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Down on the Farm: Prospects I like more than you

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Among baseball enthusiasts, most of the prospects discussed in Down on the Farm are already well-known. Wil Myers is pretty much a household name. Jurickson Profar didn't catch anyone by surprise. And when aren't the Mets talking about Zack Wheeler?

Typically, I use this space to tell you how those players are performing, what obstacles stand in their way, when they might arrive and what you can expect from them when they do. But if you play in a league of any real size, I'm not introducing them to you.

And if I am, it's a problem.

I can't do what the scouts do. What I can do is interpret their findings for Fantasy owners, which is pretty much what I just described.

In the interest of full disclosure, though, I must admit I'm sometimes forced to play scout. In my dynasty leagues, as I'm sure is true in some of yours, the number of rostered minor-leaguers extends beyond the first or second tier of prospects that appear on all the preseason rank lists and into the third tier, where not even the scouts can agree on which players stand out. And I'd be lying if I said I hadn't developed a few favorites among that group, often going the extra mile to acquire them in those leagues.

With that in mind, I give you the first edition of the prospects I like more than you do. It's not the most academic list, but it's fun, honest and hopefully somewhat credible. Case in point: If I had made it last year, Tony Cingrani would have been at the top.

Really. He would have. I swear.

Of course, you'll never believe me without documented evidence. Let's see if I can do it again.

Rafael Montero, SP, Mets

Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler have gotten all the headlines, but Montero was the Mets' pick for minor league pitcher of the year last year, and so far this year, he's been even better. He doesn't boast the high-90s fastball of so many of the game's top pitching prospects, but he's no soft-tosser and has an impressive enough secondary arsenal to average more than a strikeout per inning. And best of all, he commands it, issuing a Cliff Lee-like 1.5 walks per nine innings over three minor-league seasons. You may not be able to afford Wheeler, but Montero could surprise if the Mets clear rotation space for him in the second half.

Brad Miller, SS, Mariners

Miller has played second fiddle to Nick Franklin throughout his time in the Mariners organization, but of the two middle infielders, he was the one who stuck around longer in spring training. So why did the Mariners pass him over for Franklin? Well, their opening was at second base, not shortstop, and they see Franklin as a better fit for that position long-term. But with Brendan Ryan hitting only .215 in the majors, you could argue they'll have a need at shortstop soon enough. Miller doesn't have big power or speed potential, but he's a gritty player (did I really just say that?) who does a little of everything. I'm hoping for Matt Carpenter-type production whenever he arrives.
Most Owned Minor Leaguers (6/12)
Player % owned
1. Wil Myers, OF, Rays 81
2. Zack Wheeler, SP, Mets 73
3. Oscar Taveras, OF, Cardinals 44
4. Josh Rutledge, 2B, Rockies 37
5. Tyler Skaggs, SP, Diamondbacks 36
6. Billy Hamilton, SS, Reds 35
7. Ike Davis, 1B, Mets 34
8. Travis d'Arnaud, C, Mets 30
9. Christian Yelich, OF, Marlins 29
10. Dylan Bundy, SP, Orioles 29

Rafael De Paula, SP, Yankees

So far in his first season of legitimate minor-league ball, De Paula has been nothing short of untouchable. He's surrendering 5.5 hits while recording 13.8 strikeouts per nine innings -- ratios you might expect from a top closer prospect, but not a starter. Granted, with the start of his career having been delayed by identity issues, he's a 22-year-old beating up on significantly younger competition, but even if his performance is somewhat misleading, he's at least proven he has great stuff, which is something you can't teach. The Yankees will take their time with him, but if you want to get in on the ground floor on a high-upside player, De Paula is the perfect find.

Alex Wood, RP, Braves

I'm cheating a little on this one. Wood is already in the majors, but not in a role that would cause Fantasy owners to take notice. The Braves needed him in middle relief with fellow lefties Jonny Venters and Eric O'Flaherty recovering from Tommy John surgery. CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Danny Knobler has described Wood as being on the Chris Sale plan, meaning he's expected to start next year with Paul Maholm and Tim Hudson likely out of the picture. The knock on Wood (get it?) entering the year was his lack of a breaking ball, but with the help of Venters and Craig Kimbrel, he developed a curveball this spring that allowed him to post a 1.26 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and a strikeout per inning in 10 starts at Double-A before his promotion.

Arismendy Alcantara, SS, Cubs

With Starlin Castro locked in at the major-league level and Javier Baez working his way up the minor-league ladder, the Cubs are seemingly overloaded at shortstop. But with neither player considered a defensive standout, the Cubs could still make room in their future lineup for Alcantara, who has begun to put up impressive numbers after an underwhelming start to his minor-league career. His power and patience have improved as he's worked his way up the ladder, to the point he's on a near 20-homer pace at Double-A, with an on-base percentage about 80 points higher than his batting average and an .842 OPS. And speed just so happens to be his best tool.

James Nelson, SP, Brewers

Not wanting to mess around with their 40-man roster too much, the Brewers have resorted to one uninspiring option after another in their starting rotation. But at age 24, if Nelson continues to do what he's been doing, he'll eventually force the issue. At least now he's at Triple-A after overpowering Double-A with a 2.74 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 9.4 strikeouts per nine innings. A hard-thrower with a good sinking fastball, Nelson has significantly improved his control this year, which is important since he gives up a fair number of hits for a high-strikeout guy. He won't be an ace for the Brewers, but at 6-foot-6, 245 pounds, he'll be a horse.

