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
Prospect Call Ups: Sunday
Heading into Sunday's match up between the Red Sox and Blue Jays in the Rogers Centre, one could imagine that there would be plenty of runs scored with Steven Wright and Marco Estrada on the mound. Wright was making his first start of the season, on the road vs the powerful Blue Jays lineup, while Estrada was facing a very good Red Sox lineup. Both starters have had trouble keeping the ball in the yard in the past, so the expectation was that the scoreboard would be active. Yet, this is major league baseball, and on this Sunday afternoon, only three runs were scored, as Estrada shut out the Blue Jays on 5 hits, 2 walks and 8 strikeouts over 7 innings to win his first game of the season.
I was pretty high on Giants first baseman Brandon Belt coming into the season, as he had one of the best hard hit percentages in the game last season, and my thinking was that we could see an increase in his home run output this season. Yesterday, he went 2-3 with a home run, walk and 3 RBI in the Giants 9-6 win over the Dodgers. Belt has looked good at the plate thus far, hitting .292-.433-.542 with a home run, 3 doubles and 4 RBI in 24 at bats.
I drafted Reds first baseman Joey Votto in the second round of my biggest money league, a 5 x 5 NL only redraft league, with no keepers with the thought that he would provide a .300+ batting average with 20+ home runs, and 80-90 runs scored and RBI. Through the first week of the season, Votto has struggled at the plate, hitting just .174-.269-.174 with no extra base hits and a 6-3 strikeout to walk rate in 26 plate appearances. I am sure we will all look back on his first week as just an early season slump. Right?
Well, if anyone had any questions about Manny Machado's breakout last season, he has quieted his critics in the first week of the season. Yesterday, he went 4-4 with a home run, 2 runs scored and 2 RBI in the Orioles 5-3 win over the Rays. Machado has hits in each of the Orioles five games this season, and is hitting .429 with 3 home runs, 5 runs scored and 4 RBI, yet he has not attempted a stolen base to date.
Rangers outfielder Nomar Mazara made his major league debut yesterday, after he was called up to replace outfielder Shin-Soo Choo who landed on the disabled list with a grade 2 calf strain and will miss the next 4-6 weeks. Mazara had no problem with Angels pitching, as he went 3-4 with a home run, accounting for the Rangers lone run of the game. Assuming he doesn't fall on his face, he will see regular playing time in right field for the Rangers.
I know it's a really small sample size, and the season just started, but is it time to start worrying about Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright. Wainwright called into SiriusXMFantasy studios during one of the expert league drafts in the preseason to complain about how low he was drafted. I am wondering if he would like to take back what he said on the radio that evening. Yesterday, he was hit around by the Braves, giving up 5 runs on 6 hits, 5 walks while striking out just 2 batters over 5 innings. Hitters are teeing him up to the tune of a .293 batting average against, and he owns a 5-8 strikeout to walk rate in his 11 innings of work so far. Wainwright is known for his impeccable command, regularly putting up a K//BB ratio of 3.00 or better going back to 2009. Wainwright is one to watch over his next few starts.
Rockies shortstop Trevor Story has been the biggest surprise in baseball in this first week of the season, and yesterday he hit yet another home run in the Rockies 6-3 win over the Padres. Story went 1-3 with a home run, a walk and a strikeout, and is now hitting .333 with 7 home runs and 12 RBI in his first six games of the season. To pump the brakes a bit, when Story isn't hitting home runs, he is striking out, as he has struck out 8 times in his 28 plate appearances so far, good for a 29% strikeout rate. He won't keep hitting home runs at this pace, so I would recommend letting fellow league owners know that he is available in your league to see what kind of return you can get. I have done the same in one of my leagues, but have yet to get an offer.
If you are looking for more fantasy baseball coverage, make sure you check out Fantasy Rundown, where you can find links to all of the best fantasy coverage on the internet.