As mentioned in Mining the Minors a couple weeks ago, timing is important when it comes to keeping tabs on minor-leaguers while they’re still, ya know, in the minor leagues. But knowledge was meant to be shared, not withheld. Hence, a second incarnation of this column is born — with the same 2011-or-bust focus for fantasy — only instead of highlighting players in the minors, this iteration will cover those who recently have either made their big-league debut or been recalled.
Similar to the other version of this column, which will still drop on Fridays, the Thursday edition will offer a quick take at lesser-known farmhands and veteran minor leaguers, but will also look at the top-end prospects, too — all with a nod to their fantasy relevance and impact for this season. To help owners, I’ll continue to include a player’s Talent Rating; but just as important is what I’m calling the Cling Factor, which points out the likelihood that a player will remain in the majors (or return, if already sent down) during this season.
Players listed in order of date of debut/recall, starting with May 1.
Vance Worley, Phillies SP
Minor-League statistics: 2-2 W-L; 2.78 ERA; 1.10 WHIP; 25:6 K:BB over 22 2/3 IPs
Talent Rating: 7 (out of 10)
Cling Factor: 7 (out of 10)
Okay, so the May 1 date doesn’t apply here — Worley was recalled at the very end of April — but he’s included because 1) dude’s got the name of a Vonnegut protagonist, and 2) he’s capable of having a fantasy impact whenever he pitches for the Phillies and in whatever role. Despite being the “seventh man” in the infallible Phillies rotation (he was behind starter-turned-long man Kyle Kendrick to start the season), the 23-year-old righty has already been called upon for two starts. He acquitted himself quite well (2-0, 12 IPs, 1 ER, 6 hits, 12:4 K:BB) while Joe Blanton was on the DL (elbow), then on Monday, Worley worked in relief of Blanton, and he may yet get another start this weekend in Atlanta if Blanton still isn’t 100 percent. Worley, a 2008 third-rounder, isn’t the hardest-thrower (low-90s fastball), but he has good control (2.4 BB/9 in minors) and would probably put up Blanton-like stats if he were to be a rotation regular. Of course, that would only come via injury to one of the Phab Phive (or whatever they’re calling them these days). But the fact that Worley, and not Kendrick, got the first shot at fill-in starts shows the team likes what he offers. And even if a rotation role doesn’t open up, Worley could get some innings in Philly’s injury-riddled bullpen. Between his debut last year and his early recall in 2011, Worley has done enough to find a home in NL-only leagues, regardless of how much he may shuttle between Philly and Lehigh Valley.
Alex Cobb, Rays SP
Minor-League statistics: 4-0 W-L; 1.31 ERA; 1.02 WHIP; 38:9 K:BB over 34 1/3 IPs
Talent Rating: 6
Cling Factor: 4
The 23-year-old Cobb, drafted in the fourth round in 2006, got a shot to start in place of injured Jeff Niemann (back) on May’s first day, and things didn’t go so well: 4 1/3 IPs, 4 ERs, 4 hits, 3:4 K:BB. He was sent back to Triple-A, where he’s dominated in his first go-round, with a 1.31 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 38:9 K:BB in 34 1/3 IPs. He profiles as a back-of-the-rotation innings eater, but he’s also battling the crazy starting pitching depth the Rays have built up in their system. He’ll probably get another shot at some point this year, but he’s not worth your trouble unless you play in an AL-only keeper.
Scott Sizemore, Tigers 2B
Minor-League statistics: .408 BA; 1.100 OPS; 2 HRs; 15 RBIs; 17 runs; 3 SBs; 19:12 K:BB over 76 ABs
Talent Rating: 6
Cling Factor: 8
Sizemore was a popular sleeper* prior to last season when he was pegged for the Tigers’ starting second base gig out of spring following a strong 2009 (.308 BA, 17 HRs, 21 SBs, .889 OPS). Alas, he hit just .206 and struck out in 27% of his 97 ABs through mid-May and got demoted. To his credit he swung the stick pretty well at Triple-A, but he didn’t regain a regular job with the Tigers until rosters expanded in September. The great start with Toledo this year — not to mention, more Will Rhymes at second than anyone in Detroit cares to relive — has earned Sizemore another shot. As a 26-year-old, the 2006 fifth-rounder is what he is at this point, and that might be a Four-A caliber player, but frankly, he’s the team’s best option, so he should have a long leash. The average is going to be low because of his contact issues in the bigs, but if you can stomach .250 with a decent enough OBP (11:8 K:BB rate through 38 ABs), Sizemore could post double-digits in homers and steals, making him a sneaky add as a middle infield option in 12-team leagues.
Logan Forsythe, Padres 2B
Minor-League statistics: .291 BA; .898 OPS; 4 HRs; 15 RBIs; 20 runs; 28:15 K:BB over 86 ABs
Talent Rating: 5
Cling Factor: 5
Summoned to San Diego when Orlando Hudson became DL-bound, Forsythe won’t have much value this season, even in NL-only play. The 24-year-old, who was a supplemental round choice in 2008, switched from third to second last year, which perked up his fantasy profile ever-so-slightly because his bat fits better there. But his best skill to this point is his plate discipline (.408 minor-league OBP). He would be more interesting in keeper leagues if the Padres decide to deal Hudson to a contender this season (St. Louis?), opening up a cleaner path or Forsythe next year.
