Prospects almost ready for stardom
You can tell it is almost June 1. The prospects are starting to flow to the major leagues. Julio Teheran is coming back for a start Wednesday, SP Danny Duffy is getting a call to the Royals and 1B Eric Hosmer, OF Carlos Peguero, RP Daniel Moskos and SP Alex White are already here.
Let's break down some guesses for which players are going to get the call to the majors before June. We like to call this list the June High Five.
And it should only be the beginning, although this year doesn't look all that top-heavy in terms of impact fantasy players. Nos. 1 and 2 below do have a real good chance to shake some things up, though.
Brown, as we have mentioned just about every week here, would have been in the majors already if not for injury. Last week, he could have gotten the call, but a thumb injury slowed him down.
He returned to the Triple-A lineup Monday after a five-day layoff, picking up a pair of RBI and walks. It helps incumbent right fielder Ben Francisco is hitting just .103 (4-for-39) in May and Shane Victorino is banged up.
Owned in a whopping 63 percent of fantasy leagues right now, Brown is the must certain to get the call before June 1 -- assuming good health, which has been dicey for him. It is the bet here Brown is not only the first of this High Five to arrive, but also the most certain to be useful in all fantasy leagues soonest.
The Red Sox have started to reap huge rewards from Adrian Gonzalez of late. It shouldn't be long before the clamor for Rizzo in San Diego reaches a fever pitch (Red Sox movie pun intended).
Rizzo has the sickest of numbers among this High Five and likely warrants a look in fantasy more than most. But his position, the poor Padres supporting cast and that awfully tough pitcher's park reduce his value and ownership, which is at just 16 percent.
Rizzo's former minor-league manager from low Class A has a glowing review for us to work off of:
"Rizzo reminds me a lot of Adrian Gonzalez," Kevin Boles said. "Rizzo is a bigger kid and has a little more power, Adrian is a little more of a contact hitter, but they had very similar styles of play.
"We thought very highly of Anthony Rizzo. He's going to be a heck of a player."
Apparently. Rizzo has amassed -- albeit in a hitter's league and hitter's park in Tucson, Ariz. -- a minor-league-leading 50 RBI through 37 games. Oh, that's just a pace of like 150 or so.
His prospect status has been dimmed some by his recovery from Lymphoma, but his numbers took off in Double-A a season ago (20 homers, 80 RBI) and he looks like a legit burgeoning star now to jump all over.
Jennings is the poor man's Brown right now and he is far more available in your fantasy leagues at just 36 percent ownership. He, too, could have been in the majors to start the season, but the signings of Manny Ramirez (retired) and Johnny Damon (getting more DH at-bats) slowed his timetable down.
Jennings has picked it up in Triple-A, though, hitting for the power he didn't show last season. He has as many homers in his past nine games as he hit all of last season in 399 Triple-A at-bats. Jennings is a speed and power prospect who has upped his numbers across the board. This start in the minors has done him wonders.
If you can't get Brown, you will want to be the one jumping on Jennings' bandwagon early.
This is a relatively easy pick since he had already made the team out of spring training. Belt was sent back to the minors to work on becoming a regular left fielder, though. He could be the Giants' go-to man in June to add some punch.
Belt has already gotten his slow-start in the majors out of his system in Triple-A. He has shown more patient at the plate, walking nine times to just two strikeouts in his past four games. He also popped his third homer Monday night, driving in a season-high five runs.
The Giants are doing fairly well right now, but Belt figures to be a shot in the arm for them and fantasy owners, especially with outfield eligibility on the way.
The surprising start for the Indians just might stretch into June. That is great news for Indians fans and Chisenhall owners. Teams with more than a five-game lead after Memorial Day historically are postseason bound. If they Indians are to be the next surprise in that regard, they have to plug a hole at third base.
Chisenhall is the man to do it. Jack Hannahan (.246) is not, no matter what kind of start he got off to.
Chisenhall raked in spring training (.478 with two homers) before getting off to a slow start in Triple-A. He has come out of that, though, hitting .327 (18-for-55) in May.
It might take just a couple more hot weeks for Chisenhall to become the Indians' long-term answer at third base -- amid a pennant race no less. At just 14 percent ownership, he is a bargain even in AL-only leagues right now.
Trading a young ace like Zack Greinke is a lot easier to swallow when you have the loads of pitching prospects in the pipeline like the Royals do. They have so much pitching, they were justified in making 2009 first-rounder Aaron Crow a short reliever -- to outstanding results (0.89 ERA and 1.082 WHIP).
While walks are hurting Montgomery and Dwyer right now, Duffy has beaten them all to a call-up this week. He has posted sterling numbers in Triple-A, going 3-1 with a 3.00 ERA, .227 batting-average against and 43 strikeouts in 36 innings.
He might get the Teheran treatment of a one-and-done start, but Duffy has to be looked at as a potential sleeper for fantasy leagues in this second half. Heck, Montgomery and Lamb could join him in the Royals rotation before the end of the year -- with 3B Mike Moustakas and OF Wil Myers joining them as position players.
There is a very good reason BA ranked the Royals as the top farm system in baseball. The rewards are about to be reaped.