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Pedro Alvarez and Paul Goldschmidt: Mining the Minors

Posted By Jason Catania On August 4, 2011 @ 11:52 am In Prospects,Sleepers,Stock Watch,Strategy,Waiver Wire | 14 Comments

With lots of ground to cover in the wake of all the call-ups and promotions following the trade deadline, here’s a rapid-fire version of Mining the Minors.

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, specifically 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.

MIXED LEAGUE RELEVANT
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Pedro Alvarez, Pirates
Position: 3B
Age: 24
Talent Rating: 9
Cling Factor: 10

The No. 2 overall pick in 2008, Alvarez was a preseason breakout candidate after hitting 16 homers in half a season as a rookie. But struggles with injury and hitting baseballs (.587 OPS before his mid-May demotion) this season kept him out of the bigs for two months. While recovering his health — and pride — in the minors, Alvarez managed to hit .325/.439/.538 and actually not strike out one-third of the time, showing that there’s hope yet he can be some sort of fantasy factor in 2011. Not an instant add outside of NL leagues, but in 12- or 15-team mixed, Alvarez is primarily a power play you should be eyeing in case he gets hot like he did last September, when he hit .311 (.936 OPS), with 10 doubles and 5 homers.

Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs
Position: 1B
Age: 23
Talent Rating: 8
Cling Factor: 9

Fantasy owners, rejoice! It’s Goldschmidt time. The minor league masher — his 30 HRs still tops the bush leagues despite getting the call this week — is being given a chance to show us what he can do despite never setting foot in a Triple-A batter’s box. That’s necessary development time he needs to make further adjustments, but the D-backs are battling for the playoffs and just traded Brandon Allen, so first base is there for the taking. I’m somewhat skeptical about any immediate success. But then, he did hit one out in just his second game — off Tim Lincecum, no less. Oh, what the hey — go get him in deep mixed leagues.

AL-/NL-ONLY RELEVANT
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J.D. Martinez, Astros
Position: OF
Age: 23
Talent Rating: 7
Cling Factor: 9

The Astros decision to trade off two-thirds of their outfield paved the way for someones in the system to see time in Houston. It’s a little surprising that one of those someones is Martinez, who they pulled up from Double-A, but not only was he having himself another very nice year — .338/.414/.536 at Double-A with 25 doubles, 13 HRs and a 55:42 K:BB — he’s also off to a nice start (.313/.353/.625) through a small sample size of five games, and the path is clear. Just be wary that he’ll struggle at times because he’s probably not ready for the show on a full-time basis just yet.

Dee Gordon, Dodgers
Position: SS
Age: 23
Talent Rating: 7
Cling Factor: 10

After debuting earlier this season (just a .530 OPS but 9 SBs), this Dodgers shortstop of the future will get regular run now that Rafael Furcal is coming soon to a DL near St. Louis rather than L.A. And when I say “regular run” I mean Gordon (156 SBs in his past three seasons) will be running. A lot. If you need help in that category, or if you just need a warm body with potential at short, he’s worth a look.

Collin Cowgill, D-backs
Position: OF
Age: 25
Talent Rating: 7
Cling Factor: 8

Wrote about him here a couple months ago alongside Goldschmidt. What I said then holds true. I think Cowgill won’t hurt you in average, offers a little extra-base hitability and steals some bags. If he can improve on his 4-for-19 start in the majors, he could push defensive whiz/fellow fourth outfielder type Gerardo Parra for PT. But he needs to turn it on soon.

Ivan Nova, Yankees
Position: SP/RP
Age: 24
Talent Rating: 7
Cling Factor: 8

After losing his rotation spot when Phil Hughes returned, Nova returned from Triple-A (where he posted a 3.38 ERA and a nice 18:2 K:BB in 16 IPs) to pitch well in Saturday’s doubleheader to beat the O’s. It’s tricky to gauge his value because the Yankees could go one of three ways with the righty: 1) give him a few more starts as part of a six-man rotation; 2) make him a reliever for the rest of the season to fortify their bullpen; or 3) return him to Triple-A so he can continue to log innings and be ready in case any current starter falters (looking at you, Phil Hughes) or breaks down (that’d be you, Freddy Garcia and/or Bartolo Colon). For now, he’s expected to start against the White Sox later today.

