Roto Arcade: Youth is Served

Roto Arcade: Youth is Served
By Andy Behrens
May 25, 2007

Andy Behrens
Yahoo Sports
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    Go to the "Players" tab in your league, then sort by "Waivers Only" status. You'll find some very interesting names in there – unexpected names. A few intriguing prospects were recently added to the player pool, though only one of them has actually been called up.

    Please note that Yahoo! fantasy writers have the same relationship to the player universe that meteorologists have to weather phenomena. We discuss it and make predictions; we do not control it. There are greater, unmanageable forces shaping the player pool. In fact, I've read speculation that anthropogenic global warming has caused the Yahoo! fantasy baseball player universe to expand. There's clearly a correlation, but is there proof of causality? No. More studies are needed.

    Anyway, please don't complain to me about who's in or who's out. I can't manipulate the list of available players. I'm just thrilled that several of the most exciting prospects in the high minors have been added to the Yahoo! game. That's a good thing. Now let's meet them …

    Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers, 3B
    Two things you absolutely need to know:

    1) Braun is a terrific hitter, the Brewers just promoted him to the major league roster, and he's worth your waiver priority in mixed leagues.

    2) There's a Kansas City relief pitcher named Ryan Z. Braun, and you don't want to mistakenly add him.

    Milwaukee's Braun was not called up to simply be another Brewers part-timer (see Hart, Corey). Braun is going to play. "It would make sense right now," GM Doug Melvin told the Brewers' website. "I talked with Ned (Yost) about it this afternoon." Let's all hope that Ned is on board. Braun was hitting .354/.426/.726 with 10 HR and four steals for Triple-A Nashville. Last year he hit .303/.367/.589 with 15 HR in 231 Double-A at bats, and he was a perfect 12/12 on stolen base attempts. As a hitter, he's ready. As a defensive third baseman … um … did I mention that he's a great hitter? It was Braun's defense that kept him in the minors to begin the season. He had a terrific spring at the plate, though.

    Yovani Gallardo, Milwaukee Brewers, SP
    Yup, he's in the player pool. No, he has not been called up … yet. The 21-year-old right-hander is 6-1 with a 2.14 ERA for Triple-A Nashville. He has 76 strikeouts and only 18 walks and 34 hits in 54.2 innings. He's also reached double-digit Ks in his last two starts. Gallardo is like Lincecum Lite. Or maybe he's like Lincecum Stout. Whatever. You get the idea – he's a top-tier prospect with a very good chance to have a meaningful fantasy impact this season. Sooner or later, a Brewers starting pitcher will hit the DL.

    Gallardo is worth waiver priority in mixed leagues, just like Braun. Decide between them based on category needs. If your fantasy team's aces are Jason Schmidt, Mark Buehrle and Braden Looper, add Gallardo.

    Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds, 1B
    Though he struggled at the beginning of the season, Votto is now hitting .310/.422/.500 for Triple-A Louisville. He has seven homers and four stolen bases. Last season, at age 22, Votto was spectacular at Double-A Chattanooga, hitting .319/.408/.547 with 22 HR and 24 SB. Whenever the Scott Hatteberg era ends in Cincinnati, Votto should arrive to deliver a similar on-base percentage, but with more power and speed. He should absolutely be added in NL-only and keeper configurations. He could be worth a speculative add in mixed leagues with deep benches that use OBP.

    Kevin Slowey, Minnesota Twins, SP
    When the Sidney Ponson chair opened up in the Twins' rotation, Scott Baker took it – and deservedly so. Baker was terrific at Triple-A Rochester earlier in the year, and he was great in his first start this season for Minnesota. But 23-year-old Kevin Slowey has been dominant, too. In 56.1 innings pitched for Rochester, Slowey has 50 K and only five –that's right, five – walks. He's allowed only 40 hits and his ERA is 1.76. The right-handed Slowey wouldn't likely be worse than Ramon Ortiz (5.36 ERA, 1.34 WHIP) or Carlos Silva (4.47 ERA, 1.49 WHIP). Consider adding Slowey from waivers in AL-only and keeper leagues.

    By the way, that "Sidney Ponson chair" thing is just a metaphor. How miserable would it be to sit in an actual chair that Ponson had just vacated? Pretty (expletive) awful. Minnesota obviously wouldn't do that to a prized prospect.

    Eric Patterson, Chicago Cubs, 2B
    Hard to say why the Cubs would need another second baseman. Or another Patterson. But 24-year-old Eric, brother of Corey, could be worth adding in keeper leagues depending on your projected needs. Patterson's fantasy value is primarily in his speed, but he's hitting .325/.375./.510 for Triple-A Iowa at the moment. Last season, Patterson stole 38 bases in Double-A, then another eight in 17 Triple-A games. Of all the waiver-add-eligible prospects discussed here, Patterson should be the least interesting to fantasy owners in mixed leagues. But he's out there, and whenever he arrives in Chicago, he's going to run.

    Andy Behrens has written for ESPN.com, the Chicago Sports Review, NBA.com, the Chicago Reader and various other publications. In all likelihood, Andy owns more Artis Gilmore memorabilia than you. Follow him on Twitter. Send Andy a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.

    Updated on Friday, May 25, 2007 2:02 pm, EDT

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