Colby Rasmus | St. Louis | OF
True Talent: .254/.329/.430
Next Week Forecast: 0.9 HR, 4 Runs, 3 RBI, .255 BA, 0.6 SB
Patient keeper league owners may still own Rasmus, but plenty of others bailed after he put up a .662 and .703 OPS in April and May. Now that he’s hitting .396/.396/.708 in June, those patient owners are reaping the rewards. The 22-year-old Rasmus has been the Cardinals’ top prospect since they drafted him, and he should continue to improve. Always a slow starter, he displays blossoming power (.485 minor league SLG, with 64 HRs and 95 2Bs) and moderate speed (74 SB). He’s still working on his plate selectivity (0.57 BB/K in minors, 0.32 in 2009), and True Talent doesn’t think he’s going to consolidate those gains this year. But that HR-SB potential makes him worth a pickup in NL leagues deeper than 10 teams, and mixed leagues deeper than 13 teams, along with any size keeper leagues.
Kevin Kouzmanoff | San Diego | 3B
True Talent: .259/.307/.427
Next Week Forecast: 0.9 HR, 3 Runs, 4 RBI, .260 BA, 0.1 SB
The time when Kouzmanoff was highly touted has come and gone—a 0.24 BB/K will do that, especially matched with a SLG that cracked .450 just once. But Kouz has occasional surges, like the 35-game streak last season when he collected a hit in 29 games, putting up a .326/.342/.558 line. In that time, he also notched 31 Ks against just 3 BBs, so he didn’t change his hack-and-slash ways. It’s tough to succeed with that approach while hitting in PETCO behind Adrian Gonzalez, who often clears the bases for him. Kouz looks like he’s heating up now, and True Talent shows that he’ll improve, so ride him while you can, but watch for that dropoff. Nobody outside of 14-team NL leagues and mixed leagues deeper than 18 teams should think of him as a permanent addition.
Tony Gwynn, Jr. | San Diego | OF
True Talent: .270/.338/.363
Next Week Forecast: 0.1 HR, 3 Runs, 1 RBI, .272 BA, 0.7 SB
A trade to the Padres gave the son of San Diego’s all-time best hitter a chance to be a starter. What Junior lacks in hitting ability, he makes up for with speed, but it’s not enough to make him as valuable as Dear Old Dad. True Talent shows you his BA is hollow, with a bit of patience (0.70 BB/K in the minors) and plenty of SB potential (152 in six minor-league seasons). Hitting atop a weak Padres lineup depresses his run totals, and he’s got to reach base more often than True Talent predicts to be an effective leadoff hitter. He represents a good source of steals for leagues of all size, and he won’t kill your BA, but he will sap your power ratios, and he won’t keep hitting like this.
Ryan Church | New York | OF
True Talent: .267/.344/.424
Next Week Forecast: 0.8 HR, 4 Runs, 4 RBI, .265 BA, 0.3 SB
Which Church is for real? The one who put up an OPS in the high 800s for Washington and New York, or the one who hit .224 in May? Likely, it’s neither, but the guy in the middle isn’t too shabby, either. True Talent is pessimistic, but Jerry Manuel isn’t, making Church his starting RF. Church has responded with a .281/.378/.500 June, and he’s shown the ability to maintain those streaks despite a career BB/K of 0.42. Don’t be surprised to see him sit against LHP now and then—his career OPS is 122 points lower against them, a split that’s widened to a whopping 307 in 2009—but he’s worth a flier in 12-team NL leagues and mixed leagues deeper than 16 to see if those 800+ OPS numbers are for real.
Kevin Correia | San Diego | SP
YTD: 6.6 K/9, 2.1 K/BB, 4.52 ERA
True Talent: 6.4 K/9, 1.8 K/BB, 4.76 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 5.2 IP, 0.3 Wins, 4 K, 4.95 ERA
The Padres have won just four of their last 15, but Correia has two of those wins, so he has to be doing something right. He gave up just five ER in his last three starts, with 13 Ks and one BB, and his only loss came when King Felix pitched a CG shutout. PETCO hasn’t helped him as much as you expect—his longball rate at home (1.2 HR/9) is slightly worse than on the road (1.0), but all of those PETCO homers were solo jobs. Whether that’s by accident or design, it shows the fine line he walks between dominance and disaster; his True Talent numbers are all just on the sunny side of average. Expect that from Correia: decent but unspectacular numbers, with occasional blowups that may hurt you. Play with fire if you want in leagues deeper than 16-team mixed or 14-team NL, but remember that he’s pitching for the punchless Pads.
