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June 11, 2013
The Stash List
The Rays and Wil Myers have become baseball's 2013 version of Jim Halpert and Pam Beasley. Will they or won't they? When will it happen? Why hasn't it happened yet? There are plenty of questions that we can't answer about the impending (or maybe less impeding than we thought) call-up of the next great Rays' prospect. However, what we can say with some reasonable certainty is what's been happening at the major-league level, purely from a baseball perspective, that is keeping Wil Myers in Triple-A. The Rays are six games over .500 at the moment, and four games out of first place in the AL East, so it isn't simply about the money, it's also about performance.
Heading into the season, it was widely assumed that Myers would hang down in Durham until the Rays deemed it financially appropriate for their long-term future to bring him up. And to make room for him, Kelly Johnson would head to a utility role with Ben Zobrist taking over full-time again at second base. But with an 802 OPS and 10 homers in 53 games, Johnson has made his statement to stay in the lineup—which moves the conversation over to the first-base position. Unfortunately for Myers, that's where James Loney is hitting .325 with seven homers this season. Instead of wondering what kind of sorcery is leading to his resurgence in Tampa, we'll just move on. This brings us to the final player who is getting in the way of the Wilpocalypse.
You'd think that posting a sub-700 OPS as a designated hitter would be poor enough to warrant losing playing time; however, Luke Scott is still in the lineup and batting seventh against the vast majority of right-handed pitchers. "Well, maybe he's playing well recently," is a thing you might say after a statement like that. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite hold wah-tah. Scott hasn't hit a home run since May 19, and in that stretch, he's hitting a robust .170/.250/.226 in 60 plate appearances. So there you have it: The Super Two deadline is about to have comfortably passed, and the Rays (a contending team) are still getting minimal production from their DH spot. It's certainly possible that Myers would not perform better than Scott has in 2013, but at some point they're going to have to find out for themselves.
Without any further ado, here is The Stash List, version 8.0:
1) Wil Myers, OF, Tampa Bay Rays (Last week: 1)
Wil he or won’t he? Does Tampa have the Wil to win without him? Wil we run out of awful puns based on his name before he even reaches the major leagues?
First it was June 14, and now it’s June 18—but regardless of the specific date, Wheeler is coming soon to a major-league park near you. The 23-year-old will have some big expectations when he arrives, as the Mets’ fan base is still basking in the glow of Harvey-mania, but Wheeler is a special player in his own right. They should make a formidable one-two punch for many years to come.
Beachy drops a spot this week because there’s still radio silence from the Braves as to how they are going to handle his return. And as long as there’s a chance that he’s either in a six-man rotation or the bullpen for a brief time, I just can’t recommend him over the likes of Myers and Wheeler. Right now, he’s still on track to pitch one half of the doubleheader against the Mets on June 18—which ironically could be against the man directly ahead of him on this list.
Today is the big day for Gerrit Cole, but since he hasn’t actually been called up as of this writing, he still qualifies. It’s all been said about the big right-hander. He looks the part of a number-one starter, but his performance hasn’t lined up with those lofty expectations at the minor-league level. He’s going to be must-watch TV from the minute he arrives on the major-league scene (later today), as he has the raw tools to shove against major-league hitters. Whether it happens or not is an entirely different story. If he sticks the rest of the way, I’d expect an ERA around 4.00, a WHIP around 1.25, and 80 strikeouts in just over 100 innings.
He’s baaaack. Cingrani will be filling in for Johnny Cueto again as he makes his second appearance on the disabled list in 2013. This should be a similar visit, as it’s a similar injury—and Cingrani is looking to once again take advantage of the opportunity. The big question with Cingrani is whether he’ll be able to continue his success the second and third time that the league sees him, and he’ll kick off his major-league comeback tour with two teams who have seen him already: the Cubs and the Brewers.
It can’t be long at this point. Ramirez threw seven shutout innings against Las Vegas on Saturday, striking out seven and walking only one. If Jeremy Bonderman and Aaron Harang aren’t looking over their shoulders, they should start right about now.
7) Oscar Taveras, OF, St Louis Cardinals (Last week: 7)
Taveras returned to action on Saturday after missing nearly a month with a high ankle sprain, and he’s still in a similar holding pattern. I believe that he would hit right away if given a shot in the majors, but it’s going to take an injury. With that said, look how quickly it happened for Yasiel Puig.
Remember when Corey Hart said that he’d be ready by the end of April? As my colleague Jason Collette constantly points out, whenever you hear a timetable from a player, ignore it. And whenever you hear a timetable from a team, take it with a grain of salt. At this point, with Hart still not having gone out on a rehab assignment, he’ll be lucky to be back in a Brewers uniform before July 1.
