Felicitations to all you dads (and would be dads, too) and I hope you enjoyed a full Sunday of family and friends and food, and maybe even some baseball as we head to the half-way point of the 2011 season.
This week was a little quieter on the prospect promotion front compared to the previous few time frames, but never-the-less, you want to grab one guy no matter what format you play, and that is Seattle second baseman Dustin Ackley. The second pick overall of the 2009 draft, and first selection of the Mariners, Ackley is now up to help the resurgence in the Emerald City, making a grand entrance getting a single his first major league at-bat, and homered his second game, and is now the starting second baseman at Safeco. Ackley was hitting a solid .303-9-35 over 66 games at Tacoma, with a tremendous 55 walks to 38 whiffs, good for a .421 OBP. Get him now in pretty much every format you can.
The Red Sox are giving the ball to Andrew Miller tomorrow, as they recalled the big (6'7", 210 lbs.) lefty to replace the hurting Clay Buchholz. A third round pick of the Rays in 2003, then a first round pick of the Tigers in 2006, the southpaw has had a decent minor league career, going 10-19, 3.66 over 57 starts and 297.2 innings (3-3, 2.47 at Pawtucket this year) but a sorry major league one at 15-26, 5.84, over 54 starts and 294.1 frames. Control between the two is Miller's bane, however on a good team he is worth a serious look, and in a deep league is even worth a gamble.
Atlanta brought up Dominican flychaser Wilkin Ramirez as they deal with a spate of injuries. The Dominican, drafted by the Tigers in 2003 at age 17, Ramirez hit .275-5-35 over a short rookie season, and made a splash hitting .256-107-403 as a minor leaguer, with 151 steals. 224 walks to 884 strikeouts shows his weakness, although during a 15-game stint at Detroit in 2009, he went .364-1-3, including hitting the homer his debut game. Playing time is the question, but Ramirez could at least be good for a few steals in an NL format.
Pete Kozma was the Cardinals first round pick in the 2007 draft, and the team brought up the infielder this week. Primarily a shortstop, Kozma might have some glove, but his bat has, and continues to be weak. With .240-28-200 numbers over 294 minor league games, Kozma was spending his first year as high at Triple-A this season at Memphis. There he went .219-2-22 over 51 games, logging an OPS of .598. Probably better to pass for now.
For some reason I have long been a fan of Collin Balester, though his numbers don't bear out very little to support much of anything in the righty. Balester was a fourth round pick of the then Expos in 2004, and his 49-49, 4.22 over 119 starts and 171 games in the minors, with 546 strikeouts over 717.1 innings. In the majors Balester has been 4-12, 5.41 over 134 innings, over which the right hander struck out 100, walked 56, and allowed 146 hits (1.485 WHIP), but it is the 25 homers allowed that has really killed him. Reduce those by half and Balester could be ok. Don't take him, but do watch him.
Since it seems I write about a Royal a week, this time let's look at the hottest of them of late in shortstop Alcides Escobar. Acquired as part of the Zack Grienke swap, the 24-year old is hitting .250-0-12 overall, but last week stroked the ball to a .526-0-4 clip over the past week. With just a .282 OBP, although Escobar does make more contact than not with just 30 strikeouts and 11 walks over his 252 at-bats this year. As Escobar ages and learns along with his young teammates, he should improve all numbers, and for now, well, ride the hot hand.
The Dodgers 22-year old newbie arm is that of Rubby De La Rosa, who was signed as an amateur free agent in 2007. The Dodgers are good at young arms and though de la Rosa has a 4.58 ERA to go with a 3-1 mark, similarly has he struck out 21 over 19.2 innings. As a minor leaguer de la Rosa was 10-9, 2.90, over 220 innings, with 225 strikeouts to 179 hits and 99 walks. De La Rosa had never pitched above Double-A when called up, and this youngster is another I would grab now and ideally never look back.
Selected in the second round of the 2008 draft, Brad Hand had a good minor league run prior to his advancement to the Show this week. Hand was 26-24, 3.78, with 350 strikeouts over 385 minor league innings, and like De La Rosa, Hand had not pitched above AA until he reached the majors. Though the lefty is 0-3 so far in a Fish uniform, he also sports a good 3.45 ERA and has allowed just nine hits over 15.2 innings. It is the nine walks to 10 strikeouts that raises concern, but Hand is a talented arm you want to keep an eye on.
Finally, Chicago--that would be on the North Side--has had a lot of injuries in the infield and so they brought forth infielder D.J. LeMahieu to help out. A second round pick in the 2009 draft, LeMahieu is yet another youngin' (he is 22) who is just experiencing a first taste of ball about the AA level, with minor league totals of .325-3-134 over 226 games. When called up he was hitting .358-2-27 at Tennessee in the Southern League, and in the majors he’s .294-0-1 over 15 games. He may stick, but it might take a while for LeMahieu to earn an everyday job.