Down on the Farm: Under the radar
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 Walker and George Springer 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, PhilliesOne 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, MetsFlores 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, BrewersGennett 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.
|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, DiamondbacksReally, 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, PiratesAs 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.
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.
, OF, Giants
, SP, Red Sox
, SS, Rockies
, SP, Rays
, OF, Yankees