Posted on: June 8, 2011 12:39 pm

The Next Impact 2011- June Call-Ups

OF Desmond Jennings, Tampa Bay Rays 

One of the reasons why the Rays were keen on allowing Carl Crawford to hit free agency was they had Desmond Jennings waiting in the wings. Now thatSam Fuld has come back to Earth statistically,Jennings’ call-up should be this summer.

Admittedly, the Rays are known for letting young talent simmer in the minor league cauldron for longer than they might deserve. Delmon Young was a top-five prospect on everybody’s list from 2004 to 2007 before he became a regular contributor.

Jennings’ talents are in fact similar to Crawford’s. His power numbers have improved slightly (eight HRs in 50 games this year), but he’ll get on base (.382 career OBP), score runs and steal bases. Be patient if you grab him because he’ll produce, once he arrives of course.

1B Anthony Rizzo, San Diego Padres 

When you win a battle against cancer, in this case Limited Stage Classical Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, baseball should be easy. For Anthony Rizzo, he is making it look easy.

At 6’3” and 220 pounds, he has the right frame for a big-league masher.

Acquired in the trade for Adrian Gonzalez from the Boston Red Sox, Rizzo is next in line for the Padres at first base. He’s hitting .371 with 15 HRs and 60 RBIs in only 49 games for Triple-A Tucson. These PCL numbers are sure to come down once he arrives at pitcher-friendlyPetcoPark, but obviously the tools are there.

San Diegorecently sent Will Veneble to the minors, which will potentially allow them to move first baseman Brad Hawpe back to right field. The Padres’ offense needs a spark so it’s only a matter of time before they add Rizzo’s bat to their everyday lineup.

3B Mike Moustakas, Kansas City Royals 

Eric Hosmer may have beaten Mike Moustakas to the big leagues, but Moustakas is still a very good prospect of comparable talent. If you’re looking for power, look no further.

In 2010, Moustakas hit 36 homers and drove in 94 RBIs in only 118 minor league games. After a slow start this April, he has hit well with 34 hits in 107 at-bats in May. Pitch selection is a concern early in his career. His seven percent walk rate in the minors is underwhelming to say the least.

Compared to recent Royals’ call-up Hosmer, Moustakas is the better slugger, which is saying a lot since the former already has five homers in 99 MLB at-bats. The Royals will need to deal current third baseman Wilson Betemit to make room for the rookie, but Moustakas will be called up sooner rather than later.

SP Juan Nicasio, Colorado Rockies 

Okay, I may be cheating a bit here since Juan Nicasio was recalled from Double-A Tulsa on May 28. But either way, his most recent outing was very impressive. Over seven innings, Nicasio allowed six hits, no earned runs and struck out two batters.

In nine minor league starts this year, Nicasio amassed a 5-1 record with 63 Ks in 56.2 innings. What’s encouraging to me are his low ERA (2.22) and WHIP (1.02). With Jorge De La Rosa out for the season with a torn ligament in his elbow, Nicasio will have his shot for a starting rotation spot.

Esmil Rogers is likely to return in the next two weeks, which could potentially bump Nicasio down into the bullpen, or even worse, optioned back to the minors. But keep in mind that No. 4 starter Clayton Mortensen hasn’t done much in his last three starts, which were all losses, to secure his role on the team. Nicasio is a potential add in NL-only leagues and someone to keep in mind in deeper formats if he gets hot.

SP Julio Teheran, Atlanta Braves 

At the age of 20, it’s tough to make an impact as a major league pitcher. Julio Teheran felt that pressure in two early starts for the Braves. His Triple-A wunderkind talent did not translate, but he’ll be back at some point.

In his most recent minor league start, it was clear Teheran needed to get his confidence back. He allowed nine hits and five earned runs over six innings in his first loss this season.

Teheran is 4-1 at Triple-A Gwinnett with 41 Ks in 49.2 innings this year. He’s also sporting a 2.36 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. The Braves may have shaken the young man’s confidence by calling him up too early, but there is a reason BaseballAmericarated him as the No. 5 prospect before the season.

