Minor Developments: Big-ticket promotions

Rob Steingall
Yahoo! Sports

The Rays finally made the call to Durham and have purchased the contract of outfielder Wil Myers, a move many in the fantasy community have been waiting for since the middle of last year. There wasn’t much left to prove in the minors for Myers, who was once again raking (.286, 14 HR, 57 RBI) and showing the raw power he’s become most well known for during the past year. If Myers struggles out of the gates, it will be with batting average and strikeouts, as his swing is a bit long. He’s strong enough to make pitchers pay if they leave the ball out over the plate though, and could be an immediate help to those in need of power numbers.

Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler is slated to make his major league debut on Tuesday against the Braves, a great opening opponent due to their free-swinging ways. Wheeler survived the dynamic offensive environment of Las Vegas (68.2 IP, 3.93 ERA, 27 BB, 73 SO), and now takes his strikeout show to the friendly confines of Citi Field, a far more hospitable place for pitchers. If you’re expecting the second coming of Matt Harvey, please take it down a notch. While Wheeler is an excellent prospect in his own right, comparing him to an elite-tier pitcher really isn’t very fair. I expect a solid ERA (3.50-3.75) and strikeout rate (8.00+ K/9) from the young righty, numbers that will surely help any fantasy team make a second half charge.
One of the safer picks in last year’s draft was Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, who was lauded as a guy with a very high floor who should develop into a solid big league player. Fast-forward a year later, and Almora is hitting everything that comes his way (92 AB, .403, 1 HR, 13 RBI), proving that Low-A pitching may not be challenging enough for him. A broken hamate bone in his left hand caused him to miss the beginning portion of the season, but you wouldn’t tell by the hot start he’s off to. This injury has a tendency to zap a hitter’s power upon their initial return, so it may take a little while longer before we begin to see Almora’s pop show up in games. That shouldn’t stop you from snagging him in dynasty formats, as he could be a solid five-category contributor down the road.
One of Pitching by the Numbers-writer Michael Salfino’s favorite dynasty stocks is Pirates’ fast-rising pitcher Nick Kingham, who was recently promoted to Double-A following a great start to the season at High-A (70 IP, 3.09 ERA, 14 BB, 75 SO). He didn’t miss a beat in his debut (5.2 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 SO). Kingham works in the low-90s with his fastball, and can touch the mid-90s when he wants a little more. His secondary offerings are a curveball and changeup that both flash above average potential. Keep the 21-year-old Kingham on your radar in deeper formats as a nice sleeper prospect.
The Yankees have promoted pitcher Rafael De Paula to High-A Tampa after he dismantled hitters at Low-A Charleston (64.1 IP, 2.94 ERA, 23 BB, 96 SO). While he was a bit old for the level (22), his performance was highly impressive, putting him on the map as yet another high impact international arm with top of the rotation upside. If he comes out and dominates High-A during the next six weeks, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Yankees fast track him to Trenton, in an attempt to get him to the majors at some point during the 2014 season. Look for the club to cap his innings in the 120-150 range this season, as he only accumulated 61.2 professional innings in 2012.
We’ll close with an old Minor Developments favorite, Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda, who is not a prospect but is on the mend in the minor leagues. Recovering from a torn labrum he suffered last spring, Pineda is continuing to build strength in his arm, sitting in the 92-93 MPH range with his fastball, and touching 95 on occasion. In his last simulated game on, he went 5.2 innings, striking out five batters while not allowing a run. He’ll throw around 80 pitches in his next rehab start for High-A Tampa, and is on track to join the Yankees at the end of June. If you have a DL spot, he’s worth a stash, and could provide nice value during the second half.
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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