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The Big Leagues for the Big Boys
Mon May 7, 2012 1:01am|
By Chris Hadorn
Your fantasy baseball rankings look a little stale. KFFL.com's Fantasy Baseball Player Prospecting series highlights the exploits of minor league baseball players, including top MLB prospects. Find out who'll make an impact, whether it's in your rotisserie or head-to-head baseball game next week or in your fantasy baseball keeper league two years from now.
Holding the worst record in the majors at 7-20, the Minnesota Twins are starting to turn towards the minors for help and are beginning to start the process of seeing what they have in the upper-minors. Today the Twins are promoting SS Brian Dozier and RHP Scott Diamond from Triple-A Rochester. In a corresponding move, the Twins placed 1B Justin Morneau (wrist) on the 15-day disabled list and have optioned RHP Liam Hendriks to Rochester.
Dozier will step right in and assume the starting shortstop role from veteran Jamey Carroll. He will bat second today in his major league debut versus the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
In 110 at-bats with Rochester, Dozier was hitting .270 with one homer, seven doubles, 12 RBIs, six runs scored, two steals and a .710 OPS.
Last year, Dozier opened eyes by hitting a combined .320 with nine homers, 33 doubles, 12 triples, 56 RBIs, 92 runs scored, 24 steals and an .890 OPS in 569 at-bats between high Single-A and Double-A.
The soon-to-be 25-year-old lacks standout tools, but he has established himself as a prospect by putting up numbers, being a steady defender and showing strong baseball aptitude. Dozier has also endeared himself to baseball people by playing with a high level of intensity.
Because Dozier lacks ideal range and an arm for shortstop, many feel he's destined to end up at second base.
Although Dozier doesn't do anything exceptionally well, he has proven to be a well-rounded player. The former Southern Mississippi star's best attribute will be getting on base at the major league level as he held a career .379 OBP in the minors.
Dozier projects as a .275 hitter with the ability to score 70-plus runs and steal 15 to 20 bases. His power contributions will be more of the doubles and triples variety. AL-only managers should pounce on him immediately as a middle infielder option.
Diamond will start the Twins' Tuesday night game versus the Angels. The 6-foot-3 southpaw went 4-1, with a 2.60 ERA and a 26:7 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 34 2/3 innings with Rochester.
Picked up by the Twins in the 2010 Rule 5 Draft from Atlanta, Diamond kind of fits the profile of many of the Twins pitchers: He is an innings eater who pitches to contact and tries to generate ground balls.
The native Canadian is a control artist who has an underwhelming assortment of pitches which includes a high-80s fastball, curveball, changeup and slider.
In his minor league career, Diamond has done a solid job of keeping the ball in the park (0.5 homers per nine innings), which gives some hope that he can pitch well at the major league level.
During a 39-inning major league stint last year, Diamond posted an ugly 19:17 strikeout-to-walk ratio, recorded a 5.08 ERA and yielded 50 hits, so the lefty fits the profile of a backend starter to a T.
Unless desperate for a starter, AL-only players should look elsewhere for pitching help.
Nobody in the minors is swinging a hotter bat than Detroit Tigers 3B prospect Nick Castellanos. The 6-foot-4, 195-pound third baseman is hitting a robust .421 with two homers, 22 RBIs, 17 runs scored and a 1.065 OPS in 114 at-bats with high Single-A Lakeland this season.
A line-drive machine, Castellanos has an uncanny knack for making hard contact with the barrel of the bat. Last season, Castellanos hit .307 during a 507-at-bat stint with low Single-A Western Michigan, which included a .331 batting average in the second half.
So far, Castellanos has proven to be a pure hitter who can post gaudy batting averages. The big surprise is that the 20-year-old is doing it with high strikeout totals (130 whiffs in 2011, 20 this year), modest walk rates and very little home run power.
There are skeptics who wonder if Castellanos will ever develop home-run power to complement his lofty batting averages, but he did rip 36 doubles last season and has 10 doubles already this year, so he has shown upside to grow as a slugger.
Castellanos has the potential to be a perennial All-Star at the third base position, but it will be interesting to see how the Tigers handle him with Miguel Cabrera entrenched at the hot corner.
