With the Twins on a 5-game losing streak to fall out of 1st place in the AL Central, they are still in a good position to contend for a playoff spot being just 2 games back of the Royals and currently possessing one of the two AL Wildcard spots, though there is lots of baseball to be played. They have been one of the most surprising teams of the season as they were predicted to finish last place in the division by most baseball outlets. But they want to make a statement and show the league that they mean business and they plan on competing all the way through the end of September, and that big statement that they are making is promoting top outfield prospect Byron Buxton to the Majors for his debut on Sunday.
The Twins have been running out a combination of Jordan Schafer, Shane Robinson, and Aaron Hicks out in center field this season, none of which have been very impressive nor expected to be a big part of the Twins future. So it’s been a bit of a void in their lineup and with both Schafer and Hicks on the DL now, the time has come for Buxton to make his long awaited debut.
Buxton was the #2 overall pick in the 2012 draft (behind Carlos Correa) and he displays tremendous all-around tools. In 2013 between A and high-A ball, Buxton hit .334 with 12 HR, 77 RBI, 109 R, and 55 SB. Much of his 2014 season was lost due to a wrist injury and then a concussion, so he was limited to just 31 games. The 21-year old began this season at AA and had been doing pretty well with a triple slash line of .283/.351/.489 to go with 6 HR, 37 RBI, 44 R, and 20 SB. He obviously has some great talent, but what can we expect from him as a rookie and should we be spending a ton o’ bux on Buxton when bidding on him off the waiver wire?
What Buxton doesn’t have going for him that I feel fellow recently called up top prospect Carlos Correa does is playing on a team that actually has a chance to compete. Yes, the Twins have been doing well and have been playing great baseball, but I don’t think that they have an actual chance to be competing in the pennant race and they will fall out of contention soon. If the Twins do indeed start to scuffle and Buxton isn’t performing well, then he will be ticketed back to the Minors, whereas I believe Correa is here to stay no matter what. So there is some risk in spending big on Buxton, but I would imagine that he does adequately enough to stick around.
Another difference between Correa and Buxton that I see is Correa appears to be more advanced in his ability to put the ball in play, which should help him to see more success early on in his career. Buxton has a career 20.2% strikeout rate in the Minors, which isn’t horrible, but I think that number is going to rise a lot in his first tour of the Majors and it’s going to prevent him from contributing positively with his batting average.
However, what Buxton might lack in batting average, he can make up for with his blend of power and speed. The power is not as prevalent as the speed, but it’s something that is sure to develop as his carer goes on and he can someday be a 20-25 HR hitter. His speed though is off the charts and should be something that makes an immediate impact as long as he can get on base enough to attempt stolen bases.
I believe that Correa is a more complete offensive player right now, but Buxton might edge him out in upside. But given that Correa plays a much shallower position of shortstop while Buxton plays the deepest position of outfield, Correa is definitely the more valuable fantasy commodity for this season. For the rest of the season, I will give Buxton the line of: .248 AVG, 5 HR, 37 RBI, 38 R, 16 SB, 88 K, 25 BB in 319 AB. However, Buxton’s long term potential may be unmatched and he is the most hyped outfield prospect since Mike Trout.
Let’s see what else happened during Saturday’s slate!
Russell Martin – 2 for 5, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R, 1 K. Martin hit his 10th HR of the year on Saturday and he is tied for 3rd out of all fantasy catchers in the category and his 3 SB are tied for 1st out of all catchers. He’s got lots of value at the position.
David Ortiz – 1 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB, 2 K. That’s 2 HR in the last 3 games for Ortiz after going nearly a month without one. Maybe he’s finally heating up.
Gerrit Cole – 6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K with the W. The obligatory Gerrit Cole is doing awesome post. He is the first pitcher to 10 wins and he leads the Majors with a 1.71 ERA.
Mark Melancon – 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K with the SV. Melancon keeps churning out the saves despite the velocity loss. That’s 20 on the season for him.
Jake McGee – 1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K with the SV. McGee now has 3 saves in a row as Brad Boxberger pitched in the 8th inning and blew the lead. So with these events, it would probably be safe to say that McGee is the favorite for saves now. My what a week and a tricep injury can do to a closer and his job — poor Boxberger.
Giancarlo Stanton – 2 for 3, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB. Mike drop.
Mat Latos – 7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 11 K with the W. Latos came off the DL and dazzled a Rockies offense on Saturday. He has been much better than his 5.44 ERA would indicate, but he still is going to be inconsistent from start to start as he continues to deal with an over 2 MPH loss in velocity from a couple years ago. This was a nice matchup against a team that doesn’t hit on the road well, so he is playable in the right spots. Next week at Yankee Stadium is probably not one of those spots and then home hosting St. Louis probably isn’t either.
