Prospects Report: Let's welcome Matt already
Will the Indians promote slugging Matt LaPorta to jumpstart the offense with Travis Hafner now on the shelf? Our Eric Mack examines that possibility and much more in his latest Prospects Report.
Here is what you get when you add a Triple-A hot streak, one elite prospect and a 15-day DL stint: A potential May 1 call-up.
While it pales in comparison to June 1, the beginning of a new month marks a time teams typically look for answers to their early season struggles down on the farm. Only the listless Washington Nationals have a worse record than the Indians heading into play Thursday.
The Indians could use a jolt. Matt LaPorta would provide it.
"LaPorta is still young," manager Eric Wedge told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "He made a good showing in spring training and it's good to see he's off to a good start down there. His day is going to come."
With Travis Hafner (shoulder) going on the DL this week and LaPorta on a wild tear, he could be called up for this weekend's series. If the Indians merely choose to activate Dave Dellucci (calf) from the DL, it shouldn't be long before they realize LaPorta is too good to pass up.
"Sure it happens," Wedge told the paper of prospects forcing their way to the majors sooner than planned. "But everything is magnified because it's the beginning of the season and we're off to the start we're off to. We have to make sure we don't get too emotional about what we're doing here day to day."
Dellucci certainly earned the first look to replace Hafner at DH or the disappointing Ben Francisco (.241) in left. Dellucci is 12-for-29 (.414) with a double, triple, two RBI, seven runs and two steals (.469 SLUG and .517) on his Triple-A rehab assignment. But he is the devil we know, instead of the one we don't ... don't yet know at least.
The prime piece in the CC Sabathia trade last July could be one devil of a hitter. In fact, you have to figure he will be the most impactful hitter call-up not named Matt Wieters that we will get this season.
LaPorta could be our one chance at a Jay Bruce/Ryan Braun-like pre-June call-up. That is no small statement, yet also an indictment on the lack of true impact Fantasy hitter prospects in the upper levels of the minors.
LaPorta is hitting .368 (25-for-68) with five homers, 14 RBI, 20 runs (.436 OBP, .706 SLUG). He has an amazing 1-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio (7-7) to date.
Most of his damage has come in the past 10 games (.405-3-9-12). Having Dellucci around certainly helps. They might as well bring them both up together.
"You're happy to see guys produce at the Triple-A level," Wedge said. "Again, one player here or there isn't going to make a difference in us winning or losing ballgames. It's different areas of our club [that have to improve]."
LaPorta likely shouldn't be looked upon as a savior, but he certainly can be a part of the solution, especially with just a pair of catchers or reserve outfielders as options to serve as the DH right now.
Every Thursday, we break down all the minor leaguers who are owned in at least 1 percent of our Fantasy leagues. This will be your essential guide to unearthing the elite prospects before they hit the big time.
Top AL rookies to date
- Scott Richmond, SP, TOR -- He's off to a 3-0, 2.70 start, but the AL will catch up to him.
- Chris Getz, 2B, CHW -- A fractured finger tip won't send him to the DL; he's off to a great start.
- Travis Snider, OF, TOR -- He has cooled off considerably, but he will be streaky at this stage.
- Jose Morales, C, MIN -- Mauer's return will make him relatively worthless next week.
- Koji Uehara, SP, BAL -- He leads all rookie SPs with 30 innings, averaging six per start.
- Honorable mentions: Brett Gardner, OF, NYY; Andrew Bailey, RP, OAK; Ricky Romero, SP, TOR; Ryan Perry, RP, DET; and Elvis Andrus, SS, TEX.
Top NL rookies to date
- Jordan Zimmermann, SP, WAS -- He has been outstanding through two starts, exceeding modest expectations.
- Dexter Fowler, OF, COL -- Five steals in one game is just ridiculous production from a rookie.
- Joe Thurston, 2B, STL -- Journeyman won't stay on this list, but he got off to a nice start.
- Brian Barden, 3B, STL -- He has earned starts at third base until Troy Glaus (shoulder) returns midseason.
- Micah Hoffpauir, OF, CHC -- His pop and Milton Bradley's injury history makes him intriguing right now.
- Honorable mentions: Colby Rasmus, OF, STL; Jordan Schafer, OF, ATL; Mitchell Boggs, SP, STL; Felipe Paulino, SP, HOU; Bobby Parnell, RP, NYM; Michael Hinckley, RP, WAS; J.A. Happ, RP, PHI; Juan Gutierrez, RP, ARI; Ronald Belisario, RP, LAD; and Shairon Martis, SP, WAS.
Emack: In the preseason Top 100, we ranked them: Mills (No. 21), Morrison (29), Anderson (36), Carter (39) and Villalona (75). Kyle Blanks (No. 40), Yonder Alonso (No. 41), Kila Ka'aihue (48), Gaby Sanchez (66) and Justin Smoak (71) were the other first basemen ranked among the top 75 prospects this spring. That ranking was our preseason forecast on the long-term potential of these guys.
Anderson, Smoak, Sanchez, Alonso, Morrison, Blanks, Ka'aihue, Hosmer, Carter and Mills (ranked in that order) are the most-owned among the 1B prospects. The general public likes Anderson the most, although that could be bumped by the effects of Red Sox Nation's popularity.
Morrison is out most of the season after wrist surgery, so we're inclined to go with the most-owned player. Anderson's numbers are better than Carter's or Mills' right now, and the higher ownership makes for residual value on the trade market, perhaps.
Our general feeling is first base prospects are never great stashees because of the demands of the thin position offensively. It takes a real stud to be Fantasy-worthy right away. Even Ryan Howard and Joey Votto needed a year in the majors before they were truly mixed league standouts.
Rank those five right now: 1. Anderson; 2. Mills; 3. Carter; 4. Morrison and 5. Villalona.
You can e-mail us your Fantasy Baseball prospect questions to DMFantasyBaseball@cbs.com. Be sure to put Attn: Prospects in the subject field. Please include your full name, hometown and state. Be aware, due to the large volume of submissions received, we cannot guarantee personal responses to all questions.
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