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Summer is really the time we see a huge influx of prospects come up and it’s a dangerous time to be a fantasy owner. Top prospect status does not mean they will be an immediate impact player a la Mike Trout or Yasiel Puig. In many cases this year, guys like Jackie Bradley, Aaron Hicks, and Brandon Maurer have underwhelmed. On the other hand, the likes of Jose Fernandez, Nick Franklin, and Shelby Miller are definitely proving they belong.
It’s important not to get caught up in the hype surrounding any top prospect (as well as ignore them because of potential risks like many have done with Jose Fernandez). The sky may be the limit but it doesn’t mean they’ll immediately hit their potential. Keep that in mind as we enter the point in the season where there is seemingly nothing but rookies with “limitless potential”.
Kyle Gibson (6%): I went in-depth on Gibson a few weeks ago when we highlighted him as one of our top sleepers and he’s finally making his Major League debut on Saturday. Gibson was ranked at the 49th top prospect by MLB.com and has looked stellar in Triple-A with seven wins, a 3.01 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and 7.7 K/9. Over his minor league career he owns a 3.54 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and 8 K/9. The one trend we see in his numbers is that he struggles a bit when he first gets promoted but then settles in well the next year. His first season at Triple-A, he posted a 3-8 record with a 4.81 ERA and 1.43 WHIP so he’s definitely progressed. This makes me wonder if he may be a better prospect for 2014 than this year but, as with all top prospects, he’s worth a look.
Koji Uehara (46%): With Andrew Bailey struggling, Koji Uehara is stepping in as the Sox’ fourth closer of the season. Though he only has 15 career saves, he’s looked great out of the pen this year with a 2.10 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, and 12.6 K/9. The inherent problem with Uehara is that he gives up too many homers. His WHIP is always amazing, over 241 IP he owns a 0.91. Instead, he gets burned by the long ball, having already given up four this season and 1.2 HR/9 over his career. Home runs can be closer killers but he’s still worth the pickup as the closer for the (possibly) best team in the AL East.
Raul Ibanez (13%): Ibanez started the season with a .158 BA, two homers, five RBI, and six runs through the month of April. Over 37 games since, he’s put up a .270/.303/.905 line with 15 HR, 37 RBI, and 18 R. Ibanez hit 19 homers last season in 384 at-bats and while I don’t think he’ll sustain his current 17 home run pace he is definitely red hot right now and should be owned in most formats.
Nick Franklin (35%): I had my doubts that the 47th best prospect in baseball would translate to the bigs immediately but he’s looked like a very fantasy relevant middle-infielder. In his first 92 Major League at-bats, Franklin owns a .283/.359/.489 line with four home runs, 13 RBI, 10 R, seven doubles, and three steals. In the minors he showed the ability to be a 20-20 guy but I don’t see him putting up much more than that (over a full season) in either category.
Eric Young Jr. (4%): I discussed Young as a speculative buy last week after the Mets picked him up from the Rockies and he’s off to a nice start in his new home. In five games since joining the third-worst team in baseball, Young 8-for-22 with five runs batted in, three runs scored, and three doubles. He’s coming in with a .257/.305/.369 line on the season but he’ll get the chance to be an everyday leadoff hitter in New York. Last season, he showed promise as he batted .316 with 36 runs, 13 XBH, and 14 steals in 174 at-bats. Citi will allow him to hit for more doubles and triples and leading off will allow him to score more runs, even if it is the Mets offense behind him.
Ike Davis (29%): Speaking of the Mets offense, Ike Davis is stirring in the minors and a call-up as soon as this weekend may be on the table with Lucas Duda hitting the DL. In 42 minor league at-bats, Davis owns a .310/.463/.690 line with four homers, eight runs batted in, and 15 runs. He even has 12 BB/11 K. Even with his lousy production thus far (.161 BA, 5 HR, 16 RBI, 16 R) I still like his fantasy outlook since he turned an equally miserable .167 BA/5 HR season through 49 games into a 30+ home run season in the last 107 games. I discussed his full-season value in a projections piece a few weeks ago.
DJ LeMahieu (5%): When we covered the fantasy impact of the Troy Tulowitzki injury, it seemed the obvious pick-up was Josh Rutledge. Once again, Rutledge has disappointed with a .156 BA in 32 at-bats since being recalled, putting DJ LeMahieu in a spot where he can produce. Over his last 13 starts, LeMahieu owns a .365/.411/.538 line with a homer, five RBI, six runs, six XBH, and five steals. He’s a deep league buy but he’s definitely worth a look.
Jose Fernandez (63%): I try to only look at guys who are unowned in most leagues but Fernandez’ 37% availability baffles me. Yes, he plays on the worst team in baseball, but he’s 4-4 with a 3.05 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and 9.2 K/9 on the season. Over his last four starts he’s 2-1 with a 1.65 ERA, .158 BAA, and 29 K/8 BB. What more does a guy need to do to prove he’s the real deal? If you’re excited about Zack Wheeler, here’s a guy who is already arguably better than Wheeler’s potential on an equally bad team.
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