The Graduates: Andrew Heaney (1), Miguel Gonzalez (20)
Heaney’s major-league debut went very well, albeit against a not-so-great Mets offense—as he allowed five base runners in six innings while striking out three. I’ve been talking about him for a while here, and I also had the opportunity to put my money where my mouth is. Mike Gianella and I won the FAAB bidding for Heaney this week in mixed LABR with a heavy-handed $21 entry. There will be no time wasted in getting him into our lineup this week as he gets two starts against the Phillies and Athletics. With Miguel Gonzalez now healthy, the Orioles are going with a temporary six-man rotation for as long as they have the roster flexibility to do so. Eventually they’re going to have to cut one, and Gonzalez still may be furthest out on the bubble.
The Departed: Francisco Lindor (24), Joba Chamberlain (HM), Casey Kelly (HM)
There’s nothing wrong with what Lindor is doing in the minor leagues—he’s still an excellent prospect and fine fantasy one as well—but the Indians are shaping up to hang around the AL Wild Card race and Asdrubal Cabrera is playing reasonably well. At this point, it will take an injury to make room for the future star shortstop. Chamberlain is also not a victim of his own failures, but a victim of Joe Nathan’s success—at least recently. Nathan has put together two very strong outings after making some mechanical adjustments, and the storyline is built for him to run with it. He’s still worth keeping a peripheral eye on, but Nathan has more rope now than a week ago. There’s a large soft spot in my heart for Casey Kelly, and I still think he is going to be a good major league pitcher. But this just appears to be another lost year for the athletic right-hander, who just can’t get past these elbow setbacks. Don’t worry, Casey—I don’t give up that easily.
And the ones who are still left waiting:
1) Kevin Gausman, RHP, Baltimore Orioles (Previous Rank: NR)
Yes, it’s a little cheap to put Gausman back in here because the Orioles sent him down to Triple-A as part of very smart roster management and not LOL ORIOLES like most initially assumed. But it’s my list. In the brief time he’s spent in the Orioles’ rotation, he’s been the best pitcher they have—and I like him to continue to be their best pitcher the rest of the season. He is a must-own in all leagues.
2) Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners (Previous Rank: 2)
This week’s start was a little bit of a setback on paper, but it came in Colorado Springs, so I think we can all take a deep breath about the stat line. He’s proving that he is healthy and Erasmo Ramirez pitching in Seattle is a thing that we are all living through right now. It’s only a matter of time before he’s up if the Mariners want to take themselves seriously as contenders. Of course, if they don’t, we may very well see another month or two of Erasmo.
3) Oscar Taveras, OF, St Louis Cardinals (Previous Rank: 3)
Back to biding his time in Triple-A, Taveras awaits an injury, a trade or the desperation that would lead to him playing center field. Also, don’t be swayed by any disappointing minor-league stats during this holding period—he’s ready to hit at the majo- league level and he knows it.
4) Dillon Gee, RHP, New York Mets (Previous Rank: 4)
On Tuesday, Gee will make his first rehab start since his lat strain back in May. He’s had no issues leading up to this point, but at least two minor league starts should be expected before he returns. This puts him on schedule to come back and get two games under his belt before the All-Star break. Gee will return to a 2.73 ERA and 1.06 WHIP—and his status jumps from decent play to must-start at home.
5) Tyler Skaggs, LHP, Los Angeles Angels (Previous Rank: 7)
After throwing a four-inning simulated game on Saturday, Skaggs appears ready to take his rotation spot back later this week—although the Angels could opt to have him take one rehab start before returning. There’s really no excuse for him to be owned in only five percent of ESPN leagues—I like him to be a top-50 starter the rest of the way barring further injury.
6) Mookie Betts, 2B/OF, Boston Red Sox (Previous Rank: 9)
Betts continues to rise up this list, but not because his ceiling (which is currently being overstated in fantasy circles) is increasing. It’s because the probability of him having fantasy value this year is getting greater by the day. After another two-hit game last night, Betts is hitting .321 with two homers and five steals in 20 games at Triple-A. Even with Shane Victorino returning, the Red Sox outfield situation is murky enough that it would no longer be a surprise to see him in the first half.
7) Jimmy Nelson, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers (Previous Rank: 5)
8) Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers (Previous Rank: 6)
9) Noah Syndergaard, RHP, New York Mets (Previous Rank: 8)
The injuries have certainly set Syndergaard back this year, but he still has top-shelf talent, and it’s going to present itself at the major-league level before long. Even if everyone stays healthy in the Mets’ rotation from this point on, I would still expect him to replace deGrom in July or August—though an injury would be the fastest way to get him up, especially in light of Rafael Montero’s injury.