Eric Hosmer, Royals 1B
Minor-League statistics: .439 BA, 1.107 OPS, 3 HRs, 15 RBIs, 21 runs, 16:19 K:BB over 98 ABs
Talent Rating: 10
Cling Factor: 9
I mentioned briefly in last week’s Mining the Minors, Hosmer is a must-add in almost all leagues. The 21-year-old lefty-swinging first baseman was toying with pitchers in the minors, and his excellent understanding of the strike zone should prevent any sort of utter flame out with the Royals. Hosmer, the No. 3 pick in 2008, hit his first big-league bomb last night, and while the power lags a bit behind his other tools, he should produce enough to keep owners happy if they employ him as a corner infielder or utility hitter in 12-team leagues. And he’s worth a spin in 10-team mixed on the chance that he’s the real deal right away (worst case: if he’s not, the talent pool in such a league makes it easy to replace him). For more on Hosmer, whom misters Cistulli and Sarris and I discussed with our voices rather than our keyboards last Friday, give a listen to FanGraphs Audio.
Brandon Guyer, Rays OF
Minor-League statistics: .339 BA; .967 OPS; 6 HRs; 18 RBIs; 22 runs; 29:10 K:BB over 115 ABs
Talent Rating: 7
Cling Factor: 4
Typically, knocking one out of the park in your first big-league plate appearance doesn’t come with a return ticket to the minors just two days later. In Guyer’s case, though, that’s just what happened. A fifth-rounder in 2007, Guyer, 25, came over from Chicago in the Matt Garza trade. That probably did his career more harm than good, since the Rays tend to wait as long as possible before bringing up a prospect and entrusting him with a job. Guyer did break out in a big way last year — albeit as a 24-year-old in Double-A — with a .344 BA, .986, 13 HRs and 30 SBs, but given his age and fourth-outfielder profile, he’s more of a fringe-prospect than a legitimate up-and-comer. And he has Desmond Jennings to worry about. He’s rosterable in AL-only leagues with deep benches, but he may not return to St. Pete in short order.
Julio Teheran, Braves SP
Minor-League statistics: 3-0 W-L; 1.80 ERA; 1.10 WHIP; 25:8 K:BB over 30 IPs
Talent Rating: 9
Cling Factor: 3
While Teheran, widely considered the top pitching prospect in baseball this spring, had been as good as expected in his introduction to Triple-A, the 2007 signee out of Colombia wasn’t exactly supposed to make it to Atlanta quite this soon. He came up on a one-start-only deal last Saturday, simply because the Braves didn’t want to use any of their regular starters on short rest after a mid-week doubleheader. Teheran’s outing may — 4 2/3, 4 hits, 3 ERs, 1:2 K:BB and a loss — have left some fantasy owners wondering what all the hubbub was about. But that’s just being unfair to a 20-year-old making his debut way sooner than he otherwise would have against the Phillies in Citizens Bank. In truth, the right-hander with the makings of a plus fastball and change and a developing curve is still rather raw and needs to spend most, if not all, of 2011 in Gwinnett. I’m interested to see how this experience impacts Teheran in his next few outings back in the minors, and I don’t expect him to return to the Braves until August or September — likely in a bullpen role to get some more exposure — because Atlanta has as much pitching depth as any MLB franchise. But if his start entered Teheran into your player database in keeper leagues, you best jump if he’s available.
Scott Mathieson, Phillies RP
Minor-League statistics: 0-0 W-L; 1 SV; 4.61 ERA; 1.76 WHIP; 15:10 K:BB over 13 2/3 IPs
Talent Rating: 5
Cling Factor: 6
I covered Mathieson in the inaugural Mining the Minors last month. While it’s good to know he was recalled as early on as he was, all signs point to Mathieson returning to Triple-A once Roy Oswalt is back from his DL stint (back inflammation), likely early next week. I still think he’ll get a shot at some innings in Philly this year, even if he has to jockey back-and-forth from Lehigh Valley. Maybe he and Worley can be cab buddies and split the fare on the hour-and-a-half ride.
Jose Iglesias, Red Sox SS
Minor-League statistics: .253 BA; .531 OPS; 4 RBIs; 11 runs; 17:2 K:BB over 87 ABs
Talent Rating: 6
Cling Factor: 3
Marco Scutaro‘s strained oblique opened the door for Iglesias’ magic glove. A 21-year-old Cuba native, who signed in 2009, Iglesias* then got his first start when Jed Lowrie was felled by sickness. Joe Churches is highly-rated in Prospect Land, but most of his value comes from his crafty leathermanship. He has managed just 17 extra-base hits in 348 minor-league at-bats, and he OPS’d .575 — with 1 extra-base hit in 67 ABs — during his stint in the Arizona Fall League. So yeah, dude can’t hit yet. He’s got plenty of time to address his woodworking, though, and the Red Sox clearly think a lot of him to bring him into the mix after just 24 games above Double-A. But only keeper leaguers who really like light-hitting shortstops should apply.
*May or may not be related to Enrique.
Mike Wilson, Mariners OF
Minor-League statistics: .381 BA; 1.111 OPS; 4 HRs; 14 RBIs; 19 runs; 16:5 K:BB over 63 ABs
Talent Rating: 4
Cling Factor: 6
Quick take: The 27-year-old Triple-A vet, who was a second-rounder all the way back in 2001, finally gets a shot to put his powerful-yet-full-of-holes swing to use in the bigs, but his contact issues and the eventual return of Franklin Gutierrez will mean a hot start is a must, if he hopes to stay in Seattle long enough to find a rose or two to smell. Only to be considered in the deepest of AL-onlies. Longer take: See here, courtesy of Mr. Podhorzer.
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