Both pitchers could figure heavily in AL-only fantasy leagues
Orioles righty Kevin Gausman makes his Major League debut Thursday. (David Monseur/MiLB.com)
By Ashley Marshall / Special to MLB.com | May 23, 2013 7:54 AM ET
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 Kyle Gibson might soon be getting the call from the Twins and why late-blooming backstop Josh Phegley may be an overlooked source of power for those focusing just on the American League.
There's a roundup on the Minor League rehabs ofBrandon Beachy, Josh Johnson and Jayson Werth, an update on the dire experiment that is one baseball writer's fantasy team as well as a recap of what MLB.com's top 10 prospects have been doing the past seven days.
Rehabs of Note
Josh Johnson allowed a run on three hits while striking out five batters over three innings in his first Florida State League rehab start with Dunedin on Monday.
Sidelined since April 21 with right triceps soreness, Johnson will make two more starts in the Minors, according to MLB.com. He could rejoin the team by early June assuming there are no lingering problems, like the discomfort in his arm that pushed his return back from the original mid-May date.
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Jayson Werth appeared in just one game with the Class A Advanced Potomac Nationals last week before experiencing a light strain in his hamstring.
There was a chance he could return this week to get him some at-bats before he was eligible to come off the disalbled list on Friday, but the Nats -- after speaking with doctors who took a second MRI scan -- decided to give him more time.
Davey Johnson the setback could be two weeks, meaning Werth could see more time rehabbing his hamstring with the P-Nats again next week.
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Brandon Beachy will like make his season debut later this week in Class A Rome.
He is expected to appear in six games, with the Braves still optomistic of a mid-June return.
Beachy, who underwent Tommy John surgery last June, has thrown live BP and appeared in an extended spring training game. Before his injury, Beachy averaged 9.5 K/9 as a Major Leaguer and had a 3.07 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in 41 Major League starts, so fantasy owners would do well to keep an eye on his progress.
First, there are the results. MLB.com's No. 46 prospect took a no-hitter into the eighth inning on Sunday and finished the game for his second complete-game shutout in 11 days for Triple-A Rochester. The 25-year-old right-hander, who is trying to get through his first full season since Tommy John surgery late in 2011, hasn't allowed a run in three of his last five outings and owns a 3.25 ERA for the Red Wings.
That alone would be enough to earn consideration for a call-up to the Twins. But Minnesota (18-24, last in the AL Central) should give extra thought to bringing up Gibson, given the state of its rotation. As a team, the pitching staff owns a 4.50 ERA to rank 12th in the American League, and Vance Worley (1-4, 6.20 ERA) was demoted to the International League on Wednesday.
Gibson was passed up for a rotation spot this week -- Samuel Deduno will pitch instead for the Twins on Friday -- but given the latest move for Worley, the time might have finally come for him. If the Twins make the move, he's worth grabbing in AL-only or in extremely deep mixed leagues for a spot start.
While Gibson seems to be knocking down the Twins' door, Cole may be barricading it shut for the Pirates. MLB.com's No. 9 prospect allowed a career-high eight runs on six hits and three walks over 5 2/3 innings in Triple-A Indianapolis' 11-3 loss to Pawtucket on Sunday. Cole's ERA has jumped from 2.23 to 3.75 over his last two starts.
What's more, the Pirates don't seem to be begging for rotation help. A.J. Burnett, Jeff Locke and Wandy Rodriguez all have ERAs below 3.50 over nine starts or more while Francisco Liriano (2-0, 1.64 ERA) has performed admirably since joining the Bucs staff.
Unless James McDonald (2-2, 5.76 ERA) forces his way out of the rotation soon, the Pirates will want their top prospect to work out the kinks with Indianapolis, at least until the Super Two deadline in June.
Under the Radar
It's probably safe to say 25-year-old Josh Phegley probably did not enter the season on many fantasy owners' radars. The White Sox's 2009 first-rounder hadn't distinguished himself in parts of four Minor League seasons, and last year with Triple-A Charlotte hit just .266/.306/.373 in 102 games.
But something's clicked for the Indiana University product this year. Through 33 games, he's been on fire for the Knights, hitting .333/.393/.659, already having set a career high in home runs last Thursday with his10th of the year.
