The Graduates: Taijuan Walker (2), Mookie Betts (6), Marco Gonzales (21)
After firing a complete-game shutout in his last turn in Tacoma, Walker got the win on Monday night in his 2014 debut with the Mariners in Houston. If the shoulder problems are really behind him, Walker could be a solid third starter the rest of the way with that park at his back. There have been very few prospects to get people on both sides of the aisle (fans and writers) in a tizzy like Mookie Betts. There are some who think he’s going to perform like a top-10 second baseman (or shortstop, depending on eligibility) right out of the gate, and while I don’t see that happening, there should be room for him on almost any roster. The counting stats may not be plentiful hitting towards the bottom of the lineup for now and he’ll likely struggle to even show below-average power in game, but the average and steals will be helpful. With Michael Wacha, Jaime Garcia, and Joe Kelly all sidelined, Gonzales will get a few runs in the Cardinals’ rotation to prove he belongs. It’s very possible with a strong pre-break showing, he could stick in the rotation rather than Carlos Martinez—who Mike Matheny may opt to keep in a setup role anyway. The upside isn’t high, and he’s just a fringy mixed league play, but his control will make some friends in the WHIP category.
The Departed: none
And the ones who are still left waiting:
2) Oscar Taveras, OF, St Louis Cardinals (Previous Rank: 3)
Same with you, Oscar. It’s time to shine.
3) Tyler Skaggs, LHP, Los Angeles Angels (Previous Rank: 5)
Skaggs, who will rejoin the Angels’ rotation on Wednesday, doesn’t have the greatest schedule to ease back into after missing nearly a month with a hamstring injury. He’ll see two road starts in hitter-friendly ballparks (Chicago and Texas) and then his one home start will come against the Blue Jays. However, the talented left-hander was pitching better than his raw stats indicate prior to the injury, and if he pitches to that same underlying skill level, he’ll be a solid no. 4 starter the rest of the way in mixed leagues.
4) Dillon Gee, RHP, New York Mets (Previous Rank: 4)
Two starts into his rehab assignment, Gee has only thrown 4 2/3 innings. The rumblings are that he just needs one more start before he’s declared ready to go, but unless he goes five deep in that start (likely to come Friday), there’s a chance we don’t see him until after the All-Star break.
5) Arismendy Alcantara, 2B, Chicago Cubs (Previous Rank: 10)
Alcantara is so hot right now that in his last 12 games, he’s failed to register hits only three times. Yes, multiple hits. Yes, his plate discipline stats aren’t ideal, but he’s still sporting a .346 on-base percentage for the season, which bumps up to .395 in June. He’s also at double-digit homers and is 18-for-20 in stolen base attempts. The Cubs are going to have to call one of their prospects up in the second half to appease the fan base, and it looks like right now that guy is going to be the one to depose Darwin Barney.
7) Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers (Previous Rank: 8)
8) Derek Holland, LHP, Texas Rangers (Previous Rank: 11)
9) Noah Syndergaard, RHP, New York Mets (Previous Rank: 9)
10) Corey Hart, 1B/OF, Seattle Mariners (Previous Rank: 16)
This will likely be the last week Hart spends on this list, as he’s already been on rehab assignment for over a week now. There may not be a ton of optimism here, but he’ll play, and he’ll hit for some power.
11) Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs (Previous Rank: 12)
12) Matt Wisler, RHP, San Diego Padres (Previous Rank: 13)
13) Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks (Previous Rank: 14)
14) Kris Bryant, 3B/OF, Chicago Cubs (Previous Rank: 18)
I don’t care what anyone in the Cubs’ front office says about Bryant, he may just leave them no choice but to promote him before the end of the season. For This Week in Kris Bryant batting lines, we have .391/.462/.652.
15) Alex Meyer, RHP, Minnesota Twins (Previous Rank: 17)
16) Danny Salazar, RHP, Cleveland Indians (Previous Rank: HM)
The electric right-hander certainly isn’t tearing up the minors since he’s gotten back from the disabled list, but Monday night was his best performance of the lot thus far. Against the Reds’ Triple-A affiliate, Salazar threw 7 1/3 innings (the first time he’s seen the eighth inning in his 15 starts this year at any level) allowing just six base runners (one walk) and striking out nine. With T.J. House currently holding down a rotation spot, the opportunity is there—he just has to take it.
17) James Paxton, LHP, Seattle Mariners (Previous Rank: 15)
18) Brett Anderson, LHP, Colorado Rockies (Previous Rank: HM)
There’s only so much you can reasonably rely on Brett Anderson—and that amount is way too close to zero for someone of his talent level. He is all set to make his first rehab start on Wednesday, and he’ll likely need at least three—which would put him on track to return the week after the All-Star break. The biggest question though, is whether he can make it through three rehab starts without injuring himself again.
19) Jonathan Gray, RHP, Colorado Rockies (Previous Rank: 25)
From the team’s perspective, it seems more and more like Gray isn’t going to see the majors in 2014. However, with something called Yohan Flande in their rotation (along with stalwarts Tyler Matzek and Christian Friedrich—I mean, really, is this 2011?) they’re just going to run out of excuses at some point. Gray may not be a finished product, and the Rockies certainly aren’t contending anymore, but opting to get his feet wet in the second half is something that is easy to imagine (though by that logic, it essentially guarantees the Rockies won’t do it).
20) Nick Franklin, 2B/OF, Seattle Mariners (Previous Rank: NR)
The trade deadline approaches and the Mariners are buyers. These two things in tandem mean that the #FreeNickFranklin movement could be coming to it’s ultimate end shortly. Of course, whether this is good for fantasy teams is up in the air. Franklin has struggled since being sent down to Triple-A, but it shouldn’t be held against him too much with the amount the organization has jerked him around this year. In his last eight games he’s starting to heat up though, hitting .333/.375/.583 with a couple of homers.
21) Dylan Bundy, RHP, Baltimore Orioles (Previous Rank: 22)
In the shocker of the year, Dylan Bundy is too good for New York-Penn League hitters.
22) Josh Reddick, OF, Oakland Athletics (Previous Rank: 20)
As luck would have it, Reddick returned for four games before being shut down with a strain in the same knee that cost him approximately a month. He appears to be in the clear as far as structural damage is concerned, but there’s virtually no chance we’ll see him until after the All-Star Break.
23) Jaime Garcia, LHP, St Louis Cardinals (Previous Rank: NR)
It’s been awfully quiet out of St Louis on Garcia’s latest shoulder injury. If it ends up being anything more than just mild inflammation, he’s likely looking at a September return at the earliest—at which point, he’d certainly drop off this list. For now, I’m holding the faith.
24) Chris Taylor, SS, Seattle Mariners (Previous Rank: 24)
With Brad Miller reinvigorated (at least for him), Taylor’s turn will have to wait—though, like Franklin, he’s an interesting trade chip the Mariners can use at the deadline to improve the outfield or the rotation.
25) Joey Gallo, 3B, Texas Rangers (Previous Rank: NR)
My guess is there’s about a five percent chance we see Gallo in the majors this year. And embedded in that five percent is about a 20 percent chance that he just starts hitting bombs immediately and carries actual fantasy value over the last two months of the season. But even a one percent chance of Joey Gallo doing Joey Gallo things is worth the final spot on this list.