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Prospects Report: Who's getting the call next?

Michael Hurcomb
Fantasy Writer
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As the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaches, one team expected to be in selling mode is Philadelphia, which surprisingly sits in the basement of the NL East. It's definitely unusual to see the Phillies among the teams selling off players because it wasn't long ago they were one of the more active teams making acquisitions at the deadline.

Case in point, in the summer of 2011 the Phillies pulled off one of the bigger trade deadline deals, acquiring Hunter Pence from the Astros. In return, Philadelphia sent three minor leaguers -- Jarred Cosart, Jon Singleton, Josh Zeid -- and a player to be named later to Houston. At the time, Cosart and Singleton were two of the best prospects in the Phillies' system, and Zeid had some promise, though, his career was beginning to waver as he struggled with bouncing between the rotation and bullpen in the minors.

Most owned minor leaguers (as of 7/2)
Player Own %
1. Javier Baez, SS, CHC 48
2. Kevin Gausman, SP, BAL 46
3. Archie Bradley, SP, ARI 41
4. Kris Bryant, 3B, CHC 38
5. Noah Syndergaard, SP, NYM 35
6. Byron Buxton, OF, MIN 33
7. Jonathan Villar, SS, HOU 32
8. Dylan Bundy, SP, BAL 32
9. Tony Cingrani, SP, CIN 30
10. Rubby De La Rosa, SP, BOS 29

Then, just a little over two weeks after the trade was announced, Philadelphia completed the deal by sending a just-turned-19-year-old outfield prospect named Domingo Santana to Houston as the PTBNL.

Here we are three years later, and looking back it seems the Astros got the better end of the trade. While the Phillies made the playoffs in 2011, they were ousted in the NLDS by St. Louis, and eventually dealt Pence to San Francisco at the 2012 trade deadline in exchange for Tommy Joseph, Seth Rosin and Nate Schierholtz. The Astros, on the other hand, still have all their pieces from the Pence deal and all four players are on the team's 25-man roster after Houston promoted Santana to the majors Tuesday.

Santana's promotion came as a bit of a shock. Even though in last week's Prospects Report I hinted Santana was primed for a promotion, Astros general manager Jeff Lunhow said Sunday a recall wasn't imminent because Santana still had "some developing" left to do in Triple-A. He also said, "The profile doesn’t really fit what we need right now."

"The profile" kind of changed when center fielder Dexter Fowler landed on the disabled list due to a back injury, but Lunhow was basically implying while Santana's numbers looked good (.304/.383/.502/.885) for Oklahoma City, the team was concerned his long swing might be a problem at the major-league level. Well, it seems Lunhow had a quick change of heart and the Astros are willing to give Santana a trial-by-fire experience to see if he's ready for the majors.

Santana is just the latest impact prospect to have been called up this summer, and he won't be the last. With that in mind, this week we focus on five prospects that could be coming to a major-league roster this summer and should be on the radar for Fantasy owners.

Dylan Bundy, SP, Orioles
Affiliate: Class A Aberdeen
2014 stats: 0-1, 0.60 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, one run allowed, 10 hits, three walks and 22 strikeouts in three starts (15 innings)
A month ago if you asked about stashing Bundy on your bench, I would have said no. My thinking was that the Orioles didn't have a need for a starting pitcher -- and they still don't -- but more important I didn't feel the Orioles were going to rush the elite pitching prospect back from Tommy John surgery. Well, the Orioles still contend their focus is getting Bundy ready for next season, but his results in the minors might dictate otherwise. Bundy has been nothing short of outstanding since beginning a rehab assignment in mid-June. He's thrown five innings in each of his first three starts and has been nearly unhittable. It will be interesting to see how he fares against advanced hitting in the minors, but you have to admit Bundy is having a pretty spectacular run coming back from major elbow surgery. Still, like the Orioles, we need to temper expectations regarding the 21-year-old hurler. The Orioles probably have a set number of innings they will let Bundy throw this season, which dampers the excitement, regardless if Baltimore is still in the pennant race later this summer. I still feel it's risky stashing Bundy in 12-team or shallower formats because there are so many variables regarding his situation.

