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Futures Exchange: May 905/10/2006 2:07 AM ET
By Jonathan Mayo / MLB.com
This week's Futures Exchange falls under the better late than never category. So lets get right to it, discussing the week that was in the wonderful world of prospects.
IN THE BIGS
It's not often two good Minor League catchers get called up in the same week, but that's what happened. The first, and the one people should seriously consider getting now is the Dodgers' Russ Martin. With Dioner Navarro on the disabled list, Martin should see some time behind the plate. He's already off to a 4-for-10 start with a homer, so don't delay. He's better than Navarro in my book and could steal his job if he continues to hit the way I expect him to.
The other catcher is the Phillies' Carlos Ruiz. He's not as big a prospect as Martin, partly because he's four years older at 27. But the guy can hit, as evidenced by his .385 start this year. He's got terrific raw power (.637 SLG in 2006) and should get some playing time while Mike Lieberthal is on the shelf. I wouldn't go as nuts over him as with Martin, mostly because Ruiz is destined to return to the Minors -- or be Lieberthal's backup at best -- when the starter returns. That being said, especially in NL-only leagues, Ruiz could be a good second catcher with games at home and in Cincy's hitter-friendly park this week.
A PHONE CALL AWAY
I'm now officially on the call up Cole Hamels now bandwagon. He's not just a phone call away -- the Phillies must have Scranton on speed dial. The lefty has made three starts in Triple-A and allowed one earned run in 23 innings. During that span, he's yielded just 10 hits for a .130 batting average against while striking out 36 against one walk. What else does he need to do at this point? If I were Hamels, I'd keep a bag packed at all times.
I really wish the Brewers could find room for Corey Hart. Not only does he provide position flexibility -- he can play the outfield, first and third base -- but he's got power and speed. He's hit four homers and stolen seven bases for Triple-A Nashville so far while hitting .321. He's been running a lot lately, with five steals in the past week. If there's an injury in Milwaukee, he's the perfect fill-in for your fantasy squad.
A quick note on Delmon Young: The announcement on his suspension came down on Tuesday, so make the appropriate roster move if you need to.
A YEAR AWAY
Last week it was Mike Pelfrey (he makes his third Double-A start on Tuesday, by the way). This week, the Mets called up Cuban defector Alay Soler to Binghamton after he posted a 0.64 ERA in 28 IP with St. Lucie. His first Double-A start was tremendous: 6 2/3 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 9 K. He could very quickly go from here, to a phone call away to in the bigs, especially considering the injuries piling up in New York. Clearly, Jose Lima's not a long-term answer to anything. Soler is 26, so there isn't the fear of rushing a youngster. A couple more starts like his last one and he could be up before you can say Cole Hamels.
I got an e-mail the other day asking about Eric Patterson, Corey's kid brother. He's playing second base for Double-A West Tenn in the Cubs system, where he finished up last year in his first full pro season. The Georgia Tech product is doing OK in the Southern League, though his .268 average is a touch low. His 29 strikeouts in 32 games is very Patterson-esque, especially considering he's walked just nine times. Last year, he did whiff 101 times, but drew 59 walks. That being said, his speed is just fine: He's third in the league with 12 steals and he's showing some good extra-base ability with 11 extra-base hits. He can get a little power-hungry, so if he can keep that in check, he could be ready to swipe some bases for you by next year.
DOWN THE ROAD
Not that I want to toot my own horn (OK, maybe I do), but I'm pretty sure I said in the early going that the Reds' Homer Bailey was going to take off this year. Lo and behold, Cincy's top prospect has 44 strikeouts in 37 2/3 IP for Sarasota in the Florida State League. The league is hitting just .178 against the right-hander who just turned 20. In two of his last three starts, Bailey has gone six innings without allowing a hit. On Monday, he struck out 11 and walked just one over his six hitless frames. If he keeps this up, Double-A will be in his future by midseason.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.