Eric Thames (probably) won't keep up this home-run pace, but he still might be among the elite fantasy first basemen. It's harder to see Chris Owings and Jett Bandy continuing their respective paces, however.
On Thursday, Mike Gianellareminded all of us that it is far-too early to be worried about our rosters. April stretches obviously get us more worried than any other poor month-long periods, simply because there is no encouraging stretch of time beforehand to alleviate our concerns. To put it another way: The current sample is too small to inform any sweeping evaluations. With that being said, April performances sometimes do last all season, and identifying the sustainable early trends can catapult you to a championship. Keeping that in mind, let’s take a look at the best players at each position on ESPN’s Player Rater and see if they can remain fantasy assets throughout the season, or if they simply are mirages we’ll look back at a year from now and laugh about.
(Note: These rankings are through action Wednesday.)
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Notes on Cody Reed, Erick Fedde, Kyle Tucker, Will Craig, Dylan Cozens, and more.
Pitcher of the Day:
Cody Reed, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks (Low-A, Kane County): 6 IP, 0 H, 0 R, BB, 11 K
After suffering through a dead arm period last July, the other Cody Reed has gotten off to a quality start in Kane County. While his arsenal is average, his advanced strike-throwing ability has flummoxed hitters thus far.
How did Eric Thames change in Korea? And what do you learn from being Barry Bonds?
The tale of Eric Thames is growing taller by the day. Complete with inane steroid accusations, ballin’ body armor, and mesmerizing one-handed warm-up cuts, the reappearance and ascendance of this exceedingly fit man owes much of its mystique to the time he spent offscreen.
We are told that in this great unknown time, Thames—who, when we last we saw him, was a Quad-A player—did to the Korean Baseball Organization over three years what he’s done to the Cincinnati Reds' pitching staff for the past three weeks. We are told that he so demolished the conventional notions of baseball dominance, especially in his 47-homer, 40-steal 2015 season, that his nickname among KBO fans was simply, “God.”
Second sackers get a bad rap as prospects, but should they?
When watching the minors in person, occasionally a position player really pops out at you in a way you don’t quite expect. These are often enough the guys you end up writing a glowing report about after confirming your initial impressions. They aren’t always the top prospects on the team, just guys that make a strong positive initial impression. Last year, guys that stood out for me like this included Andrew Benintendi and Tyler Wade. The first guy that fit the bill for me this year is Daniel Brito, a 2014 six-figure July 2 prospect in the Phillies system. He’s an A-ball second baseman. I usually don’t like A-ball second basemen.
Last week, I looked at teams that are charged with two or more blown saves in a game. The conclusion was that the number of games with multiple blown saves is increasing, and that increase is largely due to more relievers per game (currently averaging over three per team), creating more opportunities for blown saves. (There, I just spared you reading 1,300 words).
It's no longer too early to worry—which is exactly why Mike is concerned.
Yes, I know: April isn’t even over—heck, we haven’t reached the 1/8th point of the season yet—but there are reasons why I’m nervous about my chances to win this year.
To start with, my competitors seem to have all the freaking luck. I know that Michael Conforto was supposed to be good, but a .365 batting average, four home runs, 15 RBIs, and 18 runs in 86 plate appearances? I thought he was going to provide a fourth outfielder’s production. I know Bryce Harper always gets off to a fast start, but nine home runs and five steals in 96 plate appearances? Boy, do I regret not going the extra dollar on him in Tout Wars. Even more annoying are the hitters who came out of nowhere. Colby Rasmus (7 HR, 19 RBIa, 95 PA) and Aledmys Diaz (4 HR, .423 AVG, 75 PA) are killing me. not only in my AL and NL leagues, but in my mixed leagues as well.
King Felix looks shakier than ever, Trea Turner goes for the cycle, Danny Duffy dares everyone, and Eric Thames did it again.
The Tuesday Takeaway
After two seasons of slipping velocity, miscellaneous injury struggles, and other various signs of the aging process, Felix Hernandez is no longer the ace that was once crowned king. He’s still, for the most part, recognizably himself—just less consistently and often less effectively and simply less so. But decline in and of itself is neither interesting nor surprising; it’s the how and the when that provide that color. For Felix, this year seems potentially key to answering both. Were last season’s career-worst numbers truly the beginning of the end, or just an anomalous spike on a gentle downward slope? His first four starts of the season didn’t do so much to provide context there, but his fifth was a discouraging nod toward the former.
The return for Jonathan Papelbon, Pivetta has gotten off to a hot start this year.
The Situation: Phillies pitcher Aaron Nola was placed on the 10-day DL as the result of a strained lower back. The Phillies were anticipating calling up 24-year old pitching prospect Nick Pivetta to start on Wednesday, but a rainout has pushed him back, potentially going on Sunday instead.
The Background: Pivetta was a 2013, fourth-round selection of the Washington Nationals out of New Mexico Junior College. He was then traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in July, 2015 for Jonathan Papelbon. Added to the 40-man roster following the 2016 season, Pivetta is off to one of the hottest starts in MiLB, throwing 19 innings, allowing only 12 hits, two earned runs, two walks, against 24 strikeouts, with an 0.95 era with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. His hot start combined with his scheduled turn in the rotation lines up perfectly for Pivetta as the logical choice to get this opportunity.