Minor Developments: Save the Bucs

Rob Steingall
Yahoo! Sports

You can find more from Rob Steingall at Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

The promotion season is upon us, and speculation of who is coming up (and when) is rampant.

Fantasy Nirvana could begin as early as May 29, which is the next date the Washington Nationals will need a fifth starter and the day in which Stephen Strasburg(notes) will be in line to make his next start for Triple-A Syracuse. Scott Olsen's(notes) balky shoulder all but assures that Strasburg will arrive within the next two weeks. Strasburg in Triple-A to this point: 3-0, 0.00 ERA, 22/4 K/BB. Consider that the appetizer before the Stephen Strasburg Media Smorgasbord that is about to engulf the fantasy world in the coming days and weeks.

Tabata could eventually be a .300/20/20 guy.
(Christian Petersen /Getty Images)

While following a few of my teams over on CBS Sportsline, I came across an article by Eric Mack about a trio of Pirates prospects. I've written about Pedro Alvarez(notes) a handful of times here. But the guy I'm most excited about seeing is Jose Tabata(notes). While the power has yet to develop (two homers), his plate discipline is solid (.379 OBP, 8.6% BB, 12.8% K), and he is running more than ever (19/23 SB). While coming up in the Yankees farm system, Baseball America labeled him as the best hitter for average in the whole system in 2006, which was high praise for a 17-year-old. Now 21, his best days are ahead of him, and the Pirates organization is confident he can hit for power as he matures. I see him as a future 20/20 guy down the road, with the ability to challenge the .300 mark annually. That is a solid commodity in fantasy baseball, making Tabata someone worth paying attention to despite the bust label he earned with the Yankees.

I've neglected to talk up Rays top pitching prospect Jeremy Hellickson(notes) to this point and that is a bad job on my part. He's shown his human side recently, but has still posted some impressive numbers at Triple-A, going 6-2 with a 3.24 ERA and a 55/11 K/BB ratio in 50 innings. While it will take injury or ineffectiveness in the Rays' staff to get him to the majors before September, he looks to be a great long-term pitching prospect for those in dynasty formats. Besides, who can't get excited by a guy with the nickname "Hellboy"?

I'd like to take this opportunity to express how annoyed I am at the fact that I lost out on Madison Bumgarner(notes) in my NFBC league waiver draft last night, because I was too stingy to bid an extra buck (Bumgarner went for $11, and I lost the tiebreaker). After making a few mechanical adjustments, Mad-Bum has been surging, lowering his ERA to 3.14. With Todd Wellemeyer(notes) pitching like a bum, a trip to the unemployment line could be in his future, paving the way for the Giants to recall their prized pitching prospect. His 10-inning cup of coffee in the majors in '09 is still fresh in my head (1.80 ERA, 10/3 K/BB), and I see no reason why he couldn't post an ERA around 4.00 with adequate strikeout totals right now.

The Brewers promoted catcher Jonathan Lucroy(notes) over the weekend, and he proceeded to get a hit in his first game with the club. Lucroy got off to a hot start for Double-A Huntsville this year (.452 avg), before being promoted to Triple-A Nashville, where he has struggled thus far (.238/2/11). Various projection systems have him hitting in the .240-.250 range in the majors this year, which won't help you much in fantasy this season. He has the potential to be an average regular in the future – home run power in the teens and the ability to hit for a respectable average. He profiles as a fringe fantasy starter down the road, but could warrant number one catcher value in his peak years.

Have a prospect question? A player you want to see covered? Send it to MinorDevelopments@yahoo.com.

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