Here we are at the All Star break, eagerly anticipating the second half, or not being able to stand it till the season is over and the 2018 drafts begin.
So, this time, let me give you some names I think make great pick-ups for the second half and ideally beyond.
Do enjoy the few days off from boxes, and remember to spend some time with the family and those you love bereft of baseball and DFS and the looniness it brings.
I am going to start with some youngsters, and the youth brigade begins with Jesse Winker, who got a look at a cup of coffee in April, but is back with the big team, ideally for good. A compensation pick from 2012, Winker has assembled a solid minor league line of .297-56-311, adding a .302-2-37 2017 Louisville total to that sum. Winker does not posess a ton of power, but with an .844 OPS line, extra-base hits are out there, and his .397 minor league OBP is 100 points higher than Billy Hamilton's.
It should not be long before the White Sox Yoan Moncada claims his spot in the infield of one of the teams juggling players and struggling to re-define itself. With a .282-11-33 mark with 16 swipes, the 22-year-old really does not seem to have much more to show at Triple-A, so the team should let him go at the big league level. And, he should respond.
The Cubs had enough outfield depth before the 2017 season to feel ok about swapping Jorge Soler, so the fact that the team is struggling filling their flychaser roles seems surprising. Clearly the Cubs are struggling to prove 2016 was not a fluke and perhaps the tonic is their 20-year-old uber prospect, Eloy Jimenez. Though Jimenez is just playing at High-A, he is hitting .271-8-32 and has a minor league line of .293-32-173 over just 253 games. Sure, Jimenez is young, and a way off in some ways, but he could be the shot in the arm the team needs. And, sooner or later, he will be very good.
Brad Miller had a big 2016 but thus far has had a frustrating 2017 with a .203-3-17 record, though he has spent the last month on the DL. Back from the DL, Miller homered on Sunday, and though he only hit two more homers in the second half last year compared to the first half, he bumped his OBP by 34 points, and his OPS by 83, and helping his surprisingly strong team seems like a likely prescription.
Pitching is so dicey, we all know, but the Rays have been so good at developing young arms, and Jacob Faria is one I both like a lot and trust. The nearly 24-year-old has a minor league line of 41-32, 3.13 over 599 innings with 623 whiffs and was 6-1, 3.07 at Durham when summoned. Since then, he has posted a 4-0, 2.11 record with 37 whiffs over 38.3 frames. I really like this kid.
Injuries have kept Boston's Sam Travis from claiming starting status at first in Beantown following the retirement of David Ortiz. Travis has a minor league mark of .298-25-165 over 289 games with a solid .359 OBP (102 walks to 182 whiffs). Neither Mitch Moreland or Hanley Ramirez are long-term answers to much for the Sox, and Travis is on the roster now, boasting .275-0-1 totals over 16 games. He should get increased playing time as 2017 concludes, and own a starting gig next year.
Seattle's Ben Gamel was a tenth round pick of the Pinstripes in 2010 but was swapped to the Mariners at the deadline last year. Although Gamel was in the Minors during the first month of this season, he has delivered .323-4-29 totals for the Mariners and has a .288-27-319 mark with 97 swipes in the Minors. The pair of Gamel and Mitch Haniger offer the next generation of good flychasers in the Northwest.
Let's finish with a 2017 June draft selection, that being another Ray, Brendan McKay. McKay, who pitches and hits, reminds me a lot of John Olerud, the former Jay who threw and hit and made the Majors just a few months after being drafted, never to return to the Minors. As a hurler for Louisville last year, McKay was 11-3, 2.56 with 146 whiffs over 109.3 frames while simultaneously hitting .341-18-57. Expect his minor league stay to be short and his big league stay to be long.
You can find me @lawrmichaels.