Memorial Day greetings all around. Here is our hoping your holiday is both enjoyable and safe from all of us at Mastersball.
Just a couple of weeks ago we sat at the quarter season mark, and now with the holiday, a third of the season is gone, and it is time to seriously review your team and accomplishments.
As you do, once again there were a number of blue chip prospects coming up, and seeing action this cycle, and the best place to start is with Houston's top pitching prospect, Jordan Lyles . The 'Stros first round pick of the 2008 draft, Lyles, has more than shot through the Houston system in essentially a little more than a couple of years. The right-hander did two levels (3-3, 4.28) in '08,and then spent at High-A Lexington, where he went 7-11, 3.49. After going 7-9, 3.12 at AA Corpus Christi to start 2010, Lyles finished at Triple-A Round Rock (0-3, 5.40). Houston changed their AAA affiliation in the off-seaon, so Lyles opened 2011 at Oklahoma City in the International League, going 3-3, 3.20 when summoned. As a minor leaguer Lyles was 20-29, 3.49, with 413 strikeouts over 417.1 innings, with 423 hits allowed to 117 walks. Lyles is young, as are the bulk of his teammates, so some struggles are ahead, but simply major the majors at age 20 indicates success, confidence, and the support of his franchise. That says a lot.
Eric Young Jr. has returned to Colorado, this time to help boost their struggling outfield. Young has been to Coors before, mostly as a second sacker, posting .251-1-10 totals over 239 at-bats. Young also swiped 22 over that spread, so he definitely adds the speed component to the game, and his eye (21 walks to 45 strikeouts) is acceptable. Basically, Young needs to play every day to get into the rhythm of being in the Bigs, so that is theoretically what lies ahead. Young does have pop and double digit potential. He should be used in all NL only formats, and because of his base stealing skills, deserves merit in mixed formats as well.
Oakland made an interesting move, trading David Purcey to Detroit for infielderScott Sizemore . Sizemore, 26, has very little more to prove as a minor leaguer, having gone .301-39-223 over 477 games. Sizemore has 63 steals over that spread, and earned 236 walks to 334 strikeouts, good enough for a .387 minor league OBP. Playing both second and third, Sizemore adds possibilities for Oakland where their corner positions have more than struggled. Sizemore could move to third, either spelling Kevin Kouzmanoff (or moving Kouz to first). If Sizemore shows any stick at all, he will surely get playing time. For now Sizemore is toiling in Sacramento anyway, but, keep your feelers open.
Remember a few years back when the next big thing in the Atlanta outfield was Jordan Schafer ? Schafer did struggle, and then came Jason Heyward? Well, now Heyward is injured, and who would be back to spell the opening but Schafer. A third round pick of the Braves in 2005, Schafer is still just 24. But, after hitting .269-10-51 at Double-A in 2008, Schafer made the Opening Day roster for the Braves in '09, but after .204-2-8 over 50 games, he was back in the minors, and pretty much has not been the same since. Don't expect too much more.
Josh Reddick was Boston's 17th round pick in the 2006 draft, has displayed good power as a minor leaguer, launching 18 taters last year at Pawtuckett (.266-18-61), pounding .248-12-29 this year over just 165 plate appearances this season. Reddick has made major league appearances in (.164-2-4 over 27 games) in 2009, and 2010 (.194-1-5 over 29 games) at Fenway. Now 24, Reddick might get some regular playing time with the red hit Red Sox, but is only worth any consideration in a deep AL format.
San Francisco's Brandon Crawford made a big splash hitting a game winning grand slam off Shaun Marcum on Friday, but Crawford, an emergency call-up from Class-A San Jose, is not much of an offensive bet to help the ailing champions along. Crawford, who does have a glove, was still toiling at A-ball, and though he was hitting .322-3-15 as a part timer, but the 24-year old should be able to hit pitchers at that level. At Double-A last year, Crawford hit .241-7-22 over 79 games,and with 230 minor league strikeouts to only 80 walks, the shortstop is likely to struggle.
The Nationals advanced 29-year old Cuban refugee Yuniesky Maya, thus doubling the number of major leaguers with that name to an all time high of two. As a minor leaguer, Maya has gone 2-6, 3.68 over 14 starts and 80.2 innings, mostly at Triple-A (2-5, 3.36 over 11 of them), whiffing 63, allowing 22 walks, and 65 hits, good for a 1.08 WHIP. Maya was knocked around some during his no-decision debut Sunday, going 4.2 innings, allowing six hits, a pair of walks while striking out three. Maya is probably a better pitcher, with more savvy and skills, than his debut indicates, but for now he should only be considered in the deepest of NL formats.
I have long been an Anthony Swarzak fan, and after being called up finally provided the start the Twins and roto hounds anticipated Saturday, holding the Angels to just a hit and a pair of walks over eight innings, earning a win. Swarzak has had a pair of starts this year, and though he is 0-2, 3.60, the 25-year old, picked in the second round of the 2004 draft by the Twins, might well have finally arrived in the majors. Since 2008, Swarzak has toiled just at Triple-A, going 16-18 when not in the majors over that spread, striking out 165 over 268.2 innings, allowing 298 hits to 80 walks. The problem is likely that Swarzak was moved along too quickly, and while the Twins struggles of this year are unusual for the team, those to0ugh times offer a window for the right hander to get aclimated under a little less pressure. I am betting on him this time, though for now only in an AL only setup.
Finally, looking at a hot hitter who could be hanging in your reserve pool, check out Corey Patterson, who with the Jays this year is hitting .287-3-21 with 13 doubles over 43 games and 171 at-bats. Patterson is still a free swinger (eight walks to 35 whiffs), but over the past week is 11-for-32, making for a .344-1-2 line with a swipe. Patterson has seven steals so far this year, adding to his roto value, and though Patterson is probably not a long term solution to much any longer, he is the hot hand. And, you have to ride that when you can.