In the bigs
There are some good names in Lisa Winston's Movin' On Up from last week, but none bigger than Max Scherzer.
Slated to make his first big-league start Monday night, the right-hander was putting up video-game numbers in the Minors before getting called up (1.17 ERA, 38 Ks, 3 BB, .146 AVG against). Then he struck out seven over 4 1/3 perfect innings of relief in his Major League debut.
I've been asked if he could be this year's Tim Lincecum or if he can be as good as Justin Verlander was in his rookie season. The answer is yes. He's a little max effort in his delivery, which is why some feel he's better suited for a bullpen role (in which case, he'd be this year's Joba Chamberlain).
He may tire eventually as the innings increase, but he's the kind of guy you want to have on your fantasy roster, regardless of league format, until it seems like the fatigue sets in. That could be the end of the season, and it also could be a few years from now, so don't be left out. Presumably, he'll get bumped when Doug Davis returns, but he could pitch his way into a full-time role this year, and even if that's out of the bullpen, you'll want to hold onto him.
Nick Adenhart's debut didn't go as well as Scherzer's, and his impact might be more short term, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't consider him. He had a 0.87 ERA in Triple-A, and while his command wasn't good (15 BB, 19 Ks in 31 IP), he did hold hitters to a .170 average. He's going to get only two more starts until John Lackey comes back, but I think he's worth the risk for AL-only players, especially those in keeper leagues. He'll start Tuesday against the Royals and get one more in. Now that he's on the 40-man roster, you might see more of him than originally expected in 2008.
The Mariners called up both Jeff Clement and Wladimir Balentien recently, and it looks like both are getting some playing time. The good news for Clement owners is that he's played in two games behind the plate, huge for those who have eligibility requirements. Starting off 3-for-14 isn't great, but this guy can hit. If he keeps getting consistent at-bats and playing time as a backstop, he'll become more and more valuable as the season wears on. Balentien's struggled as well, going 3-for-18 out of the gate. He's a streaky sort, but I think he's worth riding out. He'll swing and miss plenty, but when he gets hot, look out. He'll provide some power and even some speed when he's going well, so be patient. Maybe he's for AL-only players for now, but if given the chance, he could be an all-format type.
A phone call away
It was an odd transaction for the Dodgers, who had to bring up Andy LaRoche to officially take him off the disabled list and then send him back to the Minors. LaRoche had been rehabbing and will continue to get his work in. After going 7-for-22 in Double-A, he's gone 2-for-14 in Triple-A over five games, which evens out to a .250 average. Sure, Blake DeWitt has done a nice job filling in for the oft-injured Nomar Garciaparra, but LaRoche still has the potential to be an impact player. So watch how he's doing in Vegas and how DeWitt's doing in L.A.; if there's another switch, be ready to pounce.
Speaking of third basemen, how about once-upon-a-time prospect Dallas McPherson? He's missed a tremendous amount of time over the years due to injury, but he's healthy now and flat-out mashing (power-wise) in the Pacific Coast League. He's got 10 homers in 26 games, and while he still strikes out a lot, he's been drawing some walks and has a gaudy 1.061 OPS. And lest you think this is an Albuquerque thin-air-induced performance, he's actually hit and slugged better away from home so far this season. With all due respect to Jorge Cantu, wouldn't it be nice to see the Marlins try to catch lightning in a bottle and give Dally-Mac another shot?
You know I always love the closers-in-waiting, and I've touted Chris Perez before. The guy is basically unhittable -- still. The Cards prospect has eight saves, a 1.84 ERA, 18 Ks and a .189 average against in 14 2/3 innings at Triple-A. Now, I'm not suggesting that St. Louis should promote him and give him the closing job in place of the struggling Jason Isringhausen (6.59 ERA), but ... In all seriousness, it might be a little while before Perez gets that call, but the guy can flat-out bring it.
Lance Broadway isn't going to blow you away. He's not going to ring up Ks for your squad. But when he's going well, he knows how to pitch. So far, so good in 2008 for the right-handed former first-round pick of the White Sox, who's got a 3-1 record and a 1.25 ERA. He may only have 19 Ks in 36 innings, but he's also walked only eight while holding Triple-A hitters to a .189 average. No one in the White Sox rotation is particularly struggling right now, but it's always good to know the backups if one of the young guns like Gavin Floyd or John Danks has some hiccups.
A year away
In honor of the Draft section launching, I've decided to focus solely on 2007 first-round picks for the next two sections. Yup, believe it or not, there are two already getting close to knocking on the door at the Double-A level. The first is Brewers outfielder Matt LaPorta. We all knew he could hit and would move fast, but like this? He's hitting .333 for the year with nine homers, 32 RBIs and a ridiculous 1.147 OPS. Through four games in May, he's gone 8-for-15 with a pair of homers. So he's never going to be Gold Glover, but as a fantasy player, you shouldn't care; he'll hit enough to find a spot in that Brewers outfield and should be the type to make an immediate impact.
Last summer, the A's sent their first-round pick, pitcher James Simmons, straight to Double-A, though he barely pitched there after a long college season. From there, he went on to the Arizona Fall League before finally getting some well-deserved rest. The time off has clearly helped, as Simmons ranks second in the Texas League with a 1.45 ERA. Hitters have managed just a .205 average against him, and his best
Down the road
We finish up with a pair of 2007 first-rounders who began the year in extended Spring Training but have made stirring debuts in full-season ball lately. The Rangers have gotten into the habit of starting off their young high school pitchers in extended before sending them to the Midwest League. It worked well for Kasey Kiker a year ago, and it certainly has begun well for Blake Beavan. The big Texas right-hander tossed six shutout innings in his debut with Clinton recently, yielding only three hits and no walks while striking out three. It'll be interesting to see what he does for an encore.
Outfielder Ben Revere seemed like a bit of a surprise first-round pick by the Twins, but he silenced the critics by hitting .325 and stealing 21 bases in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League last summer. Minnesota held him back to let him work on some things before sending him out to Beloit in the Midwest League (it was previously thought he'd hit short-season ball in June, so kudos to him). Revere hasn't missed a beat, going 11-for-28 (.393) over his first seven games and showing no fear on the basepaths, though he may need to work on his technique (2 SB in 2 attempts). But a guy who makes contact and uses his speed can always come in handy, no?
Beat the Streak
Believe it or not, I kept up my picks in Beat the Streak during my one-week hiatus and carried an 11-game active streak into Monday's action. I relied on LaPorta to keep it going on Monday. Here's who I chose for the remainder of the week:
Tuesday: Terry Tiffee, Las Vegas (Dodgers)
Jonathan Mayo is a senior reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.