Down on the Farm: False hope on the bench
At what point is a bench spot going to waste on a top prospect with no clear path to the majors? Our Scott White runs through six names that are quickly becoming a waste of time in seasonal formats.
Remember Dylan Bundy, that blond guy with the blazing fastball who didn't allow an earned run until his ninth start last year?
Just making sure. Considering he has yet to throw a pitch in an actual game this year, I can see how you might have forgotten.
That's not going to change anytime soon, by the way. And by "that," I mean both my tendency to underestimate your memory and Bundy's absence from meaningful competition.
Plagued by elbow soreness since spring training, the Orioles right-hander recently paid a visit to Dr. James Andrews, who discovered nothing more than "flexor mass tightness." Yay for that.
So Bundy gets a shot and sits for six weeks. No big deal, right?
In the grand scheme of things, no, but when have Fantasy owners ever cared about the grand scheme? OK, maybe in dynasty leagues that emulate real life with deep rosters, full keepers, salary considerations and all that, but otherwise, they play for now.
That six-week timetable is how long Bundy will go without throwing. To get back to pitching, he'll basically need another spring training, which means he might not get back to a starter's workload until after the All-Star break, if not later. The Orioles can't afford to take any chances with their most valuable asset.
Then, he'll still have to prove he can shut down Double-A batters on a regular basis. Then, he'll probably need a few starts at Triple-A before he convinces the Orioles he's ready for more than just a late-season cameo. I don't know about you, but I get the sense he'll run out of time.
|Player Name||Own %|
|1.||Wil Myers, OF, Rays||79|
|2.||Jurickson Profar, 2B/SS, Rangers||52|
|3.||Oscar Taveras, OF, Cardinals||49|
|4.||Yasiel Puig, OF, Dodgers||41|
|5.||Zack Wheeler, SP, Mets||40|
|6.||Billy Hamilton, SS, Reds||38|
|7.||Dylan Bundy, SP, Orioles||34|
|8.||Gerrit Cole, SP, Pirates||34|
|9.||Travis d'Arnaud, C, Mets||34|
|10.||Mike Zunino, C, Mariners||29|
Long story short, this elbow injury makes Bundy's chances of contributing as more than a September call-up pretty slim, which makes his ownership rate of 35 percent somewhat wasteful.
Especially when you consider that regular mixed-leaguers are contributing to that number. American League and dynasty league owners cover only the bottom 10-15 percent.
With the injury, Bundy is the most obvious of what I've deemed the "prospect fakeouts" -- minor-leaguers who seemed close enough to contributing at the major-league level to merit a roster spot coming out of spring training but who don't so much anymore.
Believe me: I'm all about finding and stashing the next Mike Trout or Bryce Harper, but circumstances change. Based on how they have for these five, you can probably do better with your bench space in a single-season mixed league.
Jurickson Profar, 2B, RangersThat trade to free up a spot for Profar never came this offseason, so where's the opening? Ian Kinsler to first base seems unlikely to me, especially since Profar is hardly forcing the issue with a .231 batting average at Triple-A Round Rock. It'll take a long-term injury to the right player for him to make a significant impact in Fantasy this year, which is too speculative for me. Brian Roberts is probably a better bet at this point.
Oscar Taveras, OF, CardinalsTaveras' miraculously low strikeout rate makes him a prime candidate to click as soon as he reaches the majors, but with the emergence of Matt Adams, who can bump Allen Craig to the outfield any time the Cardinals have a need there, his path to the majors is no longer so clear. Yes, I know Adams is currently on the DL with an oblique injury, but he might only be a week a way from returning. For Taveras to be more than a late-season call-up, I'm thinking two of Craig, Carlos Beltran, Matt Holliday and Jon Jay would have to suffer long-term injuries.
Yasiel Puig, OF, DodgersPuig wouldn't even rank among this group if he didn't hit .517 with three home runs and a 1.328 OPS in 58 spring at-bats, forcing the Dodgers to keep him around until the last possible moment. But his demotion was inevitable. The position where the Dodgers are the deepest is the position he happens to play: the outfield. A long-term Carl Crawford injury or Andre Ethier trade could open the door for him, I guess, but neither is the likely scenario.
Billy Hamilton, SS/OF, RedsIn theory, Hamilton should already be up and contributing with both Ryan Ludwick and his replacement Chris Heisey on the DL, but unfortunately, an early season slump has him hitting only .205 at Triple-A Louisville. His opportunity hasn't passed him by just yet -- Ludwick is out until after the All-Star break -- but he's put himself in such a deep hole that he'll have to rebound and then some to win over the Reds, which will take time. Maybe if you drop him, you keep an eye on him, but Andrelton Simmons and Erick Aybar are more deserving of your time right now.
Travis d'Arnaud, C, MetsI get that d'Arnaud was just a John Buck slump away from a promotion coming into the season, but now he's out two months with a broken foot. By the time he rehabilitates the injury and convinces the Mets he's in midseason form, we could be into August. Meanwhile, you've already let Carlos Ruiz and Russell Martin pass you by.
The next time you look up the word "ridiculous" in the dictionary, you might find a picture of Miguel Sano. Why you ask? Have you seen what the Twins' third base prospect is doing for Class A Fort Myers?
Through Monday, he led the Florida State league with nine home runs in 24 games, which was four more than Cubs' uber-prospect Javier Baez.
It's not like Sano has been flying under the radar. He came into the year considered a top 15 prospect by Baseball America (No. 9) and MLB.com (No. 12), but what's most impressive is that Sano's power surge is coming in a very pitcher-friendly league.
He has been nothing short of outstanding since beginning his pro career as a teenager (17 years old) in 2010. The 19-year-old prospect is slugging .753 this season and has a career .566 slugging percentage. Like most sluggers he has a high strikeout rate, but Fantasy owners and the Twins would surely deal with it as long as Sano keeps slugging away.
The thinking here is that he's going to stick with the team for most of the first half and likely be promoted to Double-A New Britian somewhere around the FSL All-Star game, which is June 15. The Twins have never been an organization to rush prospects and have been treating Sano with kid gloves since he turned pro. Also, his bat is a glaring distraction from his horrid fielding skills. Sano has already committed five errors this season after committing 42 errors at third base last season. His career fielding percentage is .890. Ouch. Finally, former major leaguer Doug Mientkiewicz is the manager for Fort Myers. Mientkiewicz is probably one of the better coaches in the Twins' organization to teach Sano about preparing for life as a major leaguer.
It wouldn't shock me, though, if the Twins brought Sano up late in the year for a taste of the majors, but his value primarily lies in long-term keeper formats. It could be another year or two before Sano makes a substantial Fantasy impact.
Now, here are five other players making news in the minors ...
Christian Yelich, OF, Marlins
Joc Pederson, OF, Dodgers
Nick Franklin, INF, Mariners
Archie Bradley, SP, Diamondbacks
Rafael Montero, SP, Mets
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