With Jamie Garcia hitting the disabled list this past weekend, prospect enthusiasts waited for the announcement that either Michael Wacha or Carlos Martinez would be taking his turn in the rotation. Interestingly enough the Cardinals never got the memo, instead promoting Tyler Lyons to fill the spot. And therein lies a disappointing truth; not every player called up to fill a Major League role is a five-star prospect. But rather than sulking when a team bypasses our favorite prospect for a lesser talent, it's important to evaluate the player in question's fantasy value. So let's take a look at some recent callups and their fantasy prognosis.
Tyler Lyons, St. Louis Cardinals
We'll begin with the inspiration for this article, Tyler Lyons. As stated above, every indication is that the 25-year old lefty will fill Jamie Garcia's rotation spot until he can recover from his shoulder issues. Lyons is more of an organizational arm, not making the Cardinals-top 30 prospect list in either of the past two years. For his Minor League career his ERA is 4.30, and he had a 4.47 ERA in 8 starts in Triple-A in 2013. The one thing he has always done well is limit walks, cutting his BB/9 every season all the way to a miniscule 1.75 this year. The problem is his lack of any above average offerings, with a fastball sitting in the upper 80's and rather mundane secondary pitches. Plus, he likely will be right out of the rotation as soon as either Garcia or Jake Westbrook comes back. I wouldn't add Lyons in anything but a deep NL-only league at this point.
John Gast, St. Louis Cardinals
Did I mention that St. Louis passed on Wacha and Martinez not once, but twice? Well, they did. When Jake Westbrook hit the disabled list with elbow inflammation, it was Gast who took his place. Much like Lyons, the best case scenario for Gast is developing into a fifth starter. He also works in the upper 80's to low 90's with the fastball, mixing in a curveball and changeup that both grade out a tick below average. That means he needs plus to plus-plus control and command to really succeed, but the report on Gast is that his command can desert him from time to time. Still, he had a 1.38 ERA in Memphis this year and has held his own in his first two starts. I would at least add him in NL-only formats and possibly consider him in a good matchup for mixed-leagues.
Burch Smith, San Diego Padres
For a B-List prospect, Burch Smith is being quite well lately around SB Nation, with profiles from Beyond the Box Score's Ryan Potter and our own Brian Creagh. According to Baseball America, Smith was the Padres' 22nd best prospect entering the season, coming off of a year in which he posted a 3.85 ERA in the hitter's haven that is the California League. He started this season in Double-A, compiling a 1.16 ERA with 37 strikeouts in 31.1 innings. Thus far he has made two big league starts, and neither went particularly well with his ERA sitting at 15.63. Yet, he's still compiling strikeouts and I would consider him a matchups option for anyone looking for K's until Clayton Richard gets back. Long-term he is probably more of a reliever since he can't seem to hold his velocity deep into games.
Tom Koehler, Miami Marlins
Yes, Koehler technically is not a recent callup and in fact he made his Major League Debut last season. But it's my list and I want to address Tom Koehler's value. Koehler started the season in Triple-A before being summoned to pitch out of the big league bullpen. Injuries and poor performance (looking at you Wade LeBlanc) gave him a chance to start for the Fish, and he has done well in two starts, allowing just 3 earned runs in 11 innings. Miami's offense will definitely limit his potential for wins, but their ballpark is actually a in the top-5 pitcher's parks in the League according to ESPN's Park Factors and he has the best opportunity to stick in the rotation of all the players we are discussing. I can see him posting an ERA between 4.00-4.25 with 7 K/9 the rest of the way, making him a viable back end fantasy starter in many formats. If you're in one of those formats, go get him before it's too late, and if you're not I still would recommend using him at home.
Tyler Cloyd, Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies strength coming into the season was supposed to be their pitching, but injuries to Jon Lannan and Roy Halladay have forced them to delve into their Minor League ranks. First they selected Jonathan Pettibone, a good long-term prospect who probably deserves a longer write up in the near future, and most recently they called up Cloyd. Cloyd is not a good prospect and actually, he had an ERA over 6.00 in Triple-A before getting the call. I don't think we need any more real analysis, so please folks, just avoid Cloyd in all formats.
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Andrew Ball is a writer for Fake Teams, Fantasy Ninjas, and Beyond the Box Score.
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