With Chicago's primary catcher, Tyler Flowers, hitting .195 in the bigs, it's possible the team's No. 15 prospect will get an extended look. And with just six qualified catchers in the American League boasting an OPS of .700 or better, AL-only owners could find themselves getting a useful jolt of offense at the position from the apparently late-blooming Phegley.
Kevin Gausman will make his Major League debut for the Orioles on Thursday, but I think it's unfair to expect the same kind of results that Jose Fernandez wowed us with earlier this year.
He fastball command has been solid this year, but let's not forget that this time last year he was still pitching at LSU. Selected fourth overall, Gausman has made just eight Double-A starts and only 11 above short-season ball.
He's overpowered left-handers in the Eastern League with the help of his improved slider, but it's too much to ask of him to get big leaguers out on just his fastball-changeup combination. His breaking pitches are still works in progress, and it could be counter-productive to throw him into the lion's den this early in his development.
Gausman's makeup is good and three of his past four outings have been quality starts, but that suggests a jump to Triple-A Norfolk rather than a ticket to The Show. Gausman will stick in the Majors at some point, but expect it to be later rather than sooner.
I think T.J. McFarland and, less likely, Jair Jurrjens, will take innings away from Gausman in the near future. Only in keeper and dynasty leagues is Gausman a good bet right now.
Q: I'm in an NL-only 5x5 10-team redraft league. I feel like the Dodgers season is going out of control. Is now the time to use a waiver claim for [Yasiel] Puig?
- Kale Lehneis
A: The Dodgers have had conversations about calling up Puig, sparking a flurry of discussions in fantasy circles.
Puig proved in Spring Training that he can hit, but it's unrealistic to expect anything remotely close to the .517 average or .828 slugging percentage he posted in 27 Cactus League games.
Puig's numbers at Double-A Chattanooga have been solid and his slash line of .314/.385/.579 gives an indication of what he might be able to achieve at the next level. Still, he's had barely 200 professional at-bats, and unless there's a keeper league element to your league, it's probably not worth wasting a waiver claim on a few months of possible production.
The Dodgers are desperate to change things up, but that doesn't mean you should, too. Even though Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp are struggling right now, Puig isn't going to steal too many at-bats from them. If the Dodgers make a move to trade away one of their three starting outfielders -- who combine for about $54 million of payroll, then Puig is a much more attractive proposition.
Keep an eye on
Alen Hanson certainly won't make an impact this year, and there's a good chance you won't be drafting him next season, either. Still, remember this name.
Once pitching prospects Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Cole find their way to Pittsburgh, Hanson has the chance to be the Bucs' top prospect for the next two years. He's already arguably their top hitting prospect, with as much speed as the older Gregory Polanco but with better gap-to-gap pop at a prime position.
The switch-hitting shortstop showed in 2012 he can hit for power, and it's a good sign to see him truly tested -- maybe for the first time in his career -- in Bradenton this year.
If the 20-year-old native of the Dominican Republic continues to fill out that 5-foot-11 frame without losing his speed, you could possibly see comparisons with Profar (especially in his bat and baserunning) down the road.
Skaggs yielded three runs on seven hits over 6 1/3 in Albuquerque, snapping three straight losses. It marked the second time he'd pitched into the seventh inning in consecutive starts this year.
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.
Pitching remains my biggest problem this season (my staff has just 16 wins, good for last place) and 29 quality starts (good for second-to-last). Picking up Scott Feldman for a start against the Mets this past weekend paid off nicely, but guys like Dan Haren and Brandon Morrow continue to hurt -- how long do I hold on to each? Feldman gave me my only win of the last week.
To that end, I debated dumping Morrow for Kevin Gausman, who will make his Major League debut against Morrow in Toronto on Thursday. Last week, I broke the news on Gausman ending his doughnut-eating routine.
My fantasy expert advisors at CBS evidently read it: "Orioles No. 2 prospect Kevin Gausman managed a career-high 10 strikeouts over six innings in his latest start with Double-A Bowie Friday, MiLB.com reports. Gausman, who has reportedly given up his powdered doughnut diet with a promotion to Baltimore on the horizon, improved to 2-4 with Bowie."
Someone who didn't read my story? Orioles outfielder Adam Jones: