Our minor league team of writers led by Jason Hunt have completed their Minor League Previews for every league in Triple A, Double A, High A and Low A, and below are links to each.
Minor League Previews
Prospect Call Ups
Rays starter Drew Smyly is coming off a season where he made just 12 starts, going 5-2 with a low 3.00 ERA and striking out more than ten batters per nine innings, so one would think he could be on an inning limit of some sorts this season. Yesterday, he dominated the Red Sox, giving up just one hit, walking two and striking out 11 in 8 shutout innings but did not factor in the decision, as the Rays won in 10 innings. Through his first three starts this season, Smyly is 0-2 with a 2.91 ERA, A 0.65 WHIP and a 27-4 strikeout to walk rate in 21.1 innings. He has pitched 6.2 or more innings in each of his three starts thus far, and has given up just 10 hits in the three starts. Smyly could be a top 30 starter, or better, the rest of the season if he continues to pitch like this.
I wrote about Marlins starter Adam Conley as a dominating under the radar starting pitcher that fantasy owners should target late in drafts. Through the first few weeks of the season, Conley is making that pick look very good. Last night, Conley dominated the Nationals for the first six innings, but the Nationals got to him in the seventh inning with Jayson Werth and Wilson Ramos homering off of him. Conley ended up giving up 4 runs on 8 hits, a walk and 8 strikeouts in 6.2 innings in the Marlins 7-0 loss. Conley is now 0-1 with a 4.61 ERA, 1.32 WHIP and a 19-4 strikeout to walk rate in 13.2 innings. If you are looking for a strikeout pitcher, Conley is owned in just 13% of leagues right now.
The Marlins lineup was no match for Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg, who has started the season looking like an ace starter once again. He had his ups and downs last season, but he has been nothing short of dominating in his first three starts of the season. Last night, he shut out the Marlins on 3 hits, 2 walks and 10 strikeouts over 8 innings to earn the win. He is now 3-0 with a 1.25 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and a 21-7 strikeout to walk rate over 21.2 innings. He has pitched six or more innings in each of his three starts this season, and has yet to give up more than two runs in any start. He could be a Cy Young candidate if he can pitch like this on a more consistent basis this season.
The Mets, with too many starting pitchers on their roster, traded Jon Niese to the Pirates for second baseman Neil Walker in the offseason, and thus far the trade has worked out for both teams. Walker had a big night at the plate last night, going 2-5 with 2 solo home runs in the Mets 11-0 shutout of the Phillies. Walker is now hitting .245-.245-.585 with 6 home runs, 8 runs scored and 11 RBI thus far, but has yet to take a walk. Walker will be a free agent at the end of the season, and if he keeps hitting like this, the Mets could re-sign him in the offseason.
I am not sure how he is doing it because he has been so bad the last few seasons, but White Sox starter Mat Latos has been a huge surprise for fantasy owners this season. Last night, he shut out the Angels on 2 hits, 3 walks and 5 strikeouts in 6.1 innings in the White Sox 5-0 win. Latos is now 3-0 with a 0.49 ERA, 0.60 WHIP and a 11-5 strikeout to walk rate in 18.1 innings. Latos barely throws 90 mph, and there is no real change in his pitch mix according to FanGraphs, so if you want to jump aboard his hot streak, he is available in more than 60% of leagues right now. I am just not sure a starter who doesn't strike out six batters per nine innings can continue this level of success going forward.
After Tony CIngrani struck out Carlos Gonzalez to start the ninth inning of a 4-1 lead, Reds closer Joe Hoover came in and served up a 2 run home run to Mark Reynolds but was able to close out the Reds win last night. Hoover didn't get the save and after the game manager Bryan Price would not commit to using Hoover to close games going forward, saying he would "sleep on it". Hoover has given up nine earned runs on 8 hits, including 3 home runs, 4 walks and 4 strikeouts in his 5.1 innings or work thus far. I doubt we see Hoover getting the next save opportunity in Cincinnati, but with Jumbo Diaz sent down to the minors, there is no slam dunk choice to close games. Tony Cingrani has to be the favorite to close, but he is left handed, spa right handed reliever Caleb Cotham could be the next in line. But don't sleep on failed started Michael Lorenzen to work out of the bullpen when he returns from the disabled list.
Brewers second baseman Scooter Gennett wasn't ranked very high in our second base rankings in the offseason, and I doubt he was ranked high anywhere else, but he is serving notice that he can be a productive fantasy hitter in 2016. Yesterday, he went 2-5 with 2 runs scored and an RBI in the Brewers 6-5 win over the Twins. Gennett is now hitting .283-.400-.583 with 3 home runs, 11 runs scored, 4 RBI and an excellent 10-9 strikeout to walk rate in his first 55 plate appearances this season. He is hitting for more power this season, and his hard hit rate has jumped from 22% in 2015 to 39% this season. He is taking more walks as well. If you need a middle infielder who will hit for a decent average and score some runs, Gennett is available in 75% of leagues right now.
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