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
Well, it seems like every day I am writing about a young Phillies starter that you should pick up off of your league waiver wire. Yesterday, Phillies starter Vincent Velasquez thoroughly dominated the Padres, tossing a complete game shutout, giving up just 3 hits, no walks and striking out 16. Velasquez induced 27 swinging strikes yesterday, and 13 of his 16 strikeouts ended with his fastball. Here's more on Velasquez's from Paul Sporer:
Pitchers w/27+ swinging strikes in a gm since '14: Kershaw 35, Kershaw, Carrasco, Stras 30; Sale 29; Max 2x, Kluber, Hamels, & VV today w/27— Paul Sporer (@sporer) April 14, 2016
I had some conversations with people on Twitter yesterday about Velasquez's performance and some of the responses were "well, it's just the Padres." To that I respond, let me know how many 16 strikeout performances we see at the end of the season. I bet you can count them on one hand. He struck out nine Mets hitters in his first start, so this kid appears to be the real deal.
Velasquez is now 2-0 on the young season, has yet to allow a run, a 0.60 WHIP and a 25-3 strikeout to walk rate in 15 innings. He is still available in 35% of ESPN leagues at the moment, so the window to pick him up is closing. That said, the Phillies rebuild appears to be going swimmingly with the performances of young starters Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff and Velasquez. With Jake Thompson and Mark Appel in Triple A, the Phillies rotation of the future could be together later this season.
I selected Tigers third baseman as my third baseman to target this season, as I felt that he could build on his performance in the second half of last season, and he still owns the hitting tool to hit for a high average. Yesterday, Castellanos went 3-4 with a home run, double, 2 runs scored and 4 RBI in the Tigers 7-4 win over the Pirates. The performance improved his slash line to .333-.323-.600 with 2 home runs, 6 runs scored and 7 RBI. He has yet to take a walk at this point, and that might be an issue for Castellanos going forward, so he will have to rely on his hit tool to carry him. Hopefully the power he has shown early in the season can continue going forward.
The Tigers invested over $100 million in starter Jordan Zimmermann this offseason, and he has made their front office look good in his first two starts. Yesterday, Zimmermann shut out the Pirates on 6 hits, 2 walks and 4 strikeouts over 6 innings to earn his second win of the season. He has yet to give up a run thus far, but his 7-5 strikeout to walk rate indicates that there are tougher times ahead of Zimmermann.
Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia had one of his most dominating starts of his career yesterday, as he threw a complete game shutout vs the Brewers, giving up just one hit, one walk, while striking out 13 and inducing 13 ground ball outs in the Cardinals 7-0 win. The only hit off Garcia came from Brewers leadoff hitter Domingo Santana. Garcia got ahead of Brewers hitters all day, throwing first pitch strikes to 21 of the 29 hitters he faced. The win was his first of the season, and he owns a 19-4 strikeout to walk rate over his first 15 innings thus far.
Coming into the season, I felt that Indians starter Danny Salazar was on the verge of a breakout season, and he is looking pretty dominant in his first two starts of the season. Yesterday, he shutout the Rays on 3 hits, 3 walks and 9 strikeouts over 6 innings in the Indians 6-0 win. He is now 2-0 with a 0.79 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and a 16-6 strikeout to walk rate in 11.1 innings.
Evan Drellich from the Boston Herald writes this morning that the Red Sox could consider a position change for catcher Blake Swihart. A position change will all but kill any fantasy value that Swihart possesses if he isn't catcher eligible in 2017. The Red Sox will activate catcher Christian Vasquez off the disabled list today, so there is the possibility that Swihart is sent down to Triple A to 1. work on his catcher skills, or 2. learn a new position.
Coming into the season, Rays starter Chris Archer was ranked among the top 25 starters in the game, and for good reason. He was coming off a season where he won 12 games with a 3.23 ERA and struck out more than ten batters per nine. This season has not been so dominant for Archer, and yesterday he lasted just 5.1 innings vs the Indians, giving up 3 runs, 2 of which were earned, on 7 hits, 3 walks and 6 strikeouts in the Rays shutout loss. The loss moved his record to 0-3 with a 5.87 ERA, 1.96 WHIP and a 23-8 strikeout to walk rate in 15.1 innings in his three starts. He has faced a few tough lineups thus far, but one would think he would have his way vs the Indians lineup on Thursday.
Royals starter Ian Kennedy did not get much love from the fantasy community this offseason, but he is pitching very well to start the 2016 season. Last night, he had a no hitter going for six innings before Astros second baseman Jose Altuve took him deep to break it up. Kennedy limited the Astros to that lone run, on 2 hits, 2 walks and 7 strikeouts in 7 innings, moving his record to 2-0 with a 0.66 ERA, 0.73 WHIP and a 14-3 strikeout to walk rate in 13.2 innings. Kennedy should benefit from the excellent Royals defense this season, and could easily outperform his draft day ranking. He is available in 63% of ESPN leagues at the moment, so if you are in need of a starter, grab him while he is pitching well.
The Rockies placed outfielder Charlie Blackmon on the disabled list with turf toe yesterday, and there is no timeline for his return. In the meantime, the Rockies will play offseason acquisition Gerardo Parra in center field with Ben Paulson and Brandon Barnes manning left field. Rockies outfield prospect David Dahl is hitting for a ton of power in the first two weeks of the season, as he hit his 5th home run of the season yesterday. Those panning for his call up will have to pump the brakes a bit, as the Rockies are in a rebuild and Dahl needs to show that he can stay healthy for a full season. He could see a late season call up, and he could be a starter in the Rockies outfield to start the 2017 season.
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