Arismendy Alcantara, 2B/SS/OF, Cubs
Affiliate: Triple-A Iowa
2014 stats: .307/.348/.540/.889, 10 triples, 10 home runs, 22 doubles, 39 RBI, 59 runs, 21 walks, 78 strikeouts and 20 stolen bases in 82 games
The chatter this year regarding Cubs prospects has been about the ETA for players like Javier Baez and Kris Bryant. However, it seems Alcantara could beat both players to The Show since "he's making the front office and the major-league coaching staff take notice of what he's doing," according to vice president of scouting and player development Jason McLeod. He does have a point. It's hard to overlook Alcantara's numbers because he's been filling up the stat sheet at Triple-A. It's not like Alcantara was a nobody coming into the season. MLB.com has Alcantara ranked as the Cubs' sixth-best prospect, and Baseball America has him No. 7. Though, I do caution Fantasy owners to take some of his Triple-A numbers with a grain of salt. He came into this season with a career .417 slugging percentage, so the hitter-friendly PCL has helped boost some of his numbers. While he did show improved power last season and he's still developing, it's probably more conservative to view Alcantara as a 15-homer/30-stolen-base threat at the major-league level. Besides showing a consistent offensive approach, Alcantara's versatility up the middle and ability to play the outfield is another reason he might beat Baez and Bryant to the majors.

Matt Davidson, 3B, White Sox
Affiliate: Triple-A Charlotte
2014 stats: .202/.280/.412/.691, 12 doubles, 15 home runs, 30 RBI, 30 runs, 27 walks and 97 strikeouts in 75 games
Davidson has pretty much been nowhere on the radar for a promotion since being cut from the White Sox roster at the end of spring training. Well, Davidson is finally rounding into form at Charlotte, putting him back on the radar. Davidson homered nine times and slugged .565 in 26 June games. Over his last 10 games, he's batting .294 with two doubles, four home runs, six RBI and 11 runs. Though, the most encouraging thing is that he has nearly as many walks (seven) as strikeouts (10) in that span, so it seems his plate discipline could be improving. The White Sox have no pressing need for a third baseman as Conor Gillaspie is holding his own. Though, if the White Sox fall out of contention by the trade deadline, it could be time to bring up Davidson and see what he can do over the final months of the season. His high strikeout rate hurts his value in points leagues, but Davidson could be worth stashing in AL-only and deeper Rotisserie formats because of his power potential.

Archie Bradley, SP, Diamondbacks
Affiliate: Double-A Mobile
2014 stats (Rookie, Double-A, Triple-A): 1-4, 4.73 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, 17 walks, 30 strikeouts and zero home runs allowed in seven starts (32 1/3 innings)
Coming into the season, it seemed Bradley and Mets starting pitcher prospect Noah Syndergaard were destined to be among the first wave of elite prospects promoted to the majors. However, both players have had their performance and injury issues, and now we have to entertain the idea maybe neither player will make his MLB debut in 2014. Bradley, who has been limited to seven starts due to an elbow injury, recently joined the roster at Double-A Mobile. It's a little disappointing since he started the season with Triple-A Reno. Though, it could have more to do with having Bradley throw in a pitcher-friendly league. Still, Bradley only lasted four innings in his debut for Mobile, walking four batters and recording one strikeout. It's been a rough year for him, and it started back when he turned in a disappointing performance during spring training. Bradley seems to be working on fine-tuning his mechanics and pitches, and a promotion to the majors doesn't seem imminent. I could still see him added to the Arizona roster after the minor-league season because he needs to build up his innings after missing a good portion of the season. But it looks like he might only make an impact for playoff-bound Fantasy teams, so he's no longer the must-stash player he once was in seasonal formats.

