Much of the buzz in the world of prospecting, at least from a fantasy baseball standpoint, currently surrounds Reds pitching prospect Tony Cingrani, who dominated Triple-A through his first three outings (14.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 26 SO), and has been recalled to take the place of Johnny Cueto (strained lat). Much of Cingrani’s success comes from his unique delivery, which really plays up his low-90s fastball due to the difficulty it causes hitters to pick up out of his hand. Cingrani has a solid changeup, but his slider is average at best, leaving him with a limited arsenal once hitters adjust to the quirks of his delivery. While Cingrani should enjoy success at the major league level in the strikeout department, he’s far from an ace, and needs to continue developing his secondary offerings to stick as an above average innings eater in the major leagues.
Also intriguing is the promotion of Twins outfield prospect Oswaldo Arcia, who has been punishing the ball so far at Triple-A Rochester (.414, 3 HR, 8 RBI). Arcia has good raw power from the left side and a keen batting eye that should allow him to hit for a solid average and 20-25 home runs in his prime. His stay is expected to be short lived, since he’s taking the place of Wilkin Ramirez (paternity leave). It’s too bad that Arcia doesn’t have the range to play center field, as Aaron Hicks is proving to be completely overmatched.
I’m falling in love with Phillies shortstop prospect Roman Quinn, who has gotten off to a nice start for Class-A Lakewood (.293, 41 AB, 2 2B, 6 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 6 SB) and is already showing off possible 100-steal speed. He’s still relatively new to switch hitting. It’s not crazy to think Quinn could hit double-digit homers as he matures physically, as he already possesses solid gap power. If you’re in the market for a middle infield stock in your dynasty league, add Quinn.
Pirates pitching prospect Phil Irwin made his major league debut Sunday, achieving mixed results (4.2 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 4 SO). Irwin’s best weapon is his curveball, but he has a very average arsenal of pitches. He’ll mix and match his offerings and should have a decent level of success due to good control, but may never be more than a back-of-the-rotation starter. Irwin could be a sneaky play in NL-only formats, but I’d leave him alone in mixers.
Many fantasy players were drooling over Cardinals pitching prospect Michael Wacha this spring, and some readers of this weekly piece were even saying they prefer him over a more highly regarded commodity in Pirates pitching prospect Gerrit Cole (lunacy). While Wacha hasn’t been terrible at Triple-A this year, he hasn’t been great, especially in the strikeout department (2 GS, 9 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 2 HR, 5 BB, 3 SO). Wacha’s curveball is still below average at best and although his changeup flashes plus potential, he still has a long way to go with the command of his secondary offerings. Wacha has a good feel for his low-90s fastball as a starter and should be able to keep his head above water at Triple-A. But don’t expect an impact in the major league rotation until 2014 even if he’s promoted later this summer.
We’ll close this week with an update on a personal favorite prospect of mine, Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon, who collected the first four-hit game of his professional career on Sunday. The outburst raised his average to .316 for Double-A Harrisburg, helping him compile a .471 on-base percentage (11 BBs). Health is a red flag with Rendon, but his bat is among the most special in the minor leagues and could carry him quickly to the majors if an opening arises in Washington.
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