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Springer could force Astros' hand
Houston outfield prospect leads Minors with 11 homers
05/08/2013 12:27 PM ET
George Springer is batting .289 with 27 RBIs for Corpus Christi.
George Springer is batting .289 with 27 RBIs for Corpus Christi. (Walter Barnard/MiLB.com)

Fantasy Focus is a regular MiLB.com feature in which we use a Minor League perspective to give you the edge in your fantasy league. Have a fantasy question? Tweet it to @MiLB or @AshMarshallMLB with the hashtag #fantasyfocus.

In this week's Fantasy Focus, we take a look at the somewhat surprising power surge of George Springer and the chances of Marcell Ozuna sticking in the Majors.

There's a roundup on the Minor League rehabs of Michael Bourn, Martin Perez and Brian McCann, an insight into the thinking of one baseball writer's fantasy team and a recap of what MLB.com's top 10 prospects have been doing the past seven days.

Stock Up, Stock Down

Stock up: George Springer

MLB.com's No. 54 prospect leads the Minor Leagues with 11 home runs for Double-A Corpus Christi, a power that shouldn't come as a complete surprise since he went deep 24 times in his first full season -- but this much power? That's not to mention his .288/.378/.644 slash line, 27 RBIs and seven steals through 31 Texas League games. Strikeouts (40 in 118 at-bats) remain a concern.

"This is something that I don't want to happen," Springer said of his strikeouts, "But it's going to happen. It's all about making adjustments from pitch to pitch, and if you don't, then you gotta battle. The starters and the bullpen guys all have stuff to put you away."

Still, with Astros outfielders putting up just a collective .671 OPS through Wednesday, Springer shouldn't have to do much elbowing to get to the Majors if he keeps up this pace.

Stock down: Nick Castellanos

Castellanos entered the year as one of the best pure hitting prospects in the Minors. He very well may be, but the proof hasn't been there of late. He's batting .230 with a .664 OPS, three homers and 11 RBIs in 33 games for Triple-A Toledo, despite batting primarily out of the No. 3 hole for the Mud Hens. He's 7-for-44 (.159) in his last 10 games entering Wednesday, a stat that actually improved with a 2-for-7 effort Tuesday night. It's the 21-year-old's first year at Triple-A, so he deserves plenty of slack but not necessarily a spot on your fantasy roster for the time being.

Rehabs of Note


After homering three times in four South Atlantic League games with Rome last week, Brian McCann got nine at-bats for Triple-A Gwinnett this week. He collected three hits -- including a homer -- and two RBIs before being cleared to return to Atlanta.

McCann, who underwent offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder, went hitless in his debut Monday. He'll get his fair share of days off over the coming weeks, so Evan Gattis should still get at-bats between left field and occasional shifts behind the plate.

* * *

Cleveland outfielder Michael Bourn began his rehab assignment Monday night with the Triple-A Columbus Clippers. In his first Minor League game in seven years, Bourn was 1-for-3 with a walk, two strikeouts and a stolen base against Charlotte.

MLB.com reported that Bourn, who needed stitches in his right index finger after sliding into first base on April 14, had been taking regular batting practice without a problem.

* * *

Rangers pitcher Martin Perez, who fractured his left arm in Spring Training when he was hit by a comebacker on March 3, allowed a run on five hits while striking out one batter over four innings for Double-A Frisco against Midland on Monday. He's expected to pitch five innings against Corpus Christi this weekend, after which he will likely make two or three more starts before Texas decides whether to activate him.

Will He Stick?

Marcell Ozuna: When the Marlins' No. 6 prospect came up to replace Giancarlo Stanton in the big league lineup, no one expected him to replace the slugger's big bat. But that's exactly what Ozuna has done. He collected a hit in each of his first seven games with the Fish, recording a .478 average in that span before an 0-for-4 showing Monday broke up the streak. He should be a key cog with the Marlins for at least another month, and even then, he could slide to one of the other outfield spots when Stanton returns to right.

The average should slip as he's never batted higher than .266 over a full Minor League season, but the power -- at least 20 homers in the last three campaigns -- could certainly play at the Major League level. He's worth a look as a move for outfield depth, especially now while his bat seems hot.

Finders Keepers

Gregory Polanco: It's one thing for a prospect to pop up on the radar with a breakout full season. It's another to prove that it wasn't just a flash in the pan. That's exactly what Polanco, the Pirates' No. 4 prospect, has done in the early going for Class A Advanced Bradenton. After putting together a .325/.388/.522 slash line for Class A West Virginia last season, he's produced a .322/.389/.504 line in 31 games with the Marauders.

The speed has been there too as he's stolen 12 bags in 16 chances already. Organizations love to see repetition at the higher levels, and MLB.com's No. 61 prospect has certainly done his best. Don't be surprised to see a call-up to Double-A Altoona by the middle of the season, if he continues this pace.

Under the Radar

Moises Sierra doesn't necessarily have an obvious path to the Majors, with Toronto seemingly set in the outfield. But Melky Cabrera has struggled, Colby Rasmus hasn't entirely lived up to his potential and Rajai Davis is a hot-and-cold kind of player.

