Eric Hosmer| Kansas City| 1B| 6 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: .439/.525/.582 (Triple-A)
Oliver ROS: No projection
It looks like Dayton Moore’s “process” may officially be in full swing with the promotion of Eric Hosmer, who is set to make his major league debut tonight. Unlike the man he’s replacing, Kila Ka’aihue, Hosmer’s sparkling minor league stats are backed by rave reviews from all major scouting publications. Described as a player who uses the whole field, he also doesn’t strike out much, and shows good command of the strike zone working a healthy number of walks, all things that should help him post a solid average at the highest level. Don’t be fooled by the low home run output thus far this season. The 2011 Baseball America Prospect Handbook grades his power tool as a 65 on the 20-to-80 scale, and John Sickels describes him as having good pull power.
The spectrum of possibilities when assessing Hosmer’s impact this year are vast, and largely hinge on his abilities to make adjustments as the league gets its first look at him. Working in his favor is that he’s made seamless adjustments on each of his promotions since having LASIK surgery prior to last season. Looking at fellow Royal Billy Butler‘s minor league stats, and realizing he takes a pole-to-pole approach hammering balls to the gaps, a solid starting point for prognosticating Hosmer’s level of success in the early going would be to look at how Butler has fared.
Every player adjusts to the major leagues differently and displays a different learning curve. That said, owners should be satisfied if Hosmer’s rookie year mirrors that of Butler, with anything greater than that being gravy.
Recommendation: Should be speculated on in all but the shallowest of leagues, with the standard warning that most rookies struggle initially.
Travis Snider| Toronto| OF| 24 percent Yahoo! ownership
Oliver ROS: .251/.315/.434
Already featured in Waiver Wire once, Travis Snider has since seen his ownership drop, and been demoted to Triple-A. The Blue Jays brass says he was sent down because he needed to work out some kinks in his approach, and take a more direct path to the ball with his swing. A Google search doesn’t yield any news as to whether he’s showing the necessary changes to his mechanics, but the results since his demotion have been solid. He’s struck out just twice in 17 at-bats while walking six times and recording nine hits. Snider’s raw power, and the Jays’ grip it and rip it approach should pay home run dividends once he’s summoned to the parent club. While not the fleetest of foot, Snider was able to swipe five bags while getting caught just once, thanks largely to manager John Farrell‘s aggressive approach to sending baserunners. That makes for the possibility of continued stolen base contributions, though not at his early season rate.
Those in leagues with shallow benches likely had to cut bait with his demotion, but continue to monitor the situation as Snider isn’t a lost cause by any stretch at just 23 years of age. Those in leagues with medium-to-deep benches where he’s available should roster him, as the upside is well worth the bench spot. For Snider’s sake, I hope this will be the last time he’s featured in this column.
Recommendation: Should be owned in medium sized mixed leagues with ample bench spaces, most large mixed leagues, and nearly all AL-only leagues.
Michael Brantley| Cleveland| OF| 11 percent Yahoo! ownership
Oliver ROS: .274/.334/.359
In spite of the return of Grady Sizemore to the Indians’ lineup and the subsequent drop from the leadoff spot that came with it for speedy outfielder Michael Brantley, he has continued to maintain fantasy relevance. Thanks to his ability to make contact at a high rate, and a batted ball profile that features him slapping line drives and pounding balls into the ground to best use his speed, maintaining a batting average over .300 is a strong possibility. Also able to reach base via a strong walk rate, Brantley should see ample opportunities to steal bases as the season moves along. Because he’s power-challenged, Brantley is very much a specialist. Those in need of stolen bases and average help should seek Brantley’s services.
Recommendation: Should be owned in leagues that roster more than 50 total outfielders and should be owned in all AL-only leagues.
Danny Duffy| Kansas City| SP| Unavailable in the Yahoo! player database
YTD: 2.08 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 11.42 K/9, 2.08 BB/9
Oliver ROS: 4.68 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 7.2 K/9, 3.6 BB/9
If the promotion of Hosmer serves as phase one of the “process,” the likely promotion of Danny Duffy sometime shortly after June 1 should serve as phase two. Duffy has already been the recipient of my kind words (insert shameless self promotion here) and is one of the few prospects Yahoo! did not include in its database prior to the season, making him a prime candidate to save a high waiver priority for. A southpaw, he has used his low-to-mid-90s fastball, change-up, and curveball to baffle hitters while throwing from a three-quarters arm slot and piling up strikeouts. Pitching in a favorable home ballpark, and showcasing a history of strong control, Duffy should be able to spare himself some of the growing pains most young starters struggle through, though he’ll undoubtedly have some nonetheless. Duffy should be monitored by owners in leagues of all sizes and formats, as he has enough stuff to hit the ground running.
Recommendation: Should be monitored in all but the shallowest of leagues as he has the stuff to make an instant impact upon promotion.
Rick Porcello| Detroit| SP| 5 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 4.25 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 6.98 K/9, 2.12 BB/9, 51.0 GB (stats do not include his Thursday afternoon game against the Yankees in which he threw seven innings giving up eight hits, two earned runs and two walks, striking out three in picking up a win)
Oliver ROS: 4.42 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 4.9 K/9, 2.5 BB/9
Thanks to the Tigers’ decision to have Porcello learn to pitch to contact and pound a sinker in the strike zone while in the low minors, he has largely been an irrelevant fantasy arm since reaching the majors in 2009. That may be changing this season, as his fastball (sinker) usage is down this year for the second year in a row. Using more of his secondary offerings is likely the reason for career best marks in his swinging strike rate to date, and a career low contact rate against as well. Is Porcello finally adding the last piece of the puzzle to his desirable mix of an extreme groundball tendency and tremendous walk rate? Perhaps. The sample size is too small to draw any concrete conclusions, but it isn’t too small to generate optimism and provide reason for speculation. It’s easy to forget Porcello is just 22 years of age, and unlike many pitchers his age, he’s already worked himself up to a 200-plus inning limit. Keep tabs on his pitch usage and results going forward, a new and improved Porcello may be emerging.
Recommendation: Should be owned in most large mixed leagues, and most AL-only leagues.
Erik Bedard| Seattle| SP| 8 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 5.23 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 6.34 K/9, 3.58 BB/9, 40.6 GB
Oliver ROS: 4.25 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 7.7 K/9, 3.6 BB/9
Like Snider above, Erik Bedard makes his return to Waiver Wire.After two quality starts in which he’s yielded just three earned runs and walked just two over 14 innings, it may be time to begin trusting Bedard once again. The strikeouts haven’t been there, and it remains to be seen if this post-surgery incarnation of Bedard can revert to the strikeout machine he previously was, but his favorable upcoming schedule should help answer some questions surrounding him while mitigating some of the risk.
If he were to pitch on normal rest he’d face the White Sox at home in his next turn, followed by the Indians on the road, Angels at home, Twins on the road and Orioles at home. Of those match-ups, only the Indians are a top-15 offense in terms of runs scored at fifth, while the White Sox rank 20th, Angels 16th, Twins 30th and Orioles 25th. Beyond the offenses he’ll be facing, the venues are quite juicy: Three of his five starts are at home and one of his road tilts is at spacious Target Field, while the other is his match-up against the Indians in which he should probably be benched anyway. Armed with upside and favorable match-ups, Bedard is an intriguing add candidate for owners in need of pitching help.
Recommendation: Should be owned in most larger mixed leagues, and most AL-only leagues.