Minor Developments: Big Fish

Rob Steingall
Yahoo! Sports

This week, we check in with a few names who could be bound for the major leagues later this summer, and close with some deeper names for those in dynasty formats.

Marlins fans have plenty to be excited about in outfield prospect Christian Yelich, who is off to a scorching start at Double-A (.317, 3 HR, 18 RBI). Yelich was quite impressive during spring training, but was still sent down to the minors to gain more seasoning. The 21 year old has all the tools to be a true .300 hitter in his prime at the major league level, and while his power is only average, he still could settle in around the 20-homer mark annually as he matures. When thinking of comparisons, Nick Markakis comes to mind. Yelich should be a very solid player in both real life and for fantasy purposes.
Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha has a sparking ERA (1.99) at Triple-A, but continues to underwhelm in the strikeout department (5.31 K/9). The news on him is still very positive though, especially when it comes to the development of his curveball, which now profiles as an above-average offering with continued refinement. Sure, Wacha could probably pitch out of the major league bullpen now and post strong strikeout totals, but he’s best served pitching every five days and working as a starter in the minors until everything begins to click. Wacha is an exciting stock to own in dynasty leagues and could develop into a top of the rotation arm with big-time strikeout potential in short order.
After getting a taste of the majors recently, it seems Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon really wants to get back to the bigs. Since returning to Harrisburg following the return of Ryan Zimmerman, Rendon has gone 14-for-34 with six doubles and two homers. Rendon now has his average up to .341 on the year, with an eye-popping .491 on-base percentage. He’s getting starts at second base down on the farm. With Danny Espinosa struggling, it may not be long before we see Rendon back in the majors.
A sleeper down on the Nationals farm is left handed pitcher Robbie Ray, who is carving up hitters at High-A Potomac to start the year (39 IP, 48 SO). Ray worked all winter on reworking his mechanics and getting stronger, and has seen an improvement in repeating his delivery, along with more consistent mid-90s velocity on his fastball. Ray benefits from deception in his delivery. And as we’ve seen with Reds pitcher Tony Cingrani, that can really play up a pitcher’s arsenal. I just scooped up Ray in a deep 20-team dynasty league I play in, and feel he could be a diamond in the rough as he continues to develop as a pitcher.
If you’re in the market for a third-base prospect in your dynasty league, give the Phillies’ Maikel Franco a long look. He’s still a bit raw, but the young Dominican has big time power potential, and is showing it off early on at High-A Clearwater (6 HR, .239 ISO). Franco needs to continue refining his approach at the plate, as he still struggles with more advanced breaking pitches. He’s still a few years away from the majors but could shoot up prospect lists with a strong showing this year.
One of the best prospects in the entire minors may be Reds pitcher Robert Stephenson, who’s tantalizing arsenal is rivaled by few currently taking the hill down on the farm. Stephenson throws a heavy fastball that sits in the upper-90s, and is showing rapid development with both his curveball and changeup, pitches that profile as plus offerings with continued refinement. Currently sporting a K/9 of 11.65, he’ll eventually reach High-A and begin facing more advanced hitters, a test he should pass with flying colors considering the quality of his stuff. If you have a chance to get your hands on him in your dynasty league, you should jump at it immediately.
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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