Don’t let these short-term struggles deter you when the Braves recall him. He has the potential to be a strong No. 2 starter at the next level.

2B Dustin Ackley, Seattle Mariners 

In case you haven’t heard, Seattleis in need of offense. The Mariners have been relying on Jack Wilson at second base this year, and while he is known for his glove, he’s only hitting .248 with 0 HRs and 5 RBIs. Just about anyone could be an improvement offensively.

Dustin Ackley started slow in the PCL but he has since taken off. The 23-year-old has improved his .211 batting average in April to .292. Add seven home runs and 26 RBIs along with a .400 OBP, and Ackley offers good value at the top of the order behind Ichiro Suzuki.

The only reason the Mariners may be slow to call him up is that he is still learning to play the position since he played first base while in college. ConsideringSeattlehas been willing to give young players the opportunity to prove their worth, it’s safe to assume Ackley will be one of the first young prospects called up.

Posted on: May 27, 2010 8:06 pm

May 27, 2010 - The Next Impact Part 2

Starlin Castro

Castro has a hose for an arm, a lightning-quick bat and great range at shortstop.

He was the top ranked shortstop among Keith Law's ESPN rankings, and despite just turning 20, is doing very well at the major league level, save for a three-error performance in his second game.

While he didn't show much power in his relatively brief minor league play, he has already hit two opposite field homers in the majors, and even Law projects that he will develop power as his body fills out and he gains experience.

I know that recent Cubs over-hyped prospects like Corey Patterson and Felix Pie haven't panned out, but I truly think that Castro is the real thing..

Brian Matusz

When the Orioles were a premier baseball organization, it was because of their pitching staff. If Baltimore ever wants to get back to that level, it will be because of the core of young pitchers that will be led by Brian Matusz.

Even if you choose to ignore the fact that this youngster already has three pitches that are exceptional (fastball, changeup, curveball), he is still amazing to watch just because of the way that he composes himself.

The poise that Matusz already possesses on the mound at his young age is very rare and it's what excites the fans in Baltimore so much.

Quality left-handed pitchers are such a sought-after commodity and the Orioles feel like they have a masterful one that will anchor the staff for a long time. Even though he has had a rocky past two weeks, he'll bounce back.

Madison Bumgarner

Bet you haven't heard of this kid who is a 20-year-old left-handed pitcher that has a lot of promise for the Giants.

First off, the Giants have a history of developing good pitchers (Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez), which bodes well for Bumgarner's future and development.

Secondly, Bumgarner has shown excellent command and control in the minors. In his rookie year in Augusta (Single-A), he posted a ridiculous 7.81 K/BB ratio (compounded by a 1.33 BB/9).

The main knock on Bumgarner has been velocity and pitch variety. Last year in his callup, Bumgarner averaged only 89.2 MPH on his fastball. The same proved to be true in Spring Training. However, after a couple of starts and tweaks to his mechanics, Bumgarner is in the 90-plus MPH range again.

With stuff in the 90s, a four-pitch repertoire, solid command, and great mound presence, Bumgarner will be another key cog in the already-impressive Giants rotation.

Jeremy Hellickson

Thus far in 2010, Jeremy Hellickson has posted a 3.24 ERA, 9.9 K/9 and 5.00 K/BB in nine starts at AAA Durham.

With those numbers, he’s on pace for his worst season in the minors leagues in which he pitched in more than five games. You could make a case that Hellickson, not former top prospect David Price, was the better pitcher over the course of his minor league career.

With a low nineties fastball, solid curveball and amazing change-up (which sits about 10-15 mph below his heater) Hellickson has the repertoire to pitch in the majors. In 18 AAA starts over the past two years, he has posted a 2.85 ERA and 10.5 K/9.

He’s ready to pitch in the majors, and when one of the Rays' starters goes down due to injury, Hellickson will finally get his chance to shine at the major league level. 

Max Scherzer

 Allowed three hits and one run over seven innings. He is 2-0 with a 0.60 ERA, four hits allowed, two walks, and 17 strikeouts over 15.0 innings since his demotion. Even though this is the minor leagues, you have to love what he’s doing. It looks like he’s finally got his pitches under control and could be lights out if and when he’s called back up.

