Minor Developments: Capitol gains

Rob Steingall

Nationals prospect Anthony Rendon is finally back on the field after suffering yet another ankle injury during his second professional game, and appears to be getting acclimated nicely to pro ball. In his first nine rehab games, Rendon has stroked three home runs and is displaying excellent plate discipline. Injuries have always haunted the talented third baseman. But despite this, his offensive upside is among the highest in the minors. With good help and solid development, Rendon could developing into a .290-.300 hitter with 25-30 homers in his prime.

Coming out of the '11 draft, Mets pitcher Michael Fulmer flew a bit under the radar, ranking as the third best prep pitcher in Oklahoma behind Dylan Bundy and Archie Bradley. He's doing his best to make a name for himself in the South Atlantic League this year, posting a 2.51 ERA while flashing an exciting strikeout arsenal (80/31 K/BB in 86 IP). The development of his changeup is what will eventually determine if he is a starter or reliever in the majors. Scouts have noted improvement in the pitch since earlier in the season, great news for Mets fans and his dynasty owners.
Cubs third baseman Josh Vitters could very well be the next position prospect to get the call, and he's certainly earned the promotion this year. Vitters is batting .298 with 16 home runs while showing an improved ability to take walks. He's always been a very strong contact hitter and is displaying adequate defense at the hot corner in the minors. He'll be an upgrade to the Cubs lineup upon reaching the majors, and could be a nice add in deeper mixed formats during the final two months.
Pirates pitcher Jameson Taillon was impressive in his most recent outing, going seven shutout innings, giving up two hits while striking out four and walking three. While Taillon's numbers (4.09 ERA, 88/34 K/BB, 110 IP) don't jump off the page at you, his arsenal is still among the best in the minors. But he's still another two to three years away from reaching the majors
Padres pitcher Casey Kelly is working his way back from an elbow injury, and the results have been mixed thus far (5 IP, 8 H, 8 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 5 K). Most importantly, he's back on the mound and can resume his quest to reach the majors. Kelly throws an excellent sinker, a plus curveball, and a solid changeup. While he doesn't profile as an ace, he could certainly pitch like one in Petco Park. ETA: 2013.
Mariners first round pick (3rd overall) Mike Zunino is destroying the short-season Northwest League (.356, 6 HR, 13 RBI), and it shouldn't be long before he is promoted. Zunino doesn't have the offensive upside of great college catchers that came before him (Buster Posey, Matt Wieters), but is going to be a solid professional and should post his fair share of solid fantasy seasons. Looking ahead, there is no reason to think he can't produce .270-.280 averages and 15-20 home runs annually in his prime.
It's nice to see Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley showing a little power surge, clubbing three home runs during his last 10 games. There is more power in his bat, too. Through 106 games this season, Bradley has 40 doubles, four triples, and seven home runs. As he adds more strength, some of those doubles are sure to start landing over the fence. It isn't crazy to think Bradley can produce 15-20 homers in his prime in the majors. His defense in centerfield is excellent, and should eventually allow the Red Sox to move Jacoby Ellsbury to an outfield corner. Bradley could debut during the middle of next season.
We'll close this week with former Phillies top prospect Domonic Brown, who could be a solid fantasy producer during the final two months of the season given the moves at the trading deadline. He's been solid since coming back from an early June knee injury – hitting .314 during his last 10 games. He's never really been given an extended look in the majors but could still develop into an all-star caliber player with great combo potential.
Rob Steingall is a syndicated fantasy analyst. Follow him on Twitter
Have a prospect question? A player you want to see covered? Send it to MinorDevelopments@yahoo.com