Prospects Report: Timetables for minor aces
Owners are tracking both Stephen Strasburg and Aroldis Chapman in the minors to see when they might get the call. Our Eric Mack lays out a timeline for both and gets you caught up on everything happening on the farm in his Prospects Report.
As the season is now in full swing, are you feeling everything is a bit too routine?
Starting pitchers are going every five days. Your Fantasy team is frustratingly and alternately running hot and cold.
Well, here are some days that can break up the monotony: April 26. May 1. May 6. (Pay the most attention to that last date. It just happens to be a third-year anniversary of someone prominent.)
Double-A Harrisburg (Pa.) is at Reading, Pa., vs. Altoona and vs. Bowie, Md., on those dates. That Nationals are at Chicago, at Florida and vs. Atlanta. And -- just to cover our behinds -- at the N.Y. Mets on May 11.
And how about April 22, April 28, May 4 and May 9?
Triple-A Louisville (Ky.) is at Indianapolis, Ind., at Scranton-Wilkes Barre, Pa., at Buffalo, N.Y. and vs. Rochester, N.Y., on those dates. The Reds are vs. the L.A. Dodgers, at Houston, vs. the N.Y. Mets and vs. the Chicago Cubs.
You get where we are going with this? Pitchers are like clock-, err, calendar-work with their pitching schedules and routines.
Stephen Strasburg is smoking along in Double-A. Jason Marquis is on the DL and getting a second opinion on those "loose bodies" in his elbow. Aroldis Chapman is refining his command in Triple-A. Homer Bailey is failing to repeat his 2009 second-half surge and Aaron Harang is looking washed up and ready to ship out.
Fantasy owners are anxious to see an imminent call-up of the two lightning-armed phenoms that are the two most-owned minor leaguers on CBSSports.com, or any website for that matter.
It is not going to happen yet.
"We're going to take it start by start and see where it leads us," Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said. "I've got a tentative plan in my mind that I'm not going to share with you guys. But we see that he certainly needs more work down in the minor leagues. We're going to see him in the big leagues, and when we see him in the big leagues, we hope he's here for good."
Well, let's try spoil the suspense: We would like to say Strasburg and Chapman are going to arrive after five (or six) starts and 25 innings (or around 30) down in the minors. We said the same thing about Rays lefty David Price last year when he was surprisingly ushered to Triple-A to start last season. We were far less confident in Strasburg or Chapman making the team out of spring training, though, and Price actually stayed three starts and nine innings longer in the minors than we projected.
By the way, Price arrived (for good) May 25, 2009, which is right about the time we originally projected for Strasburg and Chapman. Strasburg's Nationals are in San Francisco this May 25, but they are coincidentally in San Diego that weekend (May 28-31). Strasburg was drafted out of San Diego and grew up in that area, by the way.
We contend he will be in the Nationals rotation (and Chapman with the Reds) long before that, though, even if Rizzo won't give us a hint. How can we make this leap of faith, you ask?
Well, the No. 1 Fantasy ace of 2010, Tim Lincecum, arrived May 6, 2007 after five starts and 31 innings in his rookie year, which was also his first full pro season. He went on to go 7-5 with a 4.00 ERA and 150 strikeouts in 146 1/3 innings. Strasburg and Chapman should be able to beat those numbers, even if it takes a turn or two longer to arrive in terms of the calendar.
Strasburg allowed one hit in five shutout innings in his past start for Double-A Harrisburg (Pa.) on Wednesday, striking out six batters. He is now 2-0 with a 0.73 ERA, .156 batting-average against with 17 strikeouts and just three walks in 12 1/3 innings. To put it simply, he's just too good for Double-A. To be fair, though, he has actually allowed five runs, but just one was earned, suggesting he hasn't quite pitched as well as his ERA suggests.
Chapman started Wednesday night and could use perhaps a start or two more than Strasburg, since Chapman is less in command of his wicked lefty stuff and runs higher pitch counts and, therefore, doesn't pitch as deep into games.
"That's part of any power pitcher's growth," Louisville manager Rick Sweet told MLB.com. "We went through it here with Homer Bailey. He couldn't get to a sixth inning. Not because he didn't have the game under control, but because he threw too many dang pitches. That's just the way their games are. Efficiency is important."
So, for all those people asking the questions about Strasburg and Chapman, mark your calendars. Count down the days and starts, paying special attention to the inning totals. You likely will have the answer that the GMs and decision-makers with Washington and Cincinnati are not apt to give you.
Every week 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
- Neftali Feliz, RP, TEX -- There is little reason to move him out of the closer's role amid Frank Francisco's struggles.
- Austin Jackson, OF, DET -- His power isn't there yet, and might not come this season, but he going well enough right now.
- Brian Matusz, SP, BAL -- The L-O's don't have much going for them at this point, but Matusz is holding his own.
- Wade Davis, SP, TB -- He has been pretty impressive and should be trusted even more than the non-contending Matusz.
- Reid Brignac, 2B, TB -- Sean Rodriguez popped off Wednesday, which could mean less at-bats for hot-starting Brignac.
- Honorable mentions: Scott Sizemore, 2B, DET; Mike McCoy, 2B, TOR; Joaquin Arias, 2B, TEX; Tyson Ross, RP, OAK; Sergio J. Santos, RP, CHW; and Mitch Talbot, SP, CLE.
Top NL rookies to date
- Jason Heyward, OF, ATL -- It is time to believe he can be a rookie on the level Evan Longoria and Ryan J. Braun.
- Jaime Garcia, SP, STL -- He is a popular addition in all leagues after starting off hot in that 20-inning marathon game.
- Mike Leake, SP, CIN -- The walk rate remains high, which will keep his innings total down, but his ERA and BAA are solid.
- Alcides Escobar, SS, MIL -- He has yet to post a stolen base, something you bought him for, but he is steady otherwise.
- David Freese, 3B, STL -- He leads all rookies with three triples and is hitting a robust .317 as an everyday third baseman.
- Honorable mentions: Ian Desmond, SS, WAS; Gaby Sanchez, 1B, FLA; Ike Davis, 1B, FLA; Tyler Colvin, OF, CHC; Jonathon Niese, SP, NYM; Jenrry Mejia, RP, NYM; and Raul Valdes, RP, NYM.
Brian Flood, New York: Can you can add the following players to the database? They are owned in my league: Adeiny Hechavarria, Slade Heathcott, Randal Grichuk, Angel Morales, Trayce Thompson and Willliam Myers.
Emack: To a former CBSSports.com staff writer, let it be done. Some of these guys were already in there, but you had spelled their names wrong. We added them because they were also high on the unlisted players list. Dozens of people asked for and received that list via e-mail last week.
You can e-mail Emack your Fantasy Baseball prospect questions to DMFantasyBaseball@cbs.com. Be sure to put 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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