Aaron Cook | Colorado | SP
YTD: 4.6 K/9, 1.5 K/BB, 4.23 ERA
True Talent: 4.3 K/9, 1.6 K/BB, 4.41 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 12.1 IP, 0.7 Wins, 6 K, 4.34 ERA
Cook was an All-Star last year, so how can he be hanging out on the waiver wire in 2009? He started the year with a 1-4 record and a 7.11 ERA, and so far he’s doubled his home run rate to 1.2 HR/9 and increased his walk rate by 50% to 3.0 BB/9. He’s turned that around, going 3-1 in his last three starts, with a 3.00 ERA and a 4.0 K/BB, but don’t let the Ks fool you. Cook’s a groundballer (57.8 GB% in 2009), not a strikeout artist, and his control is about as good as it’s going to get. If you believe the Rockies are for real, Cook’s going to collect more Ws going forward, so he’s worth a pickup on that basis for 12-team NL leagues and mixed leagues of 14 teams or deeper. Just expect low K totals and an ERA around 4 to come with him.
Andrew Miller | Florida | SP
YTD: 7.5 K/9, 1.6 K/BB, 4.56 ERA
True Talent: 7.7 K/9, 1.8 K/BB, 4.44 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 11.2 IP, 0.7 Wins, 10 K, 4.69 ERA
Another young lefty from Florida, Miller’s got a great fastball and a nice slider—and not much else. That’s why he’s got those sweet K numbers without a great ERA, and his control numbers show he’s having trouble even with just those two pitches. True Talent tells you he’s going to get better, but he won’t get much better. There’s always the chance that someone with a mid-90s heater will really bust out, and he’s trying to develop a changeup and increase his GB% (down to 45.9 in 2008 after 49.3 in 2007), both of which will help him develop another dimension. For now, though, those Ks come at too heavy a price to consider Miller in mixed leagues shallower than 15 teams, or NL leagues shallower than 12 teams.
Jason Hammel | Colorado | SP
YTD: 6.4 K/9, 2.8 K/BB, 4.10 ERA
True Talent: 6.2 K/9, 1.8 K/BB, 4.64 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 6.0 IP, 0.4 Wins, 4 K, 4.54 ERA
You might think that Hammel is just a product of Colorado’s recent hot streak. Think again—he’s won four of his last five with a K/BB ratio of 3.67 and a very nice 0.64 HR/9. That’s key for a Rockies’ pitcher, of course, and it’s no coincidence that three of those four wins came on the road. At home, he’s offering up gopher balls at a rate of 1.9 HR/9, compared to just 0.3 on the road. For his career, he surrenders them at a 1.3 rate, and those numbers came with Tampa Bay, also a tough home park for pitchers. So his relatively strong peripherals come with that huge asterisk. He remains a safe start on the road, but needs to ride your pine at home. If you can use him that way, he’s worth a pickup in any mixed league deeper than 12 teams or 8-team NL leagues.
Jeremy Affeldt | San Francisco | RP
YTD: 7.9 K/9, 1.6 K/BB, 1.71 ERA
True Talent: 7.7 K/9, 1.9 K/BB, 3.16 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 0.0 Saves, 3.15 ERA
If your league counts holds, you already know about Affeldt, who leads MLB in that category. But even if your league doesn’t, Affeldt still holds some value. While his ERA exceeds True Talent predictions, his peripherals are more comparable, and Affeldt’s always had strong career peripherals (6.9 K/BB, 1.71 K/BB, 0.8 HR/9). He’s also first in line if Brian Wilson falters or gets hurt. Wilson’s solid and is in no danger of losing his job, but Affeldt is an excellent insurance policy for Wilson owners, and is a very good addition to keep your K numbers strong, especially if those control numbers improve. He won’t hurt any roster but is best suited to fill out pitching staffs in 10+ team NL leagues or mixed leagues deeper than 14 teams.
True Talent and Next Week Forecasts courtesy of Heater Magazine.