With April over and teams jockeying for position in their divisions, it is nearing the time where teams will pull the trigger on some of their top prospects. While most teams will wait until June to ensure their players don’t get “Super Two” status, others may not have that luxury as the young guys are needed to fill in for an injury or an ineffective player. Today, I write about a few who could be making an impact soon.
MLB Prospects Update: Early May Edition
Marcus Stroman: RHP, TOR
The time is near. Stroman may have finished his triple-A career on a high note Tuesday night, tossing six no-hit innings, walking one and whiffing ten. Rumors have been rampant that the Jays’ top prospect is ready to take a rotation spot as early as this weekend. Stroman stands only five-foot-nine and scouting reports say his fastball sits at a mid-90’s maximum, but he has two other pitches – a wipeout slider and a plus cutter – that jack up his strikeout totals.
He has 36 K’s in 26.2 innings with Buffalo this season and a 10.7 K/9 overall in the minors. While he may be homer-prone in the majors, he should make up for that with plenty of strikeouts and a solid WHIP in fantasy. It would make sense to add him in all formats if your back-end starters are underperforming so far.
Stroman’s start was pushed back one day so that his schedule would coincide with McGowan’s, a not-so-subtle sign that the Jays are ready to make the move. McGowan turned in a decent six-inning performance Tuesday which could delay Stroman’s debut, but I would not be surprised to see the prospect starting for Toronto at Pittsburgh on Sunday.
Arismendy Alcantara: 2B, CHC
The prospect hype on the North Side centers around Javier Baez and Kris Bryant, two powerful youngsters who may (or may not) make their Major League debuts this year. In the meantime, Alcantara may have the clearest path to the big leagues and is likely to see MLB time before Baez and Bryant this year. Alcantara began his career as a shortstop, but was moved to second base last year in deference to Baez. For double-A Tennessee, he hit 15 homers and stole 31 bases in 2013. He earned the promotion to triple-A Iowa this year and has batted .299 with two homers and seven steals in the early going. Alcantara has not been as patient a hitter this season. He drew 62 walks in 500-plus plate appearances in 2013, but has only seen three free passes in 2014 to go along with 20 strikeouts. In the fantasy realm, with playing time, he projects as a 30-steal, 10-homer type guy. At this point, he’s more valuable than Darwin Barney at the keystone. If the Cubs bring him up, he’s worth an add in deeper leagues if you’re struggling at the position. The only question will be if he finds a permanent home at second or takes on a utility role if Baez pushes him off a position once again.
Andrew Heaney: LHP, MIA
The Marlins are not shy about promoting young prospects (see Jose Fernandez and Marcel Ozuna) and if (when) a need arises in their starting rotation, Heaney should get the call. Heaney was steam-rolling double-A ball until a five-run hiccup last Friday, but in three starts before that he allowed only one run over 19 innings. Heaney is a hard-throwing left-hander with a deceptive delivery. He adds a wipeout slider to his arsenal and a plus changeup. He only had 122 pro innings heading into this season, but he’s considered major league ready. Miami is likely just getting him some seasoning in the minors or waiting for the Super Two deadline to bring him up. When he arrives at Marlins Park, he should help in all four starting pitcher categories, especially considering his home ballpark. As a junior at Oklahoma State, he led Division I in strikeouts and has whiffed about one per inning so far in his professional career. Those types of K rates are valuable in fantasy.
Starting pitcher Archie Bradley (ARZ) was placed on the minor league disabled list with an elbow strain. Before the injury he was mostly ineffective in triple-A with a 5.18 ERA. . . OF Oscar Taveras (STL) has a 13-game hitting streak with Memphis. . . 2B Mookie Betts (BOS) leads the minors with a .422 average, the Sox may consider him trade-bait.