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Down on the Farm: Who's got next?

Michael Hurcomb
Fantasy Writer
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Do you remember the good ol' days of baseball? Like when the word "pitch count" didn't exist, closers would often go multiple innings to record saves and prospects were given time to develop in the minor leagues.

There's nothing wrong with change, and often change is a good thing. But now that teams are rapidly moving prospects through their farm system, it's getting tougher to guesstimate MLB debuts.

There was a time when a player would get drafted and it would be a few years before we would see him in the majors. Now, guys get drafted and months later they're donning big league uniforms.

This season, we have seen a pair of 2012 first-round picks -- Kevin Gausman and Michael Wacha -- and one second-round pick -- Alex Wood -- make their MLB debuts. Let's not forget that 2012 second-round pick Paco Rodriguez made his debut for the Dodgers last season.

The list goes on and on with players spending little time in the minors, hardly seeing time at the upper levels or even making the jump from the low minors. Some of the more notable names meeting the criteria have been Yasiel Puig, Anthony Rendon, Jose Fernandez and Carlos Martinez.

We truly live in a world where calling a prospect a long-term Fantasy keeper is taboo. And that means bench spots in seasonal formats are being occupied more by minor leaguers than true reserves. Everyone rather not miss out on the next great prospect and bypass a player that could pay immediate, but likely short-lived dividends.

Which leads us into the topic of who is among the next wave of prospects speeding through the minors that could be worth a bench spot in your league?

The Mariners have already begun the transition of bringing up their stars of tomorrow. Mike Zunino is calling games behind the plate, while Brad Miller and Nick Franklin are manning the middle infield. But the call-ups aren't likely to stop with those three.

We're anticipating starting pitchers Danny Hultzen and Taijuan Walker joining the Seattle rotation by season's end. The duo has a combined 19 Triple-A starts, but Hultzen would have likely already been in the majors had a shoulder injury not sidelined him for several weeks. Walker has tossed 11 shutout innings since his promotion from Double-A Jackson. I've been pushing Fantasy owners all season to stash Hultzen as an impact arm, but now I'm changing my tune about Walker, given his surge this season and the recent trend of unlikely promotions.

The Orioles' rotation certainly could use a boost, but look to outfielder Henry Urrutia to provide a lift to the team's offense in the second half. He was recently promoted to Triple-A Norfolk after the organization got a little more comfortable with his defensive and baserunning skills. However, Urrutia can rake. He hit .365 with a .550 slugging percentage and .983 OPS in 52 games at Double-A Bowie, and the Orioles can always stick him at DH if they feel he's too much of a liability in the outfield.

The Red Sox are trying to solidify the back-end of their rotation. Allen Webster hasn't panned out yet and while Felix Doubront has been much better as of late, if the Red Sox don't trust Rubby De La Rosa or Franklin Morales to help the rotation, then Boston could turn to Brandon Workman. After going 10-8 with a 3.50 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in 25 starts last season, the right-hander is 8-2 with a 3.42 ERA and 1.19 WHIP between Double-A and Triple-A this season, while striking out a career-high 9.8 batters per nine innings. He has gone 3-1 with a 3.41 ERA in five starts since his promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket.

The Royals and White Sox are both under .500, but with plenty of games left they are still in the playoff hunt. Even if they fall out of the playoff chase, personnel moves could lead them to promote some of their top pitching prospects, particularly Kansas City's Yordano Ventura and Erik Johnson of the White Sox.

Ventura has struggled a bit since his promotion to Triple-A Omaha, posting a 4.94 ERA in 23 2/3 innings, but if the Royals trade soon-to-be-free-agent Ervin Santana, then Ventura could get the call. Remember, he was in the final pool of players vying for a spot in the rotation this spring.

Most Owned Minor Leaguers (as of 7/3)
Player % owned
1. Will Middlebrooks, 3B, Red Sox 50
2. Oscar Taveras, OF, Cardinals 43
3. Michael Wacha, SP, Cardinals 38
4. Billy Hamilton, OF, Reds 36
5. Ike Davis, 1B, Mets 32
6. Dan Straily, SP, Athletics 31
7. Travis d'Arnaud, C, Mets 30
8. Christian Yelich, OF, Marlins 28
9. Tyler Skaggs, SP, D-Backs 26
10. Trevor Bauer, SP, Indians 25

As for Johnson, the 2011 second-round pick is 9-2 with a 2.21 ERA and 0.95 WHIP in 16 starts between Double-A and Triple-A. The White Sox are unlikely to make the playoffs, so it might be worth giving Johnson a taste of the majors in 2013 so he's ready to compete for a rotation spot next spring.

Lastly, Phillies third baseman Michael Young's name has been mentioned heavily in trade rumors. If the Phillies choose to be sellers at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, then Young is a strong candidate to be moved. If he's dealt, who replaces Young at the hot corner?

Cody Asche is a strong candidate since he's done well at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, but I'm not convinced Maikel Franco wouldn't leapfrog Asche. After rivaling Miguel Sano as the top power hitter in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League (high Class A), Franco has been on a ridiculous tear since his promotion to Double-A Reading. He hit .431 with a .765 slugging percentage, four home runs and 11 RBI in his first 12 games. If Franco has star potential, then much like Johnson, the Phillies might not wait until next spring to give him a major-league audition.

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Player News
Trevor Cahill earns first career save in extras
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(2:35 am ET) Diamondbacks pitcher Trevor Cahill made his first relief appearance of the season Friday, earning his first career save in a 4-2 extra innings win over the Dodgers.

