Minor Developments: Quality call-ups

Rob Steingall
Yahoo! Sports

It appears the Cardinals will be calling up top pitching prospect Michael Wacha to fill one of the voids in their rotation following the injury to Jamie Garcia. Wacha has been incredibly impressive at Triple-A Memphis (4-0, 2.05 ERA, 52.2 IP, 15 BB, 34 SO), baffling hitters all season long. I’m still waiting on the strikeouts (5.81 K/9), but as he continues to develop his secondary offerings, that K-rate should improve. Wacha pounds the strike zone with a big fastball, and it will be very interesting to see how his curveball and changeup play against major league hitters. I’m not going to yell at you to run and grab Wacha in yearly leagues, as I’m not sure he’ll strike out enough batters to play well in mixed leagues. Also, when looking at his peripherals, there is a sizeable gap between his ERA (2.05) and FIP (4.00). But he’s a great investment for those in dynasty leagues. Even though I’m not all in with him, it’s always exciting to see a hot young arm get the call and I’m certainly pulling for him to surprise me.

The Mariners finally pulled the plug on former top prospect Dustin Ackley, who has been horrible for two seasons. Taking his place is shortstop Nick Franklin, who is stroking the ball for Triple-A Tacoma (.324, 4 HR, 20 RBI, 7 SB) this year. More impressive have been his gains in his rate of walks (16.9%) and strikeouts (11.3%), showing his true growth as a hitter. Franklin isn’t going to blow you away from a fantasy perspective, but he’s going to contribute a little bit everywhere. He should quickly become a useful fantasy asset worthy of an immediate add in AL-only leagues and a flyer in mixers as well.
The Mets will be calling up Zack Wheeler in a few weeks and fantasy owners have already flocked to their waiver wires to make the claim (15% owned in Y!). He’s been very good this year pitching in a tough Las Vegas pitching environment (3.91 ERA, 9.12 K/9, 3.72 BB/9). Expect Wheeler to be an immediate source of strikeouts upon reaching the majors, where he’ll benefit from the more pitcher friendly confines of Citi Field. Wheeler will be one of the best pitchers to make his debut this year, and is very worthy of a high waiver claim/FAAB bid if he hasn’t yet been added to your league player pool.
Diamondbacks’ pitching prospect Tyler Skaggs made his season debut on Monday (his MLB debut occurred last year), and spun a gem (6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 9 SO). While Skaggs' Triple-A ERA (5.23) is a bit scary, the peripherals (3.03 FIP, .333 BABIP, 55.9% LOB) paint a much nicer picture. Skaggs has a nice strikeout arsenal, headlined by an outstanding curveball that really keeps hitters baffled. He’ll return to the minors for now, but could make a splash later this summer if a rotation spot opens up.
It was a tough start to the season for the Reds Billy Hamilton and Phillies Roman Quinn, but both speedsters have gotten on track recently. Over their past 10 games, Hamilton (.325, 5 SB) and Quinn (.325, 6 SB) are showing the exciting leadoff skills scouts rave about and fantasy owners drool over. Hamilton, at Triple-A, is much closer to making a major league splash and may see an opportunity this summer if his hot hitting continues. Quinn, only in Low-A ball, is a nice dynasty stock to own in dynasty formats, but probably won’t be ready for the majors for two or three years.
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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