Collin McHugh – 3 IP, 9 H, 8 ER, 2 BB, 1 K with the L. Speaking of loss in velocity, McHugh has had a 1.2 MPH drop in his fastball since last year and he appears to be unraveling with it. He suffered a big time shellacking at the hands of an offense that has just not been producing well, so that is a very bad sign. He now is 6-3 with a 5.08 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, and 62 K/16 BB in 79.2 IP. The Astros have to be concerned with him having used up all his gas last season and maybe he’s hiding some sort of injury.
Logan Morrison – 2 for 5, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 2 R, 1 K. Big game for Lo-Mo, but his value should still be limited since he will be playing less after the Mariners acquisition of Mark Trumbo.
Mike Montgomery – 6 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 K with the W. Montgomery earned his first Major League victory and now has a 1.89 ERA and 1.11 WHIP, but with 11 K/6 BB in 19 IP, he is not providing the true fantasy appeal. But as a former 1st round draft pick, he should be considered while he’s running well. The lack of strikeouts is a bit disheartening though.
Bryce Harper – 3 for 3, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB. A perfect day at the plate for Harper, but he left the game after being hit by a pitch on the knee. He is probably day-to-day and could receive a breather on Sunday.
Joe Ross – 8 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 K with the W. Ross made his second Major League start and it turned out to be a lot better than his first. Like his older brother Tyson, Joe appears very capable of inducing lots of ground ball outs like he did on Saturday, and he also has strikeout upside. He went deep into the game and proved a lot to the Nationals coaching staff and front office. With Doug Fister set to return soon, Ross might be ticketed back to the Minors, but he made a good enough impression to be next in line should the Nationals ever need another starting pitcher at some point this season. Dynasty leagues take note.
Jimmy Nelson – 5 IP, 10 H, 7 ER, 2 BB, 3 K with the L. This Jimmy Nelson is a weird pitcher. He once again followed up a really good outing with a really poor one. He has been one of the most inconsistent pitchers in the game this year and I said last week that he is okay to leave on the waiver wire. He now has a 4.60 ERA and 1.29 WHIP.
Trevor Rosenthal – 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K with the SV. Rosenthal is having a truly dominant season, much improved from last year when he was a bit of a disappointment. He is now 21 for 22 in save opportunities with a 0.59 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and 33 K/10 BB in 30.1 IP. His strikeout rate is down a good amount from the last two seasons, but his velocity is still there so it’s not a huge concern, especially when he’s closing out games so well.
Brandon Finnegan – The Royals placed Jason Vargas on the DL and called up Brandon Finnegan. Finnegan, if you recall, took September and October baseball by storm last season as he was drafted by the Royals last June and then called up to be used in a relief role for their post-season run and was very impressive in short work. However, the Royals do want to bring him along as a starting pitcher but he has been struggling a little bit at AA and AAA this season. It’s unclear on whether or not the Royals intend to place him in the rotation while Vargas is out, but he certainly has the upside as a hard throwing lefty. Keep an eye on him, and dynasty leaguers may want to scoop him up if he’s available.
Mike Pelfrey – 3.2 IP, 11 H, 8 ER, 3 BB, 0 K with the L. Pelfrey was due for one of these types of outings and on a hot afternoon game at Arlington, it’s no surprise that his blow up came in this game. The horrific game ballooned his stats to a 3.18 ERA and 1.36 WHIP. He still can be decent in ERA and WHIP, but remember that he will not be logging many strikeouts.
Mitch Moreland – 2 for 5, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 R, 1 K. Moreland is now hitting .303 with 8 HR and 28 RBI in 43 games. Very impressive for the Rangers first baseman/DH. His batting average will come down as his batted ball profile doesn’t support a .300 AVG, but he’s got the power and makes for a fine play versus right-handed pitchers.
Joey Gallo – 1 for 1, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R, 3 BB. After recording at least one strikeout in his first 8 games, he has avoided it in the last 2 games and he hit his 3rd HR of the season on Saturday also. My original projection on him still stands and it can be viewed at “Is the Pico de Gallo in Texas Hot or Mild?”
Jose Iglesias – 2 for 3, 1 R, 1 SB, 1 K. Iglesias provides very little production in the power department, but he’s making great contact with just a 9.8% strikeout rate and his line drive rate is solid at 24.7%. So for him to be currently hitting .335 right now is not too much of a surprise. His BABIP is high at .368 and will probably come down some, but with his speed and hitting ability he should be able to maintain a higher BABIP and has a good chance at finishing the season hitting .300. He may not provide power, but at least with 8 SB so far he is chipping in there. There are certainly much worse options at shortstop in fantasy baseball.
