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September 12, 2013 6:00 am

Covering the Call-Ups, Part One


Ben Carsley, Jason Cole, Craig Goldstein and Jeff Moore

Scouting and fantasy takes on five pitching prospects promoted to the majors this month.

We’ve devoted full articles to the most promising prospects promoted to the majors late this season, but we’ll be offering scouting and fantasy takes on the best of the rest in a two-part series running today and tomorrow. First up: the pitchers, with position players to follow on Friday.

Brian Flynn, LHP, Marlins
Scouting Take:
Flynn, a former seventh-round draft pick (2011) out of Wichita State, was one of the pieces the Marlins acquired at last season’s trade deadline in the Anibal Sanchez/Omar Infante trade, and is the last of the trio to make it to the majors (following Rob Brantly and Jacob Turner). The 6’8”, 240-pound left-hander has seen his strikeout rates spike this season, precipitating a rise through the Marlins system that saw him start the season in Double-A Jacksonville and end it at Marlins Park pitching in front of a similar-sized crowd. He has good control for a tall pitcher and features a low-90s fastball with a good downward plane to go with a pair of usable off-speed pitches—a slider and changeup—and a show-me curveball. The improvement in his changeup is what helped him jump from striking out 7.0 batters per nine innings in 2012 to 8.2 in the 2013 season, and it gives him a chance to stick as a back-end starter. He should compete with Henderson Alvarez, Tom Koehler, and others for a spot in the back of the Marlins rotation next season. —Jeff Moore

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September 5, 2013 6:30 am

Free Agent Watch: Week 23


Mike Gianella and Bret Sayre

It's a special, September call-up edition of the Watch, with eight players who could offer a boost to your fantasy roster this month or in 2014.

Welcome to a special September call-up edition of the Free Agent Watch. Rather than focus on players for specific formats, this week Bret and I thought we would take a look at eight recent call-ups who might or might not help your fantasy squads down the stretch… or possibly next year.

Jemile Weeks, 2B/SS/OF, Oakland Athletics
In 2011, Weeks was a fantasy force, particularly in deep leagues. He stole 22 bases and hit .303 in a mere 97 games. While Weeks’ game was one-dimensional, that dimension (stolen bases) made him fantasy viable. The cracks showed in 2012. Weeks’ batting average dropped to .221, and while his walk rate improved considerably, a .305 on-base percentage doesn’t cut it for a speedster, even if that speedster plays second base. The A’s decided to send Weeks back to Triple-A this year and turn him into a utility player. The good news was that Weeks got on base at an even more prodigious rate; the bad news is that what little power he had disappeared, and he didn’t run as much as he did in 2011. Weeks is a stretch of a pick-up in start-over leagues. He could be one of those players who steal a bunch of bases in September, but with the Athletics in the heat of a pennant race, he might simply get buried. Weeks could be a useful SB asset in deeper mixed leagues if he got an opportunity, but at the moment it looks like he needs a trade. —Mike Gianella

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The Giants have won two World Series with homegrown stars. The next crop is short on depth and high-impact potential.

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Between the weather, the Mythbusters, and Full House reruns, life's pretty good in San Francisco. But that doesn't mean their top prospects can't fail like the rest of us.

Prospect #1: OF Gary Brown
Background with Player: My eyes; industry sources
Who: A first-round selection in the 2010 draft, Brown emerged as a near-elite prospect in 2011, showing above-average offensive potential to match his well above-average defensive skill set. The 23-year-old center fielder has all the qualities to become a frontline defensive force, with top-of-the-chart speed that gives him a very broad coverage area, a very solid glove, instincts for the position, and solid-average arm strength. His bat isn’t in the same league as his glove, but the hit tool has promise, with some scouts projecting it to be a plus weapon at the major league level. Without much pop, Brown’s game is more contact and speed, limiting his overall offensive impact, but making him a realistic leadoff option. His defense at a premium position will be his ticket to the majors, and the development and utility of the stick will determine whether Brown becomes a fringe starter or an All-Star. Opinions on the ultimate projection are quite mixed.

What Could Go Wrong in 2012: “Brown’s offensive skills aren’t as average as his 2012 numbers might suggest, but they aren’t as top-shelf as his 2011 numbers either. The reality is somewhere in between. He’s a good hitter, but he’s not a great hitter.” This is a tasty quote from a very good source, and it represents the majority of opinion I received when I asked around about Brown. His struggles in Double-A can be attributed to his weakness against quality right-handed pitching, most notably arms that can locate velocity inside or drop sharp breaking stuff out of the zone. He has good bat control and a stroke designed for contact, but he either fails to recognize and adjust to such off-speed offerings, or his appetite for unhittable breaking balls is so intense that he is compelled to swing despite knowing that his attempts will be for naught. I’m assuming it’s the former. If he can refine this skill, Brown should be more than adequate at the plate, with contact ability and enough speed to turn weak contact into base hits. Power is never going to be a big part of his game—his swing is built for the gaps rather than the seats beyond the fence—but he can put the good part of the barrel on the ball. His value is elevated by his ability to play center field at a high level, so anything you can get from the bat will only add to his worth. If the bat fails to develop to major league standards, Brown will still reach the level thanks to his glove and his speed. If he can hit for some average, his overall profile will make him a starter. If the bat explodes, he will be a star.

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The future of the Giants' farm system will largely depend upon the team's most recent draft.

Previous Rankings: 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008

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