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Saturday 16th Dec 2017

So now it seems we are racing our way to the All Star Break, it being just a month in the distance. And, at the same time we can anticipate the arrival of Stephen Strasburg, tomorrow as the stream of prospects making their arrivals at The Show continues.

But, on top of Strasburg, one of the best hitting prospects in the minors was also promoted Sunday, that being Mike Stanton. Just 20, Stanton was hitting .311-21-52 over 52 games at Jacksonville this season when promoted (yes, those numbers are real). He also boasted a .441 OBP and career numbers of .274-89-284 totals as a minor leaguer. Stanton does strike out (371 as a minor leaguer) but otherwise, he is just a monster as his .293-39-97 2008 year as an 18-year old also suggests. Grab him. Stash him. Enjoy owning him.

Stepping away from the prospects for a minute, I was again busy tracking the veterans with new venues--and ideally second chances that will reinvigorate careers--and I want to start with a guy I paid $2 for in Tout Wars, Pat Burrell. Just two years removed from a .250-33-86 season in Philadelphia, Burrell was a disappointment in Tampa, who released him this season (.202-2-13).  San Francisco is hurting still for some pop, and Burrell figures to get a chance to contribute back in the league where he enjoyed his success. And, if you grabbed him in an AL only format, and were able to hold on, by next week Burrell will qualify in the outfield.

Then, former Giant Randy Winn was let go by the Yankees, and that was not really unexpected. New York is so deep in the outfield that is was unlikely Winn would get much of a chance. Winn had an off 2009 (.262-2-51) but he is only that one season removed from back-to-back .300 seasons. Winn is exactly the kind of player who manager Tony LaRussa is good at exploiting, so he is a good pickup as a #5 flychaser in your NL only format.

Across the bay, Gabe Gross has been playing a very good fourth outfielder spot, and more important, went 14-for-31 between May 25 and the weekend series with the Twins (note Gross hit the ball very hard on Friday, but always at the wrong place). Gross is clearly outfielder #4 in Oakland, especially when Coco Crisp returns, but he will get 300-plus at-bats over the season, and contribute a few more dingers and hits if you are in an AL only format.

The Detroit experiment with Dontrelle Willis is also over, as the Tigers swapped off the big and ineffective lefty to Arizona. Certainly the move cannot hurt Willis, who has not really contributed since 006 when he was 12-12, 3.87 with the Fish. Since then it has been injuries and ineffectiveness, and though Willis did win his first start with the Dbacks this week, his four walks to three strikeouts is what is really revealing. I would leave Willis alone until he gives a reason, and three-to-four starts, to make us want him.

Detroit replaced the departed Willis with Max Scherzer, whom they acquired last season from the same Diamondbacks. Scherzer struggled this season and was demoted, but over two starts at Toldeo, Scherzer was 2-0, 0.60 over 15 innings, with 17 whiffs to a pair of walks. Apparently the stint helped a lot as Scherzer whiffed 14 of 17 outs he recorded during his first start back. You can grab--or reactivate--Scherzer for the coming week.

The Red Sox, also deep in flychasers, swapped Jonathan Van Every to the Bucs, a team that has been a campground for reclamation projects. At 30, Van Every had minor league totals of .257-128-413 over 772 games, and is not likely to get more than a platoon gig at PNC. He could make an interesting Strat-O-Matic platoon card next year, but that is optimistic. As for fantasy value, well, forget it. 

Danny Valencia had an excellent defensive evening on Friday versus the Athletics, spearing a couple of hard liners into "look what I found" plays. Valencia also walked, but he is actually a legitimate third base option for the Twins, who have been struggling to fill the hot corner all season. Selected in the 19th round of the 2006 draft, Valencia, 25, has progressed well since the draft, in particular splitting 2009 between AA (.284-7-29) New Britain, and AAA (.286-7-41) at Rochester. His minor league totals read .298-54-256, and this season he was .292-0-24 at Triple-A when summoned. I like his sticking and holding the third base job.

Finally, Atlanta, who has done well with their young arms the past years, advanced Craig Kimbrel, their #3 selection in the 2008 draft. Kimbrel is a reliever, who is 6-5, 1.84 with 36 saves over 69 games finished over 89 games. Probably the most revealing stat around Kimbrel is the 198 strikeouts he garnered over just innings as a minor leaguer. He is a closer waiting to happen, and a very good pick up now in an NL or mixed format.

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