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He came. He saw. He got conquered.
Well, how else would you describe Jose Berrios' first stint in the majors? That seven-run shellacking at Detroit last time out left him with a 10.20 ERA and his Fantasy owners with a bad taste in their mouths.
He was supposed to be the most promising, most prepared, most polished of all the prospect callups to this point, and he couldn't even outlast Aaron Blair. Honestly, why do we keep hyping these guys?
Um ... you're back for more, aren't you?
Berrios will be back -- my guess is sooner than later -- and at 21, it's fair to say his long-term outlook is no worse for wear.
Still, he failed us all. That bad taste doesn't go away, and so when he returns, I imagine our enthusiasm will be tempered. In terms of perception, he's kind of in the same place as fellow Twins prospect Byron Buxton, who we all know could (and perhaps even should) be great, but given his struggles in earlier stints, we're all assuming he won't be next time up.
It's pure instinct -- if you burn your hand on a hot stove, you don't let it happen again -- and in a competition that relies so much on your opponents' behavior, you can expect instinct to hold. Instinct suggests that even though Berrios is still one of the more promising prospects with one of the easiest paths to the majors, he's not one of the top five to stash in Fantasy because his return, kind of like Buxton's, won't be treated with streamers and confetti and stampedes to the waiver wire.
He didn't have the first stint Blake Snell did, after all.
Five on the verge
(These are the prospects most worth stashing in redraft leagues.)
Blake Snell, SP, Rays
2015 stats: 15-4, 1.41 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 134 IP, 53 BB, 163 K
2016 stats: 1-3, 3.86 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 35 IP, 17 BB, 47 K
I don't imagine Snell will drop out of the top five until he's back in the majors, but I'm tempted to move him down the list a few spots after Matt Andriese solidified his claim to the fifth starter role with a two-hit shutout Saturday. In other words, Snell is no longer just one meltdown away, but he's probably still one injury away, especially now that his brief control lapse after returning to Triple-A is behind him. He has 16 strikeouts to just two walks in 10 1/3 innings over his past two starts.
Trea Turner, 2B, Nationals
2015 stats: .322 BA (454 AB), 8 HR, 29 SB, .828 OPS
2016 stats: .324 BA (145 AB), 3 HR, 14 SB, .869 OPS
The Washington Post made an effort to clear up Turner's timetable earlier this week, submitting May 30 as the target date. If the Nationals wait until then, they get an extra year of team control. Normally, that cutoff is mid-April, but since Turner accrued 45 days of service time last year, everything is pushed back for him. It's why they probably won't wait until the Super 2 cutoff, and traditionally, the Nationals haven't done that for their best prospects anyway. May 30 is less than two weeks away, so it's time to add Turner even if just as trade bait.
Tyler Glasnow, SP, Pirates
2015 stats: 7-5, 2.39 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 109 1/3 IP, 43 BB, 136 K
2016 stats: 3-1, 2.05 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 44 IP, 20 BB, 54 K
Though he walked only two over six innings last time out, Glasnow still has occasional control lapses that may be delaying his arrival. Or maybe it's just a Super 2 thing. Either way, I predict he'll be up within the next month, and while his control could be a stumbling block against major-league hitters, the seemingly always-in-control Berrios showed us there's no telling with that sort of thing. You won't find a pitcher with better strikeout potential than Glasnow, whose extension on his 6-foot-8 frame makes his 98-mph fastball appear even faster.
Jameson Taillon, SP, Pirates
2015 stats: Did not play -- injured
2016 stats: 2-2, 2.08 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 43 1/3 IP, 5 BB, 43 K
Good news, bad news for Taillon. He recorded 11 strikeouts in his most recent start, silencing those who (like me) suggested he may not be enough of a bat-misser to stash in standard mixed leagues, but he also pushed his ERA over 2.00 for the first time this season. He's at the point where allowing three earned runs over six innings isn't going to change his timetable, though. I don't know if the Pirates are still trying to decide which of Jon Niese and Jeff Locke to oust or what, but I wouldn't be surprised if Taillon beats even Turner to the majors.
