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Hello, RotoBallers. I am back after a few weeks off to update some MLB prospects, call-ups and hot minor leaguers. This week we saw the call-up of the first of the Cubs’ wave of prospects, infielder Arismendy Alcantara, and a rookie changing of the guard behind the plate in Boston. So without further ado . . .

 

Recent MLB Prospect Call-Ups

Arismendy Alcantara, 2B/SS, Chicago Cubs

By mwlguide [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsAlcantara is a 22-year old switch-hitting Dominican infielder who has risen through the ranks of the Cubs’ system, to find himself called up to the big leagues when Darwin Barney went on the paternity list on Wednesday. Alcantara impressed in Double-A last year with a .271/15/69 season. He also added 31 steals. Alcantara followed that up with a .301/10/41 performance in 89 games at Triple-A Iowa this season, adding 21 steals and 11 triples. His steady performance has led to his MLB promotion and call-up, ahead of the more touted Cubs’ prospects.

Alcantara could be fantasy gold, once he settles in. At best, he’s a five-tool middle infielder who could top 20-30 steals. Even if the power doesn’t develop, he would still rate high at the position (most likely 2B) once he gets regular playing time. It remains to be seen whether this is just a short audition or a more permanent switch for the Cubs, but he’s already a better fantasy option than the light-hitting Barney.

 

Christian Bethancourt, C, Atlanta Braves

An injury to Evan Gattis opened the door for Christian Bethancourt, the Braves’ “catcher-of-the-future.” Make no mistake, Bethancourt has all the tools to be an elite defensive catcher with a rifle arm. The question for him will always be his bat, which is the primary concern of all fantasy baseball owners. The 22-year old righty took positive steps to improve his offensive profile with a 12-homer, 11-steal season at Double-A in 2013. This season, he hit a rather blah .271/3/32 in 231 at bats in Triple-A. If the Braves decide to sit B.J. Upton and move Gattis to the outfield, it could open up a role for Bethancourt this season, but with his lack of offense, I have to believe there are better options at catcher for your fantasy lineup.

 

Christian Vazquez, C, Boston Red Sox 

Ineffective veteran A.J. Pierzynski was cut by the Red Sox this week, paving the way for Christian Vazquez to make his MLB  debut. Vazquez is another defense-first catcher who lacks power, but has shown good on-base skills in the minors (.376 OBP at Double-A in 2013). He grew up emulating Ivan Rodriguez and has developed into a strong-armed backstop with a reputation for handling a pitching staff. The profile looks more like that of a solid backup than a front-line starter, but with Pierzynski gone Vazquez will get a chance to prove himself on the biggest stage.

The Sox’s top catching prospect Blake Swihart is probably a year away, so Vazquez’s time in the majors may be as much an audition for trade value as anything else. In any case, he has average pop at the position and gets on base, so maybe he can help in OBP leagues this year. I just wouldn’t bank on him for front-line fantasy value.

 

Notes on a Few Top Prospects

Kris Bryant, 3B/OF, Chicago Cubs

Since his promotion to Triple-A, Kris Bryant hasn’t stopped hitting, posting a .329/.396/.695 triple slash line at Iowa. With that type of production it’s hard to see him not making his MLB debut this year, even if it’s just for a cup of coffee. The Cubs are even more stacked with infield prospects now with the acquisition of Addison Russell.

The big question is where are all these guys going to play and what happens to Starlin Castro? This glut of talent is a great problem to have on the North Side. My guess is that Bryant ends up in the outfield with Javier Baez eventually shifting to third – but that still leaves Castro, Russell and Alcantara for two middle-infield positions. Wow!

 

Archie Bradley, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks are stretching Archie Bradley out in Double-A Mobile with mixed results. After getting shut down earlier this season with arm trouble, it’s been a slow road back for baseball’s top pitching prospect. In four starts at Reno, Bradley has a ghastly 13:9 K:BB ratio over 18.1 IP. He's only allowed 3 ER, but that hardly sounds like a performance befitting a future ace. His goal is just to get back to full strength, not necessarily to blow hitters away. I’d expect Bradley to get a call sometime this season and I see no reason his fantasy value should take a huge hit from his performance in rehab starts.

 

I am heading off to Arizona tonight to take in some Rookie League ball. A lot of the recent draftees will be there, along with some international signees. These guys are several years away from the majors, but it will be fun to see some ball on the back fields of the spring training parks and talk to some scouts. Your future fantasy stars are just getting their careers started. I’ll be there to get some info!

 





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