Robert Refsnyder, 2B, Yankees
Affiliate: Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
2014 stats (Double-A, Triple-A): .343/.411/.556/.966, six triples, nine home runs, 24 doubles, 39 RBI, 52 runs, 31 walks, 54 strikeouts and seven stolen bases in 81 games
I had to go back into the archives to find Refsnyder was featured in a "Five on the Farm" column in May 2013. I wrote last year that Refsnyder's offensive skills would get him to the majors one day, and quoting myself, "making him an ideal candidate to put on your radar in long-term keeper leagues." Well, a year later he now has to be on your radar in seasonal formats because it seems the Yankees are toying with the idea of calling him up. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Refsnyder is "rising like a meteor" and has "moved himself closer and closer to consideration" for a promotion. Brian Roberts has had a disappointing season offensively, so promoting Refsnyder has become an option. His power numbers have really taken off this season, as he came into 2014 with just a .401 slugging percentage. He still doesn't project to be a great home run hitter, but Refsnyder has proven to be a good contact hitter with good plate discipline, as evident by his career .396 on-base percentage. I consider Refsnyder to be Tommy La Stella with a bit more power potential. I could see seasonal-league owners in AL-only and deeper mixed-leagues stashing Refsnyder, but it's not as much of a necessity as in past years because second base has become a deep Fantasy position.

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Player News
Out of options, Evan Scribner could have multi-inning role with A's
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:54 pm ET) Athletics pitcher Evan Scribner is out of options this spring and would likely be claimed if placed on waivers, but he's not worried about a potential move, the Bay Area News Group reports.

"I’ve got a basic plan," Scribner said. "Do good this spring and I’ll be around. So I’m just focused on how I’m pitching and not on where I might wind up. It’s made it easier for me this spring. Whatever will happen will happen."

Scribner tossed 3 1/3 scoreless innings and has pitched multiple innings in three of his last four appearances.

"The way they’re using me, I’d guess they are thinking of me as an extended reliever, throwing multiple innings," he said. "And that’s fine with me."

Scribner has allowed four earned runs in 11 2/3 innings this spring while racking up 16 strikeouts and three walks.


Rangers OF Ryan Ludwick will not make the team
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(7:53 pm ET) The Rangers have informed outfielder Ryan Ludwick that he will not make the team, according to mlblogs.com.

“All-world guy,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “I hope he catches a big league job with another team. I think he can help somebody. As we look at it today, we thought other options in camp fit the roster better.”

Ludwick, 36, has a batting average of .207, six hits with one home run and eight strikeouts this spring.


Dodgers' Chad Gaudin shut down, will be examined
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:45 pm ET) Dodgers pitcher Chad Gaudin (biceps) felt a tingling in his fingers Thursday and was shut down, MLB.com reports.

The pitcher will be examined, and it's possible he's sent for an MRI Friday. Gaudin was pulled from last Friday's outing due to a "tweak" in his biceps. He's surrendered two earned runs in six spring innings.


Twins' Molitor likes what he has in OF Shane Robinson
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(7:43 pm ET) Twins manager Paul Molitor is impressed with what the team has in outfielder Shane Robinson , according to twincities.com.

"Robinson's been great for me," the Twins' manager said Thursday. "He's very much into the game, whether he's playing or not. He's always watching, making observations. He does the fundamental things very well: base running, defense, takes a good at-bat."

Robinson is currently tied for the team-lead in doubles this spring with four. He has been batting second and playing center. 

Molitor also points out that Robinson has been better against left-handed pitchers as opposed to right-handers.

"I think he takes good at-bats against right-handers," Molitor said, "but obviously the left-hand thing is probably a little better thing for him."

After spending nine years with the Cardinals, the 30-year-old is batting .276 with four doubles on nine hits this spring.


Indians' Francona on Salazar: We wanted him to pitch better Thursday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(7:42 pm ET) Indians rotation hopeful Danny Salazar was knocked around during Thursday's Cactus League, allowing a pair of home runs in a 13-2 defeat to Cincinnati. He allowed seven runs -- six earned -- on six hits and no walks while striking out six over 3 1/3 innings of work.

