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Sunday 25th Feb 2018

Wow, it has been a pretty good week of top notch prospects making their Major League debuts, so let's jump right into it.

The Braves promoted the receiving end of their great off-season deal with Arizona, whereby Shelby Miller fetched Ender Inciarte and 2015 first-round pick of the D-backs Dansby Swanson. The 22-year-old shortstop needed just 127 minor league games, over which he notched .277-10-66 numbers with 13 swipes. Swanson posted an .803 OPS, banging 36% of his hits for extra bases, while walking 64 times to 98 strikeouts (.367 OBP). Swanson is off to a good start and seems to have all the tools to be the core of a team in Atlanta and roto a la Corey Seager, meaning if available in your keeper league, grab. In fact, he makes a good gamble in throw back leagues as well.

It did not take long for the Twins to decide that newly acquired hurler Adalberto Mejia was ready for the big time, advancing the spoils of the Eduardo Nunez trade deadline swap to Target Field. I have long been a Mejia admirer, and even noted the 23-year-old Dominican a few weeks back. Mejia sports a 42-29, 3.32 minor league line that features 482 strikeouts over 559 innings. However, his strikeout rate in Triple-A has been a cool 65 whiffs over 65 innings and has an aggregate 1.182 WHIP. Mejia throws pretty hard (middle to upper 90's) and has dominance potential.

Oakland is likely satisfied with the progress made by shortstop Marcus Semien, so they will have to figure where to place newly promoted infielder Chad Pinder. A second-round selection of the team in 2013, Pinder has a solid minor league line of .280-45-200 over 360 minor league games, with a decent enough .331 OBP (87 walks to 351 strikeouts), posting a .258-14-51 line at Nashville this season before the call earlier in the week. Pinder did start 89 games at second in the Minors, and with Jed Lowrie back on the injury gang, Pinder could get an extended look at the Keystone slot between now and October. He did look good at the AFL last fall, and might even return to Phoenix this fall to get some more playing time up the middle.

As if that was not enough, Houston promoted their long-toothed rookie in 32-year-old Yulieski Gurriel, a Cuban national infielder who has banged out a .335-250-1028 line over 15 seasons played in his home nation and then Japan. Gurriel played in only 15 minor league games (250-2-14) before he was called to the Show, and though he does have a ton of experience at a very high level of play, it has indeed taken the latest wave of Cubans a longer time frame to adjust and succeed, and at an age where most players' skills begin to erode, I would tread carefully.

One other issue for Houston and Gurriel is Alex Bregman seems to be laying claim to third base. Bregman, who was a first-round selection of the Astros last year, has, like Pinder, been a shortstop and second sacker but Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve are likely ensconced, so third is the likely slot. Bregman hit .300-24-95 over 124 games, and then came up to Minute Maid. Bregman has been hot, hitting .286-3-13 over the past three weeks, and is another guy to keep on your short-term radar and long-term teams.

26-year-old Keon Broxton is also older than a lot of his page mates and at this point is better travelled. Originally signed by the Diamondbacks in 2009, the Pirates then obtained rights to the outfielder, and then swapped him to the Brewers for Jason Rogers at the end of 2015. Broxton had a decent minor league line of .255-83-363 with a fine 168 swipes, but a rather paltry 368 walks to 1027 strikeouts. He clubbed a pair of dingers on Sunday, bringing his mark this year to .250-6-14 over 53 games, but is probably not much of a long-term speculation player. However, if you are filling a hole to win this season, Broxton could indeed hit a couple of big flies and steal a few bags.

Let's close with a couple of relievers. I really like setup guys like Derek Law of the Giants, who was a ninth-round selection of San Francisco in 2011. Such pitchers can keep the counting numbers going while tossing a few innings a week that generally don't hurt. As a minor leaguer, Law assembled a line that included 46 saves over 192.6 innings, while striking out 261. With the Giants this season, Law is 4-2, 2.03 over 48.6 frames with 45 whiffs and a 1.05 WHIP. Law will get some use down the stretch and adds to the longtime closer question in San Francisco which also features Hunter Strickland, Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla.

The Mets' Josh Smoker was a first-round selection of the Nationals out of high school in 2007 and has functioned as a reliever since 2011, accumulating 12 saves while striking out 292 over 298.3 innings. Smoker's WHIP dropped a lot once he moved to the pen, and he has been up and down with the Metropolitans this season, quietly putting up a pretty good line of 4-4, 1.50 over 66 innings with 65 punchouts, a 1.05 WHIP and three conversions. I'm not sure if Smoker is a closer of the future, but he is one of those guys that can fill a spot on your rotation late in the season and keep things stable.

Feel free to comment, and don't forget you can hit me up @lawrmichaels. 

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