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Cosart's debut a sign of things to come
Astros right-hander offers lots of fantasy value going forward
07/17/2013 6:00 AM ET
Jarred Cosart is 7-4 with a 3.29 ERA in the Minor Leagues this season.
Jarred Cosart is 7-4 with a 3.29 ERA in the Minor Leagues this season. (Cliff Welch/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 look at why Jarred Cosart's star is on the rise, why it's smart to stay away from picking up Carlos Martinez for a little while and what value Francisco Lindor may have down the road.

As always, there's a roundup of the most notable Minor League rehabs. This week, we look at Alex Rodriguez's climb through the Yankees' Minor League system, Melky Cabrera suiting up for Double-A New Hampshire and Chris Carpenter's time in Springfield.

Under the Radar

With Ben Revere going down in Philadelphia, it's been speculated that Cesar Hernandez will get a shot at the big leagues. The second baseman was a Triple-A All-Star with Lehigh Valley, where he hit .306/.372/.408 in 81 games, and is currently at Double-A getting the hang of the outfield.

If he gets a chance to play every day in the bigs, he could bring to the table a decent average, fair on-base percentage and a bunch of steals. As a bonus, he may get dual eligibility at second and in the outfield.

Will He Stick?

Will Carlos Martinez stick? That's actually a question the Cardinals are pondering themselves. On the one hand, he's been quite effective as a reliever in the Majors. After two perfect frames in his most recent appearance Saturday, he's allowed four runs on nine hits with 11 strikeouts over 10 innings for St. Louis.

On the other hand, the Cards believe it might be better for Martinez to start, and he can only do that right now for Triple-A Memphis, where he was 4-2 with a 2.05 ERA in 11 starts. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "For his development, it's better for him to be prepared to start. It's tough to weigh. We know he wants to be here. We like having him here. We think he can help us. But there is more that goes into the decision."

If he does stick with St. Louis, it will be in the bullpen, where as a non-closer he provides little fantasy value. He could slot into the rotation later in the season, if the club decides to go that route, but until then, it's best to stay away.

Rehabs of Note

Alex Rodriguez has appeared in nine Minor League games across three levels -- two with Class A Charleston in which he went hitless in four at-bats, six with Class A Advanced Tampa, where he hit .176, and one with Double-A Trenton which saw him go 2-for-4 with a homer.

The 37-year-old third baseman has not played in a Major League game following left hip surgery in January.

Even a clean bill of health may not be enough to give A-Rod any fantasy relevance, however, depending on whether a suspension from MLB is forthcoming.

* * *

Melky Cabrera was placed on the 15-day disabled list with left knee tendinitis on June 28.

He ran for the first time on June 5, MLB.com reported, after having previously only taken batting practice to avoid further stress on the leg. Eligible to come off the DL on Sunday, he joined Double-A New Hampshire on Monday to get a couple at-bats over the All-Star break.

Cabrera went 2-for-3 with a homer and two RBIs in his first game. He was batting .278 with three homers and 29 RBIs in 78 games before the injury.

* * *

Few thought Chris Carpenter would pitch at all this season, let alone have a fantasy impact. But that could change should the veteran right-hander make it back to the Majors next month.

Carpenter was back on the mound Monday and gave up three runs -- two earned -- on six hits over 2 2/3 innings for Double-A Springfield.

Lower back stiffness caused the former Cy Young Award winner to delay part of his rehab, but he told MLB.com he felt great physically. There's still no firm timeline for a return to St. Louis for Carpenter, who was sidelined with shoulder and back injuries.

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Transaction of Note

The A's finally made the call to Sonny Gray on July 10. The Oakland prospect had been one of the best pitchers in the Pacific Coast League this season, going 8-5 with a 2.81 ERA, 107 strikeouts and 34 walks over 102 1/3 innings for Sacramento.

Gray worked out of the bullpen in his big league debut, but if he gets a turn in the rotation, the friendly confines of O.Co Coliseum should aid the 23-year-old well during the stretch run.

Stock Up

You should know the story by now. (Phillies fans who don't might want to look away) Jarred Cosart was called up to make his Major League debut on Friday, and did he ever hit the ground running. The Astros' No. 4 prospect, acquired with Jonathan Singleton from the Phillies in the 2011 Hunter Pence deal, took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Rays.

Cosart ended up allowing only two hits and three walks over eight shutout frames. Heckuva debut, huh?

What followed? The 23-year-old right-hander was returned to Triple-A Oklahoma City. For those asking if there's any justice in this world, don't worry; the plan is for Cosart to rejoin the Astros when they need a fifth starter again later this month. What to expect when he returns? Obviously, nothing quite like that debut, but there are reasons for optimism.

He owned a 3.29 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 93 innings, although his WHIP (1.33) and BB/9 rate (4.8) were a bit high. Still, with a strong debut behind him and his confidence therefore building, Cosart is worth a look when he returns to Houston.

Stock Down

Listen, it surely was an outlier, but Jameson Taillon's start Saturday did little to inspire immediate fantasy-related confidence in the Pirates' No. 2 prospect. He gave up a career-high 10 earned runs on 13 hits over 3 1/3 innings in Double-A Altoona's 10-3 loss to Akron. The 21-year-old right-hander's ERA jumped nearly a full run -- from 2.94 to 3.75 -- in one start.

This is a good point to note that Taillon was unlikely to make his Major League debut this season anyway. The Pirates didn't allow Gerrit Cole to come up until he had 13 Triple-A starts under his belt. Taillon likely will return to his usual form and move up to Indianapolis before the year is up, but that's where he's likely to remain.

Keep an Eye On

Your eye already should have been on MLB.com's No. 11 overall prospect Francisco Lindor. Now, there's extra incentive. Two days after appearing in the Futures Game, the 19-year-old shortstop moved up to Double-A Akron on Tuesday. Known primarily for his glove -- and what a glove it is -- Lindor had more than held his own at the plate in the Carolina League before his promotion.

He owned a .306/.373/.410 slash line in 83 games for Class A Advanced Carolina, up from his .257/.352/.355 numbers last year at Class A Lake County. Expect some early struggles from the guy who becomes the youngest position player in the Eastern League, but if nothing else, the experience should put him on track for an MLB debut next year at the age of 20.

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