Though the standings and the stats are still on the volatile side, things are settling into a bit of a groove for the 2017 season, and for sure, the injuries and the ineffectiveness issues are still first and foremost in the eyes of the Roto Owner. So, after Easter Eggs, and likely an Easter ham to go with Sunday Night baseball, what is now on the horizon as we start to move into the groove of the baseball grind?
Well, a cluster of newbies appeared this week, including perhaps the first of the big name prospects of 2017 in the form of Jesse Winker. A 2012 Type-A Compensation selection of the Reds, Winker scored #71 on last year's Top 250 coming off a .282-13-55 season at Pensacola, and this year logged in at #147 following his .303-3-45 Triple-A 2016 campaign over 104 games. Winker has a career minor league OBP of .399 with 298 walks to 343 strikeouts coupled with 531 hits and is a guy you want to own in Ultra Leagues.
The Pinstripes fourth-round selection in 2014, Jordan Montgomery went a combined 14-5, 2.13 with 134 whiffs over 139.6 innings last year, good enough to score #121 on my prospect list. As a minor leaguer, Montgomery went 25-14, 2.57 over 297.6 innings with 293 whiffs, and his first Yankee Stadium start was good for 4.6 innings with seven strikeouts. He should be good for another start, meaning for now in an AL-only format, Montgomery is worth a shot.
The Twins have been a bit surprising to start the season, and shortstop Jorge Polanco is one of the pleasant parts of that surprise. Polanco actually grabbed the starting job last year, hitting .282-4-27 over 69 games, and has started 2017 strong, hitting .302-1-5 thus far. Polanco has some speed (60 swipes in the Minors) and decent on-base totals (.346) that have maintained with the promotion to the Show (.341). Finally, Polanco is playing every day, and at-bats are the name of the game.
Last year, I thought enough of the Rockies' Antonio Senzatela to rank him #31 on the 2016 Top 250 based upon his 9-9, 2.51 season with 143 strikeouts over 154 innings. 2016 included three trips to the DL but Senzatela still went 4-1, 1.82 over seven starts and 43.3 innings. Senzatela has made three Colorado starts thus far, going 2-0, 2.37 after besting the Giants on Sunday. With Jon Gray and Kyle Freeland, maybe this is a new day for Rockies pitchers?
Anyone been waiting for the now 28-year-old former first-rounder from Stanford, Jason Castro, to hit? Well, at Target, as a real vet, maybe the time has come with Castro hitting a modest .261, with a homer and seven RBI. That makes him worth a look in your AL-only format.
Scrounging for saves? So are the Rangers, who have to let go of Sam Dyson following his latest meltdown Sunday. Maybe the real answer is with Jose Leclerc, who bagged 23 saves in 34 tries in the Minors while placing a 21-22, 3.64 over 366.1 innings. Within those totals live 25 starts along with a fine 400 punchouts, and thus far Leclerc has a save in Arlington, something Dyson has not managed.
With Zach Britton hurt, and potentially down for awhile, look to longtime minor league closer Brad Brach to get the first shot at Baltimore saves. Over six minor league seasons, Brach went 21-16, 2.47, with 119 conversions within the system. Brach struck out 375 over 300.3 innings and allowed just 247 hits (17 homers) over that span. The kid was groomed for this gig, so he should do ok.
Some guys live a charmed life, and Reds hurler Michael Lorenzen certainly has had a charmed season thus far. To start, Lorenzen banged a game-winning pinch-hit homer on April 6. On April 10, Lorenzen copped a win, and on Saturday a save, though the question is what Lorenzen's role is with Raisel Iglesias owning the closing gig. But Lorenzen surely seems to have some good start karma this year, and that is nothing to dismiss. Just saying.
Infielder Miguel Rojas has been spelling the Miami hot corner with Martin Prado injured, and Rojas has done well, hitting .367-0-2 with an equally impressive five walks to six strikeouts so far. Rojas can play all over the infield, although his big league numbers are indeed better than those in the Minors (.244-20-221 over 790 games). Still, in a deep NL format, the everyday at-bats are the godsend. Exploit accordingly.
Find me @lawrmichaels.