Next posting we'll try to cover Orlando Cabrera, Mat Latos, Buster Posey and more.

Posted on: May 27, 2010 8:03 pm

May 27, 2010 - The Next Impact

Carlos Guillen

Carlos Guillen is making progress on returning to the Detroit Tigers and starting at his fourth different position in four seasons.

Guillen is batting .357 for the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens after hitting three doubles Tuesday night. He belted a two-run homer in another game and went 1-for-3 Monday against Washington Nationals pitching prospect Stephen Strasburg. He’s working on getting his offensive timing down and adjusting to his new primary position at second base, which could make him very good fantasy player at position that is weak. This could end up being a big fantasy pick-up in all type of leagues, sleeper if he stays healthy.

Carlos Santana

Went 2-for-3 with a solo homer for Triple-A Columbus, and he is up to .313-10-40 with a 1.020 OPS over 44 games. He owns 35 walks versus just 29 strikeouts. Hitting .322/.447/.570 in Triple-A like Strasburg, should be up after the arbitration period ends which is June 4th. He’s currently ranked 2nd by ESPN as the Top 25 MLB prospects.

What impresses me most about Santana is how good he is compared to the league's other top catching prospects, who should theoretically have a huge advantage over him developmentally.
Posey and Castro were both first round draft picks with experience catching in college ball at top-tier baseball schools (Florida State and Stanford, respectively) who have likely been groomed for the majors since they were in middle school.
Santana, on the other hand, was an undrafted free agent with no college experience, thrust into professional baseball in a country far from his home and where he didn't speak the language.
If Santana can already outplay Posey and Castro now, just think how good he'll be once he has benefited from the same amount of high-level instruction, complementing his spectacular talent.

Desmond Jennings

Jennings, 23, is considered by most to be the top prospect in a loaded Rays farm system.
He has great bat speed, is an exceptional runner, and even has the potential for some power as he continues to develop. He’s your prototypical top-of-the-order guy, a very good contact hitter that has the speed to get on base anytime he puts the ball in play.
He already has an advanced approach to hitting and baserunning (his 88 percent success rate on steals was among the best in the minors) and is simply an exciting player to watch.
The only knock on him so far is that he’s had some trouble staying healthy.
If he’s able to come up this season, he could team with Carl Crawford and B.J. Upton to create one of the fastest defensive outfields ever assembled. Either way, he is likely Crawford's long-term replacement in left field.

Anibal Sanchez

Picked up his third win in as many starts and improved to 4-2 with a 3.23 ERA over nine starts. He has allowed two or fewer earned runs in seven straight outings.

Jose Contreras

Brad Lidge (elbow) hopes to return early next week, but the Phillies may continue to use Contreras in save situations after Lidge returns. Manager Charlie Manuel has hinted that Brad Lidge, who should be activated from the DL at some point next week, will have to pitch well in order to regain his closing gig, an indication that Jose Contreras could still be called upon to save games from time to time, according to the Philadelphia Daily News. "We're trying to build [Contreras] up where he can go at least 3 or 4 days in a row," Manuel said. "That's a process, but stuff-wise, what he's done so far, he's been very good, and he's got the talent to pitch at the end of the game and to be a closer."

Posted on: May 12, 2010 1:56 pm
Edited on: May 12, 2010 1:58 pm

5-12-2010 Minors to Majors: Justin Smoak Article

Yesterday I wrote about Justin Smoak and was reading a good article today by Charlie Saponara from Fantasy Baseball 365 and wanted to pass it along to the readers of this blog. Another reason why he should be picked up.

Justin Smoak Could Break Out Big:

Young players are always though to judge in fantasy baseball. Sure, their minor league stats look great, but that doesn't always translate into immediate production at the big league level. Justin Smoak seems to have run into a bit of this early on.

Called up in April to replace the whiffing Chris Davis, Smoak has struggled to get hits over his first 56 Major League at-bats. Smoak has eleven hits in those 56 at-bats, six of which have gone for extra bases.

