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Down on the Farm: Under the radar

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Usually, for this top portion of Down on the Farm, I focus on the big boys -- the prospects most likely to matter in Fantasy from the moment they set foot in the big leagues. You know, the Taijuan Walkers and George Springers of the world.

But in the meantime, plenty of little guys arrive to significantly less fanfare. More often than you'd think, those little guys become big boys. It's not the most likely scenario, but it's common enough that they shouldn't go ignored.

So instead of looking at what's next in line, let's take this opportunity to play catch-up, examining a few of the recent call-ups worth monitoring in Fantasy even though they didn't prompt a mad dash to the waiver wire.

Keep in mind "little guys" is a relative term. These players are all still prospects on some level -- they got to the majors, after all -- and chances are most dynasty league owners have already heard of them.

But considering most are owned in less than 15 percent of leagues, they're going overlooked even in some of those formats.

Cody Asche, 3B, Phillies

One thing Asche has going for him is regular playing time. With Ryan Howard potentially out for the season and Darin Ruf now entrenched in right field, first base is wide open for at-bats leach Michael Young, leaving no one but Asche to play third. Unfortunately, with superior prospect Maikel Franco just a couple levels behind him, it's an opportunity he'll have to seize right away, and I'm just not sure he has it in him. His minor-numbers were ... OK, but he wasn't exactly pacing the home run leaders, and his poor plate discipline makes his solid batting average no certainty to translate. If he ends up being another Trevor Plouffe, which is my guess at this early stage of his career, he won't be long for the starting lineup. I wouldn't bother with him outside of NL-only leagues.

Wilmer Flores, 3B, Mets

Flores has his share of skeptics who believe his .321 batting average, 15 homers and 36 doubles at Triple-A this year were more a product of the heavy-hitting Pacific Coast League than anything else. But his emergence as a .300 hitter with pop actually came last year, in more neutral environments at Class A and Double-A. He was dreadful before then, but he was also a teenager whose potential was evident even to the scouts who grew impatient with him. Considering he never struck out even 80 times in a minor-league season, I buy him being a good source of batting average and suspect he'll deliver at least a dozen homers per year. The question is where he'll play. He doesn't profile at first base, has proven less-than-satisfactory up the middle and, at least with the Mets, doesn't have a future at third base.

Scooter Gennett, 2B, Brewers

Gennett might be the most perplexing of all the prospects to arrive this year. In fact, just calling him a prospect is generous, judging by his minor-league numbers. OK, so he hit .300 in the lower levels, but with minimal pop and even less on-base ability. Yet there Baseball America lists him, eighth in the Brewers system, touting his offensive potential and declaring him an eventual replacement for Rickie Weeks. Look, they know more than I do, so if they see something beyond the .745 OPS he compiled over four minor-league seasons, I'll certainly hear them out. Martin Prado compiled a .743 OPS over his minor-league career, and clearly, he turned out fine. Weeks' season-ending hamstring injury will give us a good, long look at Gennett over the final seven weeks, so though he doesn't excite me now, I could see how he might at season's end.
Most Added Relievers (as of 8/15)
Player % owned
1. Xander Bogaerts, SS, Red Sox 43
2. Tommy Milone, SP, Athletics 41
3. Tom Wilhelmsen, RP, Mariners 41
4. Oscar Taveras, OF, Cardinals 39
5. Michael Pineda, SP, Yankees 39
6. Billy Hamilton, SS, Reds 32
7. Taijuan Walker, SP, Mariners 30
8. Travis d'Arnaud, C, Mets 30
9. Tommy Hanson, SP, Angels 23
10. Tyler Skaggs, SP, Indians 22

Matt Davidson, 3B, Diamondbacks

Really, another third baseman? Haven't we had enough turnover at the position over the last two years, with Brett Lawrie, Mike Moustakas, Todd Frazier, Will Middlebrooks, Josh Donaldson, Manny Machado, Nolan Arenado and on and on and on? Look, another can't hurt, especially since so many of that group, at least to this point, haven't panned out. Among this group, Davidson is one of the safer bets, though right now, he doesn't have the same claim to at-bats that Cody Asche and Wilmer Flores do. He'll play some with Cody Ross on the DL, but the Diamondbacks don't need to move Martin Prado off third base to fill out their outfield. And in the heat of a pennant race, manager Kirk Gibson doesn't seem too thrilled with the idea of breaking in a youngster. Davidson didn't put up obscene power numbers over his minor-league career but could eventually develop into a steady .270-hitting, 30-homer type.