Zach Britton, Orioles
Position: SP
Age: 23
Talent Rating: 8
Cling Factor: 8

Sent down during the All-Star break to keep him on regular work, the left-hander has reclaimed his rotation spot. Careful, though — the early-season success (2.93 through May) has melted into more recent failure (7.94 since June 1), including the absolute disaster against the Yankees — he surrendered 7 hits and 6 ERs while getting just one out — over the weekend. In fact, all it’s taken for him to get his last three outs in the majors is giving up 13 hits and 13 earned runs. He’s on deep AL benches until further notice.

Jimmy Paredes, Astros
Position: INF
Age: 22
Talent Rating: 6
Cling Factor: 8

Set to play a little third base after the Stros sent Chris Johnson and his .286 OBP to the minors, Paredes is more of a second baseman or utility infielder with solid speed (29 SBs) and a little gap power (22 doubles), but his OBP in Triple-A was just .296. He could be a helpful add for swipes and eligibility because, hey, he’s got the job for now.

Tyler Colvin, Cubs
Position: OF
Age: 25
Talent Rating: 6
Cling Factor: 8

In case you still think back fondly on his 20-homer 2010, Colvin is getting yet another chance to put his miserable 2011 in the bigs (.127/.185/.255) behind him now that Kosuke Fukudome is searching for April in Cleveland.

Chris Nelson, Rockies
Position: INF
Age: 25
Talent Rating: 6
Cling Factor: 8

Second base has been an ugly spot for Colorado all year, even after Mark Ellis came over to help solidify things as much as a 34-year-old milquetoast defensive specialist can. Maybe Nelson, a 2004 first-rounder whose .939 OPS at Colorado Springs ain’t too shabby, should finally get an extended chance. For once.

Brad Mills, Blue Jays
Position: SP
Age: 26
Talent Rating: 6
Cling Factor: 7

Mills is a fringe back-of-the-rotation type who relies more on finesse and control (2.4 BB/9 in Triple-A this year) than any “stuff.” His solid minor league K rate (near 8 per since 2009) won’t translate to the bigs, but in the right matchup, he might not kill your ERA or WHIP if you’re in search of a streaming option. And, hey, he actually held up okay against the Rangers over the weekend, with just 6 hits and 2 ERs in 7 IPs (5:2 K:BB).

Yonder Alonso, Reds
Position: OF
Age: 24
Talent Rating: 8
Cling Factor: 6

Watching Alonso in left (on days when Chris Heisey isn’t there) may make Reds fans long for the days of since-traded Jonny Gomes chasing after baseballs hit in his vicinity. But Alonso, a converted (er, blocked) first baseman the Reds chose with their top pick in 2008, has hit all year at Triple-A (.296/.374/.486 with 12 HRs), and the org needs to know if he can hack it at the plate — and more importantly, in the outfield — at the big league level. Heisey’s presence, though, will prevent Alonso from getting anything more than platoon PT.

Kyle Seager, Mariners
Position: INF
Age: 23
Talent Rating: 6
Cling Factor: 7

Been there. Done That. But I still think Seager is better than he showed in his prior call-up, when he managed just 3 hits — in all of 26 plate appearances. And it’s not like current third baseman Adam Kennedy is a key cog in the M’s 2012 plans.

Felipe Lopez, Brewers
Position: INF
Age: 30
Talent Rating: 6
Cling Factor: 7

For some reason, I always used to get Lopez confused with Julio Lugo. (There’s probably an every-Latin-name-sounds-alike joke in there somewhere.) Funny, then, that their careers have taken similar paths from underrated, valuable fantasy shortstops who offer a nice blend of pop and speed…to prototypical mid-season roster fillers who pop up a few times each season for their obligatory still-kicking appearances — this time while Rickie Weeks is out — before speedily returning to irrelevance.

