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 Trevor Cahill 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!
Brad Miller (SS, SEA) – Rush a hitter through the minors and call him up to “The Show” prematurely? The Seattle Mariners are at it once again, trying to spark a notoriously dead offense. With Dustin Ackley, Carlos Triunfel, and Nick Franklin each getting a shot in the Mariners' infield, next in line is shortstop Brad Miller. Miller was selected in the second round out of Clemson by the Mariners in 2011. I’ll give Seattle this: Miller is more prepared for the majors than their recent backstop call-up in Mike Zunino.
Miller has performed at every level and answered every challenge presented to him in the minors. Through 26 games at the Triple-A level, Miller had a .356/.426/.596 slash line with 12 HR to his credit. I don’t expect the power to translate to the majors, but I can see a Manny Machado-esque doubles hitter in the young shortstop. Seattle's minor league affiliates are very hitter friendly, but Miller has put up a very respectable .282/.370/.403 slash line on the road as well. What makes him successful is his above-average plate discipline and advanced approach for such a young hitter. Miller had a 35:48 BB/K ratio through his two minor league stops this season, which is respectable in whichever baseball league you're hitting in.
It seems Seattle is determined to set their infield of the future this year, and they hope Brad Miller is the answer at shortstop. The relatively weak fantasy position is what makes Miller enticing. There are too many unknown factors for me to advise everyone to pick him up, such as the ballpark change, weak line-up for counting statistics, and Miller's lack of defensive polish, which could prevent him from sticking in the majors. He certainly has the hitting pedigree to take a flier on if you need the shortstop help, especially in AL-Only leagues. At the very least, watchlist him and see what happens. In his first two MLB games, he was held hitless, but Sunday night he went 2-3 with a run scored.
Taylor Jordan (SP, WAS) – While Dan Haren sits on the shelf with an injury and tries to recapture some of his lost skills, the Washington Nationals have called up Taylor Jordan to help supplement the rotation. Jordan isn't a top prospect, nor does he have any sort of fantastic repertoire, but he does have what a lot of major league pitchers lack: above-average control of the the strike zone.
Jordan made his debut on Saturday against the New York Mets, where he went 4.1 innings and gave up three runs (only one earned) with one strikeout. He was not helped at all by the three errors made by the Nationals’ defense, and that resulted in a high pitch count early for the 24-year old. He primarily uses a fastball/slider combination for his starts and still lacks the major-league quality changeup he will need to be an effective starter. His fastball does sit at 94-95 mph with some sinking life to it. Nonetheless, he stands to make a few starts and could be a decent play against weaker teams in the National League for NL-Only leagues and spot starts in mixed formats because of his control.
I don’t see why Jordan won’t get at least a few starts in the coming weeks as Haren tries to return to form. Otherwise, he will return to the minors-- probably at Triple-A, since he has little left to prove at Double-A where he posted a sterling 0.94 ERA over 72 innings. That’s why he has made the fantasy relevance column-- he was near untouchable in Double-A and you never know how that will translate in the majors. He is also one of those Tommy John surgery success stories as he was rehabbing in 2011-2012 and has been amazing since coming back. It’s becoming a great story for these pitchers who come back from the surgery (which is no minor procedure, by the way) better than they ever were prior to going under the knife.
OTHER NOTES AND BITS
Trevor Bauer (SP, CLE) – I hardly consider him a fantasy prospect anymore, but the media continues to give this guy credit and write fantasy advice columns on him, so I’ll update you, as well. He has a world of talent, but he refuses to change his pitching methods-- basically, he prefers to throw balls instead of strikes to strikeout hitters. Makes sense right? Until he changes, which the Indians are reportedly trying to do, he is a non-factor in the fantasy realm.
Danny Hultzen (SP, SEA) – Some of you may remember this top prospect from last year. He was ranked as high as the second-best prospect in baseball at one point. Well, Hultzen is back from injury and had his first appearance in Triple-A last week. He posted six scoreless innings with only two hits allowed while striking out six batters. Not bad for a return outing, eh? Like Taijuan Walker, put Hultzen on your watchlist as a call-up is all but certain down the home stretch of the season, and perhaps even sooner.
Sonny Gray (SP, OAK) – Oakland only has four starting pitchers on their roster at the moment, and with days off they won't need a fifth until July 8. With Dan Straily struggling in his stint in the majors, don’t be surprised to see Oakland call-up their first-round pick from 2011 in Sonny Gray. He currently has a 3.02 ERA through 15 starts at Triple-A Sacramento and might be a good one to roster when/if called up.
If you want this article and other high-end fantasy baseball analysis delivered to you on a daily basis, sign up for our daily newsletter. And to stay on top of all the waiver wire news including prospect call-ups and DL news, be sure to check out the RotoBaller Waiver Wire Watch List daily updates for in-depth analysis on gems that you may be able to find sitting on your waiver wire. It’s one of the best fantasy baseball features currently on web!