Andrew Lambo, OF, Pirates

As prospects go, Lambo is the ultimate wild card. OK, so Evan Gattis was the ultimate wild card, but Lambo is of the same ilk. He was once so highly regarded that Baseball America ranked him 49th among all prospects, but that was back in 2009. Since then, he's battled substance abuse and a wrist injury, putting up mostly uninspiring numbers in between. To say he's come back strong this year would be an understatement. At the time of his promotion Monday, he was tied for the minor-league lead in homers with 31 in only 436 at-bats. And no, he wasn't playing in the Pacific Coast League. At age 25, Lambo is at a sink-or-swim stage of his career. He might not get too many opportunities after this one, and a slow start could bury him on the Pirates' bench. But if they're patient with him, I like his chances. The talent was always there.
Five on the Farm ... by Michael Hurcomb (@CBSHurc), CBSSports.com

It's time to take a trip down memory lane. Though, if you are a Phillies' fan, this could be painful.

Let's go back to the spring of 2011, when the Phillies entered the season with such promise and had a pretty healthy farm system, especially when it came to elite pitching prospects. If you recall, the Phillies had a quartet of starting pitcher prospects dubbed the "Baby Aces."

They were Brody Colvin, Jarred Cosart, Trevor May and Jesse Biddle. Once considered the potential replacements or rotation complements for the likes of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels, the "Baby Aces" are more like the "Baby Ace" nowadays.

Cosart and May are no longer in the system, and while Biddle is still on track to help the Phillies down the road, the same can't be said for Colvin, who was considered the team's top pitching prospect in 2011.

Although Colvin came with some off-the-field baggage, the scouts loved his live arm and felt he had the most upside of all the "Baby Aces." Sadly, Colvin seems the farthest away from maxing out his potential.

The 6-3, 195-pound right-hander has struggled with consistency and fastball command. His long-arm-circle delivery results in an inconsistent release point, which Colvin hasn't been able to overcome. He's walking a career-high 6.0 batters per nine innings in 2013 and 4.0 batters per nine innings in his career.

Colvin has spent the last two seasons bouncing between the rotation and bullpen, as the Phillies have tried to settle him down and get his promising career back on track. But on top of a career-worst 6.46 ERA this season, Colvin has walked more batters (47) than he's struck out (32), and his career might have reached the point of no return.

The former top 100 prospect isn't the first and won't be the last player to fail to live up to expectations. This week's Five on the Farm highlights a few other prospects whose struggles are impacting their long-term Fantasy keeper appeal.

Gary Brown, OF, Giants
Affiliate:Triple-A Fresno
2013 stats:.228/.286/.384/.670, six triples, 12 home runs, 26 doubles, 46 RBI, 70 runs, 13 stolen bases, 29 walks and 116 strikeouts in 116 games
After a breakout season in 2011, Brown was considered the Giants' top prospect heading into 2012. He was also considered a top 50 prospect by Baseball America and MLB.com last year. The Giants thought so much of Brown that when the Mets asked for the 2010 first-round pick in exchange for outfielder Carlos Beltran at the 2011 trade deadline, San Francisco instead parted ways with Zack Wheeler. In hindsight, the Giants probably wish for a mulligan. Brown was expected to be in the Giants' outfield by now. Sadly, his career has stalled. Brown, who rated off the charts by scouts for his ability to fill up the stat sheet, started to struggle last season at Double-A, but he finished strong, giving hope 2013 would bring better days. That hasn't been the case. I'm not of the belief Brown's 2011 numbers (.336/.519/.925) were inflated by the hitter-friendly California League. I just feel advanced pitching has gotten the better of Brown. He still has all the tools to succeed, but he's got plenty of work to do before getting a chance to start in the majors.

Matt Barnes, SP, Red Sox
Affiliate:Double-A Portland
2013 stats:5-8, 4.27 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 126 strikeouts, 41 walks, 101 hits and 11 home runs allowed in 22 starts (99 innings)
Barnes went eight picks behind fellow University of Connecticut standout George Springer in the 2011 MLB draft, and his career was on a similar trajectory after a standout 2012. But while Springer has only elevated his status in 2013, Barnes has taken a step back and might fall out of the mix as a top 100 prospect heading into 2014. Barnes still has great stuff, especially his fastball, which Portland pitching coach Bob Kipper calls "special," according to The Providence Journal. Where Barnes has struggled in 2013 has been with his delivery and secondary pitches. While he was overpowering in college and at Class A last season, he's learning the hard lesson -- advanced hitters aren't as easy to retire. While Barnes hasn't had a banner season, it's not time to give up on him. Not when he's still striking out 11.5 batters per nine innings. If he doesn't bounce back in 2014, then it might be time to worry, but the 23-year-old right-hander is just learning what it's like to deal with adversity. He's still very talented and has value as a long-term Fantasy keeper.

