The Graduates: Jonathan Singleton (2), Kevin Gausman (6)
Much was made about the contract that Singleton signed upon his call up, but his first week has seen ups and downs similar to the opposing sides of the contract discussion. On the plus side, he had two homers and a steal while slugging .480. On the negative side, he hit .200 and struck out in 10 of his 26 plate appearances. Expect a lot more of both the rest of the way. Meanwhile, I had my eyes squarely on Gausman as he made his way back into the Orioles’ rotation (at least for now) and took on the hottest team in baseball in the Oakland Athletics. Those eyes watered with joy as he threw seven strong innings, allowing only one run with five base runners and six strikeouts. He may be the best starting pitcher the Orioles have right now, and if he shows it, he’ll be up for good.
The Departed: Jurickson Profar (21), Eddie Butler (24), Jesse Crain (25)
We all saw the money quote from Profar last week, when he said that he doesn’t expect to play again in 2014. And while it may just be an in-the-moment quote from a frustrated player, it’s enough for him to fall off the list. If he comes back and does anything at this point, it’s just gravy. Butler fell prey to the curse of Mike Gianella and my LABR team and got injured less than 24 hours—and rotator cuff inflammation isn’t the best diagnosis for a pitcher. He’s still eligible for the list, but he won’t be back until he shows that this health scare is behind him. Crain falls off less because of anything news with him, but because Chad Qualls has been close to lights-out as of late and figures to hold onto the closer’s role for the foreseeable future. If the Astros trade him in July, they may turn to Crain at that point, but there are too many question marks right now.
And the ones who are still left waiting:
1) Gregory Polanco, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates (Previous Rank: 1)
The last seven days will forever be known as the week things got weird with Polanco. Reports surfaced that he was coming up on Friday and then were rebuffed by “high-ranking team sources.” Finally, Friday came and went with radio silence on the subject like we were being punished for wanting to see Polanco at the highest level. Now, with Neil Walker on the shelf with an appendectomy, Polanco finally gets the call on Tuesday for his major-league debut. In the end, we’re where we thought we would be, but boy was it a strange journey. Look for Polanco to contribute much more heavily in steals than homers upon arrival, with the possibility of hitting in the .270-.280 range.
2) Andrew Heaney, LHP, Miami Marlins (Previous Rank: 3)
After his worst start of the season, Heaney came back and fired six strong innings against Round Rock on Saturday—giving up just one run and striking out nine. He’s ready for the spotlight right now, but unfortunately Randy Wolf continues to look just good enough to hang on for a little longer. However, word is now starting to leak out of Marlins’ camp that Heaney is likely to see the majors by the end of the month.
3) Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners (Previous Rank: 5)
It was always going to be a big surprise if Walker was ready after just two rehab starts, and even prior to walking four in his two innings of work last Tuesday, it was announced that he’d stick around for a few additional warm-up gigs. As long as he’s feeling good, the results on his rehab assignment shouldn’t be bothersome—it takes much longer for a prospect to shake off rust than a veteran. And speaking of results, they were much better last night, as Walker went five strong, giving up only two runs (both solo shots) and allowing only one walk. He’s still a long shot for this weekend, but unless something goes wrong, he should only have to wait one more turn.
4) Dillon Gee, RHP, New York Mets (Previous Rank: 4)
5) Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers (Previous Rank: 10)
With Carl Crawford not being ready to return any time soon, the window of opportunity continues to stay ajar for Pederson. And while the fantasy-relevant numbers are jarring (.332 average with 16 homers and 13 steals in 59 games), there’s one number that may put a little damper on his eventual coming out party. Pederson has 76 strikeouts in just 266 plate appearances, which is a 28.6 percent rate—a sizable increase from his 22 percent rate in Double-A during the 2013 season. This isn’t a cause for too much concern, but it does mean that Pederson may be more valuable in OBP formats than AVG ones.