Manager Terry Francona was not pleased by Salazar's outing when he spoke to reporters after the game, per MLB.com.

"He started out, solo homer in the first and then another solo. And then, it kind of got away from him a little bit," Francona said. "I don't know. The stuff is definitely there. It's not there yet consistently, whether he's locating or following a pitch up with two pitches in a row. Again, we'll keep working at it -- that's for darn sure -- but the results weren't the kind of what we're looking for."

When asked, Francona said he will not let Salazar's rough outing impact his roster decision.

"I don't think we would ever make a decision on one start," Francona said. "I think that's where you set yourself up to make a mistake. Obviously, we wanted him to pitch better. I just don't think you can make decisions based on four innings in March. I don't think that's correct."


Angels' Kole Calhoun (shoulder) removed from game Thursday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:41 pm ET) Angels outfielder Kole Calhoun came out of Thursday's spring matchup in the Cubs in the second inning due to an apparent shoulder injury, MLB.com reports.

Calhoun was hit in his right shoulder while leading off the game and slid hard into second base on a double play in the first inning. He played the bottom of the first inning in right field but did not return to the field for the second inning. Calhoun is 12 for 41 with one double and three walks this spring.


Jeremy Guthrie gives Royals five-plus scoreless innings on Thursday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(7:30 pm ET) Royals starting pitcher Jeremy Guthrie, the team's No. 5 starter, turned in a solid outing, outdueling Felix Hernandez Thursday afternoon for his first Cactus League win of the year. 

Guthrie tossed four innings of no-hit ball until Nelson Cruz recorded leadoff single off the right-hander in the fifth. He allowed two hits and no walks while striking out two in 5 2/3 scoreless innings. He has a 3.52 ERA this spring.

"I was able to throw all my pitches for strikes," Guthrie said, per the Kansas City Star. "Felt healthy and strong, which obviously is the most important thing for everybody, to feel like you're getting your strength up. We're getting toward the end of spring."


Mariners' Hernandez after Thursday's start: 'My fastball was good'
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(7:20 pm ET) Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez turned in a dominant outing, but it went to waste due to no run support in Seattle's 3-0 Cactus League defeat to Kansas City.

The right-hander yielded one run on two hits and no walks while striking out four over six innings of work -- his longest outing of the spring. He owns a 5.91 ERA through three Cactus League starts (10 2/3 innings).

"My fastball was good," Hernandez said, per the Tacoma News Tribune. "When my fastball is good, everything is better."


Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw to have stitches removed before next start
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(7:05 pm ET) Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw said Thursday that his jaw still feels sore from the line drive that hit him during Friday's game.

Kershaw had two teeth damaged during the incident. He had one tooth extracted and another one repaired last week, and is expected to have his stitches removed before his next start.

"I can't eat any jaw breakers," Kershaw said, jokingly, per the Orange County Register.

Astros P Brady Aiken says he had Tommy John surgery
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(7:04 pm ET) Astros pitcher Brady Aiken took to Twitter to announce that he had Tommy John surgery on Wednesday. 

Aiken talked about the surgery and what he'll have to overcome in a piece on theplayerstribune.com. 

"Yesterday, I had Tommy John surgery to fix my left arm. I’m obviously extremely disappointed. I wanted to let my pitching speak for itself, but now there are going to be new distractions. For that reason, I wanted to be the one to tell people what’s happened and make this a fresh start.

"When I visited the doctor’s office and got the news I had torn my UCL, I can’t even begin to express how I felt. I was — and still am — overwhelmed with a lot of different feelings, but mostly it’s disappointment. I won’t be able to pitch this season, and this is going to keep me from doing what I love most of all — competing. It’s going to be frustrating, and not just from a baseball perspective. When it’s 90 degrees at home in Cardiff and the waves are perfect and I can’t surf, that’ll be tough, too. I know the road ahead will be full of patience and hard work, and I’m ready for that challenge."

Aiken was the first overall pick by the Astros in 2014.


 
 
 
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