A week ago, Friday, I wrote a blog post about grabbing Nolan Arenado immediately, as he would surely be called up to the Rockies soon, and you could reap the benefits. He was called up Saturday, and as such I looked super-duper smart and you should all give me lots of money for my sage fantasy advice.
I am, here this week, recommending another prospect. I do think he'll be called up in due time. I do not think there is much, if any, chance he gets called up tomorrow. As such, odds are good that I will not come out of this blog post looking as smart as I did last week. And now, because I wrote that prelude, even if he does get called up tomorrow, I have negated any cleverness I would have had. Basically, I have now guaranteed I cannot come out of this post looking smart. What an intro, right?
Anyway, Christian Yelich is the name, and baseball is the game! I rhymed!
There are 30 teams in Major League Baseball. I counted them. At the same time, there are only 28 major-league teams in Major League Baseball. The Miami Marlins and the Houston Astros ought to be strong candidates for relegation, as (with Giancarlo Stanton hurt) there are maybe two or three starters on those teams who would start for most other teams. Right now, those are all Astros. The Marlins simply don't have a qualified major leaguer in their starting lineup. Sorry, Placido Polanco and Juan Pierre. Sorry, Greg Dobbs and Rob Brantly. You guys all seem nice enough.
For most teams, that sort of horribleness would mean a lost year with the big club, lots of losses, a lot of prospect eying in the minors, and little wasting of big-league service time. The Marlins have nailed the prospect-eying, the year-losing, the lose-lotsing. Those things will all happen. But holy hell, if Loria, Samson, et al, aren't totally missing the boat on "little wasting of big-league service time."
Jose Fernandez started this season in the big leagues. He's 20, hadn't played above A-ball before this season, and is a pitcher in Major League Baseball right now. The fact that he's been decent so far is great, but immaterial - essentially no other organizations, given the Marlins' situation, would have bothered with Fernandez in the bigs, not when he's a 20-year-old using up service time with the big club while the big club has precious little chance of being anything but the worst team in the National League, if not in all of baseball. Clearly, the Marlins have a different strategy than other teams have, and bully for them. I don't get it, no one else seems to get it, it seems really stupid, but hey, it's there.
At the time, I figured Fernandez was a one-off deal, they decided to give him a shot for no real reason, and they would take their lumps with him and the Polancos and Pierres of the world without wasting service time on their other prospects. Then Stanton got hurt earlier this week and, instead of utilizing some of the organizational guys that I (and we) all expected, the team chose to bring up Marcell Ozuna. While not a super-stud prospect on the level of Fernandez, Ozuna ranked #7 on Keith Law's Marlins organizational ranking in the offseason, is 22, and would seem to be the type of guy a team would want to maintain control of as long as possible. Instead, the Marlins called him up, started his clock, and damn the consequences.
Basically, for whatever reason, the Marlins have decided not to worry about service clocks, have decided that Fernandez and Ozuna will somehow contribute more now to a 45-117 (or whatever) team than they might contribute to a theoretically competitive team in 2019, or will contribute more now to that 45-117 team than they would bring in trade return in 2016 (or whenever). I don't get the rationale, you probably don't get the rationale, but it's the rationale regardless.
And, if they're doing it with these two guys, what's to stop them from doing it with the next guy? It seems now like just a matter of time until Yelich comes up, too.
Yelich was ranked as the Marlins top prospect entering the year. If you were structuring your best possible Marlins outfield, without considering age or contract status, that would probably be Yelich in left, Justin Ruggiano in center and Stanton in right. Maybe you switch Ruggiano and Yelich - the fact is, the Marlins don't have a good center fielder ready for the bigs anywhere in the organization - but regardless, those are probably (and, in Ruggiano's case, depressingly) the three best outfielders with "Miami" in their organizational name.
Yelich has yet to homer in 2013, but otherwise, you can't ask for much more out of him. He led his league in slugging last year, finishing second in batting average and on-base percentage, even as a 20-year-old. He has struggled - a very little - out of the gate in 2013 (even then, he has a .785 OPS in AA, a higher level than he has ever played before), which might be the only reason they called up Ozuna and not Yelich when Stanton went on the DL. Regardless, I would not be remotely surprised to see Yelich come up by the All-Star break, and get a starting gig around the same time.
If you're in a 10-, 12-team mixed league, especially if it's not a keeper league, this is probably meaningless. Odds are against Yelich being super-contributey right away. But he might, and in a keeper league, he's likely to contribute sooner rather than later. The Marlins aren't the Rays, Yelich isn't Wil Myers or Desmond Jennings - they're bringing guys up sooner rather than later, and letting them play.
It might not necessarily be the best real-life strategy, but in fantasy, it means that putting in a claim on Yelich might yield you a guy who is contributing in 2013, rather than 2014 or 2015 as we might have guessed. If you have the roster space in a deep league, Yelich is more than worthy of consideration, if for no other reason than his organization appears to have no idea what it is doing.
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