The minor league season also got underway last week, so let's take our first lap around the farm, checking in with some notable names to see how their debuts went.
The two biggest names in the minors, Bryce Harper and Mike Trout, were both assigned to Triple-A to start the year. Harper had a pretty tame opening series, going 4-for-15 with a double and stolen base. Trout, on the other hand, is on fire, going 8-for-16 with a double and two steals. Both have the talent to play their way into major league roles by early summer, although Trout probably holds the edge since he's already been to The Show, and the Angels may have more incentive to bring him up if injury or ineffectiveness strikes one of their current outfielders. If you own either of these future superstars in a dynasty format, you should be extremely happy.
Rough news for fellow Nationals prospect, third baseman Anthony Rendon, as his season has already been put on hold after severely spraining his left ankle in only his second minor league game. While x-rays came back negative, it's still unknown how long he'll be out of action. His 2-for-4 start to the season (one double, one triple) was promising, and his return will be eagerly anticipated by the fantasy community.
One name on the minds of many dynasty owners is that of Mariners lefty James Paxton, who showed just why he's one of the most talked about pitchers currently in the minors. In a debut that spanned 5.2 innings, Paxton fanned 10 batters while not issuing a single walk, giving up just two hits en route to a shutout performance. Reviews on his developing changeup are good, although he'll need to throw it with much more consistency before reaching the majors. The Mariners have three promising young arms in Paxton, Taijuan Walker and Danny Hultzen, who all dynasty owners should be keeping track of this year.
It won't take many Josh Collmenter stinkers before Diamondbacks turn to top pitching prospect Trevor Bauer. Collmenter collected a 9.95 ERA during the spring, and saw those struggles continue in his '12 regular-season debut, as he allowed six runs (five earned) to the Giants on Sunday. Bauer on the other hand, won his debut by going five scoreless innings for Double-A Mobile, allowing two hits while striking out seven and walking three. He could immediately post gaudy strikeout totals in the major leagues, and has the team around him to collect plenty of wins if he performs as expected. Those with deep rosters should be checking their league waiver wires to see if he's available.
One of my favorite minor league outfield prospects is the Rays' Mikie Mahtook, and he has gotten off to a nice start as well. He's 5-for-11 during his first three games, collecting a double, stolen base, and three runs batted in for High-A Charlotte. He could move through the system quickly as an advanced college bat, and may be a long term answer in the outfield once B.J. Upton moves on this winter via free agency. A strong season will shoot him up prospect lists, as his blend of speed and power is uncommon.
Cardinals first base prospect Matt Adams doesn't appear to be happy that he's starting the year in Triple-A, and is already taking it out on the pitchers of the Pacific Coast League. Through four games, Adams has already belted three homers. He had 32 last year. He'll continue slugging down on the farm until a spot opens up for him on the major league roster, something that isn't far-fetched considering some of the fragile veterans the Cardinals currently employ.
Speaking of Cardinals prospects, their future second baseman is having a nice start to the year. Kolten Wong is 7-for-14 with two triples in Double-A, building on his impressive 2011 debut where he hit .335 for Class-A Quad Cities. Some hot hitting could earn him a trip to St. Louis by the end of the year, although 2013 looks more likely.
When the Athletics shipped Gio Gonzalez out of town, they received quite a collection of young talent. One of those players was catcher Derek Norris, who is already showing off his power in the early going, going 5-for-14 though his first three games. All of his hits have been for extra bases. Norris has struggled the past two years with his batting average (.210 in '11, .235 in '10). If he's able to improve his contact ability, he could be a future All-Star behind the plate.
We'll close with the debuts of a pair of Oklahoma prep arms from the 2011 draft, the Orioles' Dylan Bundy and Diamondbacks' Archie Bradley. Bundy got his season started by pitching three innings of perfect baseball, en route to six strikeouts for Class-A Delmarva. Bradley was equally impressive, posting five strong innings of one run ball, while striking out seven and walking one for Class-A South Bend. Both men have the stuff to rocket through the minors and potentially make their debuts within the next two years.
Rob Steingall is a syndicated fantasy analyst. Follow him on Twitter
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