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Minor Developments: Ascending Astros

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We’ll start off this week’s discussion with what may be the biggest fantasy promotion of the season.

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Jon Singleton is likely to be the Astros' next buzz-worthy promotion. (USAT)

The Astros finally promoted outfielder George Springer, causing much rejoicing among his fantasy owners. To those who draft and stashed, or made the pickup, you should be rewarded handsomely.

Considering his minor league track record (’12: .302/24/87/32, ’13: .305/37/108/45), it’s not crazy to think Springer should be an instant smashing success in the majors. Upon his initial promotion last week, I said on Twitter (@rsteingall) that I felt he could hit .265 with 20 homers and 25 steals the rest of the way, and I’ll stand by that prediction. The batting average may fluctuate due to some contact woes (65% at Triple-A in ’13), but the power and speed should play immediately. He’s already found himself in the middle of the Astros order, and with some solid hitters ahead of him, plenty of run production should be in his future.

The next major hitter promotion may be Springer’s former RedHawks teammate, first baseman Jon Singleton, who is also tearing the cover off the ball (.343, 6 2B, 1 3B, 7 HR, 23 RBI). There were plenty of questions surrounding the young slugger following a 50-game suspension last season (marijuana), and his minor-league performance upon returning didn’t do much to answer them (.230, 11 HR, 44 RBI), the big reason he’s still down on the farm proving himself. The Astros have stated that once they feel Singleton has developed enough of a track record in the minors to warrant a promotion, he’ll get the call. Get those waiver claims ready, fantasy gamers. It wouldn’t be shocking to see Singleton get the call before the end of April.

One of the more pleasant surprises in the early going is that of Rangers third baseman Joey Gallo, who has started off scorching hot, and is showing that he’s more than a one trick pony. While the power is still his calling card (6 HR in 71 PA), he’s cut his strikeouts (29.6%) and raised his walks (16.9%), selectivity that has fueled an unusually high batting average (.321) for a player of his skill set. If you missed out on the power of Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant in your dynasty league, Gallo makes for a great consolation prize.

With a spot in the Diamondbacks rotation staring Archie Bradley in the face, he’s yet to seize the opportunity to this point. After two strong outings to begin the year, he tossed in a stinker against a modest Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs lineup (4.1 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 SO). It’s only one start, and his stuff is off the charts, but he’ll need to begin showing some more consistency before he gets the call. A string of strong performances could accelerate his timetable, but it’s looking more like a June promotion for the big righty, especially if Arizona continues to struggle.

Red Sox second base prospect Mookie Betts is following up a stellar ’13 (.314/15/65/38) with a sizzling start in his first look at Double-A (.453, 2 HR, 4 SB). Betts is an exciting offensive prospect without a place to play in Boston, as he’s blocked long term by Dustin Pedroia. He could be an intriguing trade chip for Boston later this summer as they load up for another playoff run.

Phillies prospect Jesse Biddle is mowing down Double-A hitters to start the year, racking up 28 strikeouts during his first four starts (3.80 ERA, 6 BB BB). Biddle is getting his second look at Double-A, with a focus on commanding his arsenal more effectively. After a gaudy walk rate last year (5.33 BB/9), his current improvements (2.53 BB/9) may have him moving on to Lehigh Valley in the near future.

We’ll close with Rockies third baseman Ryan McMahon, who is making a name for himself in the lower minors. McMahon, a second round pick in last year’s draft (42nd overall), is following up his impressive debut with even better numbers in the South Atlantic League (.340, 6 HR). While the park he hits in is known as a bandbox, his bat speed and raw power are impressive, suggesting his current hot streak is no mirage. He’s a few years away, but if you’re in a deep dynasty format, he’s a name you should be looking at if he’s currently available in your free agent pool.

Follow Rob on Twitter @rsteingall

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