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 examine why Wil Myers' stock is on the rise, why Yordano Ventura's gaudy numbers warrant a second look and why Yasiel Puig deserves to be picked up while he's on the Dodgers' big league roster.
There's a roundup of the Minor League rehabs ofGiancarlo Stanton, Austin Jackson and Hanley Ramirez as well as a recap of what MLB.com's top 10 prospects have been doing the past seven days.
Stock Up, Stock Down
Stock Up: Wil Myers
Given his stellar 2012 campaign, Myers should have been claimed in any mixed keeper league before the season started. But a slow start -- OK, slow by his incredibly high standards -- to the 2013 season may have caused some owners to look elsewhere for better options. No longer.
The 22-year-old outfielder is coming off a week when he homered four times and drove in 15 en route to IL Player of the Week honors. After his OPS sat as low as .712 on May 21, he's seen it grow back to .869 as of Tuesday. It appears that the only thing keeping Myers from joining the Rays at this point is this month's Super Two deadline.
Stock Down: Mike Kickham
The 24-year-old left-hander was a candidate for the above category two weeks ago when he had just completed his fifth straight quality start at Triple-A Fresno to complete a May in which he had produced a 1.72 ERA. He made his Major League debut for the Giants on May 28 but struggled mightily, giving up four runs on four hits and four walks in just 2 1/3 innings in a 6-3 loss to the A's.
He lasted seven innings in his first start back with the Grizzlies on Monday but gave up five runs on seven hits in that span. If he can return to his May form, he'll likely return to the Majors for another spot start at some point. But it's probably best to steer clear of the southpaw until he proves he can handle the game's highest level.
Under the radar
The Astros are in the stage of rebuilding where seemingly everyone gets a shot. It shouldn't be long before their top pitching prospect, Jarred Cosart, gets his.
The 23-year-old has had a fine season so far for Triple-A Oklahoma City, going 5-2 with a 3.07 ERA in 58 2/3 innings. He also has more than a strikeout an inning, at 63, against 34 walks.
He's realistically probably only an AL-only option if and when he arrives in the big leagues, at first, but mixed owners should keep an eye on Cosart's progress as well.
Will He Stick?
Broadcasting legend and all-time great storyteller Vin Scully called Yasiel Puig "one happy Cuban" after the outfielder went 2-for-4 and started a game-ending double play witha strong throw from right field in his MLB debut. He then hit two home runs in his second MLB game Tuesday. He previously wowed in Spring Training (.517/.500/.828) and impressed with Double-A Chattanooga (.313/.383/.599), and when Matt Kemp hit the DL and Carl Crawford began to deal with a hamstring issue, the Dodgers turned to their top prospect.
He's still very raw in many ways -- plate discipline remains a spot for growth -- but Puig has the chance to show his range of tools on the game's biggest stage. He's likely to be sent back to the Minors when the other superstars return, but he's worth a pickup in the meantime.
Rehabs of Note
Giancarlo Stanton has been on the DL since April 30 with a strained right hamstring. In his first rehab game for Class A Advanced Jupiter on Tuesday he went 0-for-3 with three fly ball outs in five innings. In the field, he caught the only ball hit to right field.
The game action was Stanton's first in almost five weeks. He had previously taken batting practice against Marlins manager Mike Redmond and ran the bases at the team's Spring Training complex in Jupiter. Depending how much progress he makes, he may return by the middle of the month. Until then, keep him stashed on your DL and hope you can get enough production from whoever you promoted from your bench to keep your team afloat.
Austin Jackson is expected to begin a Minor League rehab assignment in the coming week, MLB.com reports. He has taken part in full batting practices and he has shagged fly balls pregame. He's also ran the bases "at 80 percent," but he has yet to test out his injured left hamstring at full speed.
The 26-year-old Jackson was batting .272 with two homers and 11 RBIs in 34 games for the Tigers prior to his injury.
Nationals place Danny Espinosa (wrist) was placed on the 15-day DL. Anthony Rendon was called up and he can be added in most leagues.- DraftValet (@DraftValet) June 4, 2013
Transaction to note
It kind of feels like it was a long time ago, but Daniel Hudson was a very good member of the Diamondbacks' rotation in 2011, going 16-12 with a 3.49 ERA and 169 strikeouts.