Justin Verlander – 5 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K. Verlander made his return to the Tigers rotation for his first start of the season. In this start, his velocity was going to be important to watch to see if he would be throwing any harder than he was last season because his velocity issues from a year ago were what led him to one of the worst seasons of his career. In this start he mostly sat between 92-94 MPH with his fastball and reaching as low as 91 MPH, but against the final few batters that he faced he amped it up to 95-97 MPH. Overall, he averaged 93.2 MPH on his heater, which is right in line with the 93.1 MPH he did last season. So the average velocity here was not encouraging and it was reflected in his poor strikeout total as well. He will pitch at Cincinnati next where he might run into some problems in the hitters park.
Carlos Carrasco – 5.2 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 8 K with the W. Carrasco pitched well enough to grab the win on Saturday versus the Tigers, but it still wasn’t the dominant outing that we have been waiting for. We’ll take it though, right? His next game will come against the Cubs and it presents a great opportunity for him to rack up a lot of strikeouts, but the Cubs have been a hot hitting team so it could be tough to keep them off the scoreboard.
Francisco Lindor – The Indians are joining the Rangers, Astros, and Twins in this recent top prospect promotion binge and are calling up their prized shortstop prospect Francisco Lindor and he will most likely be the team’s starting shortstop for now and the foreseeable future as Jose Ramirez was not cutting it at the plate. However, don’t go getting too excited now. Lindor is one of those prospects who is much more well known for his glove than his bat. Between AA and AAA last year though he had a pretty solid showing with a combined .276 AVG, 11 HR, 62 RBI, 75 R, and 28 SB. This year at AAA he is not showing a whole lot with the bat hitting just .279 with 2 HR, but he does have 8 SB. So while he is a top regarded prospect, he’s certainly not in the same class as Correa and Buxton, but it doesn’t hurt to pick him up if you can, especially because he plays a shallow shortstop position.
Jacob deGrom – 7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K. DeGromination once again. There’s no holding back this guy right now as he is 4-0 with a 1.04 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, and 53 K/5 BB in 43.1 IP over his last 6 starts. Hot hot hot!
Pat Venditte – Venditte landed on the DL with a strained right shoulder. Unfortunate news for the switch pitcher who made headlines when he got called up last week, and after I tabbed him for a possibility to be closing out games for the A’s at some point this season. My immediate thought upon hearing the news of his DL injury was that since he is a switch pitcher can’t he just not throw right-handed to remain in the A’s bullpen?
Alex Rodriguez – Rodriguez recorded his 2000th RBI of his career on his 12th HR of the season. Next up is the 3000 hit mark that he should reach within the next week or so. All these milestones are great and all, but how much can they truly be appreciated?
Manny Machado – 3 for 4, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R. Machado just continues his onslaught and is really blossoming into a great player. His early comparisons to Alex Rodriguez might be backed up now. He won’t go on to have a career like A-Rod’s though, mostly because A-Rod was on PED’s for most of his career. But Machado will be a very good player in his own right.
Nolan Reimold – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R. Reimold now has 2 HR since being called up on Thursday. He’s always been an intriguing hitter with his type of power mixed in with a little speed. However, he just can’t seem to stay off the DL. If he can somehow stay healthy, then he could be a decently productive outfielder for the Orioles.
Miguel Montero – 2 for 3, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R. That’s 3 HR in his last 4 games. Montero is running hot right now.
Jason Motte – 1 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K with the W. Motte came into the top of the 9th innining in a tie ball game. This was the third different pitcher in three games that pitched in a situation for the Cubs that normally the “closer” would pitch in. As I’ve said, the closer situation for the Cubs is dicey.
Kyle Hendricks – 5 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K. With 7.73 K/9, Hendricks is showing a lot better strikeout stuff this season (5.27 K/9 last year). I don’t think that he’s truly this good at striking batters out, but he could settle in around 7.00 K/9 or just under. And with a low walk rate, he can keep the WHIP down. He certainly has some fantasy appeal and would be a nice back end starter for a fantasy rotation. He has my endorsement for now.
Albert Pujols – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 K. Pujols keeps it going for his 10th HR in 15 games. Check out “Pujols’ Blast From the Past” for more information on his recent power surge.
C.J. Wilson – 7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 8 K with the W. A brilliant start from C.J. and he’s now sporting a 3.60 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. He’s working with a much improved walk rate that would be a career best and it is one of the big reasons why he is bouncing back this season. If he can keep up the lowered walk rate then he’s going to be decently successful.
Kendall Graveman – 8 IP, 8 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K with the L. Graveman had the complete game loss in this one, but the strikeouts were the most surprising here. It brings up his season strikeout rate to 5.69 K/9, but I don’t think that it will go too much higher than that as the season goes on. He’s a decent pitcher, but he should be left for the waiver wire for now.
Zack Greinke – 8 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K with the L. Greinke also logged the complete game loss as he gave up a home run with 2 outs in the 8th inning to lose the game. He’s still sporting nice statistics, but he’s bound to get knocked around a bit in the near future as featured in “Getting Cranky With Greinke.”