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Minor Developments: Pitching promotions

By Rob Steingall

Yahoo Sports

The Twins are called up pitcher Kyle Gibson to make his major league debut on Tuesday, a welcome sight for Twins fans who are growing tired of their combustible pitching staff.

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Kyle Gibson could have deep-league roto value with the Twins. (USAT)

Gibson's been solid in his first full year pitching off Tommy John surgery, posting impressive numbers (92.2 IP, 3.01 ERA, 28 BB, 79 SO) at Triple-A Rochester. He works primarily in the low-90s with his fastball, but can dial it up to the mid-90s when he reaches back for a little more. His slider and changeup lack consistency, but both have the ability to generate swings and misses. As a ground-ball pitcher who will take the mound in pitching friendly Target Field, he could make a sneaky fantasy play. A K/9 of 6.50 and ERA between 3.75-4.00 is certainly attainable, giving him middling deep-league value.

It may not be long before the Cardinals turn to pitching prospect Carlos Martinez, this time as a member of their starting rotation. Since returning to the minors to stretch his arm out, the young power righty has been lights out (29.2 IP, 1.82 ERA, 9 BB, 29 SO) at Triple-A Memphis. Martinez works in the upper-90s with his fastball, mixing in a curveball and change that both flash plus potential. The knock on Martinez has always been his size, as some feel his slight build may not hold up to a starter’s workload over the long haul. The Cardinals have a good track record of developing pitchers, so that improves his chances. I prefer Martinez over his Triple-A teammate Michael Wacha, due to his electric fastball and more advanced feel for his secondary offerings. If new Cardinals fifth starter Joe Kelly falters, it could be Martinez who gets the next shot to stick in the rotation.

It’s been a rough season for Rangers third baseman Mike Olt, and an even more frustrating one for fantasy owners who had hoped he’d make an impact in the majors already. Olt dealt with some significant vision issues over the first few months of the season, which caused him to struggle mightily at the plate during April (.139, 1 HR, 6 RBI). After missing all of May trying to get the problem under control, and with new eye drops apparently solving the issue, he’s finally getting back on track during June (.250, 7 HR, 15 RBI). Try to buy low in your dynasty league.

Phillies third base prospect Maikel Franco continues to impress, and recently earned a promotion to Double-A for his outstanding efforts. After punishing High-A pitching (.299, 16 HR, 52 RBI), he hasn’t missed a beat since advancing to Reading, batting .524 with two homers through his first five games. The Phillies have long been in search of a permanent solution at third base, and Franco may prove to be that guy. The secret is beginning to get out about him, so snap him up before it’s too late.

One of the most dominating performances in the minors this season has come from Nationals pitching prospect Taylor Jordan, who’s mastery of Double-A (49 IP, 0.73 ERA, 8 BB, 42 SO) has earned him a trip to the majors, replacing the injured Dan Haren. Jordan is coming off Tommy John surgery, and with his fastball sitting in the mid-90s, it appears he’s all the way back. Armed with a deceptive delivery and effective secondary offerings, he could be an interesting pickup in NL-only and deeper mixed leagues.

We’ll close with news of the promotion of Twins top outfield prospect Byron Buxton, who recently moved on to High-A Fort Myers. He tormented pitchers while at Low-A Cedar Rapids (.341, 8 HR, 55 RBI, 32 SB), and in the process, put himself on the fast track to the major leagues. His talent was immense coming out of high school, but he’s put things together much more quickly than anticipated. If he keeps abusing minor league pitching, a late-2014 major league debut is possible.

Rob Steingall is a syndicated fantasy analyst. You can follow him on Twitter (https://twitter.com/#!/rsteingall) and email prospect questions to MinorDevelopments@yahoo.com
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