Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
      
Fantasy Football Today
Fantasy Football Today Blog
Gameday Inactives
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Scores
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
Fantasy Baseball Today Blog
2015 Draft Prep Guide
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

Down on the Farm: Yelich is the real prize in Miami

Senior Fantasy Writer
  •  

You like what Marcell Ozuna's been doing for you since he came up? That batting average? Those doubles? The home run, even?

Well, stop it. Wipe that silly grin off your face and try to see the big picture here.

The better Ozuna performs, the longer Christian Yelich, the real prize of the Marlins farm system, has to wait his turn. That outfield ain't big enough for the two of them.

No, really. As poorly as the Marlins have performed offensively, they have a surprising strong outfield. Justin Ruggiano has proven he deserves to play every day. Giancarlo Stanton will probably return sooner than later. Throw in Ozuna, and even Juan Pierre is on the outside looking in.

Why would you prefer for Yelich to get those at-bats? Well, for starters, Baseball America rated him the 15th-best prospect coming into the season, with only best-of-the-best types like Oscar Taveras, Wil Myers, Xander Bogaerts, Miguel Sano and Carlos Correa ahead of him, among hitters. Of course, just because he has tons of upside doesn't mean he's ready for the majors, but he's already given us some indication that he is.

You know Yasiel Puig, that minor-leaguer whose .517 batting average in the Cactus League justifies his ownership rate of 41 percent even though he has no clear path to the majors? Yelich was basically the Grapefruit League version of him, sticking around longer than anyone destined for the minors rightfully should just because he wouldn't stop killing the ball.

In a much less hitter-friendly league, he hit .364 with five home runs and a 1.269 OPS in 44 at-bats. And unlike Puig, he actually had a feel for the strike zone, drawing six walks compared to only seven strikeouts.

Most Owned Minor Leaguers (5/9)
Player % own
1. Wil Myers, OF, Rays 76
2. Jurickson Profar, 2B, Rangers 49
3. Oscar Taveras, OF, Cardinals 48
4. Zack Wheeler, SP, Mets 41
5. Yasiel Puig, OF, Dodgers 40
6. Billy Hamilton, SS, Reds 36
7. Gerrit Cole, SP, Pirates 33
8. Trevor Bauer, SP, Indians 32
9. Travis d'Arnaud, C, Mets 32
10. Dylan Bundy, SP, Orioles 31

I get that it's "just" spring training. Jackie Bradley's big spring won him a job, and he's now back in the minor leagues. Aaron Hicks' big spring won him a job, and he's still a hot streak away from the Mendoza line. But just because spring numbers sometimes mislead even baseball executives doesn't mean they have no application. A good spring is a better indication of major-league readiness than a good stint at Double-A. If you didn't believe it on some level, you wouldn't be wasting a spot on Puig.

Besides, comparing Yelich to Bradley and Hicks isn't entirely fair. They're projected regulars who will likely make a couple All-Star games in their careers, but Yelich is a different class of prospect. In the words of Baseball America, he "has the pure swing of a future batting champion and an advanced approach" -- high enough praise to make him the Marlins' most exciting hitter prospect since Giancarlo Stanton himself, who in turn was their most exciting since Miguel Cabrera.

Chances are if he hadn't missed time early in the season with a foot injury, Yelich would have gotten the call over Ozuna, but the Marlins understandably didn't want their top prospect attempting to break into the majors while recovering from injury and before even playing a game at Double-A. His home runs in back-to-back games, with two triples among his five hits in the second of those games, should allay their fears somewhat, making him a more reasonable candidate for promotion. That is, if Ozuna cooperates.

Listen, he's part of their long-term plans, too. This isn't Shane Spencer coming up and forcing his way into the lineup in defiance of all scouting reports. Ozuna is a legit prospect.

But he's no Yelich. He's no No. 3-hitting, face-of-the-franchise type. If everything goes right, he'll be a steady source of home runs, but coming up at age 22 after playing only 10 games at Double-A, he has his work cut out for him. Considering he hit .266 the last two years at Class A and has a 3-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio throughout his minor-league career, he could be in for a rude awakening.

But he hasn't gotten it yet, and with each multi-hit game to start his career, he earns about a week of leeway.

So enjoy it while it lasts, Ozuna owners. Absorb as many cheap homers as the law of averages will allow. Just remember that when the tide turns, Yelich is just a phone call away.

No, seriously ... remember. As an Ozuna owner, you can be the one who adds Yelich off the waiver wire before the rest of the league even realizes what's happening.

Five on the Farm ... by Michael Hurcomb, CBSSports.com

The names read like a roll call of Hollywood A-list stars ... Oscar Taveras. Shelby Miller. Carlos Martinez. Kolten Wong. Trevor Rosenthal. Michael Wacha. Matt Adams. Tyrell Jenkins. Carson Kelly.

