 4 with a two-run home run in his team's 4-3 win over the Angels Wednesday.

Jones delivered his blast in the first inning, and the Orioles were able to tack on two more runs in the fourth before hanging on for the win. He has hit home runs in back-to-back games and now owns a .294/.321/.498 line with 21 home runs and 67 RBI in 432 at-bats.


Zach Britton delivers 21st save Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9:52 pm ET) Orioles closer Zach Britton earned his 21st save Wednesday, giving up one hit and striking out one in a scoreless ninth inning to finish off his team's 4-3 win over the Angels.

Britton has seen a lot of action since the All-Star break, making eight appearances in the last 13 days. While he was rocked in his first post-break outing (three runs, no outs), he's been excellent since, giving up just two hits and no walks in 6 1/3 scoreless innings. Britton owns a 1.65 ERA, 0.90 WHIP and 48:14 K:BB ratio in 54 2/3 innings.


Garrett Richards allows four runs in loss vs. Orioles
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9:49 pm ET) Angels pitcher Garrett Richards was hung with a loss Wednesday, surrendering four earned runs on six hits in seven innings and striking out four in his team's 4-3 defeat against the Orioles.

Richards (11-4) gave up a two-run home run in the first inning and another pair of runs in the fourth to post his second straight start with four runs allowed. He hadn't given up more than three runs in an outing in his previous nine starts before his recent two-game stretch. Richards owns a 2.74 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 143:46 K:BB ratio in 144 1/3 innings. He's scheduled to face the Dodgers Monday.


 
 
 
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