Domonic Brown, Mike Minor, Rubby De La Rosa: Mining the Minors

As May comes to an end, so mitigates some of the financial incentive for teams to keep their prospects in the minor leagues (i.e. Super Two status), which means youngins should start popping up all over big-league rosters once the calendar hits June. Get ready to get busy, my little waiver wire watchers.

Similar to the other version of this column, which drops on Fridays, the Thursday edition offers a quick take on players who recently made their MLB debuts or were recalled, from lesser-known farmhands and veteran minor leaguers to top-end prospects — all with a nod to their relevance and impact for fantasy. 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 (or return, if already sent down) during this season.

Players listed in order of 2011 fantasy impact.

MIXED LEAGUE RELEVANT
_________________________

Domonic Brown, Phillies OF
Minor-League statistics: .350 BA; 1.031 OPS; 4 HRs; 14 RBIs; 12:9 K:BB over 60 ABs
Talent Rating: 9 (out of 10)
Cling Factor: 9 (out of 10)
You’re familiar with Brown, no doubt. The 23-year-old is an outfielder with true five-tool talent who is still refining some of his skills, which he’s ready to do at the big-league level. You’ll recall he entered spring training with a chance to make the Phillies out of camp, possibly as the starting right fielder, until he broke the hamate bone in his right hand. Well, the 2006 draftee recovered on time and looks to be back on track, as he recorded a hit in all 11 games at Triple-A before being recalled when Shane Victorino (hamstring) hit the DL.

Right now, there are two questions with Brown. The first is: Will he be able to hit for power, given the nature of a recent injury that is known for sapping that aspect of a hitter’s game after his return? Well, Brown did hit 4 homers in his 60 minor-league at-bats, so he seems to at least be showing that he’s capable of driving the ball. Still, Brown isn’t a masher by any stretch — before his 20-homer breakout across Double- and Triple-A in 2010, his career high was 14 — so while he could reach double-digits in that department, don’t expect it.

The bigger question surrounding Brown for fantasy purposes is: Will he get regular PT? Mr. Sarris addressed this matter last week, and for what it’s worth, the Phils have been sending out some mixed signals, but the most likely scenario has the lefty-swinging Brown in a platoon of sorts with Ben Francisco, playing versus right-handers while sitting more against lefties. (FYI: Brown hasn’t had many struggles against southpaws in the minors.)

As for fantasy, well, Brown didn’t impress in his MLB debut last year — .210 with 25 Ks in 62 ABs — but those numbers should be thrown out because the Phillies used him in a marginal role, preventing Brown from getting any sort of momentum or regularity. While he’s certainly worth rostering in most leagues, he’s got enough competition for at-bats to put a ceiling on what he could do this season. So even in 12- to 14-team leagues, Brown’s likely a reserve outfielder that owners can use when the Phils face a right-hander. There’s upside for more, but immediate 2011 impact is likely to be limited.

Mike Minor, Braves SP
Minor-League statistics: 2-2 W-L; 2.56 ERA; 1.16 WHIP; 54:14 K:BB over 52 2/3 IPs
Talent Rating: 8
Cling Factor: 9
Minor is one of the more polished pitching prospects in baseball despite being just 23 and only two years removed from going No. 7 overall in the draft. He’s displayed solid control (2.9 BB/9) and better-than-expected strikeout production (10.4 K/9) in his 33 minor-league starts, and in all fairness to fellow elite prospect Julio Teheran, Minor is clearly the better option to hold down the Braves’ fifth starter spot while Brandon Beachy is out. (Teheran, who’s only 20 and still raw, had received two spot starts earlier this month, but the primary, if only, reason he got the call over Minor was to keep the two on their regular schedules.) Minor impressed enough in his start on Wednesday vs. the Pirates (5 2/3 IPs, 1 ER, 7 hits, 5:2 K:BB) that the Braves said he’ll likely stick in the rotation for now.

Once Beachy (oblique) returns, however, Minor’s role with the big-league club will be up in the air again, but there’s a good chance he’ll wind up making around 10 starts with the Braves over the course of the season to help cover for injuries or other factors. And he’s also a candidate to pitch out of the bullpen down the stretch in August and September — much like he and Beachy did at the end of 2010 — if Atlanta wants all arms on deck for a playoff run.

As for the here and now, the left-handed Minor will be a good source of strikeouts, so he’s a must-add in 14-teamers and NL-only play, and he’ll be a useable streaming option in shallower leagues. Beachy is due back in early- to mid-June, barring any setbacks, so grab Minor — whose next two starts will be versus the Padres and either at the Mets or at the Marlins, depending on how Atlanta arranges two off days in early June — while he’s got a rotation job.

Rubby De La Rosa, Dodgers RP
Minor-League statistics: 2-2 W-L; 2.93 ERA; 1.23 WHIP; 52:19 K:BB in 40 IPs
Talent Rating: 8
Cling Factor: 7
Boy, the Dodgers bullpen is a mess, huh? So much so that they felt the need to bring up a 22-year-old starting pitcher from Double-A. But the move isn’t unwarranted by any means. De La Rosa, a Dominican signed in 2007, was the Dodgers’ minor league pitcher of the year in 2010, when he went 7-2 with a 2.37 ERA and 1.13 WHIP across two levels.

