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Down on the Farm: Where there's a Wil

Senior Fantasy Writer
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It's May 30. Do you know where your can't-miss preseason prospect stash is?

He should have made it home by now. He was due here half past May. But as we approach June o'clock, Wil Myers remains stranded at Triple-A, without so much as a phone call from the parent club.

It's like it doesn't even care.

But of course, it does care. The Rays gave up James Shields, arguably the most influential player in franchise history, for Myers, recognizing that their lineup lacked the thump to compete in the beastly AL East. We already know Myers brings the thump. His 37 home runs between Double- and Triple-A last year ranked second among minor-leaguers, making him one of the more surprising players passed over for a promotion even then.

So ... what the heck?

In the absence of concrete estimates or thoughts of any kind from the Rays, we're left to our own devices, which consist mostly of historical precedent and good old fashioned guesswork.

"But isn't that how we got into this mess in the first place?" Yes, it is. But if you're one of the owners in 72 percent of leagues who've stashed Myers since Day 1, isn't that better than another column about how the latest starting pitcher call-up -- Michael Wacha, let's say -- is worth an add "just in case?" That's what I thought.

In these days of self-proclaimed baseball intellectuals and their ever-so-stimulating discussion boards, anytime a prospect takes longer than expected to reach the majors, the conversation turns to everyone's favorite collective bargaining clause -- and possibly the only one known by name.

Most Owned Minor Leaguers (5/30)
Player % owned
1. Wil Myers, OF, Rays 72
2. Zack Wheeler, SP, Mets 63
3. Tony Cingrani, SP, Reds 53
4. Josh Rutledge, SS, Rockies 50
5. Oscar Taveras, OF, Cardinals 46
6. Yasiel Puig, OF, Dodgers 41
7. Jesus Montero, C, Mariners 36
8. Billy Hamilton, SS, Reds 35
9. Dustin Ackley, 2B, Mariners 34
10. Christian Yelich, OF, Marlins 32

Oh, Super Two! Super Two! Whoop-de-woo! It's Super Two!

Congratulations. You've mastered the vocabulary portion of Down on the Farm. Assume the desk at the head of the class and accept this gold star.

For as many times as that rule is cited, you'd think more people would understand how it works. Basically, the 22 percent of players called up this year who have accumulated the most service time by the end of 2015 get an extra year of arbitration. We won't know the magic date until three years from now. June 15 is a reasonable estimate, but frankly, teams might not be "safe" until July.

So, wait. You're saying we still have a month to go? Oh, for crying --

No, I'm just presenting one possibility. It's guesswork, remember? What makes my guesswork more authoritative than yours? Nothing, really. Guess you might as well stop reading.

Still with me? Of course you are. The thirst for a Myers timetable on a Web bereft of it is unquenchable. I can write anything here, and you'll just keep reading. That lion has a crooked eye. My hair grows all wavy-like. The moon is made of margarine.

Another possibility for Myers' delayed arrival: The Rays are more than satisfied with what they already have. It's a touching story made at least somewhat plausible by unexpected contributions from Kelly Johnson and James Loney. But in the long run, their lineup still has more holes than their Shields-less (and right now, David Price-less) rotation can overcome.

Not only is Loney (and to a certain extent, Johnson) sure to regress, but Luke Scott won't continue to reach base at a .380 clip. Plus, the Rays have enough versatility in their lineup that Myers could, in an indirect way, take over at shortstop, with Ben Zobrist moving over from second base to man that position and Johnson moving in from the outfield to man second base.

Want to know my theory for why Myers is still awaiting the call? He hasn't forced the issue. From the beginning of the season, the Rays determined not to start the arbitration clock or rearrange their starting lineup until he proved good and ready. Safe to say a .244 batting average with a strikeout every third at-bat over his first 41 games at Durham didn't do that.

Which brings me to why I've chosen now to write this column.

In case you haven't noticed, Myers has been looking unmistakably Myers-like over his last six games (check out this recent blast), hitting five homers and three doubles. He has also cut down on his strikeouts, with just five in his last nine games. Is it enough to win over the Rays once and for all? My guess, while I'm at it, is no. But another two weeks of this changes everything.

And even if you assume the Rays bow to Super Two, July 1 is only a couple weeks after that. In 2-4 weeks, Wayward Willy has every reason to come home.

So there you have it: a working timetable. In the absence of an official one, it'll have to do. About the only thing I can see preventing it is a sudden reversion to his early-season struggles, but if you had faith enough to roster Myers in the first place, trusting he'd make an impact as soon as he reached the big leagues, you should have faith in him capitalizing on this opportunity. And if that's the case, now would be the worst time to drop him for Alfonso Soriano, Lucas Duda, Leonys Martin or whatever else the waiver wire turns up (for the record, I rank Myers 50th among outfielders going forward).

You've already stuck it out this long. For the player once hyped as this year's Mike Trout, or at least Bryce Harper (looking more like Anthony Rizzo now), you might as well see it through to the end.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Scott White at @CBSScottWhite . You can also e-mail us at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Brewers SP Matt Garza heads to DL due to shoulder tendinitis
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:42 pm ET) Brewers starting pitcher Matt Garza was placed on the 15-day disabled list Monday due to right shoulder tendinitis, the team announced. The right-hander was scheduled to start Tuesday against the Braves and no replacement has been named yet.

