Travis Snider| Toronto| OF| 17 percent Yahoo! ownership
Oliver ROS: .251/.313/.420
A regular resident of this column, Travis Snider appears yet again. Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos recently noted that the organization is happy with Snider’s approach at the plate and mentions his opening up his stance. Good news for those hoping to see him back in the majors.
His home run totals in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League leave much to be desired, but hide some positives, namely a stellar 15.5 percent strikeout rate. In his last 10 games, he has been exceptionally hot, to the tune of .500/.558/.842 with eight doubles, one triple and one home run in 38 at bats. That’s 10 extra base hits in just 38 at-bats, and it’s not as if he’s taking an all-or-nothing approach: His walk-to-strikeout rate (BB:K) is five-to-four in that same time span.
The Blue Jays have seen lackluster play from Rajai Davis and Juan Rivera, and of course they have Corey Patterson receiving regular playing time. (Patterson, in spite of his admirable recent play, has 4,360 plate appearances that suggest this is the best you’ll get.)
As the Jays creep further out of the playoff race, expect to see them look at some of their long term pieces, including Snider. A sleeper favorite of mine coming into the season because of his raw power and ability to hold his own at such a young age in the majors, he remains a potential power source for deep leaguers upon promotion. Should he get hot, he could find his way onto some medium sized mixed-league rosters as well. Keep tabs on him, but it’s probably not necessary to race to the free agent pool at this point. Those in dynasty formats should give strong consideration to taking advantage of a buying opportunity on a young man who’s just 23.
Recommendation: Should be stashed in some large mixed-leagues with deep benches, and by owners in AL-only formats with bench wiggle room.
Mike Moustakas| Kansas City| 3B| 39 percent Yahoo! ownership
Oliver ROS: .255/.298/.458
The Kansas Royals have dipped into their pool of minor league talent and plucked Mike Moustakas. He’s had success in his first five games, reaching base by both a walk and a hit in each of his first four games. The surprising part of that last sentence is the walk part, as he’s not noted for drawing too many free passes. Most likely it’s a small sample size issue, but it is something to pay attention to moving forward. He’s also smacked his first career home run, something he should do with some frequency in his career given his strong power tool.
Talented enough to make waves at a weak position in leagues of all sizes, Moustakas should see his ownership rate shoot up in no time at all. He’s likely already owned in most competitive leagues, but the question is, what do you do if you are an owner of his?
I’d suggest fielding offers. His Minor League Equivalency (MLE) for his 2011 output is .239/.294/.405. That’s putrid. While MLEs aren’t the be-all-and-end-all, they should serve as some sort of baseline for those looking to gauge expected major league performance out of the gate. Moustakas’ bat is good enough to transition quickly, but it may not. With the excitement still in the air over his promotion, now may serve as the high point for dealing him in re-draft leagues. Owners shouldn’t give him away, but packaging him with another solid player in an attempt to net a more established talent is worth kicking the tires on.
Recommendation: Should be universally owned.
Rich Harden| Oakland| SP/RP| 1 percent Yahoo! ownership
Oliver ROS: 4.25 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 9.2 K/9, 4.1 BB/9
For many, Rich Harden’s year to date line above says it all: injured. A perpetual occupant of the disabled list, Harden is on the mend yet again, and ready to tease those willing to allow him to. At this point though, what’s the real expense? He’s almost universally unowned, and only requires being stashed on the fantasy DL. Wednesday saw him throw two innings of a simulated game, and he’s expected to start for Triple-A Sacramento on Monday.
He was both terrible and injured for the Rangers last year, but was an absolute strikeout machine his previous two seasons. Rob Neyer may be reluctant to be fooled again by Harden, but I’ll be a willing slave to my lust of strikeouts and fall prey once again to the white elephant that is the dream of a healthy and productive Harden. Those who clicked the link to Neyer’s article will see the typical coach talk with manager Bob Melvin gushing about Harden’s fastball. As Ben Pritchett noted in the wonderful world of social media (i.e. on my facebook wall), it’ll take more than coach talk to convince most that his fastball is lively, and rightfully so. I hope Monday’s rehab start will produce reports of actual radar gun readings.
Those in deep leagues with an open DL spot would be wise to stash Harden. Others should add him to their watch lists, as starters capable of striking out more than a batter an inning don’t grow on trees. Perhaps Harden no longer qualifies as one of those select few; we shall see. Further aiding his appeal is his spacious home ballpark, which is especially helpful for him given his extreme fly ball tendencies. In a change of roles, Harden is looking to fill the shoes of one of the many injured A’s starters. Who’d have thought?
Recommendation: Should be stashed on the DL by large mixed-league owners in need of pitching help, and those in some AL-only formats in need of pitching help.
Andrew Miller| Boston| SP| 1 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 2.47 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 8.36 K/9, 4.8 BB/9 (Triple-A)
Oliver ROS: No projection
Where there is a long time underachieving former top prospect showing signs of life, you’re likely to find me lurking not far behind. This time the lead role is played by Andrew Miller, who looks to have his date set to return to the big stage. A former first-round pick of the Detroit Tigers, and one of the main trade pieces in acquiring Miguel Cabrera, Miller has been a bust to date, but has a chance on Monday to begin work on shedding that label. The Red Sox intend to promote him to face the San Diego Padres, offering him a soft opponent for his 2011 major league debut.
This season began much the same as previous years for Miller, with spotty control and command resulting in too many walks. Something seems to have clicked in his last four turns in the Pawtucket rotation, though, as he’s walked just three batters in his last 25.1 innings while striking out 26.
A lot remains to be seen with Miller. First and foremost is whether he’s able to sustain his recent pristine walk rate, but that’s not all. He must show that he’s retained the stuff that excited scouts and prospect buffs while improving his walk rate. Finally, he has to show that he’s not just pumping in get-it-over pitches to avoid free passes, and that he’s throwing quality strikes.
With so many questions to be answered, it’ll take more than one start against the Padres to properly establish clear answers, but it’s a starting point. Those in need of pitching help in deep mixed-leagues and AL-only formats should consider adding Miller for his start on Monday, as he’s got a good match-up, making him a quality streaming option with the potential of sticking on rosters.
Recommendation: Should be owned by pitching starved owners in deep mixed-leagues and AL-only formats and monitored by others.
Matt Moore| Tampa Bay| RP| 0 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 2.75 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 12.06 K/9, 2.75 BB/9 (Double-A prior to his June 16 start)
Oliver ROS: No projection
Instead of a trade target this week, I’ve opted to highlight a minor league player available in the Yahoo! player database who is a great dynasty league option. He’s unlikely to help re-draft owners, but he’s an exciting player to keep tabs on and may see a cup of coffee in September as a bullpen arm should the Rays find themselves in the playoff hunt (much like they handled David Price). As glowing as Moore’s season line is, it could be prettier if it included his no-hit, two-walk, 11 strikeout performance on Thursday night.
Moore is a southpaw with electric stuff and a drool-inducing career minor league strikeout rate. The fly in the ointment with him historically has been his poor command. This season has seen him continue a trend of strong command that can date back to post All-Star break last year. Surprisingly, his improvement in throwing strikes hasn’t hurt his strikeout rate, as his 12.09 K/9 this year illustrates. It looks as if the Rays have yet another tantalizing youngster on their hands.
Recommendation:Should be owned in all dynasty leagues where he’s available.