Minor Developments: AL call-up primer
In the fantasy baseball world, June 1st is the start of a new holiday season, a time when the top talents of the upper minors get their first crack at the big leagues. Fantasy owners salivate at the chance to infuse new life into their squads, with top prospects being their healing agent of choice. Let’s get to know some of the more notable names who could be making an impact very shortly, and check in on their progress to this point. We’ll start with the American League first. Next week, we’ll move on to the NL.
Brett Lawrie(notes), 2B/3B, Toronto: He got a scare last night after taking a pitch to the hand, but thankfully x-rays came back negative and he escaped with just a bruise. Rumors are swirling that he’ll be called up Friday, making him an immediate add. He has posted a .354/15/49 line at Triple-A this year.
Desmond Jennings(notes), OF, Tampa Bay: The Sam Fuld(notes)-era is on life support, and Jennings has proved healthy and productive this season at Triple-A. He’s showing his normal strong plate discipline, and has seen his power return (eight homers). He’s cooled a bit recently (.267 average), but is 9-for-9 in steals thus far, and should see that continue in the majors.
Jesus Montero(notes), C, NY Yankees: We all know about the struggles of Jorge Posada(notes), and Montero is the best in-house option the Yankees have. Some scouts say he looks bored at Triple-A, and while his average is impressive (.309), his power is down (four homers). He’s nearly ready, but the Posada situation is a delicate one, and could be the driving force that keeps Jesus from the majors.
Lonnie Chisenhall(notes), 3B, Cleveland: He raked during spring training, and has posted some positive results thus far at Triple-A (.265/5/26). With the Indians playing so well, they may only be able to stomach Jack Hannahan’s(notes) lack of offense for so long. He’s not as hyped as (Mike) Moustakas and Lowrie, but he’ll quietly help you during the second half.
Jason Kipnis(notes), 2B, Cleveland: Kipnis is a notch below Dustin Ackley(notes), but may be the better bet of the two to stick at second base long term. He’s carrying a .288/5/30 line at Triple-A, and is a perfect 9-for-9 in steals. He’s been compared in the past to Dustin Pedroia(notes), based on work ethic and how he plays the game.
Mike Moustakas(notes), 3B, Kansas City: Wilson Betemit(notes) is playing well right now, thus delaying Moustakas’ arrival time. Moose is up to .281 with nine homers on the year, and has the ability to hit 30 or more in the majors in his prime. Once Wilson Betemit decides to be Wilson Betemit again, you’ll see the Moose in KC.
Kyle Gibson(notes), SP, Minnesota: With the Twins playing so poorly, Gibson’s arrival may come sooner than expected. His numbers at Triple- A have been impressive (3-3, 3.60 ERA), especially his excellent 59-to-11 strikeout-to-walk ratio. His slider is an excellent secondary offering that will carry him to plenty of strikeouts in the majors.
Dustin Ackley, 2B, Seattle: Great plate discipline, a strong hit tool, and emerging power make him one of the top prospects in the minors. After a slow start, his batting average is creeping near the .300 mark, and the power looks to be finally arriving (seven homers). He may eventually move back to the outfield, but will provide second base eligibility for at least a few seasons.
Jemille Weeks, 2B, Oakland: Veteran second baseman Mark Ellis(notes) is hitting well recently, and is a likely trade candidate at the deadline. Weeks has finally put his tools to good use in ’11, batting .331 with three homers and eight steals. He’ll look to begin following in his brother Ricky’s footsteps in the majors at some point this summer.
Mike Trout(notes), OF, LA Angels: He’s on here because he’s considered one of the two most elite prospects in the game. Trout is flashing five-tool talent at Double-A, producing a .305/6/18 line with 13 steals. Many believe he won’t be up until September, but he’d surely be welcomed by the fantasy community as soon as possible. He has the talent to succeed immediately in the major leagues.
Leonys Martin(notes), OF, Texas: The latest exciting Cuban player to defect, Martin is a true top of the order hitter, with strong on-base skills and excellent speed. He’s made a mockery of Double-A to start his career, batting .353 with two homers and eight steals. He’s a name to monitor in the event of another injury to one of the Texas outfielders.
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Rob Steingall is a nationally syndicated fantasy analyst whose work has appeared in newspapers including The Providence Journal.