Elbow problems, as they often will, derailed Hudson last year. The right-hander is still only 26 though, and on Tuesday the D-backs sent him to Double-A Mobile for a rehab assignment.
Owners in need of some pitching would be well-served to keep an eye on Hudson and how he does during his rehab. He allowed a run, walked one and struck out one in two innings on Tuesday in his first appearance. If he can get back to looking something like the Hudson of '11, he'll be valuable pickup.
Keep an eye on
Normally, we reserve this space for prospects in the game's lower levels, but we'd be remiss if we didn't discuss Yordano Ventura in some way this week. The Royals' No. 3 prospect was promoted to Triple-A Omaha after putting up a 2.34 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 74 strikeouts in 57 2/3 innings (11 starts) at Double-A Northwest Arkansas.
Gaudy numbers to be sure, but as good as Ventura is, there's little chance they hold up in the PCL, at least initially. The Royals will allow the 5-foot-11 right-hander plenty of time to get some seasoning with the Storm Chasers, and you should monitor his progress in the meantime because once he hits the Majors, he could be something special.
Top 10 Prospects
|Jurickson Profar||Profar went 5-for-14 with a homer and one RBI in four Major League games for Texas this week.|
|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.|
|Oscar Taveras||Taveras has not played since May 12. In 31 Triple-A games, he's batting .317 with four homers and 20 RBIs. He was placed on the DL on last Tuesday with an ankle injury suffered on this play.|
|Wil Myers||Myers was 9-for-21 in five International League games this week with a homer, a triple, two doubles and six RBIs to raise his season average to .281.|
Walker allowed two runs on six hits and two walks while striking out five batters over five innings in Tennessee on Monday. It was his third consecutive loss.
|Travis d'Arnaud||d'Arnaud has been cleared to begin weight-bearing rehabilitation exercises, but his fractured left foot will remain in a boot for the next week, MLB.com reported.|
|Zack Wheeler||Wheeler allowed a run on three hits and a walk while striking out six batters over six innings in Fresno on Saturday. In the Wall Street Journal, he complained of the dryness of the balls he must throw while with Triple-A Las Vegas.|
|Gerrit Cole||Cole surrendered two hits over seven shutout innings on Friday. He walked one batter and struck out five, improving to 4-3 on the season.|
|Tyler Skaggs||Called up Tuesday to make his second Major League start of the season, Skaggs allowed five runs on six hits while striking out four batters over 5 2/3 innings. He did not factor in the decision.|
|Billy Hamilton||Hamilton is beginning to hit his stride with Louisville with a .383 OBP over the last 10 games, including this memorable inside-the-park homer. Already a great base-stealer, Hamilton has said that he's taking time to improve the other aspects of his game.|
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.
Optimism flows through my team this week as I've reached a high-water mark in total team points. I'm still in last place, but, it's progress, right?
Fellow Josh Hamilton owners, I share your pain. This is beginning to be a lost season for my first-round pick (he's hitting .216 with 18 RBIs through the first week of June now), and that's probably a big reason as to why I am where I am. Jay Bruce is climbing back to respectability with two homers and six RBIs in the last week. I checked in on my old pal Pedro Alvarez to see he's still hitting .198 - picking up Josh Donaldson (.320-8-35) has been one of the best decisions I've made toward climbing out of the cellar. Howie Kendrick has quietly produced nice numbers (.297-7-29) at second.
I've cut some players the last couple of weeks -- Lorenzo Cain has a good average but doesn't add much else, so I dumped him and eventually picked up Alfonso Soriano, who homered in his first game for me (small victories, right?). Ricky Nolasco is pretty solid but just doesn't get wins in Miami, so he may be a candidate to be released along with A.J. Griffin when David Price returns and Zack Wheeler eventually gets called up for me.
With the news this week of potential looming suspensions, I realized I own one player named in preliminary reports: Jhonny Peralta, who is batting .331 with six homers and 26 RBIs for Detroit.