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Leonys Martin, Brad Peacock and Garrett Richards: Mining the Minors

So you’ve probably heard Brett Lawrie has been called up. Of course, if this is the first you’re getting wind of this, I urge you to click on over to your league site, type in “Lawrie” in the Available Players search and add him, even in mixed leagues. Erik Hahmann will have more Lawrie analysis coming shortly, so don’t forget to check back here.

Also debuting later today? Trayvon Robinson, who was arguably the Dodgers top hitting prospect until he was basically given away to Seattle at the deadline for reasons I’m still trying to figure out. Here’s my take from last month on Robinson, who I think is only actionable in AL-only play. As I mentioned previously, his new power-over-speed approach this year won’t necessarily suit him well at his new team’s digs, which play a lot like his old team’s digs.

Until Lawrie and Robinson get their careers underway, though, you can read about three other guys who could be joining them in the bigs pretty soon.

This column offers a take on formerly-elite prospects, lesser-known farmhands and veteran minor leaguers who are on the verge of getting a shot — all with a nod to their fantasy relevance and impact, specifically for this season. To help owners, I’ll include a player’s Talent Rating; but just as important is the Opportunity Rating, which points out the likelihood that a player will make his way to the majors during the year.

Leonys Martin, OF
Organization: Rangers
Age: 23
Current Level: Triple-A
Statistics: .308 BA; .838 OPS; 4 HRs; 35 RBIs; 13 SBs; 37 runs; 23:24 K:BB over 214 ABs
40-man roster: Yes
Opportunity Rating: 9
Talent Rating: 8
Obstacle(s): Being inserted into the heat of a division race; adjusting to a new country

This lefty-hitting centerfielder, a Cuban defector, could make his big league debut only a few months after signing with Texas in May. The Rangers may be rushing him a bit not only because center has been their biggest problem spot (Julio Borbon, David Murphy — fail), but also because Martin is proving he can handle it. He’s hitting just .136 over his past 10 games at Round Rock, but until this stretch, he’d gotten the job done across three levels. It’s almost a definite he sees some time with Texas soon, and if it’s in a starting role — let’s face it, Endy Chavez has done a great job but he’s not likely to continue this success as a regular — then the speedy, top-of-the-order bat could be a nice boost for AL-only (or even deep-mixed) owners in need of steals and runs, especially in front of all those Rangers boppers. Missed out on Desmond Jennings? Martin might not be a bad consolation prize.

ETA: Mid- to late-August, so he can be eligible to play in the postseason if the Rangers make it.

Brad Peacock, SP
Organization: Nationals
Age: 23
Current Level: Triple-A
Statistics: 12-3 W-L; 2.42 ERA; 0.92 WHIP; 148:35 K:BB over 119 IPs
40-man roster: No
Opportunity Rating: 9
Talent Rating: 8
Obstacle(s): Limited window for 2011 impact

Peacock may be the biggest prospect riser this season, having gone from fringe starter with more of a future as a reliever to a legit mid-rotation option. He absolutely pwned (yes, pwned) Double-A hitters, and while he’s found the going a little bit rougher one level up, he’s still whiffing a batter per inning at Syracuse. The biggest problem for this steal of the 2006 draft (41st round) is that the Nats actually have plenty of other pitchers they can start over the final weeks, even after trading Jason Marquis. For one, there’s the expected return of Stephen Strasburg, who the organization is planning to sub in when it’s time to shut down Jordan Zimmermann. There’s still a chance Peacock gets a look in place of Chien-Ming Wang, though, but don’t expect more than a few starts. Peacock is firmly in their 2012 plans — along with fellow prospect Tom Milone, who I looked at recently — so the team just wants him to get his feet wet. But there’s no reason he couldn’t help out owners in deep NL-only play while he does so.

ETA: Late-August or September 1, once rosters expand.

Garrett Richards, SP
Organization: Angels
Age: 23
Current Level: Double-A
Statistics: 12-2 W-L; 3.06 ERA; 1.13 WHIP; 100:40 K:BB over 141 IPs
40-man roster: No
Opportunity Rating: 8
Talent Rating: 7
Obstacle(s): No Triple-A experience; nearing expected innings cap

With the recent demotion of Joel Pineiro (0-3 with a 14.85 ERA in his past four starts) to the bullpen, a spot in the Angels rotation is up for grabs. A decision about a replacement has not been made, and there are several candidates, from reliever Hisanori Takahashi to Horacio Ramirez to Trevor Bell. The most intriguing name mentioned as a possible fill-in, though, is Richards. The big (6’3″, 215) righty is arguably the Angels’ best pitching prospect, and he’s having a very strong season at Double-A Arkansas, where he ranks first in the Texas League in wins (12), second in ERA (3.06) and third in strikeouts (100). Also in his corner? He’s lined up to pitch again on Tuesday, and the Angels won’t need a fifth starter until Wednesday, so if they decide to go with him, he’d simply get an extra day of rest. As you may know by now, as much as I highlight prospects, I tend to be cautious when it comes to recommending fantasy owners grab a guy who’s skipping Triple-A. But in this case, Richards may not have many other opportunities if he does get the call — given his workload, he’s not likely to pitch more than 20-30 more innings the rest of this year. It would have to be a very deep AL-only league, and I would have to be desperate for pitching, but the matchup is against the White Sox, who were just dominated by Ivan Nova, another big righty-hander last night. Keep tabs to see which direction the team goes here.

ETA: If not next week, then he may get a brief shot come September.


If you have any suggestions for minor leaguers that you would like to see tracked, discussed and evaluated in Mining the Minors, feel free to post suggestions in the comments section. I’ll do my best to get to as many as I can.