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Minor Developments: Knocking on the door

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We're another week closer to service time no longer being an issue for some of the top prospects in the upper minors. Let's stay there this week and check in with some guys who are nearly ready and are expected to get the call on or shortly after June 1.

I wrote about his hot start last week. And now the Dodgers have purchased the contract of 1B/OF Jerry Sands. He debuted Monday night, going 1-for-3 with a double, RBI, and two strikeouts. Sands is going to whiff a lot, but also should draw his fair share of walks. The knock on him is that his swing is long. Sands could slug his way to deeper mixed league relevancy during the next few months, so monitor his progress. Grab him in NL-only immediately.

I didn't want to bring up Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie(notes) last week because he's still a long way off defensively following his position change. The bat appears ready though, apparent by his current .426 average. Keep in mind he's playing in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, but that's impressive anywhere you play. He currently has five errors in his first 11 games at Triple-A, and questions remain about his hands and actions at the hot corner. Don't expect him to get a call anytime soon.

I tweeted last week not to sleep on Mets pitcher Jenrry Mejia(notes), especially following his quick start to the season. Mejia has yet to allow a run in 12.1 innings, striking out 11 while walking five. A positive change in his off-speed pitches has been noted by manager Tim Teufel, and he was almost called up when Chris Young hit the disabled last last week. He has ace caliber stuff and could front the Mets rotation for many years to come, although injury concerns linger.

Braves starter Julio Teheran(notes) is considered the best pitcher currently in the minors, and he's kicked off his season with mixed results. While the 1.86 ERA is excellent, be concerned about the 6/6 K/BB ratio and only 9.2 innings pitched in two Triple-A starts. He's young for the level at 20 years old, so an adjustment period should be expected. Pitch counts are also an issue. What you should take from this is that he's close to major league ready, needing only to cut down on the walks and learn how to get more advanced hitters out more quickly. The Braves have had great success developing pitchers, and Teheran looks to be no different.

The hottest name for the Omaha Storm Chasers isn't third baseman Mike Moustakas(notes), but rather teammate Eric Hosmer(notes), who I consider the top first base prospect in baseball. He's started off with a .396 average, three doubles, and a home run. Moustakas on the other hand has struggled (.222, one homer). They will stay in the minors until service time is no longer an issue, since there is no reason for the Royals to rush them. While I love Moustakas' power, Hosmer is the more complete player. Look for .300/30/100 in his prime, and he should stick at first with his solid defensive ability. Moustakas may eventually need to move to an outfield corner, and may peak as a .270-.280 hitter with similar power to Hosmer.

Dustin Ackley(notes) or Jason Kipnis(notes)? I like both in dynasty formats, although I think Kipnis has made better defensive adjustments and thus is likely to be the more valuable fantasy asset long term. Ackley could be moved back to center field eventually, which would drive down his fantasy value. Strong on-base skills have been shown early by both – Ackley (9/7 BB/K) and Kipnis (7/9 BB/K).

I mentioned Tigers pitcher Andy Oliver's(notes) start last week, and it should be noted that Jacob Turner(notes) has been just as good, maybe better. In three starts at Double-A, he owns a 1.83 ERA in 19.2 innings, posting a 20/3 K/BB ratio. While Oliver is sure to get the first look if a spot opens in the rotation, Turner isn't far off, and could wind up in the bullpen later in the year in an attempt to get him to the majors and limit his innings (he should be capped around 150 this season).

Bad news out of the Bronx last week, as it was announced that top prospects Manny Banuelos(notes), Dellin Betances, and Gary Sanchez were all dealing with minor injuries. While they aren't expected to be sidelined long, it's something to keep an eye on, especially if you own stock in any of them in dynasty formats.

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Rob Steingall is a nationally syndicated fantasy analyst whose work has appeared in newspapers including The Providence Journal.

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