Blake Tekotte, Padres
Position: OF
Age: 24
Talent Rating: 7
Cling Factor: 7

There’s an intriguing player here, if Tekotte can just put everything together. With Ryan Ludwick out of the picture in San Diego, maybe Tekotte can display some of the power (17 HRs) and speed (31 SBs) he’s shown at Double-A, but he probably should be playing every day in Triple-A instead, so he can fight for a job next spring.

Josh Lindblom, Dodgers
Position: RP
Age: 24
Talent Rating: 7
Cling Factor: 7

L.A.’s 2008 second-rounder, Lindblom has now converted to relief full-time. In fact, he’s been closing for Double-A (16 SVs with a 51:14 K:BB in 41 1/3 IPs). While Javy Guerra seems to have locked down (in the loosest sense of the phrase) the Dodgers stopper gig, Lindblom could see an odd save opp and a few holds.

Aaron Cunningham, Padres
Position: OF
Age: 25
Talent Rating: 6
Cling Factor: 6

Once a fairly high-rated ‘spect, Cunningham has pretty much become organizational fodder. But he’s not wholly devoid of talent (.329/.398/.532 in Triple-A), and again the Padres are taking open auditions for Ludwick’s old spot.

Wade LeBlanc, Padres
Position: SP
Age: 26
Talent Rating: 6
Cling Factor: 6

Like they say in baseball: If you’re a pitcher whose left-handed and breathing, you could have a career. Like they say in fantasy baseball: If you’re a pitcher who’s breathing on the mound in Petco, you could be worth a spot start.

Brad Hand, Marlins
Position: SP
Age: 21
Talent Rating: 6
Cling Factor: 8

He’s been up-and-down between the show and the bushes the past two months, and the results have been the same: a 2.36 ERA but a nasty 21:22 K:BB plus 7 HRs in 34 2/3 IPs. I’m not using him even in the deepest of NL leagues. Expect the 6.32 FIP to start rearing it’s ugly head in his actual stat line.

Alejandro De Aza, White Sox
Position: OF
Age: 27
Talent Rating: 5
Cling Factor: 6

Can a guy who hit 9 HRs and stole 22 bases in Triple-A this year be any worse than Alex Rios for the rest of the season? I say no, and I’ve been as big a Rios backer as anyone all year. But that doesn’t mean you want De Aza either.

Jacob Turner, Tigers
Position: SP
Age: 20
Talent Rating: 9
Cling Factor: 4

A legitimate elite, top-end pitching prospect in an org that likes to rush its best arms, Turner made his debut Saturday at 20 years old and looked pretty darn good: 5 1/3 IPs, 3 hits, 2 ERs, 6:3 K:BB. Tigers brass said it was a one-and-done opp before the outing, and true to their word, they send Turner down right afterward. Plus they just brought in Doug Fister to fill out the rotation, but if something happens that gets Turner another spot start or three, he’d be a streaming possibility. Otherwise, we’re looking at next year.

Dan Cortes, Mariners
Position: RP
Age: 24
Talent Rating: 5
Cling Factor: 6

He’s got a nice arm (11.0 K/9 at Triple-A), but control remains an issue (6.6 BB/9), and he’s only here so I could show you just how much he happens to look like his former MTV veejay namesake.

John Ely, Dodgers
Position: SP
Age: 25
Talent Rating: 4
Cling Factor: 6

Remember when folks got all excited after this soft-tossing righty pitched really well for exactly six starts early last season? That was fun. In case you want to fall for that again, Ely will be filling in for TJ surgery undergoer Rubby De La Rosa.

Jason Donald, Indians
Position: INF
Age: 26
Talent Rating: 5
Cling Factor: 4

Forever known as the Unperfecter? At least to me.

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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.


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