Garza is having a tough season. He is 4-10 with a 5.55 ERA through 17 starts. He is winless in his last five starts and has a 7.88 ERA in his last four starts.


Rockies GM: We will continue to exercise patience with Jon Gray
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:11 pm ET) With the Rockies in last place in the NL West and their chances of making the playoffs fading, calling up starting pitcher prospect Jon Gray could be an option to provide a spark and keep them in the playoff hunt. It seems Rockies manager Walt Weiss would be in favor of it.

"At some point, especially if we're in striking distance, yeah, you want to use all your weapons, absolutely," Weiss said of bringing up Gray, per The Denver Post. "No, I don't think it's early."

However, general manager Jeff Bridich isn't as eager to bring up the 2013 first-round pick, who has has logged 252 innings in the minors.

"Jon Gray is doing a great job right now of learning lessons and evolving at the Triple-A level," Bridich said. "So there are things that he needs to do and will continue to do. And we'll continue to exercise patience with him."

The top-100 prospect is 3-5 with a 4.88 ERA in 16 outings (15 starts) at Triple-A this season. He is 3-2 with a 3.47 ERA in his last 12 games.


Red Sox outright pitcher Zeke Spruill to Triple-A
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(1:48 pm ET) Red Sox pitcher Zeke Spruill, who was designated for assignment Friday, cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Pawtucket on Monday.

Report: Red Sox send P Steven Wright back to Pawtucket
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:19 pm ET) The Red Sox on Sunday dispatched knuckleballer Steven Wright back to Triple-A Pawtucket one day after promoting him, multiple league sources have told the Boston Globe.

Wright did not pitch during his latest stay. He owns a 3-2 record and 4.15 ERA in 11 outings for the Red Sox this season.


GM: Pirates have no plans to demote RF Gregory Polanco
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:13 pm ET) Pirates right fielder Gregory Polanco is batting a disturbing .148 (12-for-81) over the last month, but if he's going to work his way out of his slump, he's going to do it with Pittsburgh.

The team has no plans to demote Polanco so he can work on his hitting.

"We believe [he] is going to be a quality major league player but there are growing pains," general manager Neal Huntington told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "And [a demotion] hasn't even been a conversation."

Polanco, who has been benched often against left-handers and sat against Cleveland righty Danny Salazar on Sunday, owns a .231 average that is at its lowest point since May 25.


Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli struggling mentally as well
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(12:52 pm ET) The struggles of Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli are starting to take a toll on him mentally.

"I'm on what's supposed to be a winning team and I'm not producing," he complained to the Boston Globe. "...If you're not mentally frustrated, there's something wrong. But I come here every day to work and try to fix it ... I wake up every day thinking that today's the day. I'm just going to keep working, keep doing what I've done in my career, to get out of this thing."

Only Napoli and Yankees second baseman Stephen Drew own a batting average under .200 and on-base percentage under .300 among 116 qualifying regulars in the majors. Napoli owns a slash line of .192/.294/.358.

And it's not getting any better. He is on skids of 2-for-27 and 5-for-46. He has only one RBI in 15 games since June 19.


Report: Teams believe Braves could deal CF Cameron Maybin
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:36 pm ET) Braves center fielder Cameron Maybin has never achieved at the plate anything close to what he has recorded this season. And other teams believe Atlanta might be looking to sell high and trade him by July 31, according to ESPN MLB Insider Buster Olney.

Maybin has been hot in July with nine hits in 24 at-bats, including two doubles and a home run, to break a 6-for-35 skid. He boasts a slash line on the year of .294/.363/.416. All three numbers represent career-bests.


Royals SP Kris Medlen goes six innings in fourth rehab start
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(12:27 pm ET) Royals starting pitcher Kris Medlen (elbow) took the hill Sunday for his fourth start on a rehab assignment. It was his second start with Triple-A Omaha.

Medlen allowed two runs on five hits and one walk in six innings. He struck out two during his first win in four starts. 

The six innings were the most the right-hander has thrown since beginning his rehab assignment June 19. He also threw 81 pitches (50 strikes), which was also the most he has thrown on his rehab assignment.

Medlen still dealt with some control issues Sunday as he hit a batter. It is the fourth batter he has hit in four starts.


Pirates hopeful prospect Jameson Taillon can pitch in September
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(12:25 pm ET) Pirates premier pitching prospect Jameson Taillon could return to action in September if his recovery from hernia surgery, which he is scheduled to undergo this week, goes smoothly.

"We'll see how the recovery goes," general manager Neal Huntington told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "It is two months-ish. I mean, we have been told it is roughly two months until he is ready to compete."


Rays 1B James Loney hits safely in first three games off DL
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:22 pm ET) So far, so good for Rays first baseman James Loney in his return from a fractured middle left finger, which forced him to miss six weeks. He has hit safely in all three games since he returned to the lineup Friday.

Loney drove in two runs on a single in the first inning Sunday against the Yankees, giving Tampa Bay a 2-0 lead. They won the game 8-1.

He is batting .308 (4 for 13) with three RBI, two runs and two strikeouts since his activation from the disabled list.


 
 
 
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