May 18, 2010

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Some other Nationals' first-round pick seems to be getting all the fantasy love, but don't forget about Drew Storen in any format. He's the closer-of-the-near-future.

Storen was promoted by the Nats yesterday after posting the following digits between Double-A and Triple-A: 16.2 innings pitched, 1.08 earned run average, 15 strikeouts, three walks, and a .207 batting average against. Storen's impressive arsenal includes a mid-90s heater and a duo of impressive breaking pitches. Some gurus are writing Storen off for 2010 merely because of Matt Capps' success (0.93 ERA, 14 saves). Big mistake. The Nats are comfortable with handing Storen the job and Capps has merely set himself up for a deadline deal. Keep a close eye on the rook in non-keeper leagues.

Let's get to the rest of the promotions and potential prospect targets.

Jack Cust (OF, OAK)

Jack "It or Bust" Cust leads off a group of grizzled oldies who were promoted from the minors last week. The power-starved Athletics were in desperate need of Cust's big bat. Cust had a .273 batting average, four home runs, and a .436 slugging percentage at Triple-A. Impressively, he had also cut his strikeout rate down to 16.7 percent. Despite a recent surge, it's time for the A's to make up an injury for current DH Eric Chavez (.258 BA, .371 SLG). C'mon, that's not that difficult when it comes to Chavez, right? Let him hobble off into the sunset with dignity. Cust is playing the outfield now with Coco Crisp disabled, but will take over primary DH duties once Crisp returns. Notably, Cust is ranked 82nd in our weekly rankings. He's a nice addition in AL-only leagues because of his power and mixed league-worthy for formats that value on-base percentage.

Jeff Francis (SP, COL)

He's back. Shoot, the last time Francis had mild success, the humidor was a novel Mile High technology and owners shied away from all Colorado pitchers. The 29-year-old southpaw is back after numerous shoulder woes and he created some buzz with a nice start on Sunday (seven IP, seven hits, one earned eun, six strikeouts, and two walks) versus the Nationals. That said, you're looking at a dude who was whiff adverse in his glory days and who has had his share of command issues. Francis' velocity looks to be just about back, but he's only mono-league material because of his limited upside and risk baggage. Don't get caught up in a good story at your squad's expense.

Corey Patterson (OF, BAL)

Oh boy. You know its throwback week when we're talking Patterson. I remember when Sammy Sosa used to gush over Patterson's future ceiling back in their Cubbies days. Sosa just couldn't wrap himself around the fact that a non-steroid induced human could hit a 400-plus foot bomb. Patterson earned his promotion after hitting .368 with three stolen bases and a .491 SLG at Triple-A. Patterson is off to a hot start in the bigs with six hits in his first 20 at-bats (.300 BA). But temper your enthusiasm. We know the real Corey Patterson. This is a .252 BA/.405 SLG career hitter with a 3,000 plus at-bat track record. Fortunately (or unfortunately), Patterson will receive significant playing time with Nolan Reimold in the minors. As a result, go grab him if you have an AL-only team that is dying a slow death. I will hunt you down if you roster Patterson in any other format.

Chris Carter (1B/DH, OAK)

Carter is the next power reinforcement for the A's and the Cust contingency policy. The 6-4, 225-pound monster hit .329 with 28 home runs, 13 stolen bases, and a .570 SLG last year. Those numbers got your attention, huh? Even though he's only hitting .249 at Triple-A this year, he has nine dingers in 140 at-bats. The A's need Carter's power and he remains an option if Daric Barton starts slumping. Carter's downfall has always been his whiffing ways (K rate above 24 percent at every minor league level). Of course, it's not uncommon for strikeouts to join the massive power party. Moreover, Carter counters the strikeouts with an ability to take walks (11-percent walk rate in '10). I'm stashing this kid in every keeper league because of his pure pop. Join me.

Tyler Flowers (C, CWS)

Buster Posey and Carlos Santana get all the fantasy prospect love when it comes to backstops. Nevertheless, you don't want to overlook Flowers. He's surely not going to make a Santana-like impact in '10, but he has the solid hitting skills, pitch recognition ability, and natural power to produce at a position of scarcity. Best of all, opportunity is already knocking for Flowers. A.J. Pierzynski is hitting .200 with two HRs and a .291 SLG -- implicitly begging for the Sox to unload him. Further, the Texas Rangers have already reportedly expressed interest in dealing for the veteran catcher. Other teams will also be interested before the deadline. Inevitably, Flowers will have the starting gig by Aug. 1. He will struggle in the batting average department because of his low contact rate, but he will provide spotty power and find his way on base (12-percent BB rate at Triple-A). He will be a nice summer find in deep non-keeper leagues or formats that start two-catchers.

Jason Donald (SS, CLE)

Luis Valbuena had better step it up or he's going to lose his job. Valbuena is hitting a putrid .153 with a .299 OBP and .278 SLG. Meanwhile, Donald has a strong .281 BA, .398 OBP, and .476 SLG at Triple-A. The 25-year-old Donald has excellent plate discipline (13 percent BB rate) and a little pop (15 HRs in '08). At the very least, he should be monitored in AL-only, deep mixed leagues, and for the simple fact that he is a middle infielder.

Chris Tillman (SP, BAL)

Here's one of those post-hype beauties that make me tingle. The 6-5, 200-pound Tillman has pitched well at Triple-A since his April 28 no-hitter. Overall, he has solid numbers: 3.83 ERA, 7.33 strikeouts per nine innings, 1.83 walks per nine innings, and .256 batting average against. The fact that he's showing much better control and command within the zone this year will only help in his next major league tour. Tillman has most likely moved ahead of Jake Arrieta in the call-up pecking order because of Arrieta's recent control issues (5.14 BB/9 at Triple-A). We should see Tillman in the majors by early June. He will be inconsistent, but electric against inferior teams. Use him wisely in AL-only leagues once he gets promoted.

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