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Tuesday 20th Feb 2018

What a week for Ultra Players, with arguably the best cluster of prospects advanced during the season, ever.

So let's jump right in with Pittsburgh's promising flychaser, Jose Tabata. I have written about Tabata several times, including after viewing his impressive skills at the AFL last year. Tabata is kind of like Pedro Sandoval in that he does not look like he should should have a quick bat. At a listed 5'11", 215 pounds (I don't think he is that tall, personally), Tabata plays center field and stole 106 bases over six  minor league seasons. Just 21, he hit .297-29-240 with a a .365 OBP, and the 21-year old will probably stick and probably be able to play just fine. He is a great gamble in any format, if he is still available (which is probably the case with most of the names on this week's list).

The Buccos also advanced hurler Brad Lincoln over the past week. Lincoln was the Pirates first round pick in 2006, and has pretty good control, having posted a 20-21, 3.82 over 332 innings. Lincoln whiffed 256, a decent number, but walked just 66 over that period. The 25-year old was doing well (6-2, 3.6, with 55 whiffs over 68. innings with 14 walks this year) during his second stint at AAA Indianapolis. Lincoln is also worthy of a free agent selection, not to mention reserve spot for a season or so when he will be an asset.

Boston is another squad where two players were promoted over the week, of notce. First, due to the injury to DiceK, Scott Atchison started the Saturday game versus the Phillies. At 34, Atchison is as far removed from being a prospect as one can be and is probably not the best fantasy gamble. Over 85 major league innings, and 63 games, even though he does have 82 whiffs but he also has allowed 85 hits and 31 walks, and is pretty much just a AAA pitcher picking up the slack. Yes, he is a Red Sox, but no he does belong on a roster.

However, Boston also advanced outfielder Daniel Nava, a Northern California native who made as lovely a splash in Boston on Saturday as is humanly possible by hitting a slam on the first pitch he saw. Nava, unquestionably an under-the-radar guy in this year of the uber-prospects, is the feel good story, having overcome health issues and other obstacles on his unlikely path to the show. I think of him as a David Eckstein kind of player, and guys like that should not be dismissed. Nava has a .979 OPS over his four pro seasons, and when you think he is 27, starting that late makes his appearance the more remarkable. .342-35-192 over 1003 at-bats. Don't sell him short.

Then, you want to grab Carlos Santana, the new Indians backstop who is a stick-and-a-half. Santana had 2171 plate appearances in the minors with .290-75-360 totals, including .31-3-51 numbers this year at Columbus. Santana has 333 professional walks to 332 whiffs, an incredible number, an .899 OPS, and, well, you simply want him on your team, especially as your backstop.

Baltimore promoted their fifth round pick in 2007, Jake Arrieta, earlier in the week. Arrieta, 24, is a big guy (6'4", 225) has a fine 23-18, 2.89 ERA over 59 starts. He has tossed 339.2 minor league innings, with 332 strikeouts to 270 hits with 141 walks. At Norfolk this year, he was 6-2, 1.85, and had 64 whiffs over 73 innings, with just 58 hits allowed.  Again, Arrieta is a guy you want to take a chance on or stash. 

Of course I have to note Stephen Strasburg who won his first two starts including a Sunday start against the Indians. I suppose everyone knows he whiffed 14, including the final seven batters he faced. A singular talent, Strasburg was the #1 pick of the 2009 draft, and was 7-2, 1.30, and he struck out 65 over 55 innings, allowing just 13 walks to 31 hits. I cannot imagine Strasburg is available anywhere in the universe, but if he is, don't let that continue. 

Finally Justin Masterson, a pitcher whom many of us have coveted and anticipated for the last couple of seasons might finally being coming into his own. Masterson has won his last two starts, after starting the season 0-5, shut out his fomer team, the Red Sox, on two hits and two walks earlier in the week. Once Masterson has some confidence, he will have some consistency, and once he has that, he will be a force.


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