10) Arismendy Alcantara, 2B, Chicago Cubs (Previous Rank: 14)
It only took 11 weeks, but Javier Baez is no longer the highest-ranked Cub on this list. The part that may even be more shocking is that it’s Alcantara and not Bryant who has passed him. With Baez still scuffling and Bryant getting a near kiss of death from Theo Epstein, Alcantara stands the best chance to be up in July. Also, after a mini-slump a few weeks back, Alcantara is hitting .343/.413/.537 with eight extra-base hits and seven steals in his last 18 games. Whether it’s at second base or center field, the Cubs could use him.
11) Derek Holland, LHP, Texas Rangers (Previous Rank: 10)
12) Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs (Previous Rank: 11)
13) Matt Wisler, RHP, San Diego Padres (Previous Rank: 18)
There was definitely an adjustment period in Triple-A, as his 13.50 ERA in his first four starts is now all but a memory as he’s put up a 2.72 ERA in his last six starts, spanning 36 1/3 innings. That’s even more impressive when you remember that El Paso (and that entire league, essentially) is a pretty tough place to pitch. With Eric Stults being Eric Stults and both Andrew Cashner and Robbie Erlin nursing injuries, the opening is there. It’s not like Odrisamer Despaigne is a roadblock—regardless of how cool his name might be.
14) Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks (Previous Rank: 16)
Bradley’s first official appearance since late April is now in the books, as he threw four innings in the Arizona League on Saturday, allowing two runs and five hits in four innings while striking out six. With the Diamondbacks going nowhere fast this year, they’ll take their time getting Bradley back into form, but I would still expect him to see 8-10 starts at the major-league level before the year is out—and the strikeouts should be there.
15) James Paxton, LHP, Seattle Mariners (Previous Rank: 13)
16) Corey Hart, 1B/OF, Seattle Mariners (Previous Rank: 21)
17) Alex Meyer, RHP, Minnesota Twins (Previous Rank: 15)
18) Kris Bryant, 3B/OF, Chicago Cubs (Previous Rank: 12)
As I mentioned earlier, it was nothing on the field this week that dropped Bryant in the ranks this week, it was simply a quote from Team President Theo Epstein. The exact words were fantasy owners worst fears: “I don't foresee a scenario where he [Bryant] would be up this year.” Of course, a quote is just a quote, which is why he’s down the list and not off it. Bryant continues to hit bombs everywhere, even though his Triple-A line is extremely exaggerated—in his first four games at the level, he had a .188/.188/.750 line. This is what happens when every ball you hit goes 500 feet and every ball you don’t goes into the catcher’s mitt.
19) Jeremy Hellickson, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays (Previous Rank: 17)
20) Josh Reddick, OF, Oakland Athletics (Previous Rank: 23)
The plan is still for Reddick to be back in Oakland on Tuesday, and fantasy owners are holding out for a better second act in his 2014 season. The talent is still there for 12-14 homers and a .250 average the rest of the way, so he could be a shrewd acquisition right now.
21) Marco Gonzales, LHP, St Louis Cardinals (Previous Rank: NR)
And Gonzales wins the prize this week for most surprising call up of the week. With Michael Wacha and Jaime Garcia hitting the DL with shoulder maladies, Gonzales and his 38 2/3 innings in the high minors gets the call to take a spot. In a great coincidence, he gets to make his major league debut very close to his hometown—which is undoubtedly exciting for him. However, with his hometown being Fort Collins, Colorado, that does mean he’ll be toeing the rubber at Coors. With that said, in deep leagues, I wouldn’t avoid using him in this matchup despite its level of difficulty. The combination of the element of surprise and a true out pitch in his changeup, Gonzales could surprise here. And given the nature of the recent rotation injuries, along with Joe Kelly’s not-really-a-starter-ness, Gonzales has a better shot than you might think to stick.
22) Dylan Bundy, RHP, Baltimore Orioles (Previous Rank: 22)
If only there weren’t six pitchers in front of him right now. Even so, he’ll see the majors this season—it just may be as a reliever.
23) Jaime Garcia, LHP, St Louis Cardinals (Previous Rank: NR)
Sad shoulder, sad Bret.
24) Chris Taylor, SS, Seattle Mariners (Previous Rank: 19)
With Brad Miller finally playing like a major leaguer again, Taylor no longer appears to be on the cusp of getting a chance in Seattle. However, he could surface somewhere in the second half if the Mariners decide to part with him for an upgrade in the rotation. Cough, Mets, Cough.