6) Derek Holland, LHP, Texas Rangers (Previous Rank: 9)
7) Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs (Previous Rank: 8)
8) Tyler Skaggs, LHP, Los Angeles Angels (Previous Rank: NR)
The Angels announced yesterday that Skaggs would hit the disabled list with a right hamstring strain, although there’s not a ton of information about the severity at this point. It’s being reported that it is more precautionary and that he’s only expected to miss the minimum, but we’ll likely find out more this week. Skaggs has been much stronger than his four wins and 4.34 ERA would indicate, as he’s lowered his walk rate and upped his ground ball rate this season. The dip in strikeouts may have curbed some of his upside, but he’s becoming a safer option by the day.
9) James Paxton, LHP, Seattle Mariners (Previous Rank: 11)
10) Noah Syndergaard, RHP, New York Mets (Previous Rank: 7)
If the Mets didn’t have bad luck, they’d have no luck at all. Syndergaard finally returned from his elbow scare and promptly gets knocked out of his first start back during a home plate collision. The official diagnosis is a left shoulder sprain, so again he’s shut down for another week before throwing again. A June appearance in Queens looks like it’s out of the question at this point, and we may realistically be looking at post-All-Star break now.
11) Jimmy Nelson, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers (Previous Rank: 13)
Ho hum. Just another six shutout innings with seven strikeouts for Nelson in the PCL, while he awaits his return trip to Milwaukee. Unfortunately for him, Marco Estrada is still in one piece. For now.
12) Arismendy Alcantara, 2B, Chicago Cubs (Previous Rank: 14)
13) Mookie Betts, 2B/OF, Boston Red Sox (Previous Rank: NR)
The man of the hour (or 2014 season), finally makes an appearance on the list. We talked about it on Flags Fly Forever Monday night, but one thing I look for when making these rankings is what an organization is doing to get a player into their lineup down the road. Betts gets a nice entry point into this list because he was not only promoted to Triple-A, but he’s been playing center field there. It’s not out of the question that Betts could be holding down center at Fenway in the second half—something I thought would have been out of the question at the beginning of the season.
14) Kris Bryant, 3B/OF, Chicago Cubs (Previous Rank: 17)
It looks like someone continues to leave Double-A on rookie mode.
15) Alex Meyer, RHP, Minnesota Twins (Previous Rank: 15)
16) Maikel Franco, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies (Previous Rank: 12)
17) Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks (Previous Rank: 16)
18) Jeremy Hellickson, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays (Previous Rank: NR)
Hellickson’s first rehab start was certainly a successful one—throwing three scoreless innings at Tampa’s High-A affiliate. With two more tune-ups scheduled, Hellickson should be all set to debut on June 27, just in time for a doubleheader with the Orioles. If his 2013 struggles were a result of the elbow issues, and those issues are behind him, look for the righty to return sneaky value in the second half. Recent history may be turning off other owners, but Hellickson has a better track record than that.
19) Matt Wisler, RHP, San Diego Padres (Previous Rank: 19)
20) Chris Taylor, SS, Seattle Mariners (Previous Rank: 18)
21) Corey Hart, 1B/OF, Seattle Mariners (Previous Rank: HM)
Has a team ever needed a player back like the Mariners need Hart? I mean, they’ve played Endy Chavez at DH. That’s really a thing that happened.
22) Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians (Previous Rank: 22)
23) Jonathan Gray, RHP, Colorado Rockies (Previous Rank: HM)
In the Gray vs. Eddie Butler battle for starts in Coors, Butler won the battle, but lost the war—and Gray stands to benefit. It was likely he’d see some major league time in August or September before Butler hurt his shoulder, but now that timetable could be bumped up to July. Let’s just hope he does a better job of staying healthy than his future counterparts.
24) Casey Kelly, RHP, San Diego Padres (Previous Rank: 20)
25) Miguel Gonzalez, RHP, Baltimore Orioles (Previous Rank: NR)
While Kevin Gausman did take Gonzalez’s spot in the rotation, it’s not a lock that the two of them will have to battle it out once his health returns. Gonzalez is only expected to miss another week or so of action, and Baltimore has no real clear-cut locks for the rotation. Assuming he gets back in, he can he a nice source of strikeouts in deeper leagues.
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