Minor Developments: Puig intrigue

Rob Steingall

With Matt Kemp landing on the disabled list, and Carl Crawford possibly not far behind, the Dodgers decided it was time to make a splash by calling up top outfield prospect Yasiel Puig from Double-A.

Puig was a very bad man during spring training, batting .517 with three homers, making him the most buzz-worthy fantasy prospect on the planet. He didn’t slow down despite being sent to Double-A, where he’s still feasting on minor league pitching (.313, 8 HR, 37 RBI, 13 SB). Simply put, the guy is a five-tool talent that you simply can’t ignore. A strong performance from Puig could force embattled Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier off the roster via trade when Kemp and Crawford return, and could be the spark the club needs to turn this disappointing season around.
Another outfield prospect making noise is the Rays' Wil Myers, who blasted four homers while driving in 15 runs last week, and now has tallied six long balls during the past 10 games. It’s looking more and more likely that he’ll be promoted during the next few weeks, a move that should be for good, provided he hits the ground running in the majors. Myers’ swing can still get a little long, which is something he’ll need to continue to refine in order to cut down his strikeouts, but the power is simply undeniable. If you miss out on Puig, Myers is a more than adequate consolation prize to those using up their waiver claims on offensive prospects.
The Cardinals have an embarrassment of riches in their organization when it comes to pitchers, with the spectacular season from Shelby Miller and highly impressive debut last week of Michael Wacha. The next on the verge of cracking the rotation appears to be Carlos Martinez, who the club recently demoted in order to stretch him back out as a starter. So far at Triple-A, he’s yet to surrender a run (7 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 3 BB, 8 SO) while displaying the nasty arsenal that made him one of the highest upside arms in the minors according to scouts and pundits. Martinez has an upper-90s four-seam fastball with tons of movement and mixes in a two-seamer, a curveball and change with plus potential. The biggest knock on him as a prospect is his size and questionable durability, which some feel will limit him to bullpen duty over the long haul. The Cardinals will do all they can to develop him as a starter, something they’ve been extremely successful doing in recent memory.
After missing about a week following surgery to remove his wisdom teeth, Nationals prospect Anthony Rendon was promoted to Triple-A, where he’ll primarily play second base. This move signals an impending promotion, especially considering the struggles of incumbent starter Danny Espinosa this season. Rendon is one of the most pure hitters in the minors, and he’s displayed that expertly at Double-A this year (.319, 6 HR, 24 RBI, 30 BB, 24 SO). If his transition to second base goes smoothly, it may only be a matter of weeks before we see him back up with the Nationals for good.
We finally received some good news on Orioles top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy, who will resume throwing on June 10th after being shut down all season due to an elbow ailment. While he may not pitch in games until July, it’s notable news for fantasy players, since he’s avoided surgery – for now -- that would have kept him out the entire season. Bundy was widely considered the best pitching prospect in baseball prior to the season, so now may be a good time to pick him up on the cheap if you’re in a dynasty format. It’s a great time to sell off veterans and Bundy is a great get for any rebuilding owner.
We close the week with an update on Mariners catcher Mike Zunino, who may finally be figuring out Triple-A pitchers, as he’s hit .250 with four homers over his past 10 games. The Mariners want to make sure he’s fully ready to contribute in the majors following the disasters of some of their other recent prospects, so expect the club to take it very slow with their young backstop. If you’re looking for immediate help at catcher, you’d be better off making a play for White Sox Triple-A catcher Josh Phegley (.323, 11 HR, 31 RBI), who could be up this month due to Tyler Flowers struggles.
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