Adrian Cardenas, once a highly valued commodity in the Philadelphia Phillies' and Oakland Athletics' systems, is getting called up to the majors as a post-hype afterthought. The Chicago Cubs called up the 24-year-old from Triple-A Iowa after they designated Blake DeWitt for assignment.
In 94 at-bats with Iowa, Cardenas hit .319 with two homers, 18 RBIs, 11 runs scored and an .897 OPS. The most impressive part about Cardenas' stat line is that he drew 11 walks and struck out only five times.
Throughout this minor league career, Cardenas has teased people with his beautifully fluid swing and his strong eye at the plate. He does hold a respectable .303 batting average and .368 on-base percentage in the minors, but many feel that his batting average is very bland because Cardenas doesn't provide much extra-base power to complement it.
Although the South Florida native played his share of second base, third base and shortstop at Iowa this season, Cardenas earns underwhelming reviews for his defensive play at all spots. This year, he played 17 games at the keystone, so that will likely be his regular spot if he were to earn some playing time in the majors. He also logged time in left field with Sacramento last season.
With the Cubs, Cardenas is expected to be a bench player and will most likely be used initially in pinch-hitting situations. But given the struggles of the Cubbies' keystone options, he could find reps for the taking, which could make him a valuable single-universe rental, at minimum.
Cardenas is capable of going on a hot streak and earning some playing time. But ultimately, his lackluster glove and lack of pop limit his ceiling as a regular. Second base has become a power position, so Cardenas simply doesn't bring enough to the table to make his solid batting average and on-base percentage worthwhile.
During the Chicago White Sox's doubleheader versus Cleveland today, Pale Hose fans will get a glimpse of left-handed pitching prospect Jose Quintana.
Taking advantage of a rule that permits a major league club to increase their roster to 26 during a doubleheader, the White Sox called up Quintana from Double-A Birmingham to serve as a reliever during today's twin bill. He is expected to return to the Southern League after the game.
Quintana, 23, was 1-2, with a 2.06 ERA and a 26:11 strikeout-to-walk in 35 1/3 innings with Birmingham this season.
The Columbian southpaw attacks hitters with an 88 to 91 mph fastball, an above-average changeup and a curveball.
Although not overpowering, Quintana makes up for it with good command of three pitches. He also has a deceptive three-quarters delivery that's especially tough on lefties.
Last year, Quintana registered a 10-2, 2.91 ERA and an 88:28 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 102 innings with high Single-A Tampa, but the New York Yankees surprisingly left him unprotected over the winter, and he signed with the White Sox as a minor league free agent.
Now in a thin White Sox farm system, Quintana has emerged as one of the club's most promising upper-level arms. He profiles as a back-of-the-rotation starter.
Nestor Molina, the key prospect acquired by the White Sox from the Toronto Blue Jays in the winter Sergio Santos deal, was promoted from Birmingham to Triple-A Charlotte over the weekend. In 36 1/3 innings with Birmingham, Molina went 3-1, with a 3.72 ERA and a 25:5 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He also allowed three homers in six starts.
The 23-year-old doesn't have a top-notch arsenal, but thanks to his fine command, his statistical track record was outstanding in 2011 after being converted into a full-time starter.
It will be interesting to see if Molina's smoke and mirrors will continue to baffle hitters at the Triple-A level. He profiles as a No. 3 to 4 starter.
After the San Diego Padres placed closer Huston Street (back muscle) on the 15-day disabled list, fantasy players scrambled this week to pick up relievers Luke Gregerson, Andrew Cashner and Dale Thayer, the three arms manager Bud Black plans to use during the ninth inning in his stopper's absence.
He won't get save opportunities anytime soon, but keep an eye on recent call-up Miles Mikolas. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound right-hander was being groomed as a closer in the minors where he was 1-1, with a 2.92 ERA, four saves and an 11:3 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 12 1/3 innings with Double-A San Antonio this year.
Last season, Mikolas posted a 1.38 and 21 saves in 72 innings between high Single-A and Double-A.
The 23-year-old righty features a plus curveball and a low- to mid-90s fastball that can reach 98 on his best days. Mikolas' best traits are his ability to keep the ball in the park (0.2 homers per nine innings in his career) and his ability to pound the strike zone (1.7 walks per nine innings in his career).