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Eye on the Minor Leagues: Super-Two Prospects Watch


Three young arms made their Major League debuts in the Yankees-Mets series last week. The former minor league top prospects all looked good, but each has question marks about his role with the team this season. Tread carefully in your fantasy leagues. The big super-two prospects will be coming up soon-- I'll review a few of them below, and I'll continue to update you on prospects weekly.

 

Minor League Prospects Who Have Already Debuted

MLB: New York Yankees at New York MetsChase Whitley, RHP, NYY:  With injuries to C.C. Sabathia, Michael Pineda and Ivan Nova, the Yankee rotation is decimated. When C.C. went on the DL, Whitley was the default option to be brought up from Scranton to start against the Mets. Pitted against Mets’ rookie Jacob deGrom (see below), Whitley accorded himself well, tossing  4.2 shutout innings on a reduced pitch count.

Whitley followed that up with a start at Wrigley Field on Wednesday, where he again did not get through the fifth inning, but allowed only one run.  So long as he pitches well, the Yankees figure to give him some chances to start, though they will likely be the abbreviated variety.

 

Rafael Montero, RHP, NYM: The Mets called up Montero last week to pitch against the Yankees after moving Jenrry Mejia to the bullpen. Montero held his own in the Subway Series with a six-inning, three-run performance in a losing effort. He followed up that start with a dud against the Dodgers on Tuesday, getting pulled in the fifth inning after allowing four walks and five runs. Montero doesn’t throw hard, but his low-90s fastball is sneaky fast because of his lanky frame and long arms. His six walks and three homers allowed in his two starts is alarming, but Montero suffered from neither control nor homer issues during his minor league career. He is likely just experiencing an adjustment period in the majors against two intimidating offenses. His future with the Mets is unclear this season, as he will be judged against fellow rookie Jacob deGrom for a rotation spot once Dillon Gee returns from injury.

 

Jacob deGrom, RHP, NYM:  deGrom was called up to replace Dillon Gee in the rotation and he'll be making a three-start audition in the majors. Another long and lean pitcher, deGrom thrives on control. He is a strike-thrower with about a 94-MPH fastball, a change (against lefties) and a developing curve. His future is likely in the bullpen, where he may move when Gee gets back, but with a good showing as a starter, the Mets could keep him there at the back end of their rotation. He pitched seven strong innings against the Yankees last week and returned to go six in a loss to Dodgers on Wednesday night. He’ll get one more start, at least, before Gee comes off the DL.

 

Prospects & Rookies Super-Two Watch

Gregory Polanco Pittsburgh Pirates

Gregory Polanco, OF, PIT: Polanco is biding his time with Indianapolis until the Pirates feel he’s safely out of “Super Two” range. There is no valid on-the-field reason for Polanco not to be starting in right field for Pittsburgh right now. He is batting .374 with a 1.033 OPS in Triple-A, along with ten steals.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh is wheeling out Josh Harrison and Travis Snider every day, while falling way out of the NL Central race. They should be looking to change that very very soon. My bet is that Polanco will have the biggest fantasy baseball impact in 2014 for any of the prospect call-ups this June. He has the talent, has more than proven himself in the minors, and is MLB ready. The time is near.

 

Oscar Taveras, OF STL:  Taveras broke out of a 2-for-16 slump on Tuesday night, going 4-for-5 with a double and two RBI in Memphis’s win at Colorado Springs. Following his tenth multi-hit game of the season, he is hitting .304 and is ready for a call-up whenever the Cards need him.  He is the best hitting prospect in the MiLB, but his fantasy impact likely won't be as big as Polanco because of his lack of speed and SB potential.

 

Andrew Heaney, LHP, MIA:  The Marlins’ top prospect was promoted to Triple-A New Orleans this week after recording a 2.35 ERA with 52 strikeouts in 53.2 innings in Double-A Jacksonville. With Jose Fernandez done for the year, it’s just a matter of time before Heaney is brought up to Miami, probably after a start or two in Triple-A. Anthony DeSclafani has made one good start and one bad one in Fernandez’s absence, but he could serve as an obstacle to Heaney’s promotion. Another possibility is that Heaney could replace struggling Jacob Turner in the rotation sometime in June.

 

Archie Bradley, RHP, ARZ: Bradley has not seen game action since landing on the disabled list on April 29 with an elbow injury. An MRI on the elbow showed a mild flexor strain and no damage to his UCL. He is currently rehabbing in Scottsdale, Arizona and is aiming to pitch for the Diamondbacks this season. Considering the frailty of young elbows lately and the D-Backs’ position in the standings, it may be a long shot to see him up before September.

 

Jonathan Singleton, 1B, HOU: Singleton is mired in a 2-for-23 slump at Triple-A Oklahoma City, which will likely have little impact on his planned call-up in June. Given the lack of production the Astros have received at first base, there have been rumblings for the past month that his time was near. Acquired from the Phillies in the Hunter Pence trade, Singleton has cut down on his strikeouts this year and improved his walk rate (43 K and 34 BB) – good signs he’s ready to begin his major league career for real.

 

Additional Minors Updates & Notes

SS Alex Guerrero (LAD) was batting .376 with 10 home runs in Triple-A when a bizarre dugout confrontation with Miguel Olivo led to a piece of his ear getting bitten off. This crazy injury will keep the Cuban import out for at least a month, and it's already sent Olivo packing. With Dee Gordon establishing himself at second base, Guerrero could move to his third position (3B) before his season is done.

 

SS Javier Baez (CHC) has taken a step backward this year at Triple-A, hitting only .176 in 125 at bats. His free-swinging ways have led to more multi-strikeout games (5) than homers (4)-- I wouldn’t expect to see him in Chicago until his plate discipline improves.

 

The talk of the minors this year is Texas Rangers’ prospect 1B Joey Gallo, who has slugged a minors-leading 18 home runs for Single-A Myrtle Beach. He is a year or two away from big league consideration, and he still strikes out a lot (46 times in 146 at bats), but he has the best power in the minor leagues.

 




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