However, there are plenty of positives to go with Smoak's early performance...

·     He has shown plenty of power as noted by three doubles and three home runs.

·     He has great plate discipline (15.7 percent walk rate).

·     His contact rate is above league average (84 percent)

·     Despite the low AVG, Smoak has been hitting line drives from both sides of the pate.

It's that last point that is the most telling.

Smoak has put 12 balls in play that have been classified as line drives, representing 24.5 percent of his balls in play. Despite the 24.5 percent line drive rate, Smoak's BABIP is an extremely low .174. Given his power, line drive, fly ball and ground ball numbers, Smoak's xBABIP is .292 (via the expected BABIP from The Hardball Times). In other words, Smoak has been extremely unlucky so far.

Small sample size or not, Smoak should have a higher AVG to show for the way he has swung the bat so far.

About that power: Some may be wondering what his actual ceiling is in that department. Smoak hit 12 home runs in 385 at-bats in the minors last season (32 AB/HR rate), which is not very impressive at first glance, but he battled an oblique injury for most of the season. That winter Smoak hit nine home runs in the IBAF World Cup. Prospect guru Kevin Goldstein of Baseball prospectus continues to tout Smoak as a "switch-hitting Justin Morneau" with power to all fields.

Justin Smoak is only 23-years-old, but he has an extremely advanced bat for his age both power wise and discipline wise. Sooner or later his hits will come. When that happens we should see a quick upshot in AVG and OBP. The only thing that may hold him back is some struggles against left-handed pitching.

Even after all the factors that point to an improvement from Smoak this season, there's one more to take into consideration: the Arlington Factor. As summer hits it's full stride and the Texas heat begins to rise, that Ballpark becomes a launching pad; a power hitter's dream.

Before long Smoak is going to catch fire (I couldn't resist).

Posted on: May 11, 2010 3:18 pm
Edited on: May 11, 2010 7:25 pm

5-11-2010 - Minors to Majors

Derek Holland - SP Texas Rangers
Update: Holland has been called up to the Majors once again when Matt Harrison went down and this time it looks to be permanent. Sources say that Matt Harrison will be sent to the bullpen upon his return.

View: Holland has been tearing it up in Triple A with a record of 4-1 and a 0.93 ERA. He's a hard throwing pitcher who can top out at 98MPH. Derek is ranked in the top 50 prospects according to MLB and was 10th overall in the minors in pitching in 2009. 

If you need a two start pitcher for next week pick him up. Reports say to wait and see how he pitches before picking him up but by that time he'll be gone.

Justin Smoak - 1B Texas Rangers
Update: Currently starting first base and is only owned in 58% of CBS Leagues. Since being called up, Smoak has already hit 3 HR's with 8 RBI's. His BA of .196 is deceiving with the way he's been hitting the ball.

View: If Smoak is available in your league it's your lucky day, grab him before he's gone. He's already putting up better fantasy numbers than some of the veteran players.

Mike Stanton - OF Florida Marlins
Update: Stanton is just waiting for the call from Florida to replace Cody Ross or slumping Cameron Maybin. He's been on an absolute tear this season for Double-A Jacksonville with a .340 batting average, a .477 on-base percentage, a .840 slugging percentage and 15 home runs in just 28 games. Keep in mind; this is from a kid who's not even legal to drink until November.

View: Mike Stanton is already being compared to Hall Of Fame star Dave Windfield. If and when Stanton gets called up, you can expect him to consistently hit 30+ Homeruns every year. Stanton was ranked as baseball’s third best prospect by Baseball America , behind only Jason Heyward and Stephen Strasburg.

Stephen Strasburg - SP Washington Nationals
Update: Riggleman has said that he will hold Strasburg to 150 total innings this season.

View: If the Nationals are in the race they'll use Strasburg. Not much more needs to be said about Strasburg since I’m sure you've heard enough in the news.

Next Report: Brian Matusz, Starlin Castro, Austin Jackson, Jhoulys Chacin, Ike Davis and more

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or