Posted 06/01/2009 at 02:10 AM
So far, so good for me in the NCAA Baseball Tourney. I won my two best plays Friday, struggled to a 1-3 Saturday, but nailed the 3-0 Sunday with nice dog winners on Vandy and Arkansas. As for the big leagues, I gave back some of my huge April profits during a so-so May, but closed the month strong. I’m well ahead for the season, so no complaints.
On to this week’s top prospect recalls. Five players to focus on, including one who PCL pitchers will be happy they might not have to face anymore.
Jake Fox has been on an incredible roll at Iowa this season. Try .423/.886/1.389 with 17 HR and 50 RBI. With numbers like those at AAA, the Cubs had to find a way to get him up with the big club. The bad news is the Cubs also had to bring his glove along. Fox is a DH in the league that doesn’t use the DH. There is sharply divided opinion as to what kind of future Fox has at the big league level. Some feel he’s a Quad-A bomber who will quickly get figured out upstairs. Others like his chances of being a legit power threat if he gets a chance to play regularly. I’m in the former camp. While I have no doubts Fox can hit ‘em far, I don’t think he’ll hit ‘em often in the majors. He’s just too fundamentally flawed to be a major league regular. Fox can’t play defense, he has no speed, he doesn’t draw walks, and he reportedly isn’t the most coachable guy around. And he’s also already nearly 26 years old.The Cubs would be wise to shop Fox right now to an AL club that’s hungry for a DH. His value will never be higher than it is right now. From a fantasy standpoint, I would grab him immediately if your league is one where there are active traders, particularly those who overpay for hype.
I’m much higher on Fernando Martinez, who’s getting his first opportunity with the Mets. Martinez is a legit Top 50 prospect and while he may need a little more seasoning at AAA Buffalo before he sticks, he’s got a good future. Martinez won’t be 21 until October, so he’s extremely advanced for his age. He’d done well enough prior to this season considering his youth, but the one tool that has now started to show is power, with Martinez blasting eight HR at AAA Buffalo prior to his recall. His progress becomes even more impressive when noting that Martinez has had some injury issues that have cost him valuable playing time. From a fantasy standpoint, Martinez is not likely worth much in annual leagues, but he’s a big time grab in keepers.
Daniel Schlereth is already up with the Diamondbacks after a very brief minor league apprenticeship. If the name sounds familiar, yes, Daniel is the son of former NFL star and current ESPN analyst Mark Schlereth. Drafted in last year’s first round out of Arizona, Schlereth is a lefty who almost certainly has a future as a big league closer. He throws a nasty mid-90’s heater and also has a plus curve. Schlereth has worked only 31 professional innings, but the Diamondbacks decided to bring him straight up from AA Mobile as part of their ongoing roster overhaul. Schlereth is one to watch in annual fantasy leagues, as I believe the D-Backs may well start dealing some talent soon, and that could include present closer Chad Qualls. At the very least, Schlereth is a good bet to be in the closer mix by next spring at the latest, so he’s a valuable keeper prospect. He’ll likely be under the radar in many leagues, so a small FAAB investment could pay big dividends down the road.
The Orioles have been the busiest team over this last week in terms of rookie promotions. In addition to Matt Wieters (discussed in one of last week’s columns) the O’s also brought up a pair of righty pitchers, David Hernandez and Jason Berken. Add in Brad Bergesen, and 60% of the current Baltimore rotation is comprised of rookies. What has to be really exciting for the long suffering O’s fan base is that none of the three are named Chris Tillman, Brian Matusz or Jake Arrieta, the three really high profile pitching prospects in the organization.
Hernandez has had a superb K/IP rate ever since getting drafted out of junior college in 2005. He followed two fairly pedestrian campaigns with a breakout at AA Bowie last season, but Hernandez was still having control issues at that level. But everything came together at AAA Norfolk for Hernandez this spring, as he blew away the league with a brilliant 13/60 BB/K in 43.1 IP. Hernandez looked good in his big league debut, getting out of a nasty opening inning jam en route to earning a win against the Tigers. He needs to work on his pitch counts, and his long term prognosis likely depends on how well his secondary stuff develops. Hernandez has kind of a funky delivery that could cause problems for hitters who have no book on him. Fantasy owners looking for a cheap short term fix might do well with Hernandez, and considering his growth as a prospect this season, he’s a viable keeper league add as well, although not for serious dollars.
Berken’s ceiling is probably lower. He’s not all that big, doesn’t throw all that hard and will need to have solid command to get by at the highest level. Berken is one of those grinders who will get by on savvy rather than stuff. He’s not likely to ever be a star, but looks like one of those gritty types who will do whatever it takes to help the team, whether it’s as a starter or reliever. My guess is that he ends up in the Baltimore bullpen down the road, or as a back of the rotation starter if he gets dealt at some point. From a fantasy perspective, consider him a roster filler in deep AL-only leagues.
That’s it for this week’s prospect rundown. If you have a question or a comment, please feel free to fire away.