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
Cubs LF Kyle Schwarber a no-go Friday against Arizona
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:59 am ET) Cubs rookie left fielder Kyle Schwarber remains absent from the lineup Friday against the Diamondbacks with right rib soreness.

Schwarber appeared to have emerged from a slump before going down. He had three hits in seven at-bats with a homer and four runs scored in two games against Cincinnati.


Mets 1B Lucas Duda to begin rehab assignment Saturday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:49 am ET) Mets first baseman Lucas Duda is set to start a rehab stint with Double-A Binghamton on Saturday, according to MLB.com. Duda has been sidelined for two weeks with a thoracic herniation in his back.

It remains to be seen when he will be cleared to return to the Mets. He owns a strong .247/.346/.472 slash line with 21 homers and 56 RBI on the year.


Tigers promote RP Jeff Ferrell
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:38 am ET) Tigers reliever Jeff Ferrell has been recalled from Triple-A Toledo, MLive.com is reporting. He made two appearances for the team in early July before getting sent back down.

The 24-year-old Ferrell hasn't exactly been tearing it up in Toledo. He owns a 4.76 ERA in 11 appearances there after a strong stretch in Double-A. But he has performed better lately with a 3.12 ERA in his last eight games.


Tigers DH Victor Martinez could be benched or dropped in order
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:31 am ET) Struggling Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez could soon either lose playing time or fall a spot or two in the batting order.

He recently fell from the cleanup spot to fifth, but that has not kick-started him at the plate. He has pretty much been in a season-long slump. Martinez is batting .130 (6-for-46) with no extra-base hits and no RBI over the last 12 games.

"Trust me, all has been considered," Ausmus told MLive.com. "[Benching Martinez or lowering him in the order] could be a possibility right now. He hit the ball hard three times (Thursday) night. We'll see how he feels (Friday)."

Martinez lost time this year to a knee issue that is still making it tough for him to unleash power against right-handed pitching.

"I think he's getting a little frustrated," Ausmus added. "A combination of, he hasn't hit very well, but ... he's run into some bad luck. I think from the time of the knee injury, I don't know if he was ever the same, but at times you see flashes. He's just been scuffling lately. That's part of baseball. Sometimes you scuffle."


Cardinals demote RP Nick Greenwood to Triple-A
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:17 am ET) Just one day after promoting reliever Nick Greenwood from Triple-A Memphis, the Cardinals have sent him back down to the same team, per milb.com.

Greenwood did not get a chance to pitch in his latest stint with the team. He did make one appearance in July and allowed two runs without recording an out.


Indians targeting return next week for SP Carlos Carrasco
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:11 am ET) Indians starter Carlos Carrasco is slated to throw a bullpen session Friday in Detroit. He has been on the disabled list with an ailing shoulder, per the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

If all goes well, he could be activated to start at some point next week against the White Sox.

Carrasco was arguably the team's hottest pitcher before going down. He had five consecutive quality starts during which he allowed only six runs in 39 2/3 innings. He has 173 strikeouts in 158 innings on the year.


Dodgers' Corey Seager goes 2 for 4, drives in two in MLB debut
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(2:00 am ET) Dodgers rookie Corey Seager had an impressive big-league debut on Thursday. The young infielder went 2 for 4 four with a double, two RBI and two runs scored in the 10-7 loss to the Padres.

Since 1914, Seager is just one of two Dodgers rookies to have at least two hits, two RBI and a double in his Major League debut. Russell Martin was the other.

Seager struck out in his first big-league at-bat, but he shook that off for what was a very fine debut. 


Padres RP Joaquin Benoit answers call to get save on Thursday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:51 am ET) Padres reliever Joaquin Benoit worked a perfect ninth inning to seal the 10-7 win over the Dodgers on Thursday. Benoit picked up his second save of the season, needing just 13 pitches to retire the side in order.


Padres' Jedd Gyorko belts go-ahead home run in win Thursday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:49 am ET) Padres infielder Jedd Gyorko provided the biggest hit of the night in the 10-7 win over the Dodgers on Thursday. Gyorko, who went 2 for 4 on the night, blasted a two-run home run in the eighth inning to turn a 7-6 deficit into an 8-7 lead. 

The home run was Gyorko's 11th of the season, and he is now batting .316 with three homers and nine RBI over his last 10 games. 


Padres' Yangervis Solarte busts out of slump with four-hit night
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:45 am ET) Padres utility man Yangervis Solarte had quite a night at the plate on Thursday. Batting from the lead-off spot in the order, Solarte went 4 for 5 with two doubles, a home run, two RBI and three runs scored.

Solarte saved his biggest hits for late in the game. In the seventh inning, he crushed a pitch to deep left field for his 12th homer of the season--a solo shot which brought the Padres to within a run. 

In the next inning, he laced an RBI-double to pad the Padres' lead to their final score of 10-7 in the victory over the Dodgers. 

Solarte was in need of a big offensive performance, as he entered the game stuck in a 4-for-26 skid.


 
 
 
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