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 how Travis d'Arnaud has increased the value of his stock since returning from the disabled list and why now might still not be the right time to pick up Matt Davidson despite his promotion to Arizona.
There's also a roundup of the notable Minor League rehabs including Scott Baker, Trevor Cahill and Cameron Maybin, why you need to remember the name "Kris Bryant" and what one baseball writer is doing to try and move his fantasy team out of his league's cellar.
Under the Radar
Cody Asche, Philadelphia's No. 7 prospect, is getting a chance this year in the Majors after a very strong year in Triple-A.
The 23-year-old hit .295/.352/.485 with 15 homers and 68 RBIs in 104 games for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs before the Phillies made the call.
So far he's only hit .209/.244/.395 with a pair of longballs and seven RBIs in 14 games at the big league level, but with Philadelphia well out of the playoff race, he'll get a chance to show what he's got and could offer fantasy owners in deep leagues a shot at some power and a possible keeper option going forward.
Will He Stick?
It's been quite a last five weeks for Matt Davidson. The D-backs' No. 2 prospect won MVP honors after homering in the All-Star Futures Game and then a day later won the Triple-A Home Run Derby at his home ballpark in Reno. Now a few weeks later, he's in the Majors.
Davidson, who put up a .278/.348/.484 line with 16 homers and 68 RBIs in Triple-A, moved to the big league roster Sunday when Eric Chavez was put on the DL, and he was put right into the lineup when Cody Ross dislocated his right hip. But his precise role with the club going forward is unclear. Jack-of-all-trades Martin Prado can play third in Chavez's stead with A.J. Pollock or Adam Eaton taking over in left for Ross. Manager Kirk Gibson has indicated that Davidson will primarily be used as a reserve.
Rehabs of Note
Recovering from Tommy John surgery, Scott Baker is expected to make his fifth rehab start of the season today.
He gave up 13 runs over 8 2/3 innings in three Midwest League starts for Kane County before moving up to Daytona. Last time out on June 29, the right-hander allowed two runs -- one earned -- on three hits and a pair of walks over 3 1/3 innings against Fort Myers.
Baker has not played in the Majors since 2011, and he's a long shot to make a fantasy impact this season. His numbers and performances do not suggest a return to the Cubs is imminent, but owners in the very deepest of leagues may see value as a spot starter down the stretch if they decide to play matchups (read: if he's facing the Marlins).
Trevor Cahill is expected to rejoin the D-backs this weekend after three starts with Triple-A Reno.
The right-hander allowed four, six and two runs in his rehab outings, but the process was more important than the 0-2 record or 5.94 ERA. His 22 strikeouts in 21 2/3 innings are a good sign. He's been sidelined since July with a bruised hip and sore shoulder.
Cameron Maybin is on the 15-day DL as he recovers from damage to his posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on June 9. He ran on it for the first time on July 13 and started a rehab with Triple-A Tucson on July 31. In five games with the club in his second stint this season, the center fielder is 1-for-10 with a solo homer and three walks.
He already missed 45 games of the season with a right wrist injury, so there's a good chance that anyone who was holding on to him after his first trip to the DL dropped him to waivers long ago. Maybin won't contribute too much in the way of power, but he could provide a cheap source of steals if his knee is fully healed and the Padres are confident enough to give him the green light.
Less than a month after being named MVP at the Futures Game & winning the Triple-A Home Run Derby, Matt Davidson notched his first @MLB hit.- Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) August 12, 2013
While John Buck is on call for the arrival of his third child, Travis d'Arnaud got the call for his first taste of the big leagues. A spot behind the plate will open up for the Mets when Buck departs on paternity leave, and with the team in Los Angeles, it will be all too easy for its No. 2 prospect to move over from Las Vegas. When he does make the jump, it's expected to be a short one as Buck's leave will only be three days.
But this might be the time to jump on d'Arnaud anyways. The 24-year-old backstop is back in the PCL after missing almost four months with a broken left foot, but if his results since his return are any indication, he hasn't missed a beat. The California native is 7-for-13 with a homer, three doubles, three RBIs and four walks in four games so far.
Obviously, he's off to a unsustainably hot start -- helped no doubt by Las Vegas' hitter-friendly confines -- but those numbers are encouraging. He'll be back with the Mets in September and should be the No. 1 catcher next season. If his injury woes are behind him, d'Arnaud has the highest ceiling of any catching prospect in the game. Now is the time to jump on him in keeper leagues.
Several have made the jump from Double-A Jacksonville to Miami this season -- Christian Yelich, Jake Marisnick, Marcell Ozuna, not to mention NL Rookie of the Year front-runner Jose Fernandez, who jumped to the bigs at the start of the season after never stepping foot in the Southern League. Don't expect Justin Nicolino to make the jump, at least not this year.
The 21-year-old left-hander is 2-2 with a 6.94 ERA and 1.93 WHIP in five starts and 23 1/3 innings for the Suns thus far. Those are just early growing pains for a player making what's considered the biggest jump in the Minors. (He owned a 2.23 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 18 starts for Class A Advanced Jupiter before his promotion.) Still, it means he's likely to stick with Jacksonville for the rest of the season.
Transaction to note
In what may be the trade of the year with a real fantasy impact, the White Sox shipped Alex Rios to the Rangers on Saturday in a post-waiver deadline deal.
The return wound up being Leury Garcia, who had been hitting .264/.314/.409 with four homers, four triples, eight doubles and 19 RBIs in 47 games for Triple-A Round Rock.
He struggled in the Majors with Texas, though, batting just .192/.236/.231 in 25 games.
The middle infielder is still just 22, and if he can improve his hitting just enough to stick in the starting lineup either as the White Sox run out the calendar or next year, his Minor League history suggests a future base stealer in bulk. He had 31 last year, 20 the year before and 51 in 2010.
Keep an Eye On
We knew Kris Bryant could hit, but this has certainly been impressive. The Cubs took the third baseman with the No. 2 pick, and he did nothing but hit for Class A Short-Season Boise once he hit the Northwest League. He took home the circuit's Player of the Week honors last week after going 9-for-17 with a homer, a triple, three doubles and five RBIs with the Hawks.
The Golden Spikes Award winner, who was easily the most advanced bat out of college in this year's Draft class, is now on the move to Class A Advanced Daytona. His final place in the field will be up for debate (third base, corner outfield?), but if Bryant continues to show promise at the plate (and he homered in his first game for Daytona), he could rapidly shoot up the Cubs system and figure into their future plans sooner rather than later, in a way Mike Zunino, who got off to a similarly fast pro start in the Mariners organization did after being taken third overall last year.