Trevor Story, SS, Rockies
Affiliate:Class A Modesto
2013 stats:.227/.295/.381/.675, three triples, 10 home runs, 29 doubles, 51 RBI, 57 runs, 157 strikeouts, 35 walks and 18 stolen bases in 111 games
Story entered the year as one of the Rockies' top prospects, just making the top 100 list for Baseball America and MLB.com. The 2011 first-round pick had great success to start his pro career. He was named the Pioneer League's top prospect in 2011 and came back in 2012 to slug .505 for low Class A Asheville. Unfortunately, the story has changed a bit for the 6-foot-1, 175-pounder this season. Playing in the hitter-friendly California League was only supposed to elevate Story's standing as a top shortstop prospect. Instead, Story is not even considered tops at the position within the Colorado organization, as MLB.com moved Rosell Herrera ahead of Story at its midseason rankings. Talk about a quick fall from grace. Perhaps the most alarming stat is Story's increased strikeout rate. He is striking out in 37.1 percent of his at-bats after striking out in 25.4 percent of at-bats in 2012. Much like Barnes, it's not time to toss away Story after one uneven season. He still has promising speed-power potential, and he hasn't even reached the high minors yet. The 20-year-old has plenty of time for a comeback story.

Mike Montgomery, SP, Rays
Affiliate:Triple-A Durham
2013 stats:7-5, 4.24 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 63 strikeouts, 39 walks, 86 hits and eight home runs allowed in 16 outings (87 innings)
Out of all the players on this list, Montgomery probably had the highest ceiling. He made Baseball America's top 100 list in 2010, 2011 and 2012 -- climbing as high as No. 19. While Montgomery dominated in the low minors and flashed ace potential, it hasn't been the same story in the high minors. He has a career 5.05 ERA and 1.46 WHIP at Double-A and a 5.14 ERA and 1.53 WHIP at Triple-A. The Royals got fed up with waiting on the left-handed hurler to develop, so they shipped him to Tampa Bay in the offseason. No matter how good Tampa Bay has been with developing pitchers, the Rays haven't figured out how to cure Montgomery's erratic ways. He might make it to the majors as a back-of-the-rotation arm or middle reliever, but long-term keeper owners don't need to waste a roster spot on Montgomery anymore.

Mason Williams, OF, Yankees
Affiliate:Class A Tampa
2013 stats:.262/.329/.353/.681, three triples, three home runs, 21 doubles, 23 RBI, 55 runs, 14 stolen bases, 60 strikeouts and 39 walks in 98 games
Williams had a tough start to the year. Not only did he hit below .300 in April and May, but he also had some legal problems (DUI) in late April. Though, he began to play better in June and July, hitting .313 and .325, respectively. But even if Williams finishes the year on a high note, he's going to take a stumble in the prospect rankings heading into 2014. The scouts love Williams for his athleticism. The Yankees love him for his upside. One club official told Baseball America the team compares Williams to former Yankees prospect Austin Jackson. We all know how valuable Jackson is in Fantasy, so Williams living up to expectations could pay huge dividends down the road. Although he hasn't shown it this year, Yankees' officials feel Williams has 20-homer potential. Williams is expected to start in the high minors in 2014, despite a less-than-spectacular season. It's advisable for long-term keeper owners to hold onto Williams in the offseason in hopes he bounces back next year.

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
Astros catcher Jason Castro working on modest hit streak
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:09 pm ET) Astros catcher Jason Castro carries a five-game hit streak into Monday's contest against the Rangers. However, it's not like Castro is on a torrid streak.

He has just one hit in each of his last five games and is batting .278 (5 for 18) in that span. He also has one home run, two doubles, two RBI, three runs and five strikeouts in his last five games.

Castro has just one multihit game in 2015. He is batting .215 through 19 games.

The Rangers are pitching left-hander Ross Detwiler on Monday. Castro is batting .190 (4 for 21) with one double and no RBI in seven games against lefty starters this season.


Brett Lawrie with seven-game hit streak for Athletics
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(2:07 pm ET) Athletics third baseman Brett Lawrie has hit in seven straight games and is starting to turn around his bleak offensive numbers from the first three weeks of the season. 