Cahill pitched the bottom of the 12th inning after regular closer Addison Reed blew the save in the ninth. With the Diamondbacks up two, he worked a perfect frame, striking out one batter and finishing the inning on 11 pitches.

Cahill struggled mightily as a starter this season, particularly with his control, walking 13 batters in 18 2/3 innings. Still, he does have 18 strikeouts to go with his 8.68 ERA. 


Addison Reed blows first save on homer
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(2:30 am ET) Diamondbacks closer Addison Reed was given a one-run lead to protect Friday, and could not hold it as he blew his first save of the season vs. the Dodgers.

Reed allowed a solo home run with one out in the ninth, tying the game, 2-2. He finished the inning by recording consecutive flyball outs to send it into extra innings, where the Diamondbacks would go on to win, 4-2.

Reed now has three saves in four opportunities, and has allowed four runs in nine innings of work on the season.   


Wade Miley solid despite wildness
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(2:27 am ET) Diamondbacks starting pitcher Wade Miley was effectively wild Friday, but settled for a no-decision in a 4-2 extra-innings win over the Dodgers.

MIley allowed just one run in six innings of work, despite tossing five walks. He limited the Dodgers to just a pair of hits and was helped along by matching a season-high with eight strikeouts. He exited the game without a chance to win, as his seventh-inning solo home run allowed left the score tied, 1-1.

Miley has been a bit hit-or-miss this season, with just two quality starts in five trips to the mound. He is 2-2 with a 4.35 ERA in five starts, heading into his Wednesday start against the Cubs. 


Zack Greinke settles for first no-decision Friday
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(2:23 am ET) Dodgers starting pitcher Zack Greinke twirled another strong start Friday against the Diamondbacks, but received little help in a no-decision.

Greinke limited the Diamondbacks to just one run in six innings of work, while allowing three hits and a pair of walks. He matched his season-high in strikeouts with eight for the third start in a row, but exited the game in line for a 1-0 loss before a rally sent it to extras and got him off the hook.

Greinke has yet to allow more than two runs in any of his three starts, and all but one of his six total runs has come by way of a home run. He has 29 strikeouts to four walks in 22 1/3 innings, and is 3-0 with a 2.42 ERA heading into his next start, Wednesday against the Phillies. 


Giancarlo Stanton walks Marlins off in grand fashion
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(2:18 am ET) Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton played a big part in Miami's 8-4 win over the Mariners, but it wasn't all positive.

Stanton cost the team an early lead with a two-run error in the second inning, and had to make amends late. He drove in one run with an RBI single in the first inning, but made his biggest impact felt late in the game. He clubbed a walk-off grand slam in the ninth inning to secure the win, fiishing the game 3 for 3 with a pair of intentional walks.

Stanton is starting to take the next step in his fifth season, and is already more than one-quarter of the way to his first 100-RBI season. Stanton leads the majors with six home runs and 26 RBI after 17 games, while batting .329/.390/.657 in 70 at-bats. 


Wilin Rosario drives in three in blowout win
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(2:11 am ET) Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario continued his strong run production Friday, in a 12-1 win over the Phillies.

Rosario drove in three runs in the game, giving him eight in his last six games, including at least one in five. He was 2 for 5 with a two-run double, while adding an RBI groundout.

Rosario got off to a slow start, but has raised his batting average from .206 to .268 over the last six games. He has two home runs and 10 RBI in 15 games on the season. 


Troy Tulowitzki plays a big role in blowout
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(2:09 am ET) Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki was a big part of Friday's blowout win over the Phillies, as Philadelphia's pitching staff simply couldn't get him out.

Tulowitzki reached base all four times he stepped to the plate, and was a terror each time. Slugged a three-run home run in the second inning, and then accounted for two more runs with a double in the fourth and single in the sixth. He finished the game 3 for 3 with two runs, five RBI and a walk, in the 12-1 win.

Tulowitzki had gone five games without an RBI, so he had some catching up to do. He is hitting .360/.460/.620 with two home runs, 11 RBI and 13 runs scored in 16 games this season. 


Carlos Gomez hits fifth homer
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(2:01 am ET) Brewers outfielder Carlos Gomez continued his hot start Friday, as he slugged his fifth home run of the season in a 5-3 win over the Pirates.

Gomez took Pirates start Charlie Morton deep for a solo home run in the fifth, and that wasn't all he contributed. Gomez also drove in a run on an infield single in the sixth inning, finishing the game 2 for 5 with one run, two RBI and three strikeouts.

Gomez is among the league leaders in a plethora of categories after 17 games, ranking second in the NL with five home runs and second in runs with 13. He is hitting .329/.385/.629 in 70 at-bats. 


Steve Cishek picks up first win
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(1:58 am ET) Marlins close Steve Cishek hasn't had many opportunities to pitch so far, as he entered Friday's game against the Mariners with the score tied, for just his fifth appearance of the season.  

Cishek pitched well in the 4-4 game, retiring all three batters faced on 16 pitches, including one strikeout. The Marlins then went on to get him his first win of the season, with Giancarlo Stanton hitting a walk-off grand slam to clinch the 8-4 victory.

Cishek is 1-0 with a pair of saves, and has yet to allow a run in five innings of work this season. 


Alberto Callaspo launches second home run of season
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:56 am ET) Athletics infielder Alberto Callaspo smacked his second home run of the season in his team's 11-3 home win over the Astros Friday night.

Callaspo took starter Jarred Cosart deep for a three-run home run in the opening frame. He finished 1 for 5 with a run scored and three RBI. He is hitting .340/.404/.553 with two home runs and nine RBI in 47 at-bats.

 
 
 
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