There are many recognizable prospects on this list and if you haven't figured out already, they all belong to one organization -- the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Cardinals came into the 2013 season loaded with burgeoning talent, which prompted many media outlets -- including the premier prospect publication, Baseball America -- to rank St. Louis with the best farm system in the majors.

It's not like the Cardinals had a need to add more names to the top of the list, but then again, can you really have too much of a good thing? Introducing starting pitching prospect John Gast.

The 2010 sixth-round pick had varying degrees of recognition coming into this season. MLB.com considered Gast a top 10 prospect (No. 8) in the Cardinals' organization, but Baseball America had him further off the radar, ranking him as St. Louis' 26th-best prospect. Well, there's no denying now he's arrived.

Through his first six starts, Gast has allowed one run through 34 2/3 innings. For those counting at home that resulted in a 0.26 ERA. In fact, he didn't allow his first run until his sixth start. That's right -- he opened the year with five straight scoreless performances and went no shorter than five innings in any of those outings. But perhaps the most impressive stat is Gast hasn't allowed a home run in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, where home runs are as common as senior discounts in Florida.

It's been a 180-degree turn for Gast, who struggled after his promotion to Triple-A Memphis last season. After winning 13 games in 28 starts between Double-A and Triple-A in 2012, he posted a 5.10 ERA and 1.52 WHIP in 20 starts for Memphis. He also surrendered 10 home runs.

Fully buying into this fast start for Gast would probably be a mistake. Regression is certainly in the offing. While the Cardinals say he's improved his command and his ability to work down in the zone -- which is a reason he hasn't been torched by home runs like he was last season -- no one really talks about Gast being a frontline starter. It's not to say the 24-year-old hurler can't develope into one as he gets closer to his prime, but we need to see how he's performing when the dog days of summer kick in.

Now, let's move onto five other players in the minors grabbing headlines ...

Tyler Collins, OF, Tigers
Affiliate: Double-A Erie
2013 stats: .267/.350/.578/.927, seven doubles, seven home runs, 19 runs, 20 RBI in 25 games
Collins made news last week when he homered in five straight games. He entered the season with 18 home runs in 212 games, so this early season outburst has been surprising. Collins has always hit -- his .404 average as a freshman at Baylor in 2010 and being named the national junior college player of the year in 2011 are both evidence of that fact. But his power has been geared more toward doubles than home runs, which leads to speculation that his recent home run surge might not be a lasting trend. Collins entered the season considered a top 10 prospect in the Tigers system by MLB.com and Baseball America, and he surely hasn't lived down the hype. However, some scouts ponder whether or not his ceiling is as a fourth outfielder. Collins can rake and his ability to hit should get him to the majors. Whether or not that happens with the Tigers remains to be seen. The Tigers are not short on outfielders at the major-league level, and the analysts seem to view Collins as the team's fourth-best outfield prospect behind Nick Castellanos, Avisail Garcia and Danry Vasquez, so he could end up as trade bait down the road.

Francisco Lindor, SS, Indians
Affiliate: Class A Carolina
2013 stats:.366/.427/.527/.954, one home run, four triples, seven doubles, seven stolen bases, 12 RBI, 16 runs, 11 walks, 13 strikeouts in 29 games
We knew Lindor could play defense. That's been his MO since the Indians drafted him eighth overall in 2011, and many scouts feel he's major-league ready defensively right now. But his offensive outburst at the outset of the 2013 season is only solidifying his status as the Indians' best prospect. Baseball America considers Lindor the Indians' best infield prospect since Brandon Phillips and best position prospect since Victor Martinez. That acclaim right there makes Lindor a must-own keeper. Now, Lindor doesn't have the power potential Phillips and Martinez possessed, but he has enough speed to leg out extra-base hits and steal bases. His bat control should allow him to hit for average and his pitch-recognition skills are above average -- his 96:73 strikeout-to-walk ratio through 156 pro games is nice to see.

Kevin Plawecki, C, Mets
Affiliate: Class A Savannah
2013 stats: .400/.457/.691/1.148, five home runs, 17 doubles, 17 runs, 28 RBI, eight walks, 14 strikeouts in 29 games
No, don't doubt us. That stat line is real. It's not like Plawecki was completely off the radar -- after all he was a 2012 first-round pick. It's just that not many folks considered him to have a high ceiling. MLB.com ranked Plawecki as the Mets' 17th-best prospect coming into the season and Baseball America had him 21st. Though, the low ranking wasn't because of his offense. That's the reason he was a first-round pick. He never hit lower than .341 and struck out just 29 times in three seasons at Purdue. Unfortunately, Plawecki is at best an average catcher, which hurts his overall outlook. Still, critics might be changing their tune if Plawecki continues to rake like this. As for Plawecki's long-term outlook, there is the situation of New York having the best catcher prospect in baseball -- Travis d'Arnaud. Plawecki might eventually make it to Queens one day, but it seems the chances of him being trade bait are much higher. If you're in a really deep keeper league, then Plawecki might be worth a flier, but he's not a must-add prospect yet.