Also? Dude throws hard. He sits mid- to high-90s as a starter and should have no problem touching 100 mph — something he’s done as a starter — in his relief role for LA. Because he was primarily a starting pitching in the minors, De La Rosa also possesses a workable change and slider, both of which are improving. So he’s got weapons to attack big leaguers.

At this point, he’s only actionable for 10- or 12-team mixed leaguers who are absolutely desperate to gamble on a guy who may snag a few saves (which is a possibility, as Mr. Axisa mentioned Wednesday). Best case scenario is probably along the lines of what Eduardo Sanchez has pulled off for the Cardinals, notching a few saves and lots of strikeouts but not maintaining the closer’s job. Otherwise, he’s worth an NL-only add to see how things shake out in what has been one of baseball’s worst bullpens.

AL-/NL-ONLY RELEVANT
____________________

Josh Outman, A’s SP
Talent Rating: 6
Cling Factor: 8
When the A’s lost starters Brandon McCarthy and Tyson Ross to the DL on the same day, Outman became a logical add to help fill the rotation out, man. (Ba-dum-cha!) The 26-year-old lefty has had some big-league success in limited time (3.60 ERA in 100 IPs) before losing all of 2010 to TJ surgery, and he was solid in his first start back. Just be wary of his icky 27 BBs in 37 2/3 Triple-A innings before his recall. An add for AL-only, and a Watch List guy for 14-teamers.

Charlie Furbush, Tigers SP/RP
Talent Rating: 7
Cling Factor: 7
We covered him in last month’s Mining the Minors column. But there are two things to add: 1) Furbush is going to pitch out of the bullpen for now, which hinders his fantasy value a bit; and 2) the Tigers have already announced they will recall fellow left-hander Andrew Oliver to start on Saturday in place of Phil Coke, who just hit the DL with a bone bruise in his foot. Of the two, Oliver is the add, but Furbush bears watching.

Joey Devine, A’s RP
Talent Rating: 7
Cling Factor: 7
A sleeper closer option a few years ago, Devine was derailed in 2009 and 2010 while recovering from TJ surgery. Judging by his eye-catching 17:1 K:BB in 12 1/3 Triple-A innings — and no earned runs — the former Braves’ first-rounder still has good stuff. Alas, the A’s bullpen is rather deep, and will get even deeper when Andrew Bailey eventually gets back, so only target Devine in AL-only leagues where you need to fill an RP slot with some strikeout potential. Even holds will be tough to come by for Devine.

Jordan Schafer, Braves OF
Talent Rating: 5
Cling Factor: 6
Hey, remember this guy? Things sort of fell apart — fast — after that debut. But Schafer’s probably the Braves’ best option in center while Nate McLouth is on the DL. The now-24-year-old is no longer the dynamic top prospect he once was, as indicated by his .524 OPS a year ago and his .633 this year. But his defensive skills could help him stick for a bit even once McLouth returns. Put him on your Watch List in deep NL-onlies. Mr. Podhorzer has a more in-depth look.

Matt Daley, Rockies RP
Talent Rating: 6
Cling Factor: 7
More a shout out to a good guy who’s worked hard to get back to the bigs — and who, in the interest of full disclosure, I grew up with — than a fantasy recommendation, the 28-year-old righty won’t hurt you as a bullpen filler in NL-only play, as he’s managed respectable stats in his 77 MLB innings: 4.19 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 8.8 K/9.

Blake Tekotte, Padres OF
Talent Rating: 7
Cling Factor: 4
When the Padres demoted that Sarris guy’s most loved player, they decided to reach down to Double-A and give this 24-year-old lefty-hitting centerfielder a shot. As a third-rounder in 2008, Tekotte has some power/speed upside — he put up 18 HRs and 28 SBs across Hi-A and Double-A last year — but he won’t get many at-bats, so there’s not really any impact this year, until September.

Wilkin Ramirez, Braves OF
Talent Rating: 5
Cling Factor: 4
The 25-year-old Dominican had a cup of java with the Tigers in 2009, and he’s always had intriguing raw skills that have led to single-season bests of 23 HRs (2010) and 34 SBs (2007). He’ll get at least a little run while Atlanta’s outfield remains a mess, but his 30.6% K rate will prevent any real impact.

Adam Wilk, Tigers RP
Talent Rating: 6
Cling Factor: 4
Likely to be sent down Saturday when the Tigers recall Oliver, but even if the 23-year-old lefty makes it back up later in the season, his profile — a finesse lefty who gets by on excellent control (1.1 BB/9) and a great changeup but with minimal strikeouts (6.6 K/9) — doesn’t scream “own me” this year.

***

When it comes to monitoring players for this column, I’ll handle the work, but if you want quick fantasy analysis of another recent recall, 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

newest oldest most voted
HRB
Guest
HRB

Perhaps you did a column on this I did not see, but Danny Duffy? Mixed league add, AL-only?