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Monday 18th Dec 2017

How cool is it that the top prospects are being moved to the Majors, with a theoretical "future star" being promoted every week?

It is just great, and impacting every format with guys like Kris Bryant, who might have been grabbed in your ultra league, and even as a reserve pick in your single-season league, but where minor leaguers cannot be rostered, and especially in daily formats, where Bryant, and now the Rangers new toy, Joey Gallo are sought after players costing a pretty price in daily games.

So, what about Gallo, summoned almost by emergency after Adrian Beltre's injury, and Gallo has been an instant hit, and has been hitting, and he could indeed be here to stay despite what seems to be a premature arrival at the Show. True, Gallo does whiff a lot, with 478 minor league strikeouts, but that is pretty normal--a lot of whiffs--in younger players and his 209 walks point to a pretty good .382 OBP over 330 games despite a .268 average. Gallo, just 21 years old, is .313-2-5 thus far and truth is, I do think unless a hideous slump occurs, Gallo is both here to stay, and worth the investment.

As if that were not enough, the Astros have brought forth their top prospect, shortstop Carlos Correa, and handed him the starting gig. Correa, just 20, has ripped through every level of everything, posting a .313-28-199 line over just 282 minor league games, including .276-3-12 totals at Triple-A Fresno this year. Correa has 54 swipes and a solid .394 OBP (133 walks to 211 whiffs) and is a must pick where available in any format.

With Jorge Soler down, Junior Lake is back and getting some platoon time with the Cubbies. I confess a soft spot for Lake, who has a .270-49-278 line over 655 minor league games, with 122 swipes. Lake has had streaky success in the Majors, hitting nine homers over 108 games last year, but he is a free-swinger with a .283 big league OBP (30 walks to 194 whiffs). Still, if you have to fill a hole, he could give a little pop in a deep league while Soler convalesces.

Flipping to some hurlers, a cluster of well thought of ones also raised some eyebrows, starting with the Brewers' Tyler Cravy. A 17th round pick in 2009, Cravy is somewhat under the radar, but his 34-26, 3.66 mark over 466.3 frames belies 448 strikeouts, a 1.22 WHIP, and just 31 homers allowed. Cravy as 6-4, 3.60 over 55 innings at Colorado Springs, and he excelled in his first big league start, taking a loss but allowing just four hits and a run over seven innings. He could be one of those quiet gems.

Last week, I wrote about Shaun Marcum, and this week's version is Dustin McGowan, now both 33, and with the Phillies. McGowan, a first-rounder by the Jays in 2003, had nasty stuff coming up, but also had nasty injuries which delayed his progress, as he missed 2009, 2010 and 2012. McGowan's numbers have looked worse than iffy since this last return especially (1-1, 4.67 ERA, 1.92 WHIP) but he is on a poor team, and still getting his sea legs. Track McGowan in deeper NL formats as he could indeed settle in, again under the radar (which seems to be a theme today) and pick up, then drop as necessary.

Since under the radar is the theme, the Tigers' Kyle Ryan, a 12th round pick by Detroit in 2009, has come up and had some nice success, going 3-0, 2.66, over eight games and a couple of starts--two late last year, one this--with a 1.082 WHIP. Ryan's minor league numbers are not unlike those of Cravy, with a 37-24, 3.66 ERA over 705 frames. Ryan is not a strikeout guy (469 in the Minors), so he is somewhat less desirable in formats like DFS where whiffs are everything, but in a deep AL league, he could be a great fifth or sixth starter, adding some stabilizing stats at the bottom of your rotation. 

Let's close with Joe Ross, the Nationals new toy, and brother to the Padres' Tyson Ross. Joe was pressed into service last weekend, making the jump from Double-A Harrisburg where he was 2-2, 2.81 over nine starts, with a 1.13 WHIP and 54 strikeouts over 51.3 innings. Ross got knocked around a little in his first start, but he has pretty good stuff and presence. Ross is likely to go back down to Triple-A, but he is more than worth grabbing and stashing.

DFS Watch: OK, we are willing to adjust to the fun market of Daily Games, in fact you know we play FantasyScore and participate in the FanDuel Tout Wars contest, so let's add to our daily MastersDaily coverage and simply pick a couple of series/games/starts this week that look good.

Pitchers to Watch: Chris Sale gets a couple of starts, first against the young and swinging Astros (second most MLB whiffs) on Monday, then the Rays (eighth most MLB whiffs) on Saturday. Sale, like his NL counterpart Clayton Kershaw, is settling in as one of the top pitchers in the American League, and he makes a fun play.

If there is a hotter pitcher, that would be Chris Archer, and he is facing those same White Sox on Friday. The Sox don't really strike out so much, but they have a team OBP of .296, and Archer should be able to take care of that team.

Series to Watch: The Blue Jays and Red Sox mix it up over the weekend at Fenway, and if there is a chance to exploit hitters in the DFS universe, that looks like it. Both teams rank among the bottom in pitching, as well as homers allowed, and with the likes of Hanley Ramirez, Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson and the very hot Dustin Pedroia and Xander Bogaerts all playing, there could be points o' plenty to exploit.

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