9) Billy Hamilton, SS/OF, Cincinnati Reds (Last week: 5)
It doesn’t matter if you’re the fastest player on the planet (which Hamilton is), you need to get on base at better than a .311 clip in Triple-A if you want to get promoted. I mean, even Dee Gordon had a .373 on-base percentage in Triple-A in 112 games.
10) Dustin Ackley, 2B, Seattle Mariners (Last week: NR)
To say that Ackley is tearing it up in Triple-A would be an understatement, as he’s hitting .408/.508/.592 through 11 games with more walks than strikeouts. But what he needs is both a combination of great performance and the opportunity that comes from Nick Franklin struggling. Unfortunately, Franklin isn’t quite obliging so far, as he has an 807 OPS through his first 51 major-league plate appearances, and has been worth a half a win in just two weeks.
Another week, another two solid starts for Gibson in Triple-A. It’s anyone’s guess as to when he’ll arrive in Minnesota, but he’s certainly done his part in showing that he’s up for the challenge.
The Marlins will have to wait a little longer for their next young outfielder, as Yelich will be sidelined for the next couple of weeks with an abdominal strain. He was struggling quite a bit before the injury, so maybe the time off will help him turn things around. I still think we’ll see the Marlins go with a Yelich, Ozuna, Stanton outfield—which would have an average age of 22—before the end of the season.
Springer is now up to 18 homers and 18 steals on the season, but the most impressive thing he’s done this season is keep his strikeout rate reasonable as he makes one of the toughest jumps in the minor leagues. In his brief exposure to Double-A in 2012, Springer struck out 31 percent of the time with one walk for every four strikeouts. This year, he’s striking out less than 28 percent of the time with one walk for every two strikeouts. The tools are there for him to be a fantasy stud, but he needs to continue this development as he moves up the chain.
I am not a believer in Josh Rutledge, but I do think he’ll be back in Colorado this summer—and he doesn’t really need to do much in order to have fantasy value. It is encouraging that he has nine strikeouts versus seven walks so far in Triple-A, and if he can bring a step forward in plate discipline back up to the majors, he could be a lot closer to the sleeper that many thought he could be coming into the season. After all, it’s not like D.J. LeMahieu is much of an obstacle for him.
Skaggs was surprisingly sent down to Triple-A after his second poor start in a row filling in for Brandon McCarthy. There has been no announcement on who is likely to take that spot going forward, but giving it to Randall Delgado would likely be a big mistake; he has a 6.44 ERA thus far in 2013 for Triple-A Reno. With McCarthy not nearing a return and Daniel Hudson done for the season after reinjuring his elbow, the opportunity is there. Skaggs just needs to do a better job of seizing it.
16) Justin Maxwell, OF, Houston Astros (Last week: 17)
Maxwell hasn’t exactly had a rehab stint to write home about with Double-A Corpus Christi, as he is 0-for-17 with eight strikeouts in his five games there so far. And while this may push back his timetable slightly, it shouldn’t change his outlook unless there’s a setback with his hand. Maxwell is who he is, and a small sample while rehabbing from an injury shouldn’t change that. I still like his chances of reaching double-digit homers and steals on the season (he has one homer and two steals as of right now).
17) Mike Zunino, C, Seattle Mariners (Last week: 15)
Four straight quality starts for Felix Doubront isn’t doing wonders for Webster’s chances of getting back to Boston in short order, but he’s more or less doing his part in the matter. Webster has a 3.38 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, and 50 strikeouts in just 45 1/3 innings at Triple-A Pawtucket.
19) Adam Eaton, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks (Last week: 23)
Eaton still carries as much upside as anyone on this list from a fantasy perspective upon his return, but the risk of him missing the entire season hasn’t really gone away. Yes, he’s resumed his throwing program, but even in the best-case scenario, it’s unlikely he’ll be back before a month from now. And the Diamondbacks can’t hide him at DH if he can’t throw without pain.
21) Carlos Martinez, RHP, St Louis Cardinals (Last week: 25)
The impending return of Jake Westbrook has left Martinez with a slightly smaller window through which to climb to get to St Louis; however, outside of Adam Wainwright, Shelby Miller, and Lance Lynn, there are no guarantees in that rotation from either a health or performance perspective. He’s only given up one run in 11 2/3 innings since being sent down to Triple-A to stretch out.
23) Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Houston Astros (Last week: NR)
Singleton is still getting his feet wet in the upper minors after returning from a 50-game suspension, but don’t get too hung up on his stat page during June. Once he starts heating up, he’ll be on the fast track to Houston.
It finally happened this week—Michael Pineda got into a regular season game for the first time since September 21, 2011. And while his stat line looked impressive (no earned runs and two hits over 4 1/3 innings), his velocity was in the low 90s, not touching higher than 93 mph. As I say over and over again, shoulder injuries are scary. And if Pineda can’t get his pre-surgery velocity back, we could be looking at a much different player than we saw in his Seattle days.