Our minor league team of writers led by Jason Hunt are taking a look at where some of the top prospects in the game are scheduled to start the 2016 season. Below are links to the leagues they have covered to date:
Minor League Previews
Minor League Preview: Eastern League
Minor League Preview: Pacific Coast League
Minor League Preview: International League
Minor League Preview: Southern League
Minor League Preview: Texas League
Moving on Up: Robert Stephenson
One Call Away: 30 Starting pitching prospects who could get the call
Rangers Nomar Mazara to be called up?
Injuries are beginning to mount across the league, and the Rangers are dealing with a few injuries of their own, as catcher Robinson Chorinos is expected to miss a month with a fractured forearm, and outfielder Shin-Soo Choo is dealing with a nagging calf injury which could land him on the disabled list as well. Josh Hamilton started the season on the DL, so the Rangers are looking for lineup help, but I have to say I was a little surprised last night when I learned that they had pulled outfielder Nomar Mazara from his game in Double A last night.
I assume if Choo lands on the disabled list, Mazara will get called up and play right field every day. We all know how good Mazara is, as he was ranked at #8 in the Fake Teams Top 100 Fantasy Prospect list earlier this offseason. Domenic Lanza wrote a profile on Mazara during Outfielder Week in the offseason and you can find it in the link below:
Nomar Mazara and the Curse of the High Floor
Twins call up Max Kepler
Speaking of injuries, Twin infielder/outfielder Danny Santana was placed on the disabled list with a strained hamstring. To replace him on their roster, the Twins have called up outfielder Max Kepler. The Twins are off to an 0-5 start to the season, the worst in team history, and the young team needs a spark:
Fact that Max Kepler is already on the 40-man and can handle all 3 outfield spots no doubt was the deciding factor. Team needs a jolt.— Mike Berardino (@MikeBerardino) April 10, 2016
Kepler can play all three outfield positions, so, while he may not play everyday, he will back up outfielders Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton and Eddie Rosario. If he can start off hot, he could earn regular playing time. Kepler should be picked up in the deepest of mixed league and in AL only leagues, if not already owned.
Some rookies are becoming fantasy relevant in the early going of the 2016 season. Trevor Story and his six home runs have been the most surprising performance in the first week of the season. But, Astros first baseman Tyler White has started the season hot as well. Yesterday, he went 1-2 with a walk, home run and 2 RBI in the Astros 6-4 win over the Brewers. White is now hitting .667 with 3 home runs and 9 RBI in his first 15 at bats. He is not know for his power, but has excellent plate discipline so he should continue to see regular at bats at first base. Once first base prospect A.J. Reed is called up, he could move into the DH role in the solid Astros lineup.
That said, I wouldn't be dropping a known commodity to pick up White in mixed leagues right now. Unless your first baseman is John Jaso or Ryan Howard, I would not make a move to pick up White.
The Phillies got a boatload of pitchers when they traded closer Ken Giles to the Astros this offseason. The best of the young pitchers they received was Vincent Velasquez, who had a cup of coffee with the Astros last season. In spring training, there was question whether he would start the season in the Triple A or in the Phillies rotation. His spring performance forced the Phillies hands, and he made his first National League start last night vs the Mets at Citi Field. His performance vs the Mets was nothing short of outstanding, as he dominated the Mets lineup, shutting them out on 3 hits, 3 walks and 9 strikeouts over 6 innings of work in the Phillies 1-0 win. Velasquez is owned in just 31% of ESPN leagues at the moment, so if you are in need of a starting pitcher, I would highly recommend grabbing him.
The Padres opened the season at home with three games vs the Dodgers. After getting swept and not scoring a run in the three games, a road trip to Coors Field is just what the doctor ordered as they have scored 29 runs over the first two games of their series vs the Rockies. One Padres hitter who just loves playing in Colorado is outfielder Matt Kemp. Last night, he went 3-5 with 2 home runs and 6 RBI, and now has 3 home runs and 10 RBI in his last two games. I liked Kemp coming into the season, and assuming he can stay healthy all season, he could put up a 25-30 home run season with 90 RBI.
Rich Hill is one of the best stories of perseverance to make something of a once promising baseball career. Hill was once a very promising starter way back in 2007, but numerous injuries led him on a road where he jumped from team to team before landing back with the Red Sox last season. He pitched well enough to land a one year deal with the Athletics this offseason, and after a rough spring training and first start of the season, he showed us all why the A's had the confidence to sign him. Last night, he dominated the Mariners, giving up just one run on 5 hits, a walk and striking out 10 in the A's 6-1 win. He induced 5 ground ball outs and 16 swinging strikes in winning his first game of the season. He owns a 13-2 strikeout to walk rate in 8.2 innings and is owned in under 6% of ESPN leagues at the moment, so if you need a starter, grab him.
The Diamondbacks paid starter Zack Greinke over $200 million to help solidify their rotation and provide them with an ace at the top of their rotation. He has been anything but an ace in his first two starts at Chase Field. In his first start of the season, he gave up 7 runs, including 3 home runs, on 9 hits in 4 innings vs the Rockies, and last night, he struggled early, giving up 4 runs on 7 hits, 3 walks while striking out 8 in his 6 innings of work in the Diamondbacks 4-2 loss to the Cubs. He should turn things around soon, and if you have an owner in your league ready to deal him, I would pay market value for him as he should return to the Greinke we drafted on draft day soon enough.
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