We’re rolling with a slightly different format this week, so instead of an introduction, we’re actually going to talk about those who graduated from last week’s list. Do you like this? RT for yes, fav for no.
The Graduates: Jaime Garcia (14), Derek Norris (15), Rafael Montero (19), Jennry Mejia (22)
We finally had some graduates this past week, clearing a few spots on the list for new names. Garcia looked pretty sharp (other than a few long balls) against the Braves, and I remain optimistic about him from a skill (not health) standpoint. Norris finally goes off the list as he started five games last week, with four of them coming against right-handed pitching. If he’s still unowned in your league, please rectify this immediately. Montero made his debut against the Yankees on Wednesday and looked good enough that Mike Gianella and I picked him up for our LABR team. That fact alone should cause you to sell him before he spontaneously combusts (yes, we’ve gone through more pitchers than Spinal Tap has drummers). And finally, Mejia seemed like the best option the Mets had to close games, and he’s doing just that—causing him to fall off the list for positive reasons.
And the ones who are still left waiting:
1) Gregory Polanco, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates (Previous Rank: 1)
Yes, we all hear and read about the Super Two deadline and think that it’s crazy for the Pirates to keep down Polanco while they give at bats to retreads like Jose Tabata, Travis Snider, and Jaff Decker. However, while that argument may have made sense three weeks ago, the Pirates are right to keep him down right now. It doesn’t matter how much you miss the deadline by, bringing Polanco up this week could cost the Pirates millions when the difference between him and whatever dredge they’re throwing out there is likely only around a third of a run over these next three weeks. Patience, he will come.
2) Jurickson Profar, 2B, Texas Rangers (Previous Rank: 2)
Your window to trade for Profar is running out. However, this holds true more in keeper/dynasty leagues than redraft formats, as the owner in your league who drafted Profar would likely not have paid the 2014 entry price if he/she didn’t think the breakout was starting this year. It’s still worth a shot though—especially if they’ve gotten good production out of his replacement.
3) Oscar Taveras, OF, St Louis Cardinals (Previous Rank: 3)
With the clock ticking on Taveras, Peter Bourjos has played better of late—hitting .324/.390/.486 and playing his usual brand of excellent defense. This further muddies the waters with regards to who exactly Taveras is going to replace once he comes up. And it also means that the Cardinals may not be in a huge rush to get him up as well.
4) Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Houston Astros (Previous Rank: 4)
The slugging first baseman is hitting .276/.387/.586 with 12 homers and 34 RBI in 41 games for Triple-A Oklahoma City now. There’s nothing left for him to prove there, but like I mentioned for Polanco, there’s no reason for the Astros to call him up in the next two weeks.
5) Trevor Bauer, RHP, Cleveland Indians (Previous Rank: 11)
Well, it finally happened, just not the way we thought. First it was Carlos Carrasco that was the obvious spot for Bauer to take, and then it became Josh Tomlin. However, now with everyone’s pre-season darling Danny Salazar finding himself back in the minors, Bauer looks to have a spot for the near future. If he keeps up the walk rate improvement (7.7 percent) and doesn’t write a rap song about his catcher (what rhymes with Yan Gomes anyway), he can keep the spot the rest of the season and be worthy of ownership in all leagues. Fortunately for him, the wheels are starting to come off the Zach McAllister train (surprise, surprise), so that gives the Indians an extra path to get Salazar back later on without displacing the former Golden Spikes winner. He gets two very tough matchups out of the game (home vs Detroit and at Baltimore), and things don’t get much easier with Colorado and Texas on the docket after that. Be cautious, but be optimistic.
6) Kole Calhoun, OF, Los Angeles Angels (Previous Rank: 8)
In four games since starting his rehab assignment at Triple-A, Calhoun certainly has shown he didn’t forget how to hit in his month off, recording multiple hits in each of his four games. Even with Efren Navarro and Grant Green hitting well of late, the Angels will be thrilled to get Calhoun back into the lineup to provide a little added punch to go along with their heavy hitters. Expect him to be a graduate come next week.
7) Andrew Heaney, LHP, Miami Marlins (Previous Rank: 5)
8) Noah Syndergaard, RHP, New York Mets (Previous Rank: 7)
Consider this your weekly reminder not to even bother looking at Syndergaard’s stats in Las Vegas. It’s barely baseball in that environment.
9) Kevin Gausman, RHP, Baltimore Orioles (Previous Rank: 9)
The Orioles gave Gausman a bit of a bitter taste this week, calling him up on three days rest to start against one of the leagues best offenses, only to find himself back in Triple-A the following day. Despite that, he showed glimpses of why he’ll be back and why he features to prominently on prospect lists. With Super Two not a concern here (Gausman spent nearly seven weeks on the active roster prior to September last season), he’ll be back whenever the Orioles decide to take their future seriously.
10) Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs (Previous Rank: 6)
I’m sure you’ve all read Jason Parks’ report on Baez from this week’s Monday Morning Ten Pack, and there’s likely some panic going on from his fantasy owners. However, not only does this not diminish Baez’s upside long-term, it doesn’t even set his 2014 value back all that much. Yes, the timetable is likely shifted back a bit and the risk is a little higher than originally anticipated—but neither of those two things reduce the immense upside Baez has from a shallow position.
11) Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners (Previous Rank: 18)
After ramping up his activity (a 55-pitch bullpen session this time), Walker continued to feel no ill effects of his shoulder injury and is getting closer to throwing to live hitters. Once that happens (scheduled for Tuesday right now), a rehab assignment comes into full view. A return in late June is looking more and more feasible, putting him only slightly behind the Super Two arms (Heaney and Syndergaard).
12) Nick Franklin, SS/2B/OF, Seattle Mariners (Previous Rank: HM)
When Franklin first came up to Seattle in April, he ended up starting four games at four different positions in seven days. Not exactly the idea environment in which to make a grand entrance. But since his demotion on April 25, Franklin has hit .364/.488/.561, while Brad Miller (the man who beat him out for the shortstop job) is hitting .111/.226/.130 in 54 at-bats. And while Franklin isn’t an every day shortstop on the defensive side of the equation, Corey Hart’s injury opens up a world of playing time to him in the short-term. He’s talented enough to have seen the minor leagues for the last time, and he still has time to hit double-digits in both homers and steals in 2014.
13) Derek Holland, LHP, Texas Rangers (Previous Rank: 17)
After his last simulated game, Holland declared himself ready for a rehab assignment. Unfortunately, he can’t send himself on one, so he’ll have to wait it out a little bit longer. He’ll likely take the full allotment of time to get ramped up, as he did not even participate in Spring Training. A late June return seems like a reasonably safe bet at this point, barring a major setback.
14) James Paxton, LHP, Seattle Mariners (Previous Rank: 13)
After throwing a two-inning simulated game on Saturday, he’ll tackle one more before likely heading out on a rehab assignment. The hard-throwing lefty should be back in the Mariners’ rotation during the second half of June.
15) Maikel Franco, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies (Previous Rank: 12)
The good news is that Franco is hitting .342/.457/.500 with more walks than strikeouts in his last 10 games. The bad news is that since the calendar flipped to May, Cody Asche is hitting .333/.418/.625 with three homers. So with Asche doing his best Paul Goldschmidt impression, Franco is likely going to have to wait a little longer for that promotion.
16) Marcus Stroman, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays (Previous Rank: 10)
Back in the minors for now, Stroman is likely not long for Triple-A as long as J.A. Happ and Liam Hendriks (yes, really) are in the Blue Jays rotation, he’ll always be a phone call away.
17) Jesse Crain, RHP, Houston Astros (Previous Rank: 16)
If the worst thing for Crain’s value is Chad Qualls looking like a major league reliever in the closer’s role, he doesn’t have it so bad. The waiting game continues, as he shoots for a June return.
18) Casey Kelly, RHP, San Diego Padres (Previous Rank: NR)
Since last week’s edition, Kelly has made his first two minor league starts of the season as he continues his road back to the majors. In those two starts, he’s allowed one earned run and one walk over 12 innings, while striking out eight. Especially in light of Andrew Cashner’s injury, there is plenty of opportunity in front of him, and it’s not impossible that he could be back in San Diego after another two or three rehab starts.
19) Alex Meyer, RHP, Minnesota Twins (Previous Rank: 21)
20) Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks (Previous Rank: 23)
21) Arismendy Alcantara, 2B, Chicago Cubs (Previous Rank: 20)
22) Kris Bryant, 3B/OF, Chicago Cubs (Previous Rank: NR)
And he finally debuts. Bryant is far from a finished product, and there’s plenty of development left, but if Baez isn’t going to take advantage of the opportunity ahead of him, maybe Bryant does. I still think there’s about a zero chance we’ll see Bryant before August, but the longer he keeps this up for, the better his odds are. And even six weeks of Bryant could be a valuable fantasy commodity.
23) Jimmy Nelson, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers (Previous Rank: NR)
His fantasy upside may not be huge, and there’s not an opening for him at present, but it’s time for Nelson to make his presence known on this list. With a 1.71 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, and 58 strikeouts in 58 innings, he’s been one of the most impressive pitchers in the upper minors this season. But considering the ballpark he will one day call home, the most important number for Nelson is his 57.4 percent ground-ball rate—the highest of his minor-league career.
24) Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians (Previous Rank: NR)
And finally, the third of three consecutive debuts. From a baseball standpoint, it might make more sense for the Indians to have Lindor patrolling short instead of Asdrubal Cabrera, but despite how good the younger is, Cabrera still has a 112 OPS+ and provides “veteran presents” to the lineup. If they were to make the switch (or there was an injury), Lindor would be a more capable fantasy player than advertised in 2014, possibly hitting .270 with double-digit steals and a few homers sprinkled in.
25) Josh Willingham, OF, Minnesota Twins (Previous Rank: HM)
With a rehab assignment underway, Willingham may find himself back in Minnesota within the week, but his placement on this list shows the skepticism that he will carry a ton of mixed-league value this season. Wrist injuries for power hitters, especially aging ones, are never a good thing.