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
Prospect Call Ups
When i wrote about Phillies young starter Aaron Nola in yesterday's Roundup, I mentioned that the Phillies have two really good young starters in their rotation, Nola and Vincent Velasquez. I am not sure how I forgot about Jerad Eickhoff, as I own him in an NL keeper league. Last night, Eickhoff showed that he might be the best of the Phillies young starters, as he shut out the Padres, who isn't these days, on 4 hits, no walks and 9 strikeouts in the Phillies 2-1 win. Here is a look at Eickhoff's performance over his last ten starts, courtesy of Kevin Cooney from the Bucks County Courier Times:
Eickhoff in 10 starts: 63 IP, 49H, 15 BB, 61 Ks, 2.42 ERA, 1.02 WHIP. 18 straight scoreless at CBP. 24 of 27 scoreless innings at CBP— Kevin Cooney (@KevinCooney) April 14, 2016
Here is more from Cooney:
Phils notes tonight had this stat: Starters with 2.75 ERA and 1.10 WHIP since 8/21/15:Arrieta, Kershaw, Happ, Strasburg, Hernandez, Estrada, Lester, Eickhoff, Syndergaard
— Kevin Cooney (@KevinCooney) April 14, 2016
If Eickhoff can continue pitching like this against better lineups than the Padres, he could be a top 30 starter by the end of the season. He is owned in just 7.3% of ESPN leagues at the moment, so he is currently being undervalued by the fantasy community.
Rockies shortstop Trevor Story has been the biggest surprise for fantasy owners in 2016, and last night he went 3-4 with 2 triples, 3 runs scored and an RBI in the Rockies 10-6 win over the Giants. The triples easily would have been home runs had the Rockies not increased the height of the walls in center field and right field before the season started. His first triple hit the top of the center field wall and the second triple was a few feet from reaching the stands in right-center field.
ESPN's Dan Szymborski wrote this about Story's surprising start yesterday:
So it is with young Trevor Story. You might be saying "C'mon, Dan, he hit it a lot of homers this week, you can't honestly think it considerably changes his outlook," to which I would respond: He sure can. When I present projections, one of the things I try to emphasize is just how uncertain the future is.
Story's projection was based on a lot of data about his career, but there's always a lot we don't know about a player's development. My ZiPS projections thought he'd hit 18 home runs if he played 124 games for the Rockies, but it really wasn't sure. His underlying ability might actually be 12 home runs or 15 home runs or 22 home runs or 25 home runs or 30 home runs. We don't actually know, and we never even get to find out the "correct" answer because even seasonal stats are only rough tools for capturing a player's underlying ability over a slice of time. That he has hit seven homers in seven games doesn't mean he's a star, but it does mean that it's more likely that his homer-hitting ability has been underrated by our very educated guesses. With the new data in the mix, a week of games is enough for ZiPS to put him right around 30 homers for the season.
I bolded the last sentence as Story has been written about quite a bit on these pages, and elsewhere, in the first two weeks of the season, but he has shown he can hit for power to all fields, which shows the power can be sustainable. He just needs to make some adjustments at the plate to cut down the strikeouts.
Story's teammate Nolan Arenado is coming off a breakout season of his own, and last night he had a huge night at the plate. Arenado went 4-5 with 2 home runs, a double, 2 runs scored and 7 RBI in the Rockies win over the Giants. On the season, Arenado is now hitting .313-.371-.750 with 4 home runs and 12 RBI. I said in the preseason that I don't think he can hit 40 home runs again in 2016, but he is doing his best to make me look bad at the moment.
When preparing for drafts, I usually try to find hitters and pitchers who could outperform their draft rankings, sleepers if you will. One of the pitchers I targeted in drafts this year, and was not successful in drafting, was Marlins starter Adam Conley. Yesterday afternoon, Conley dominated the Mets lineup, shutting them out on 4 hits, a walk and 9 strikeouts in 6 innings in the Marlins 2-1 loss. Conley was knocked around in a rain-shortened first start, but I think we will see more of these types of performances from Conley going forward. He is owned in just 8% of ESPN leagues at the moment, so grab him if you need a starter who can strike out batters.
The Athletics lineup doesn't have too many hitters that fantasy owners want to target, but shortstop Marcus Semien is one you should take a look at if he is sitting on your league waiver wire. Semien is coming off a season where he hit 15 home runs and stole 11 bases, and there were reasons to believe that there is more power to come in 2016, as he had a two month slump last season when he was focusing on improving his defense at shortstop. Once the fielding tutorial was completed, Semien went on to rake, and he is doing more of the same to start the season. Semein, hitting ninth in the A's lineup, went 1-2 with a home run and a walk in the A's 5-1 loss to the Angels yesterday. The home run was Semien's 4th of the season and 3rd in the last two days. It appears Semien is well on his way to eclipsing his 15 home run total from last season.
Brewers outfielder Domingo Santana has lots of tools at the plate, on the base paths and in the field, but that also comes with plenty of swing and miss. That said, he has plenty of value as a fantasy outfielder, and yesterday he went 2-5 with a game winning two run home run off Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal. He has hits in five of his eight starts, and has reached base in seven of those starts, a good sign for the not your typical leadoff hitter. Through the first eight games, Santana is hitting .258-.361-.452 with a home run, 5 runs scored, 6 RBI and a 905 strikeout to walk rate. He has the talent to put up a 20 home run, 15 stolen base season in regular playing time, and is currently available in 72% of ESPN leagues at the moment.
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