Minor Developments: Following Machado

Rob Steingall
Yahoo! Sports

The Orioles aggressively promoted top prospect Manny Machado last week, and he rewarded their risk by earning AL Player of the Week honors. Batting .375 with three homers through his first four games, Machado isn't a prospect of the caliber of Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, but easily slots in right below them. So forget the Alex Rodriguez comparisons, too – but he has the defensive instincts and tools to play shortstop despite the fact that he's starting his major league career at third. There will be growing pains but if he can hit .260-.270 the rest of the way with modest power, the Orioles will get a big shot in the arm as they try and lock down a playoff spot.

The Machado promotion has people clamoring over the possibility of Jurickson Profar being summoned to the Rangers in the next few weeks. It's inevitable he'll be up in some capacity come September, but without a place to play regularly in Texas, it seems pointless to bring him up to sit on the bench. All Profar has done is hit .285 with 14 homers and 64 RBI at Double-A Frisco, adding in 15 steals as well. Profar is the total package, and while I like Machado's power upside better, expect Profar to be the more complete fantasy player down the road.
This is the third week in a row I'm writing about Mariners prospect Mike Zunino, something that hasn't happened since the minor league days of Michael Pineda. It's tough not to make mention of Zunino following his promotion to Double-A, as he's skipping three minor league levels in the process. He abused short-season pitching to the tune of .375 with 10 homers in just 29 games, proving the advanced approach he was known for in college has carried over to the pro ranks initially. He'll move Jesus Montero to a permanent designated hitter role, or possibly first base upon his arrival in the majors, which could come at some point during 2013.
Nationals prospect Anthony Rendon continues to impress since returning from the ankle injury that help him out until July, and now finds himself promoted to Double-A Harrisburg. Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post has more in his report of the promotion, and suggests this move is a way to get Rendon to the Arizona Fall League while allowing Alex Meyer to finish the year at High-A Potomac.
I've been touting Pirates outfield prospect Gregory Polanco pretty hard recently, and apparently I'm not the only one. In the most recent Baseball America Prospect Hot Sheet chat, J.J. Cooper eludes to the idea that Polanco could find himself as a top 25 prospect by the time the season comes to a close. It has been quite a meteoric rise for the toolsy outfielder, but the praise and recognition has certainly been justified, especially when you look at his incredible stat line (.325, 15 HR, 84 RBI, 40 SB). Scouts love this guy, and if you're in a dynasty format, you should too.
Looking for a future closer in your dynasty league? Check out Tigers pitcher Bruce Rondon, who is lighting up minor league radar guns and mowing down hitters in bunches. Rondon has a fastball that touches triple digits, topping out at 101, with outstanding movement. He mixes in a slider and change that both flash plus potential. Consistency is still an issue. With Jose Valverde set to become a free agent, and Joaquin Benoit only under contract through 2013, the Tigers could look to transition Rondon into a late inning role as early as 2013.
We'll close this week with an update on the incredible Billy Hamilton and his pursuit of the minor league single season stolen base mark. Heading into Thursday night's games, Hamilton sits at 141 steals on the season, needing only five more to break the all-time minor league mark of 145 set by Vince Coleman in 1983. That number could fall by the end of the week at the torrid pace Hamilton is setting. There is talk of the Reds promoting him for their September playoff push, so if you're in desperate need of steals down the stretch in your league, stash Hamilton now.
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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