The Day of Reckoning is finally here as fantasy-leaguers can now rejoice at the arrival of catcher Matt Wieters. It definitely cost the Orioles some wins this year and it certainly made several fantasy owners upset, but after being sent to the minors for two months to prevent him from gaining Super 2 status, the best hitting prospect in years is finally in Baltimore to stay.
Fortunately for fantasy owners, Wieters wasn't the only top prospect to make his major league debut this week. The Mets also called up Fernando Martinez -- albeit for a short stay -- and the Phillies called up Antonio Bastardo to replace the injured Brett Myers. And the Cubs promoted one of the hottest hitters in the minors, Jake Fox, who isn't a top prospect but who will be one of the most intriguing pickups in free agency this week.
Let's get right to all of this week's call-ups and evaluate their impacts on fantasy baseball:
Matt Wieters, C, Orioles: The fifth pick in 2007 out of Georgia Tech should have started the season in the majors as he was the Orioles' best hitter this spring. He also was Baseball America's Minor League Player of the Year in 2008, hitting a combined .355 with 27 home runs, 91 RBIs and 89 runs at Class A Frederick and Double-A Bowie. The Orioles sent him down to Triple-A Norfolk to start this season, saying he needed more seasoning (though it's obvious they were just trying to gain another year of leverage on his arbitration-eligible status, which is the way of the world these days in Major League Baseball). Despite a slow start and a pulled hamstring, Wieters settled in at Norfolk and hit .305 in 39 games with five homers, 30 RBIs and 25 runs. He went 0-for-4 in his MLB debut, but on Saturday went 2-for-4 with a double and a triple off Justin Verlander, no less. Wieters is a 6-foot-5, 230-pound catcher who has as much fun calling a game as he does swinging for the fences. He's a huge target behind the plate and scouts have called him "Mauer with Power," which is scary after seeing Minnesota backstop Joe Mauer develop his power stroke this year. Wieters is a special talent who I think is a "can't-miss" prospect because he possesses great talent, a great head on his shoulders and the desire to be one of the game's best catchers. He probably isn't available in your fantasy league as his Average Draft Position in the NFBC was 137, so if you drafted him and have waited two months to play him, feel good about Wieters finally being in the majors. He will deliver a solid four months of production for you -- and next year he'll be one of the first five catchers selected on Draft Day.
Fernando Martinez, OF, Mets: Martinez was signed to a free-agent contract by the Mets at the age of 16 out of San Juan of the Dominican Republic in 2005 and he made his MLB debut this week with the Mets after Ryan Church landed on the DL. He didn't get his first hit until his third start, but he came through on Saturday with a single, a double and his first RBI. He's just a fill-in for the Mets right now, but there's no question he is the projected right fielder for the Mets in 2010 and beyond. He could even keep that job for the rest of the year with a strong showing, but I think that will be tough. At 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, Martinez could still use some polish and muscle that the next year will provide. Before his promotion, he was hitting .291 at Triple-A Buffalo with eight homers, 28 RBIs and two stolen bases, however, with 31 strikeouts. But don't be afraid to pick him up for the short-term and, if you're in a keeper league, grab him now and get ready for solid production next year. He's a good one and soon he will be a household name to fantasy owners.
Jake Fox, OF, Cubs: Fox reached the majors in 2007 as a short-term answer in the outfield, but he wasn't ready after being a third-round pick out of the University of Michigan in 2003. He spent most of 2008 at Double-A Tennessee where he hit .307 with 25 homers and 79 RBIs before becoming a dominant force this year in the Pacific Coast League. He put up Popeye-like numbers at Triple-A Iowa, leading the league with a .423 average, 17 homers, 50 RBIs and 40 runs in just 40 games. The Cubs promoted him this week as insurance at third base, first base and in the outfield and he went three-for-four in his first three games. He could start a few games at third base, but it's unlikely as the Cubs just see him right now as a solid bat off the bench and insurance at three positions. That will limit his fantasy value, so despite the phenomenal minor-league numbers, don't go overboard on Fox this week in free agency.
David Hernandez, SP, Orioles: Wieters wasn't the only top prospect from the Orioles' system being promoted this week. Hernandez also made his MLB debut on Thursday and picked up a win against Detroit, allowing just one run in 5.2 innings. The 16th round pick in 2005 out of Cosumnes River (Calif.) CC, Hernandez was impressive at Double-A Bowie last year (10-4, 2.68, 166 strikeouts in 141 innings) and was even more impressive this year at Norfolk. During eight starts at Norfolk, Hernandez had gone 3-1 with a 2.91 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 60 strikeouts in 43 innings. He walked only 13 at Norfolk, but struggled with four walks on Thursday. Chalk that up to nerves as Hernandez now has a good shot to stick in this rotation. He's a worthy fantasy pickup in AL-only leagues and he's definitely one to consider in mixed leagues as the Orioles will give him every chance to succeed during this full-blown rebuilding effort.
Antonio Bastardo, SP, Phillies: The Phillies received a major blow this week when Myers went down with a hip injury. He could be lost for the rest of the season, but fortunately they have a top prospect ready to step in for him. This 23-year-old left-hander has made great progress this year and has vaulted from Double-A Reading to the majors, where he's expected to stay while replacing Myers in the starting rotation. Bastardo started the year at Reading and went 2-2 in five starts with a 1.82 ERA, striking out 39 with only seven walks in 34.2 innings. Then in two starts at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, he went 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA, 12 strikeouts and only three walks in 13 innings. He threw seven shutout innings for the win in his last start at Lehigh on Thursday and should get his first MLB start this week. He seems to have solid control and a lively arm, and best of all, he has a great opportunity on a winning team. Make sure you grab him in NL-only leagues and don't be afraid to take a chance on him in mixed leagues, either.
Tommy Hanson, SP, Braves: Now that Wieters has reached the majors, can Hanson be far behind? He had another spectacular start this week at Triple-A Gwinnett, allowing one run in seven innings while striking out nine. It was a no-decision again, but through 10 starts he's now 3-3 with a 1.48 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 60.2 innings. He has a stellar 0.86 WHIP as he's allowed just 35 hits and 17 walks thus far. The Braves don't want to rush Hanson to the majors, but this is crazy. The kid is ready, so let's see him in The Show.
Gordon Beckham, SS, White Sox: The eighth pick of last year's draft out of Georgia was promoted from Double-A Birmingham to Triple-A Charlotte this week and promptly moved from shortstop to third base. He had played only two games at third base at Birmingham before playing his first two games there at Charlotte, so it looks like the White Sox may be preparing him for a promotion to the big leagues. Beckham hit .299 with four homers and 22 RBIs in 38 games at Birmingham and was hitting .364 through his first three games at Charlotte. He looks to be on the fast track to the majors, so get ready for his promotion if the White Sox continue to struggle at the Hot Corner.
Jeff Clement, C, Mariners:Kenji Johjima landed on the DL this week and the Mariners didn't even consider promoting Clement to the majors, which is a very bad sign. They feel he still needs to work on his defense, but his bat is finally coming around after a horrible spring and a slow start at Triple-A Tacoma. Through 41 games there, he's now hitting .313 with seven homers and 32 RBIs and should force a move to the majors soon. He won't be there soon, but don't lose sight of him anyway because he still could make an impact in the majors yet.
Enjoy the Day of Reckoning with Wieters and let's hope that Hanson follows him to the majors soon. Both will be stars for years to come.