Jose Altuve, Jake McGee, Tyler Flowers: Mining the Minors

This may be the only time in history that the 6’2″, 235-pound Brandon Allen shares a space with mighty mite Jose Altuve — all 5’7″, 170 of him.

Similar to the other version of this column, which drops on Fridays, the Thursday edition offers a take on players who recently made their MLB debuts or were recalled, from top-end prospects down to lesser-known farmhands and veteran minor leaguers — all with a nod to their fantasy relevance and impact for this season. To help owners, I’ll include a player’s Talent Rating; but just as important is Cling Factor, which highlights the likelihood that a player will remain in the majors during the year.

Players listed in order of 2011 fantasy impact.

AL-/NL-ONLY RELEVANT
____________________________

Jose Altuve, Astros 2B
Talent Rating: 7
Cling Factor: 9

Mr. Zimmerman’s piece covered Altuve in more depth, so read it. I like the 21-year-old righty bat for all NL-only leagues, even though he was plucked from down in Double-A. As manager Brad Mills said: “We’re not bringing a guy up here who has done what he’s done to sit.” What he’s done, exactly, is lead the Minor Leagues with a combined .389 batting average between Hi-A and Double-A. And despite his diminutive (“DiminAltuve?”) size, he’s got some pop, as shown by his 22 doubles, 10 triples and 10 home runs, and enough speed to swipe 24 bases so far this year. Definitely snag him in NL-only leagues, where he’ll fit fine as a middle infielder and possibly a starting 2B, but I’m not picking him up yet in mixed leagues, where he should be “Watch Listed” as a potential MI option.

Brandon Allen, D-backs 1B
Talent Rating: 7
Cling Factor: 8

I highlighted Allen just last month, and as I predicted, he’s getting his shot in July — and before Paul Goldschmidt. Allen needed to get off to a hot start to prove he can hack it in the bigs, and he’s done so, homering in consecutive starts this week, including one blast that traveled 450-plus feet. He’s an immediate add in NL leagues, but I’m not ready yet to endorse him for shallower play, although I’d certainly keep my eye on him if I were in, say, a 14-team mixed.

Jake McGee, Rays RP
Talent Rating: 7
Cling Factor: 9

The guy many fantasy owners wanted to earn the closer role out of spring didn’t get the chance, and was promptly sent to Triple-A to continue his development. Since then, Kyle Farnsworth has — gasp — done really well (1.86 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 18 saves) in holding down the closer role, while McGee also posted very solid numbers in the minors (2.70 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 10.3 K/9). Depending on where the Rays sit in a week, Farnsworth is a potential trade candidate, which might potentially give McGee another shot to make a run at the closer role down the stretch, in which case a handful of saves may be in the cards. If not, I see some holds and solid periphs from the 24-year-old lefty. An AL-only play for now, but keep tabs in all leagues if the ninth-inning job opens up as the trade deadline nears.

Tyler Flowers, White Sox C
Talent Rating: 7
Cling Factor: 9

Flowers, 25, was once a highly-touted catching prospect who was expected to take over South Side starting duties from A.J. Pierzynski by now. But he’s lost some of that luster because of his struggles to make contact (28% K rate) as he’s climbed the ladder. On the plus side, though, he can take a walk, does have pop (15 HRs and an .890 OPS this year), and has the White Sox backup job for the rest of the season after Ramon Castro busted a finger. A worthy second catcher in AL leagues.

Duane Below, Tigers SP/RP
Talent Rating: 7
Cling Factor: 6

The Tigers are searching for a fifth starter now that Phil Coke is back in the pen, and while most fantasy owners are wondering when they might call up top ‘spect Jacob Turner, it seems a bit early to reach for a 20-year-old who’s pitched just over 100 innings in Double-A. Enter Below, 25, a lefty drafted in 2006 who was having some success in his first exposure at Triple-A this year (3.13 ERA, 1.18 WHIP) now that he’s recovered fully from TJ surgery that cost him most of 2009. He fared fairly well in his big league debut Wednesday: 5 IPs, 5 hits, 1 ER, 2:1 K:BB. Caution: It came against the A’s. An intriguing arm for owners looking to catch a little lightning in AL play.

