Ronny Cedeno | Seattle | SS/2B
True Talent: .252/.301/.375
Next Week Forecast: 0.3 HR, 2 Runs, 2 RBI, .251 BA, 0.3 SB
Looking as if he might be the next coming of Rich Aurilia—who struggled for years before emerging as an All-Star—Ronny Cedeno was given a full-time job by Dusty Baker in 2006, sinking 572 PA into an offensive black hole just as he’d done with Aurilia in SF. That he’s now 26, has a career batting line of .244/.282/.343, and has been awful in 2009 would all be more damning if he hadn’t clobbered AAA pitching when demoted in 2007. He has a chance to earn more PT in this awful middle infield if he hits while Lopez is on bereavement leave.
Jason Frasor | Toronto | RP
YTD: 7.2 K/9, 6.3 K/BB, 1.90 ERA
True Talent: 8.0 K/9, 2.4 K/BB, 3.39 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 1.5 Saves, 3.52 ERA
Listed at 5-9, Jason Frasor has probably earned significantly less money in his career than if the same 95+ heater and nasty slider came in a larger package. But hitters know about him (8+ career K/9), and his righty presence in the mostly-gauche Blue Jays pen is perfect in a complementary role. But Cito rewards good play, not size of pitcher or size of contract so Frasor should get the biggest share of the saves “pie,” at least until Downs’ toe is healed. And we’d call him 1-in-3 to keep getting the most saves even after that.
Matt Harrison | Texas | SP
YTD: 4.8 K/9, 1.7 K/BB, 5.43 ERA
True Talent: 6.0 K/9, 1.4 K/BB, 6.04 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 10.1 IP, 0.5 Wins, 7 K, 5.76 ERA
“Pass.” We could save 74 words and leave it at that. But it’s come to our attention that people are adding Matt Harrison in various formats. The promise of youth is great and all, but this guy pitches half his games in Texas, and two of the weakest-hitting teams in the AL both hit LHP pretty hard, so even road starts at KC and Seattle aren’t gimme’s. Grab a reliever instead for ratio help.
Luke Hochevar (reprise) | Kansas City | SP
YTD: 3.0 K/9, 0.9 K/BB, 5.60 ERA
True Talent: 5.2 K/9, 1.6 K/BB, 4.96 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 6.0 IP, 0.3 Wins, 3 K, 4.60 ERA
Omaha (AAA) 2009 was the first time No. 1 overall pick Luke Hochvar really showed any of the promise people had seen before the draft. There, he was 5-1, 1.50, with a 36:12 K:BB ratio in 48 IP. If that helped Royals fans forget the 129 mediocre-to-bad innings in 2008, his first start (8 ER in 2.0 IP) against Oakland reminded them. The bad .753 RZR with just 81 OOZ plays by the KC infield makes it really hard on a guy with a 53% career GB% and very low K totals. So, outings like his most recent CG victory (1 ER) over the Reds will be uncommon. But there’s enough here for an AL-only pickup; just don’t go crazy.
David Huff | Cleveland | SP
YTD: 5.7 K/9, 1.8 K/BB, 7.09 ERA
True Talent: 6.6 K/9, 2.1 K/BB, 4.97 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 11.2 IP, 0.7 Wins, 9 K, 4.73 ERA
2006 first-round pick David Huff didn’t enter the Indians rotation with the fanfare of some other top prospects this year, largely because his fastball tops out around 92. And while we disapprove of throwing out data, his ERA is 4.44 if you write off his first two starts as “debut jitters.” He’s not ready to make anyone forget CC Sabathia, but if he’s spotted intelligently, he should be good for some across-the-board help in AL-only leagues.
Jed Lowrie | Boston | SS/3B
True Talent: n/a
Next Week Forecast: n/a
Jed Lowrie has some obstacles ahead before he becomes a viable fantasy alternative in any format, but his hand appears to be on the mend, and he’ll soon be playing AAA ball again. He’s not a better defender than Lugo, nor is he likely to out-hit the fluky stats Green has put up. But he’s a switch-hitter, though he’s only hit .210/.292/.323 vs. righties in his career. And his approach at the plate is more in line with the Red Sox organizational philosophy. He still appears to be the SS of the future in Boston, and now would be a good time to get him in a keeper league.
David Murphy | Texas | OF
True Talent: .266/.330/.418
Next Week Forecast: 0.4 HR, 2 Runs, 2 RBI, .266 BA, 0.3 SB
For his career, David Murphy is a .280 hitter with a .460 slugging. By reputation, he’s a good fielder, and most advanced fielding stats indicate he’s right around average in the side fields, though he did post an exceptional .978 RZR in 2008, with +11 plays being made, per the BIS +/- system. Still, he’s played in a couple great hitter’s parks, and his “True Talent” is that of a 4th OF. Expect him to hit like TT projects, and to get extra AB without Hamilton around, but the team has too many OF options for him to get much more PT.
Tomo Ohka | Cleveland | SP
YTD: 2.6 K/9, 2.5 K/BB, 4/24 ERA
True Talent: 4.3 K/9, 1.6 K/BB, 5.24 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 5.0 IP, 0.3 Wins, 3 K, 4.99 ERA
Tomo Ohka has a career ERA of 4.14 and a FIP of 4.48 in over 1000 IP. He’s just 33 this season, though it seems he’s been around forever. Without any announced injuries, his velocity had dipped after the 2004 season, but it’s back almost all the way to where it was (88.1 average FB, compared to just over 89 from 2002-2004). Modeling systems don’t like him because he doesn’t whiff batters or induce grounders, but he’s death on the running game (35-33 career against him, outstanding for anyone, much less a RHP). It doesn’t take much to be a top-five SP on the Indians, and the potential is here to get cheap help for an AL-only rotation.
Miguel Olivo | Kansas City | C
True Talent: ..248/.279/.425
Next Week Forecast: 0.9 HR, 2 Runs, 3 RBI, .254 BA, 0.3 SB
That Olivo has gotten 2373 PA in his career while carrying an OBP of .275 speaks volumes about the other parts of his game. He’s not as fast as the seven SB in 317 PA in 2008 suggest, but otherwise, his stats have been remarkably consistent. And his defense is superb, so expect him to get about 2/3 of the playing time—unless Buck goes on a hot streak upon his return. Should be good for 10 more HR this year.
True Talent and Next Week Forecasts courtesy of Heater Magazine.