Lawrie is 9 for 26 (.326) during the hit streak after going 15 for 70 (.214) in his first 18 games of the year. He had four runs and four RBI before the streak. Over the last seven games, he's scored five runs and driven in nine. 

Lawrie has also cut down on his strikeouts, from 34 percent of all at bats in the first 18 games to 23 percent while on the hitting streak. 


Cubs' Montero sees average rise more than 100 points amid hot streak
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:02 pm ET) Cubs catcher Miguel Montero appears to be getting on track offensively after a sluggish start to the season. Montero enters play Monday against the Cardinals with a five-game hitting streak. He hit safely just five times in his first 14 games.

Montero is batting .474 (9 for 19) with one home run, three RBI, three runs, one walk and four strikeouts during his hitting streak. His batting average has risen from .176 to .283 in that span.

Right-hander Carlos Martinez will be on the mound Monday for St. Louis. Montero is batting .283 with one double, three home runs and 10 RBI in 18 games against right-handed starters in 2015.


Pablo Sandoval leading Red Sox in hitting despite RH slump
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(1:57 pm ET) Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval is 12 for his last 25 (.480), which has lifted his average to a team-high .326. 

One factor that's helped contribute to Sandoval's hot streak is a steady diet of right-handed starters against the Red Sox lineup. The switch-hitting Sandoval is hitting .415 from the left side of the plate this year, but he's just 2 for 24 (.083) from the right side. 

Despite having three times as many at bats as a left handed batter, Sandoval has the same number of strikeouts from each side of the plate. 


Nationals C Wilson Ramos batting .406 during hit streak
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:56 pm ET) Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos heads into Monday's game vs. Miami with an eight-game hit streak. He is batting .406 (13 for 32) with no extra-base hits, three RBI, one walk, four strikeouts and four runs in that span.

Starting for the Marlins on Monday will be David Phelps. Ramos is batting .250 (15 for 60) with one double and five RBI in 20 games against righties in 2015.


Report: Rangers to promote pitcher Spencer Patton
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:55 pm ET) The Rangers plan to call up pitcher Spencer Patton on Monday, a source told BaseballEssential.com.

Patton has been pitching for the team's Triple-A affiliate and has posted a 0.96 ERA over 9 1/3 innings. He was optioned to Triple-A near the end of spring training.


Rule 5 pick Logan Verrett returned to Mets
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(1:33 pm ET) RHP Logan Verrett was returned to the Mets after spending parts of 2015 with the Orioles and Rangers. 

Baltimore chose Verrett in the offseason Rule 5 draft, after the Mets left him off their 40-man roster. The Orioles waived him at the end of spring training, and he was claimed by Texas. 

After going 0-1 with a 6.00 ERA in four games with the Rangers, Verrett was designated for assignment. After going unclaimed on waivers, he was returned to the Mets, who outrighted him to Triple-A Las Vegas. 


Logan Forsythe 'keeping the line moving' for Rays
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(1:18 pm ET) Rays second baseman Logan Forsythe has heated up recently, getting 8 hits in 20 at bats (.400) over the last six games. 

Forsythe's fast start has several career highs in jeopardy. He's hitting .296 for the season--his previous best was .273. He already has 11 RBI and seven doubles, putting a bullseye on his previous bests of 26 RBI and 13 doubles over an entire season.

Forsythe is just focusing on his approach at the plate, a strategy he thinks will help the entire team turn around their slow start. 

"If we keep the mindset of having good at-bats like we have been the whole year and kind of keeping the line moving, we'll get back to where we were," he said, per Fox Sports.


Athletics pitcher Jarrod Parker has third rehab outing on Sunday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:17 pm ET) Athletics pitcher Jarrod Parker made his third rehab start on Sunday. The right-hander pitched 4 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on four hits, recording four strikeouts and a walk. This time, Parker was pitching at Triple A Nashville, according to the San Francsico Chronicle

Parker underwent Tommy John surgery last March and is hoping to make his return to a Major League mound around the end of May, though a definitive timetable has not been made available at this time.


Solid first week in minors for Rockies' Wilin Rosario
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(1:11 pm ET) Since being sent to Triple-A Albuquerque in the last week of April, Rockies first baseman Wilin Rosario has made a strong case to get a second look in Colorado at some point in the near future. 

In seven games in the minors, Rosario is hitting .333 with three doubles, three runs scored and three RBI.


 
 
 
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