Julio Urias, SP, Dodgers
2015 stats: 3-5, 3.81 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 80 1/3 IP, 22 BB, 88 K
2016 stats: 3-1, 1.25 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 36 IP, 8 BB, 39 K
So the talk of Urias potentially coming up to help the bullpen has died down, but with him delivering his fourth straight scoreless outing Saturday, the talk of him stepping into the starting rotation, even with Mike Bolsinger fresh off the DL, may just be heating up. Here's what Matt Herges, his pitching coach at Triple-A Oklahoma City, had to say to MLB.com on the matter:
"Coming into the season, I had a checklist of things I had for him to work on and he's been able to cross those things off. How he handles himself in-game has gotten so much better. The frustration he used to show hindered his performance and it hurt the next pitch. That's gone. How he holds runners was another box that needed to be checked off, and that's done. Tipping his pitches, that's checked. There's always something to work on, but the things I was most concerned about in terms of his big league readiness, those boxes have been checked.
"He's showing he's big league-ready now, in my opinion. But I don't make those calls. We have some very smart people that make those decisions and they know what they're doing. But right now, he's just dominating Triple-A lineups."
Indeed, he is.
Five on the periphery
(These are some other prospects doing something of note.)
Jurickson Profar, 2B, Rangers
2015 stats: .256 BA (43 AB), 1 HR, .670 OPS, 2 BB, 11 K
2016 stats: .271 BA (144 AB), 5 HR, .764 OPS, 15 BB, 23 K
Rougned Odor is appealing his eight-game suspension, but sooner or later, the Rangers will be without him for a fairly lengthy stretch, which may have precipitated Profar (normally a shortstop) making his first start at second base Tuesday. Still working his way back from shoulder surgery, the former No. 1 overall prospect struggled this spring and got off to a slow start at Triple-A Round Rock, but he's finally showing signs of regaining his power stroke, having homered three times in his past five games.
Alex Bregman, SS, Astros
2015 stats: .294 BA (272 AB), 4 HR, .781 OPS, 29 BB, 30 K
2016 stats: .323 BA (93 AB), 8 HR, 1.099 OPS, 15 BB, 9 K
The homers have yet to stop for Bregman, who has hit three in 12 games since returning from a hamstring injury. The unrelenting power combined with exceptional plate discipline suggests the 22-year-old is too good for Double-A, and the Astros may have designs on promoting him straight to the majors. He has, after all, started two games at third base recently -- a position they could stand to upgrade.
Hunter Renfroe, OF, Padres
2015 stats: .272 BA (511 AB), 20 HR, .783 OPS, 37 BB, 132 K
2016 stats: .313 BA (150 AB), 8 HR, .931 OPS, 7 BB, 29 K
The Padres have a miserable offense, but help may be on the way in the form of 24-year-old Hunter Renfroe, their most-hyped prospect since they drafted him 13th overall in 2013. And he may finally be living up to the hype, batting .387 with four homers in his past 14 games. His plate discipline leaves something to be desired, but his upside may not be too unlike Wil Myers'.
Dansby Swanson, SS, Braves
2015 stats: .289 BA (83 AB), 1 HR, 7 2B, .876 OPS, 14 BB, 14 K
2016 stats: .310 BA (142 AB), 3 HR, 16 2B, .913 OPS, 23 BB, 20 K
Swanson has been just missing the cut for my "five on the periphery" all season long. That's mostly because I've assumed I could wait on him, but now that he's smoking the ball at Double-A instead of high Class A, it's becoming clearer to me he'll up be at some point in 2016, even if that day is still a couple months away. The doubles give a better indication of his power than the home runs, and the plate discipline demonstrates just how polished he is.
Ben Lively, SP, Phillies
2015 stats: 8-7, 4.13 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 143 2/3 IP, 45 BB, 111 K
2016 stats: 6-0, 1.53 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 47 IP, 14 BB, 46 K
Time to bring back the Ben Lively hype. Back in 2014, when he was pitching for high Class A Bakersfield of the heavy-hitting California League, the former Reds farmhand's cartoonish numbers made him a favorite among prospect hounds for a hot minute, but then he faded and appeared to stagnate after getting traded to the Phillies last year. Now, though, the cartoonish numbers are back, and apparently not by happenstance.
"Throwing quality pitches early, that's been helping a lot," Lively told MLB.com after his last start, a 12-strikeout gem against Double-A Trenton. "Once I'm ahead," he said, "I'm able to expand the zone with my breaking ball, elevate with the fastball, do all sorts of things."
It makes sense. So would Lively replacing Jeremy Hellickson or Adam Morgan by season's end.