Greetings once again fantasy aficionados as we once again tumble into the realm of the Hotpage, wherein we try to spot players, ideally to help your team, not yet on the radar of the rest of your league.
Since we are now in the throes of top prospect promotion 2011, let's start again with Kansas City, and their fine young pitcher Danny Duffy, the Royals third round pick in 2007. Since being drafted, Duffy has climbed the corporate ladder, primarily through four levels last year, including a final stop at AA Northwest Arkansas, going 5-2, 2.95, over seven starts and 39.2 innings, with 41 strikeouts. Duffy debuted last Wednesday, against the Rangers, and pitched four innings, allowing four hits, six walks, striking out four. The lefty took the loss, but you have to think the youngster had a share of butterflies, and the 22-year old is worth a speculation in just about every way, shape, and form.
While we are at it in Kansas City, you might also want to check out their reliever, Tim Collins, a diminutive lefty (5'7", 170) who has an interesting delivery to go with pretty good stuff. Signed as a free agent by the Jays in 2007, Collins went to the Braves last July as part of the Yunel Escobar deal, and two weeks later went to the Royals along with Gregor Blanco for Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth. The 21-year old has gone 2-2, 3.20, over 25 games (25.1 innings), striking out 27, walking 18, allowing 17 hits. Collins relieved during the Duffy debut game, and looked very confident against the good Texas hitters.
Next we have the Tigers, who advanced outfielder Andy Dirks, selected in the eighth round of the 2008 draft. This left-handed hitter has similarly shot through the ranks of the Detroit system, including a combined 2010 split between Class-AA Erie (.278-11-46 over 98 games) and Triple-A Toledo (.375-4-17 over 22 games). Dirks returned to the Mudhens to start 2011, and after going .378-6-20, with ten steals, over 34 games. With 102 minor league walks to 170 strikeouts, Dirks has displayed good plate discipline, and like Duffy is a guy you want somewhere on your roster right now, save the shallowest of mixed formats.
Toronto continued by the trend, bringing for another outfielder in Eric Thames. Drafted by the Yankees in 2007 (39th round) and for good last year by the Jays (seventh round), Thames mowed through A-ball in 2009 (.310-3-39 over 59 games), Double-A in 2010 (.288-27-104 over 130 Eastern League games), starting 2011 at Las Vegas (.342-6-30 over 36 games). If Dirks can make any kind of impression now, the 24-year old will be in the majors to stay.
Looking at the National League, Russell Mitchell is filling in at third for the Dodgers, the team that drafted him in the 15th round of the amateur draft out of high school in 2003. It took five seasons and the age of 23 to make it to Double-A for Mitchell, where he spent two years going a collective .253-29-141 over 267 games, and was in his second year at Triple-A this season before getting his recent summons. Truth is Mitchell had 43 at-bats last year in Dodger blue, going .143-2-4, and another truth is Mitchell is probably not much more than filler, and similarly is not much of an investment. He could have a hot streak, but little more.
The Phillies brought back top hand Domonic Brown, a fly-chaser or the highest minor league order, anyway. Brown went in the 20th round of the 2006 draft, and over 440 games is .298-52-246. Over just 39 of those at Triple-A, Brown has .345-7-31, with six steals, and as a minor leaguer has 200 walks to 323 strikeouts, good for a .375 OBP. The 22-year old was .210-2-13 over 62 at-bats last year with the Phils, and he too has a future.
In case you did not notice, closing in Houston is Mark Melancon, a right-hander originally picked by the Yankees in the ninth round of the 2006 draft, out of the University of Arizona. As a minor league reliever, Melancon was 19-3, 2.79, with 15 saves over 126 games. He worked 216.1 innings, whiffing 211, and posting a WHIP of 1.15. Melancon did work 15 games for the Bombers over 2009-10, going 0-1, 4.87. However, last year the reliever went to Houston with Johnny Paredes in exchange for Lance Berkman. The investment has paid off with Melancon earning his third save Sunday to go with his 3-1, 2.01 record. Get him while the saves are hot (which could be for a while).
In case you need a boost at second, Mets keystone guy Justin Turner, 26, has hit safely in eight straight games, while driving in a run over seven in a row, bumping his season totals to .355-1-15 with a steal. Turner was drafted out of Cal State Fullerton, in 2006 by the Reds, and then swapped to Baltimore for Ramon Hernandez. The Mets then claimed him off waivers. He is a hot hand, although how long we think he can keep it up determines value in a mixed format (I like him, but passed, replacing Kevin Kouzmanoff, going instead with Adam Kennedy). Turner does qualify at second and third in most formats.
Finally, there was a Joey Devine sighting at ATT Park Sunday, when the Giants and Athletics went extra frames. The hard throwing righty last pitched in the majors for Oakland in 2008, when he finished off the year going 6-1, 0.59, and a save over 45.2 innings, with 49 whiffs, 15 walks, and 23 hits allowed. Devine entered 2009 as the odds on closer, but he blew his arm out instead, and the road back to the Show is now complete. Devine threw hard over his inning, getting all three hitters out, though with no strikeouts. He threw 12 pitches--eight for strikes--and adds needed depth to the team's pen as Andrew Bailey is also set to return. Devine wrestling the right-handed set up role from Grant Balfour, who presently holds the spot, is not unreasonable (though Devine can be as wild as he can be effective). He is a good play in a deep AL format.