What have the Future Rookies been up to this week? The Lehigh Valley Express-Times reports that Michael Taylor injured his oblique last Saturday swinging the bat. He should be back soon. His organization-mate Dominic Brown is the middle of a ten-game hit streak, raising his average to .318 with Double-A Reading. After homering in three consecutive games, Brett Wallace hit two more HRs on August 19, but he’s cooled off the last few days. Kila Ka’aihue has missed a few games with a hand injury suffered on a hit-by-pitch. Michael Bowden’s only work this week came with the Boston Red Sox — he gave up seven of the Yankees’ 20 runs scored in their 20-11 win against Boston and was promptly returned to the minors. Jeremy Hellickson is looking like a future stud; he struck out ten batters in five innings in his start this week. Jhoulys Chacin walked five batters in two innings during his second Triple-A start, making the Rockies’ demotion of the pitcher look wise. Aaron Poreda is also having massive control issues, walking six batters for the second time in three starts.
Featured Add – Hitter
Todd Frazier, IF/OF, Cin, Age 23, Triple-A
Drafted in the first round in 2007, Todd Frazier has played many positions at many levels, but no matter where he calls home or which glove he brings onto the field, the Cincinnati prospect has continued to hit well. After posting a 19-HR, 12-SB season in two stops last year, Frazier has done a great job of cutting down on his strikeouts in 2009. His advancement recently earned him a promotion to Triple-A, where he’s already got a homer and two doubles to his credit in 10 at-bats. What will be key for his fantasy worth is his future long-term position. The Reds have moved him to left field this year, where 20-HR hitters with good averages are easier to find than similar statistical players in the infield. If he doesn’t make it back to the infield, that takes a lot of the shine off his fantasy prospects.
Hitter Performance Review (as of 8/24/09)
Former features Matt LaPorta, Alcides Escobar, Brandon Allen, Nolan Reimold, Andrew McCutchen, Gaby Sanchez, and Kyle Blanks have moved on to the majors. Josh Whitesell has been demoted, but hasn’t made an appearance in a minor-league game since his demotion. Jesus Montero is out for the year.
Featured Add – Pitcher
Wade Davis, SP, TB, Age 23, Triple-A
A top-five prospect in the deep Tampa Bay organization, Davis is a strikeout pitcher (8.8 K/9 ratio in minor-league career) that should pitch in the majors for a long time. At the beginning of the season, Davis looked completely blocked behind an excellent major-league rotation, but now I fully expect the Rays to add Davis to their rotation in September. He brings with him the added benefit of pitching a lot of innings each year; he had over 160 IP in 2008 and should reach the 180+ IP mark this year. What that means is he’ll be a threat to throw 200 innings per year starting in his rookie season. In this era of pitch counts and inning limits, a pitcher that can push those boundaries can be extremely valuable. Be ready to draft Davis to your 2010 teams, as he has serious Rookie-of-the-Year potential if he cracks the rotation.
Pitcher Performance Review (as of 8/24/09)
Former features Mat Latos, Junichi Tazawa, Brian Matusz, Kris Medlen, Derek Holland, Chris Tillman, and Tommy Hanson have moved on to the majors. Jarrod Parker is out for about a month with a strained pitching elbow.
Next we’ll hear from Bryan Schubert in a segment called Digging Deeper. This portion of the column addresses potential future fantasy stars that have quite a bit of time before reaching the majors.
Casey Kelly, SS/SP, Bos, Age 19, Single-A
Schubert: Most of us know his story: Kelly was drafted as a pitcher, but wants to be a hitter. The first-round pick from ‘08 has bounced around his fair share in the minors and not just between clubs. He came onto the scene strong in 2008 by hitting .344 in 32 at-bats in Short Season-A, but Rookie ball was not as inviting, as he posted a .173 average while striking out 34 times, with only one home run and nine RBIs in 98 at-bats. This year, Kelly became a two-time Carolina League Pitcher of the Week, but has since traded trips to the mound in for appearances at the plate. His offensive production has had far much less of an impact than his presence on the mound. In 17 starts between Greenville (Single-A) and Salem (Single-A Advanced), Kelly threw 95 innings en route to a 7-5 record, with a 2.08 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 74 strikeouts and only 16 walks. In 113 at-bats between the Rookie League and Gulf Coast League he is only hitting .230 with 29 strikeouts. Florida’s 2008 Mr. Baseball put up some great numbers at the plate in high school, but thus far it seems that pitching is his niche in professional baseball.
R.J. White is a fantasy blogger at the sports site FanHouse. Check out his work both here and there, and feel free to talk to him in the forums, where he posts under the name daullaz.
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