First and foremost, a happy Memorial Day to one and all, and of course, to our courageous comrades keeping our wonderful country and citizenry protected, double thanks!
Memorial Day, as we all know, is the first real bench mark of the baseball, and more specifically fantasy season, and this year is no different. So, whether you are grilling burgers in the back yard, queing salmon at the beach, or gobbling dogs at the Yard, have a great and safe day.
We can start this week with the name that made a big buzz over the previous week rookie-wise, Kevin Gausman. Baltimore's first round pick in last year's draft, out of LSU, Gausman is 22 years old. He signed in time to put up a negligible stat base, going 0-1, 3.60 over 15 innings split between Aberdeen and Frederick. Gausman began this season at Double-A Bowie, going 2-4, 3.11 over eight starts and 46.1 innings, punching out 49 while walking just five and allowing 44 hits (1.058 WHIP). He threw pretty much as expected for a first Major League start: five innings, seven hits, four whiffs and a pair of walks. Expect him to mostly keep on that path, but figure his trajectory is not unlike say Justin Grimm as opposed to Matt Harvey. Which does not mean he is a bad acquisition, but it does suggest he might not help as much as he hurts this year.
Seattle advanced a prospect I have always liked a lot in infielder Carlos Triunfel. Signed out of the Dominican Republic, Triunfel has a .276-35-276 minor league line with 53 swipes. The 118 walks to 377 strikeouts are obiously his bane, and even this year, although he is hitting .300-4-19 over Tacoma's first 44 games, the shortstop (there) has just seven walks to 35 whiffs. Rated as a top 100 prospect by "Baseball America" twice (#62 in 2008, #82 in 2009), I always thought he would crack the lineup and be a solid player, and at 23 years old, he still could. However, this either shows you how fleeting the fame of being a top prospect can be, or that making it in the Majors is really hard. Or both. Still, I do like this kid, especially with Dustin Ackley continuing to show so little improvement (and again showing how hard it is to make it).
Staying in Seattle, with the demotion of Jesus Montero, Kelly Shoppach looks to be the guy that will get the bulk of playing time. I am a long-time Shoppach fan as a $1 buy guy in a deep format. Shoppach does not hit for too much average (.225 career hitter) and strikes out about as often as Triunfel, but, he has some good pop, and averages 20 homers over his 162-game mean. A great #2 catcher in AL-only formats.
Toronto brought back speedster Anthony Gose, the 22-year-old who plucked 15 bases for the Jays last year over 56 games and 166 at-bats. Gose, originally drafted by the Phils in 2008, then swapped to the Astros with J.A. Happ for Roy Oswalt in 2010, was then turned over the same day to Toronto for Brett Wallace. With a .261-32-196 minor league line, Gose can hit some, but it is the 233 stolen bases over 566 games that jump out. Toronto is starting to get it together, and Gose can help the team and you with swipes for a spell, at least until Jose Reyes returns, but don't expect too much more from him.
For some reason, a lot of this season--and especially this week--is loaded with re-treads. Now, I don't mean this in a pejorative sense, for all these guys are in the Majors, a nut that is tough enough to crack in the first place. Such a guy is now Oriole outfielder Chris Dickerson, drafted first in the 32nd round of the 2000 June fete by the Yankees, and then again by the Reds in 2003 in the 16th round after doing time at UNLV-Las Vegas. Dickerson worked his way to the Bronx, via a trade to the Brewers and then Bombers in 2011. As a minor leaguer, Dickerson posted a .267-7-236 line with 178 steals and 421 walks to 847 strikeouts. He has actually been decent as a major league fifth outfielder, going .271-14-55 over 561 at-bats with 29 steals. It is playing time opportunities that have held him back. Now 31, signed as a free agent during the off-season, Dickerson is getting some play with the Orioles and to date has made the most of it (.326-3-8). So, in a deep format, he is more than worth a gamble.
Speaking of outfielders with C.D. initials, the Padres' Chris Denorfia is finally getting a chance to play, and regularly, and I will probably jinx him with this, but staying healthy to boot. Now an eight-year veteran, Denorfia has logged just 483 games over that span, mostly getting killed due to body breakdowns. He has a career major league mark of .283-27-126 over that span, and this year Denorfia has played in 43 games with a .300-2-16 line that includes five steals. He has a .350 OBP (12 BB:27 K) and is a pretty good play in most formats. Meaning as a fifth outfielder in an NFBC format, he will do you no harm, and in a deep NL format he will be a help.
I was really a supporter of White Sox uber-utility guy Jeff Keppinger going into this season, especially coming off his .325-9-40 season last year with Tampa. Keppinger has unfortunately started this year woefully slow, but he is .389-1-4 this week, pushing his season numbers to .218-1-14. He also has 20% of his hits this past week, and a line drive hitter, Keppinger is exactly the type of player I would try to grab from an unsatisfied owner.
Closing with a couple of arms, I have always been a Vin Mazzaro fan, though like Triunfel, Mazarro has been short to deliver, though he has at least shown some flashes. Still, a 15-21, 5.22 record over 286 American League innings, Mazzaro, now 26, has hit it with the Pirates, going 3-0, 2.50 over his first 18 innings this season. Yes, he is a middle reliever, and yes, his opportunities will be thusly affected, but it is good to ride the hot hand.
This week's winner of the Willy Loman Journeyman award in the Majors is Angels' pitcher Jerome Williams. Drafted in the first round of the 1999 draft (#39 overall) by the Giants, Williams was then traded to the Cubs (for Latroy Hawkins), then went on to the Nationals, Twins, Athletics, and Dodgers before settling in Anaheim. Williams is 4-1, 2.58 over 52.1 innings so far with the Halos, with 33 strikeouts and a 1.13 WHIP. It is kind of funny that of all the high priced players the Angels have, the relatively cheap $2 million investment this year in Williams is a winner. Either way, he is probably worth a flier at this juncture.