D.J. Baxendale, SP, Twins
Affiliate: Class A Fort Myers
2013 stats: 5-0, 1.49 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 35 strikeout, six walks, two home runs allowed in six starts (36 1/3 innings)
It's a shame Baxendale plays on the same team as Miguel Sano or else he might be the standout player on the Fort Myers roster. Baxendale is probably one of the leading candidates for breakout minor leaguer of the year. The 2012 10th-round pick began his pro career in relief last season and had outstanding numbers (0.96 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 31 strikeouts in 18 2/3 innings). He was a key contributor in college for Arkansas, but he wasn't highly rated because he had just average stuff. But the scouting report indicated Baxendale's presence on the mound could allow him to thrive as a pro and it seems to be coming true. Thus far, Baxendale is making a smooth transition to pro baseball, so he could develop into a legitimate long-term keeper before long.

Alen Hanson, 2B/SS, Pirates
Affiliate: Class A Bradenton
2013 stats:.237/.302/.316/.617, no home runs, two triples, five doubles, seven stolen bases, 13 RBI, 14 runs, 11 walks, 24 strikeouts in 28 games
Speaking of shame, we don't like seeing this 20-year-old infield prospect getting devoured by the pitcher-friendly Florida State League, especially since it follows a breakout season in 2012 at low Class A West Virginia. To refresh your memory, Hanson's slash line last season was .309/.381/.528/.909 and he produced 62 extra-base hits in 124 games. Hanson entered the season as a top 100 prospect by MLB.com and Baseball America, but those rankings are being put the test early in 2013. It's far from time to panic since Hanson hasn't even had his 21st birthday yet and it's not like he was banging down the door to the majors prior to his early season slump. He's still a couple of years away from a Fantasy impact, so don't go dropping Hanson in long-term keeper formats. Let's give him time to recover before changing our long-term opinion about the Dominican infielder.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyBB . You can also follow Scott at @CBSScottWhite .

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

  •  
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
Orioles, Pedro Beato agree to minor-league deal
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:21 pm ET) The Orioles and pitcher Pedro Beato have agreed to a minor-league deal, pending a physical, masnsports.com reports.

Beato was a first-round pick of the Orioles in the 2006 MLB Draft but didn't crack the major-league roster before being taken by the Mets in the 2010 Rule 5 draft. He spent most of last season with Triple-A Gwinnett, posting a 4.10 ERA and 45:17 K:BB ratio in 48 1/3 innings.


Braves' Luis Avilan feeling good heading into bullpen competition
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:15 pm ET) Braves left-handed pitcher Luis Avilan is competing for a spot in the bullpen this spring after enduring a down season last year, and he's confident he's getting back to the form he showed in 2013, MLB.com reports.

"I feel like all the work I've done in the offseason is really paying off," Avilan said. "I feel really good with my bullpen [sessions] and my live BP. I've been feeling really good with my pitches. The location has been really good, better than last year."

Avilan made 10 appearances in winter ball after posting a 4.57 ERA and 25:21 K:BB ratio in 43 1/3 innings in 2014.


Tigers' Joakim Soria throws live batting practice on Tuesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(5:35 pm ET) Tigers reliever Joakim Soria was able to throw live batting practice on Tuesday, according to the Detroit Free Press

Soria wasn't listed on the team's pitching schedule for the first five spring games, which caused some confusion. While Soria said he's fine, manager Brad Ausmus said Soria is slightly behind the other pitchers in camp by his own choice. Soria did receive positive reviews during his session. "By all accounts, Soria threw very well," Ausmus said.

The 30-year-old Soria posted a 3.25 ERA over 44 1/3 innings last year.


Rangers 1B Mitch Moreland won't play spring games until next week
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:36 pm ET) Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland will run the bases on Tuesday, and won't seen any spring games until next week, according to the Star-Telegram. Texas is taking a cautious approach with Moreland in camp after he underwent ankle surgery last June.

The 29-year-old Moreland hit .246/.297/.347 over 167 at-bats last year.


Blue Jays' Gibbons yet to settle on closer, could use committee
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:34 pm ET) Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said Tuesday that while Brett Cecil has the ability to close, he might not serve as the team's closer, the National Post reports.

"He could do it. He might not. It might be somebody else," Gibbons said.

