Prospect hunting in fantasy baseball can all come down to opportunity for playing time. No matter how much potential a young guy has, it can be hazardous to carry a guy on your roster if he isn’t getting a chance to compete. Today I’ll feature two players who may get a chance this season, mostly due to lack of competition on their major league teams; and I’ll finish with two others who got their chance this week and will have to perform at the highest level to stick in the majors.
Two Players Who Could Get The Call Soon
Maikel Franco, 3B, PHL (AAA): Franco, at best, is considered the third-baseman of the future for the Philadelphia Phillies. While he’s only batting .204/.262/.319 at triple-A Lehigh Valley, the subpar performance of Cody Asche at the major league level has led to rumors that Franco could get a chance soon. Franco was a beast in 2013, shooting up the prospect ladder with a 31-home run, 103-RBI season across two levels. He is a home run bat at a premium position, if he sticks at third base. But there’s the rub. His sloppy play at the hot corner has many scouts and analysts calling for a move to first base. His .260/25 HR projection would fit in well at a 3B slot, but loses a ton of value fantasy-wise at first. He figures to get plenty of homers in righty-friendly Citizen’s Bank Park, if he gets the chance, but his value will be tied mostly to where he ends up on the diamond.
Jon Singleton, 1B, HOU (AAA): Singleton was on the cusp of the majors last season when he failed a minor league drug test for marijuana and served a 50-game suspension. When he returned to triple-A Oklahoma City, he was overweight and had to face questions about his work ethic and makeup. 2013 was a lost season. However, this year, Singleton is back and is raking in triple-A. His ten home runs currently lead the Pacific Coast League. He is hitting to a .284/.396/.621 triple slash line. The Astros were willing to bring up George Springer early in the season this year and Singleton will be the next big addition to the middle of that lineup. When he gets the call, he is worth a pickup across most leagues. He will be handed the starting first base job (who else on the Astros is blocking him?) and should put up good power numbers in that home park.
C.J. Cron, 1B/DH, LAA: Cron’s value is tied up entirely in his power. He’s not going to hit for a high average. He’s not going to get on base much and he’s not going to score many runs. At double-A Arkansas last season, he only got on base at a .319 clip. This year, in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League, he managed to stay hot (six homers in 113 AB), so the Angels brought him up to give him a taste of the majors. He’s more of a DH/corner defender out of the mold of Mark Trumbo, but will have to show something in Anaheim before he finds a permanent home there. With Albert Pujols at first, Raul Ibanez eating into playing time at DH and Josh Hamilton and Kole Calhoun soon returning from injury, Cron will likely not see enough playing time to make him a worthy add. He’s a “wait-and-see” prospect.
Robbie Ray, LHP, DET: The Tigers needed a starter to fill-in while Anibal Sanchez was on the DL, so they turned to Robbie Ray, the primary piece acquired by Detroit in the much-maligned Doug Fister deal. Ray was solid in his Tigers debut, turning in a 5.1 IP, 5 hit, one run performance against the Astros Tuesday night. However, that was against the Astros’ offense and Sanchez should return soon from injury. With that in mind, Ray may be only getting a small taste of the big leagues until Anibal returns and, even if he were to wrestle away a back-end rotation spot, is not worth keeping on fantasy rosters. He has shown problems with command in the minors and his secondary pitches don’t rate high by the scouts. There are better pitching options out there. I would pass.
Notable Minor League News
OF Byron Buxton (MIN), the consensus #1 prospect, finally made his season debut for high-A Fort Myers. He is one-for-10 in the early going after missing April with a wrist injury. That one hit is a home run . . . 2B Mookie Betts (BOS) remains one of the minors’ hottest hitters at double-A Portland. He’s maintained a .407 average with four homers and 15 steals in 118 at bats so far. A promotion to triple-A should be imminent. . . The Pirates led off Josh Harrison, their RF, on Tuesday. I have to wonder if they are throwing away their playoff chances early by keeping OF Gregory Polanco in Triple-A, presumably to stall his arbitration clock.