All that combined, Sierra could get an opportunity should one of those three fall out of favor in Toronto. If he does, he's shown over the past couple seasons that he can, if nothing else, hit.

The 24-year-old had an .832 OPS in 100 games for Triple-A Las Vegas last year, and so far in 24 games this season with Buffalo he's hitting .360/.404/.512. If the Blue Jays find themselves with an outfield opening, Sierra will be the man to grab.

Transaction of Note

On the first day of May, the Yankees came calling for infield help when they acquired Colorado's Chris Nelson.

The 26-year-old had delivered modest returns in brief stints in the Majors in 2010 and 2011 when the Rockies called him up, before he hit .301/.352/.458 in 111 games in Denver last year.

With Colorado committed to Nolan Arenado, Nelson no longer had a place on the Rockies' roster, but the Yankees, who have been stung with a slew of injuries, should be able to benefit from the ninth overall pick in the 2004 Draft with both Alex Rodriguez and Kevin Youkilis on the DL.

Nelson hit .219/.256/.288 in 23 games with the Rockies this year, and put up a .294/.333/.412 line in 13 games with Triple-A Colorado Springs last year. If the onetime top Colorado prospect can come close to replicating the production he put up in Denver last season, he'll help AL-only owners at a tough third base position to fill.

A Wild, Wild Whine

Ed. note: This section is on the lighter side of fantasy baseball, where staff writer Danny Wild bemoans his continued bad fortune as a fantasy owner. Shoot him an email if you can relate, or maybe some fantasy advice would be more appropriate.

I've been told by coworkers and even a reader of this column that I should never trust any advice I read from CBS Sports' fantasy writers. Fair enough -- stick to my gut and make my own terrible decisions. But then last week, I saw this on my fantasy league's homepage news feed:

"[Zack] Wheeler, who came into the game with a 5.79 ERA and 15 walks in 23 1/3 innings, said he was able to have success Tuesday after working with pitching coach Randy St. Claire on fixing a mechanical flaw, per MLB.com.

"I was lifting my leg and rotating my shoulders and when we looked at the video, we realized I was rotating too much instead of keeping my shoulders square to the plate," Wheeler said. "That was a big help. In the first inning, my first time doing it in a game, I found the right mechanics. And after that, I was good."

Per MLB.com. As in, per me. I was the one who spoke to Wheeler last week, and now I'm reading my own quotes recycled through CBS' expert advisors. Who can a guy trust these days?

Not Josh Hamilton. Or Jay Bruce. Or Jimmy Rollins. Pedro Alvarez is down to .178. Interleague series remove two of my semi-productive DH bats in Lance Berkman and Travis Hafner. I'll end with this CBS update on my so-called ace, David Price:

"Shortly after the conclusion of Saturday's game between the Rays and Rockies, the official scorer made a change that affects David Price. Price was originally charged with four earned runs but an error on Ben Zobrist in the seventh inning was changed. The left-hander was left on the hook for all nine runs, raising his ERA to 6.25."

Top 10 Prospects

Organization   Player  
Texas Rangers   Jurickson Profar Profar went 5-for-25 in six games this week for Triple-A Round Rock, but he did not plate a run. He left Tuesday's game in Las Vegas mid at-bat with a left hand injury.
Baltimore Orioles   Dylan Bundy Bundy will not need elbow surgery, but he will be out at least six weeks after Dr. James Andrew prescribed a platelet-rich plasma injection. A mid-June return is possible.
St. Louis Cardinals   Oscar Taveras Taveras went 8-for-24 with a homer and seven RBIs in six outings. His big performance came Monday when he went 4-for-7 in Omaha.
Tampa Bay Rays   Wil Myers Myers was 5-for-23 with 10 strikeouts and two walks in his past six games, but he's batting just .171 over his previous 10 outings.
Seattle Mariners   Taijuan Walker In his only start last week, Walker gave up a run on three hits while striking out six batters over six innings. He's won three of his past four games.
New York Mets   Travis d'Arnaud d'Arnaud fractured his left foot April 17 after fouling off a ball in the sixth inning against Sacramento. He's expected to miss six to eight weeks.
Miami Marlins   Jose Fernandez Fernandez gave up a lone hit over seven scoreless innings against Philadelphia on Saturday. He fanned nine batters and improved to 2-0.
New York Mets   Zack Wheeler Wheeler scattered three hits over six shutout innings against Sacramento on Sunday. It was the third time he had faced the River Cats in seven starts this year.
Pittsburgh Pirates   Gerrit Cole Cole earned a no-decision for Triple-A Indianapolis on Saturday after allowing two runs on four hits over six innings against Lehigh Valley
Arizona Diamondbacks   Tyler Skaggs Skaggs continued to struggle this week. He gave up six runs over five innings against Tacoma, making it 14 runs allowed in his past two starts.

Ashley Marshall is a contributor to MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AshMarshallMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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