The manager also raised the possibility of using multiple closers.

"It could be one of those deals where one night he might be closing, the other night he might have to come in at the end of the seventh or eighth inning," Gibbons said.

Despite the face that Gibbons hasn't deemed Cecil his closer, he did praise his pitching ability Tuesday.

"He’s got some overpowering stuff," Gibbons said. "He’s a lefty and I don’t think there’s a better curveball out there. He can throw it for strikes, he can bring it down low in the zone and bounce it for a strikeout. That’s kind of his go-to pitch. He doesn’t rattle. He’s pretty confident and calm when he’s out there."

Cecil went 2-3 with a 2.70 ERA, 76:27 K:BB ratio and five saves in 53 1/3 innings in 2014. He owns a 11.1 career K/9 rate in relief.


White Sox's Geovany Soto feeling good at the start of spring games
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:23 pm ET) White Sox catcher Geovany Soto said he is feeling good after being limited to 78 games the last two seasons due to injuries. He missed time in 2014 because of arthroscopic surgery on his left foot and a torn meniscus in his right knee.

"I love where I'm at," Soto said, per The Chicago Tribune. "My legs feel great. My whole body feels great. I'm just anxious to get started and show these guys what I can do, hopefully stay healthy and break camp."


Dodgers' Mattingly: Hyun-Jin Ryu's (back) next step will be BP
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:22 pm ET) Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told reporters that starting pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu came out of Monday's bullpen session "fine," and that his next step will likely be throwing batting practice, according to SB Nation.

Ryu is dealing with a back injury, but has been throwing the last couple of days without pain. At this point, Ryu remains without a timetable for his first spring game. He went 14-7 in 2014 with a 3.38 ERA and 139 strikeouts in 152 innings pitched last season.


Hinch: Astros 'likely' to use seven-man bullpen in 2015
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:15 pm ET) Astros manager A.J. Hinch indicated that the team is likely to use a seven-man bullpen this season, leaving two spots open for competition this spring, the Houston Chronicle reports.

"Likely," Hinch said of a seven-man bullpen. "There’s always a chance that (changes) depending on how the schedule plays out, and there’s always a debate on how many pitchers to carry during interleague. Now interleague is pretty much year round, so I mean, in a perfect world with our roster, it’s likely to carry a seven-man ‘pen. If we feel like we need an extra pitcher or injury happens, there’s different ways to shape our roster, then we will, but likely 12."

The two open spots will likely be filled by a left-handed pitcher and a long reliever. The competition for the second lefty in the pen likely comes down to Kevin Chapman and nonroster invitees Joe Thatcher and Darin Downs. The long relief role has a broader list of candidates, including Alex White and Asher Wojciechowski, who will prepare both as starters and relievers.

"We’re going to stretch out a lot of our guys," Hinch said. "Some of them are because they’re competing in that fifth starter spot, some of them are bullpen guys. Will Harris is going to throw multiple innings. Obviously (Sam) Deduno has been a starter in the past, he’s in a competition for the fifth man spot. Wojo, White, those guys are going to need to, going to plan for the season on both fronts, whether it’s a starter or reliever. But we’re preaching multiple innings. It’s important if you have a seven-man bullpen that you have a couple of guys that can get four, five, six outs if needed and be a bridge to the rest of the bullpen."


Rangers' Tolleson: 'I'd like to be that bridge' between starters, closers
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:15 pm ET) Rangers pitcher Shawn Tolleson told reporters he would like to become the link between the starting rotation and back-end relievers Tanner Scheppers and Neftali Feliz this season, according to the Dallas Morning News.

"I would like to be that bridge," Tolleson said.

Tolleson led the club with 71 2/3 innings of relief last season. He pitched more than one inning 20 times and held left-handed hitters to a .282 on-base percentage.

"He's got the skill set to be one of those that we use in the latter portions of the game," manager Jeff Banister said. "He seems to love the competition."


Nationals faced with tough decision regarding Michael Taylor
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:10 pm ET) The Nationals are faced with a tough decision when it comes to outfield prospect Michael Taylor, who appears to be on the cusp of being ready for a regular role at the major-league level.

A major issue is playing time since the Nationals have a starting outfield of Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper and Denard Span. Taylor would be a solid fourth outfielder, but having him coming off the bench is not ideal for his development.

“It’s the same age-old decision that must be made regarding guys that are just on the cusp of being big-league ready and everyday players,” manager Matt Williams said, per NatsInsider.com. “And a question of depth on your team, too. … It’s a question of depth on your team, it’s a question of how much playing time they’re really going to get, and are they better served staying in the minor leagues and getting those at-bats until their opportunity arises. But Mike’s close. He’s really close.”


 
 
 
Rankings