Minor Developments: Chicago hope

Rob Steingall
Yahoo! Sports

The Anthony Rizzo era is nearly upon us in Chicago, as the Cubs are finally trotting Bryan LaHair out to right field in preparation for their top hitting prospect to man first base. You've heard the Rizzo story here before, a hulking slugger with the ability to hit for power and average at Triple-A, who has shortened his swing path with the hope of carrying that success over to the major leagues. He's currently batting .364 with 23 homers and 56 runs batted, and should be an immediate add for your fantasy team if you're in need of pop. It wouldn't be shocking to see him arrive within the next week.
The Cardinals are not happy with the progress of top prospect Shelby Miller, and have officially implemented a 'no-shake' rule for him going forward. Miller's heavy reliance on his fastball has hitters sitting on the pitch, leading to an inflated ERA (6.00) and stunting the growth of his secondary offerings. The hope is that better sequencing and sharper off-speed pitchers are what ails him, so it will be interesting to see his progress moving forward. The stuff is there. So if you're in a dynasty format, now might be the time to snag him on the cheap.
Everyone in the fantasy world keeps wondering why the Royals haven't called up Wil Myers, and to be honest, it doesn't make sense. The club is outside the window for 'Super-Two' status, so service time concerns shouldn't be an issue. Myers is tearing up Triple-A (.331/11/31), and now has 24 total home runs on the season. Yahoo! Friends & Family League teammate Michael Salfino and I are champing at the bit to get Myers in our lineup, as he could be a difference maker for our team down the stretch. Much like Rizzo, Myers should be near the top of your must add list now if roster rules allow.
Looking for an impact arm during the second half? Try Mariners lefty Danny Hultzen, who continues to dazzle at Double-A (1.19 ERA). The next logical step is for him to get a few turns at Triple-A, before earning a promotion some time in late July. But in reality he could get the call at any time. Hultzen has a wicked mid-90s fastball from the left side with a devastating changeup, giving him a true strikeout arsenal. The pitching environment at Safeco Field is ideal, and should assist his ratios, making him an even more valuable fantasy asset.
The Brewers have promoted pitcher Tyler Thornberg to take the place of the injured Shuan Marcum, much to the delight of his loyal following of fans who read this piece weekly. Thornberg has posted an 8-1 record at Double-A thus far, with a 3.00 ERA and 71/24 K/BB ratio in 75 innings. Scouts note his unorthodox delivery as a possible key to his success, as well as his effective fastball/changeup combination. He may not make an immediate fantasy impact in deeper formats, but could be effective as a matchup play if he proves capable in his first few turns.
The Appalachian League season begins today, which means the debut of 2011 Royals first-round pick Bubba Starling. Starling is a consensus Top 25 prospect in all major publications, drawing high praise for his five-tool potential. As a two-sport athlete in high school, he may experience growing pains at first in his first taste of full-time baseball, but his development has the potential to be rapid. He's years away, but you can never stash a player with this much upside too early in deep dynasty leagues.
Rangers third base prospect Mike Olt continues to mash Double-A pitching, launching his 20th homer of the year on Monday night to go along with an impressive .317 average. Olt has an advanced approach at the plate that has steadily improved at each minor league stop, as he's now knocking on the door of a promotion to Triple-A. While his opportunities at the major league level are limited thanks to a loaded Rangers team, all it takes is one injury or trade for playing time to become readily available.
We'll close this week with a trade rumor, just to keep things interesting. Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports the Orioles are the team most interested in acquiring Diamondbacks hurler Joe Saunders, which suggests Arizona is looking for ways to make room for top pitching prospect Trevor Bauer.
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

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