Welcome to the weekly Fantasy Baseball Prospect Primer. In this space, we will inform you about prospects who have recently been called up or who might become fantasy contributors in the near future. Especially good for Keeper leagues, you'll want to check in weekly to get the latest news and advice for the coming week about prospects of fantasy relevance. Whether you need a great future keeper or you're just tired of starting Phil Hughes in that last SP slot, or if you're just looking for the next big thing in fantasy baseball, this is the article for you!
Grant Green (SS/2B, OAK) – I almost thought I wouldn't have any worthy call-ups this week to promote in my article, but the Oakland Athletics came through with their first-round pick from the 2009 MLB Draft. We have been a bit spoiled recently with big-name call-ups in recent weeks, and this solid middle infielder is no exception to that trend for fantasy managers.
Green started his minor league career as a shortstop before moving to the outfield and then finally transitioning to second base, where it seems his career will proceed uninterrupted. Green currently maintains eligibility at both SS and 2B, and that flexibility is a very nice feature for a waiver wire pickup. Now, I’m not telling you to drop what you’re doing and add him, because truth be told, Green is far from a sure thing, but he should supply above-average offensive statistics for his position(s). Through 81 games in the minors, he batted .318/.374/.500 with 11 HR and 49 RBI.
He reminds me a lot of Gordon Beckham when he was called up, with quick hands and a good line-drive stroke through the hitting zone. Don’t expect great power in the majors, but doubles should come immediately. Another thing to note about Green is that he has shown signs of streakiness. There will be cold weeks and there will be hot weeks. Personally, I place a premium on consistency in my fantasy lineup, but when prospects are on a tear (i.e., Yasiel Puig), you can’t ignore what they are capable of. At 2B, I’d take Green over Rickie Weeks, Brian Dozier, and Marco Scutaro, and at SS I would rank him above Erick Aybar, Jimmy Rollins and the Escobars. It will be interesting to see where in the lineup the A's will slot him. He could be in line for some RBI opportunities, but that is going to be contingent on where he hits in the order. Either way, he should play most days over light-hitting Eric Sogard, so if you’re in need of a middle-infielder, Green could be your guy.
Erasmo Ramirez (SP, SEA) – Also added to the mix Monday night was Seattle’s hidden gem Erasmo Ramirez. He isn’t technically a prospect as he pitched 59 innings in 2012, but many of you may have forgotten him and his 3.36 ERA/ 1.00 WHIP through those innings. He was injured in Spring Training and has been rehabbing successfully in the Mariners’ minor league system. This year he carries a 2.96 ERA between stints at Double-A and Triple-A.
Jeremy Bonderman’s time with the Mariners was temporary as he was designated for assignment, and that leaves an open spot for Thursday’s turn in the rotation. Eric Wedge stated on Monday that it would be someone from Triple-A. Unless they want to give Taijuan Walker a go (which is highly unlikely) then Ramirez is in for that rotation spot for the rest of the year. Even more impressive than the ERA and WHIP from his short stint in the majors last year was his 48:12 strikeout/walk ratio and the pristine .217 BAA. That number is comparable to Matt Harvey and actually lower than teammate Felix Hernandez.
If you have a struggling or inconsistent starter, I believe this is a chance to capitalize. The wins aren’t going to be enormous, but Ramirez will be capable of quality starts most times out, and with superb control and previous major league experience, he should be a fifth or sixth fantasy starter easily. Go grab him if you can-- I certainly did in my leagues. I wasn’t shy about it and he is standing at around 10% owned in leagues right now. That number will rise as soon as managers remember him from last year, which won’t be long. His stuff can be downright nasty and he's a very solid play at Safeco Field with a career 2.79 ERA, 0.72 WHIP and an even more tremendous .170 BAA. Bid with confidence on the young hurler.
OTHER NOTES AND BITS
Nick Castellanos (3B/OF, DET) – The combination of Andy Dirks and Avisail Garcia has provided average-at-best outfield production for the Tigers. And in that connection, I’d just like to remind everyone to watch Castellanos very closely. He brings third base eligibility and will be inserted into an extraordinarily productive linuep immediately upon receiving the call. I would expect a call-up shortly after the All-Star break, as long as Dirks and Garcia continue to stumble at the plate.
Tyler Skaggs (SP, ARI) – Skaggs was recalled Friday for a start against the Rockies at home. He excelled in his second debut of the season (intentional oxymoron), and anyone who owned him (currently between 7%-10%) welcomed the eight innings of no-run-ball he provided. He allowed three hits and one walk while fanning five batters in the outing. That is the kind of improvement we love to see from a prospect coming back up, even if the Rockies were without Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, and Dexter Fowler in the line-up. Skaggs will be a solid addition to the back end of a fantasy rotation if used wisely, as he should be in line for the fifth rotation spot in Arizona or at worst traded to some team where he will get regular starts. At present, he remains in the rotation spot previously occupied by the rehabbing Trevor Cahill.
Josh Phegley (C, CWS) – An under-the-radar prospect is always fun for me. Phegley was called up by the White Sox to share duties with Tyler Flowers at catcher. The youngster from the 2009 draft doesn’t have a great resume, but his bat and power have come alive in his fourth year behind the plate. He smacked 15 HR at Triple-A while hitting .316 with decent plate discipline. He could be an interesting option in AL-Only leagues or two-catcher formats, depending on the playing time he receives.
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