Minor League Update - Second Half Impact Players for 2008
This week’s minor league column takes a look at the top ten prospects that may have an impact during the rest of the current season. Please continue sending in your comments and questions to the email address below. Also, do not forget to check back Friday for our fantasy baseball column.
Top Ten Prospects for the Second Half
These guys have a chance to make a fantasy impact for your team in the second half of the year. Pitchers are generally the prospects that make the biggest impact mid-season, and this year will be no different. This season has already seen most of the impact offensive players for this year called up during the first half. That said there are plenty of talented players who can help you down the stretch.
Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers): Kershaw was solid but not spectacular during his first stint in the majors this season. He will be back pretty quickly, and I would not be surprised to get a poor man’s Tim Lincecum (from last season’s call up) type numbers. Kershaw can be as dominant as any young arm, and the Dodgers are going to need him to be just that in order to contend.
David Price (Rays): Price has not pitched much at Double A, but the Rays may still give him a shot in the second half. If the Rays call him up, he could easily match or even better Kershaw. The biggest concern for Price owners would be that he might only get called up if the Rays falter. If Price is called up for a struggling Rays team trying to make the playoffs that is a ton of pressure for a very inexperienced youngster.
Matt LaPorta (Indians): The Indians have indicated that they may not call LaPorta up this season. I do not buy it. The Indians are eager to prove that they got good value for CC Sabathia (who is tearing up the NL). LaPorta is ready to out hit Ryan Garko right now, and with the Indians going nowhere, he will get a look this year.
Andrew McCutchen (Pirates): I have made no secret of my lukewarm feelings about McCutchen. However, he will play for the Pirates at some point during the second half, probably right after the trade deadline. McCutchen has a good chance to provide value to his owners with very good stolen base numbers the rest of the season.
Michael Saunders (Mariners): Saunders has made great strides all season and appears ready to take a shot at ML pitching. The Mariners will trade Raul Ibanez, and Saunders should then get the call to play centerfield. Saunders can provide your team a little bit of everything once he gets called up, and next year he is a premier breakout candidate.
Wade Davis (Rays): Davis is more ready than Price to pitch in a pressure filled ML pennant race. Davis does not have the same talent level as Price, but he is not far behind. If the Rays need a boost during the second half, and think it is too risky to push Price that fast expect Davis to get the call. If Davis can keep his ERA around 4.50 he could win six or seven games with the Rays this season.
Justin Masterson (Red Sox): Masterson was very solid starting for the Red Sox earlier this season. Clay Bucholz has been awful in two starts since replacing Masterson. Masterson has been working as a reliever at Triple A, but that could change pretty quickly with another bad outing by Bucholz. Masterson is likely to have a fantasy impact as a reliever, but he is just as good a bet to be back in the rotation, giving him added value.
Max Scherzer (Diamondbacks): Scherzer has been working as a reliever at Triple A. He could be Arizona’s closer this season if Brandon Lyon were to struggle, which is at worst a 50/50 proposition. Scherzer has a chance to be a very good starter, but he can have a Jonathan Papelbon level impact as early as this year.
Cameron Maybin (Marlins): The Marlins have continued to hint at a Maybin call up this season. He has matured a bit in plate discipline this season, but he is still striking out too much. That said Maybin is such an amazing talent that he may get the call this season. If Maybin gets called up he could easily put up numbers that would allow him to top any second half-impact list.
Austin Jackson (Yankees): This pick is my long shot on the list. Jackson has been excellent this season, improving every facet of his game. It is doubtful that he will get a call up this season, but with the Yankees you never know. Jackson would be very similar to Maybin being called up last season, and there have been some rumblings that the Yankees might consider calling him up late. Either way you have to jump on Jackson if he gets the call, because he would be a leading ROY candidate next season.
As always there will be some relievers from the current years Minor League Draft that make an impact during the second half. Daniel Schlereth (D’Backs), Andrew Cashner (Cubs), and Carlos Gutierrez (Twins) are a few who could provide an impact in the second half. Of course their impact will depend on signing dates and the teams play down the stretch. Their impact will be less important in fantasy circles simply due to their position, but must be noted either way.
Going to nine innings was a great move by MLB for the futures game. Unfortunately the game was quite boring. I am a big fan of great pitching, but the game featured very little excitement. Some of the most dominating pitchers in the game are questionable to ever be impact major leaguers (Henry Rodriguez). The offensive star was a solid, but not spectacular young outfielder with the Red Sox (Che-Hsuan Lin). Lin is a nice prospect but not why we watch the Futures Game.
None of the big-time offensive prospects showed off a whole lot, which was disappointing. Some of the top pitching prospects in the game did look excellent, Trevor Cahill, Hector Rondon, and Jake Arrieta to name a few. The Futures Game mirrored the actual all-star game in the inept offensive displays. Despite the solid pitching it was as much the poor hitting as anything that contributed to the low scoring. The teams combined to leave thirteen men on base and hit into four double plays. We were also treated to four caught stealing and four pickoffs. No matter how you look at it the futures game this year was disappointing, but we still got to see some of the top minor leaguers in baseball play at Yankee Stadium, which is never a bad thing.