Robinson Chirinos, Rays C
Talent Rating: 6
Cling Factor: 7

The Rays’ catcher sitch this year has been a big bag of John Jaso and Kelly Shoppach injuries and terribleness. Then recent recall Jose Lobaton went and sprained his knee, too, which means Tampa has dipped down to their fourth catching option. What’s interesting, though, is that Chirinos — a converted infielder who came over from the Cubs in the Matt Garza trade — was actually a preseason candidate for an early-season promotion after hitting .326 with 18 homers and more walks than whiffs across Double- and Triple-A last year. Alas, he got off to a molasses-like start (.176/.253/.191 in April), which set him back. At 27, there’s not much upside, but his background makes him a potential utility type who can play all over the field — and we know how the Rays love those — and there’s at least a chance he hits enough to stick. A sneaky add in AL leagues that require two backstops, but I prefer Flowers for his higher Cling Factor.

Mike Aviles, Royals INF
Talent Rating: 6
Cling Factor: 7

After starting the season as the Royals third baseman and posting decent speed/power numbers (5 HRs and 10 SBs in 169 ABs), Kansas City tired of his .213 average and sent him to Triple-A. With the trade of Wilson Betemit to the Tigers, a spot opens up for Aviles to become a utility player off the bench, and he should see enough run at 2B, SS and 3B to make a minor impact in homers and steals as a reserve option for deep AL-onlies.

Eric Sogard, A’s INF
Talent Rating: 6
Cling Factor: 7

The 25-year-old Sogard nearly came north with the A’s out of spring training, but he lost the utility infielder role to Andy LaRoche. There’s a little bit of pedigree here, as the lefty-swinging Sogard was a second-rounder, but that was also four years ago. He’s been playing short exclusively at Triple-A, where he was hitting .298/.381/.410 and continuing his career trend of walking more than striking out, so he’s got an idea at the plate. He’ll get some run filling in at shortstop, second and third, and while he’s unlikely to do enough to make him more than a reserve add in all but the deepest of AL-onlies, like Aviles that sort of eligibility can come in handy in leagues where Sogard is actually worth owning.

Ryota Igarashi, Mets RP
Talent Rating: 6
Cling Factor: 8

While Jason Isringhausen and Bobby Parnell share the saves for the Mets, the hard-throwing Igarashi, 32, should notch some holds. He was extremely impressive at Triple-A (0.87 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, 9.9 K/9), and you could certainly do worse filling out your deep NL-only bullpen.

Bryan Shaw, D-backs RP
Talent Rating: 7
Cling Factor: 7

Shaw is a 23-year-old righty who the D-backs selected in the second round of the 2008 draft following his run as closer for Long Beach State. He was closing at Triple-A at the time of his promotion, and his overall 2011 stat line across two levels (2.58 ERA, 1.07 WHIP) could translate well enough to make him one of the more reliable late-inning relievers in what has once again become a bullpen mess in Arizona. Until closer J.J. Putz and Juan Gutierrez return from injury, Shaw is in position to show what he’s capable of in a low-pressure relief role.

Ryan Cook, D-backs RP
Talent Rating: 6
Cling Factor: 6

Cook and Shaw are intertwined a bit. After working as a starter during his first three seasons in Arizona’s system, Cook, 24, was successfully converted to relief this year (2.25 ERA, 0.96, 10.2 K/9) and has essentially followed in Shaw’s footsteps, taking over closing duties at Double-A when Shaw got bumped to Reno. Wouldn’t expect much, but again, that bullpen needs all the help it can get at the moment.

***

If you want quick fantasy analysis of another recently promoted or recalled player, feel free to post in the comments section. I’ll do my best to get to as many as I can.




Print This Post

Jason Catania is an MLB Lead Writer for Bleacher Report who also contributes to ESPN The Magazine, ESPN Insider and MLB Rumor Central, focusing on baseball and fantasy content. When he was first introduced to fantasy baseball, Derek Jeter had 195 career hits, Jamie Moyer had 72 wins and Matt Stairs was on team No. 3. You can follow him on Twitter: @JayCat11


6 Responses to “Jose Altuve, Jake McGee, Tyler Flowers: Mining the Minors”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
  1. Andrew says:

    What about Josh Reddick? Can he maintain PT the rest of the season, and would you rather have Reddick or Eric Thames?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. FantasyNomad says:

    Thoughts on Kyle Blanks?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. Beautiful gardens have always been the part of our history. From the lavish Hanging Garden of Babylon to the Ascog Fernery to the more modern residential, contemporary garden they beautify our homes.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. sffan says:

    Would you pick Altuve for Theriot in an NL-only league? (McLouth is also available)

    Vote -1 Vote +1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>