Oakland's Green could be fantasy gold

Hot-hitting second baseman making strong case for call-up

Grant Green has five multi-hit performances in his last 10 games. (Kenny Karst/MiLB.com)

By Ashley Marshall / Special to MLB.com | May 1, 2013 10:44 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 take a look at what value Grant Green could bring to your infield and why Nolan Arenado has the tools to stick around the Majors for the foreseeable future.

There's a roundup on the Minor League rehabs of Hanley Ramirez, Erick Aybar and Francisco Liriano, 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

Hanley Ramirez appeared in two California League games for the Dodgers' Class A Advanced affiliate, Rancho Cucamonga, this past weekend. The shortstop went 3-for-6 with three RBIs, a double and a run scored in his first Minor League stint since he played six games for Jupiter in 2011.

Ramirez struck out as a pinch hitter on Monday, but he homered and doubled in his first start of the year on Tuesday. There's no reason to think his right thumb will bother him too much going forward, so feel free to activate him in all formats.

* * *

Shortstop Erick Aybar homered, doubled and drove in two runs Monday night in his first rehab start during Salt Lake's 12-6 loss to Colorado Springs.

He hit a two-run homer from the left side of the box in the third inning and added the two-bagger from the right side in the seventh. Aybar, rehabbing a bruised left heel that has kept him sidelined since April 9, also turned a nifty double play in which he jumped over a charging Hernan Iribarren at second base.

* * *

Recovering from a broken bone in his non-throwing arm, Francisco Liriano has been solid in two rehab starts with Triple-A Indianapolis. He allowed a run on four hits over five innings (79 pitches) at home to Lehigh Valley on Thursday, and he surrendered a run on four hits over six frames (82 pitches) against Gwinnett on Tuesday. He has struck out 17 of the 41 batters he faced, held International League hitters to a .205 average and did not issue any walks.

It has been a much more encouraging week for the 6-foot-2 left-hander, who gave up four runs to Double-A Harrisburg over 2 2/3 innings on April 20.

Manager Clint Hurdle previously said he expected Liriano to make three starts between Altoona and Indianapolis, so expect news of a return to be coming out of the Pirates camp over the next day or two.

Stock Up, Stock Down

Stock Up: Grant Green

The A's No. 4 prospect is batting .366 in his last 10 games for Triple-A Sacramento, buoyed by a 4-for-6 showing Monday in which he homered and tripled against Fresno. On the season, he's batting .321 with an .897 OPS through 24 games for the River Cats, showing slight improvements over his .296/.796 numbers from a year ago, his first full season in the Pacific Coast League.

Oakland should be willing to give him at least a look, since their current everyday second baseman, Eric Sogard, hasn't been blowing anyone away at the Major League level (.616 OPS). Given the relative lack of fantasy depth at second, you should consider doing the same.

Stock Down: Tyler Skaggs

After his first start for Triple-A Reno, Skaggs told MiLB.com, "I'm close, I'm throwing the ball well right now and I'm almost there. I think I'm ready to go out there and perform." Almost one month later, it seems like he's done a full 180. The D-backs' top prospect allowed eight runs -- five earned -- on nine hits in just 4 2/3 innings, dropping his third decision in his last four starts and allowing his Pacific Coast League ERA to balloon to 6.15.

It's early yet and there's still a good chance Skaggs will be back with Arizona before the year is out, but given his recent downturn, that arrival looks like it'll be delayed.

Under the Radar

Last week we mentioned Brewers prospect Scooter Gennett as a second baseman who could possibly help fantasy owners this year. This week, it's another NL option at the keystone with Washington's Jeff Kobernus.

The Nationals are well-manned at second, of course, with Danny Espinosa, but he's already had wrist problems this year and, as fantasy owners should be aware, second base is a position across both leagues where depth is welcome.

Kobernus happens to be one of the best at Triple-A. The Nationals' 16th-ranked prospect is in the midst of a breakout year, hitting .367/.408/.467 with eight stolen bases through just 24 games with Syracuse. Should Espinosa come across any more health scares, Kobernus will be the guy to shore up fantasy lineups at a position that could probably use some solidifying on just about any roster.

Will He Stick?

Nolan Arenado: For the first time in the brief history of this section, the answer to the above question finally seems to be in the affirmative. Arenado was hitting so incredibly well at Triple-A Colorado Springs (.364/.392/.667/1.059, 21 RBIs in 18 games) that the Rockies made room for their No. 2 prospect by designating for assignment their regular third baseman, Chris Nelson, who owned just a .600 OPS in the Majors. Without anyone breathing down his neck at the hot corner, the job is Arenado's to keep for the foreseeable future.

Expect an average in the mid-to-high .200s with an OBP not much higher. He should produce plenty of doubles -- he collected 30 or more each of the last three seasons -- to drive up his slugging percentage.

Transaction of Note

Erick Aybar was activated soon after his successful rehab appearance with Triple-A Salt Lake, which provided a glimpse of what he could do for the American League's ninth-ranked offense by runs scored.

The 29-year-old shortstop isn't flashy, but he hits for a decent average (.283 over his last four seasons) and can swipe a bag or two (86 in that time). AL-only owners looking for a shortstop (where Aybar's career .707 OPS would rank fourth among qualifying shortstops) could definitely do worse than the longtime Angel.

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Finders Keepers

Garin Cecchini: This may be considered a super deep move, but hear us out. With everyone looking out for the next big prospect to shoot up the rankings boards, you may just have one here in Cecchini. The third baseman, ranked by MLB.com at No. 8 in the Red Sox system, has jumped out to a huge start in Class A Advanced Salem. As of Tuesday, he had collected six straight multi-hit games and was batting exactly .500 (18-for-36) in his last 10 contests.

If you're looking for a bigger sample, consider his slash line for the whole of April: .392/.478/.709. His 1.187 OPS ranks fourth among all Minor Leaguers thus far, just behind previous Finders Keepers candidate Byron Buxton (1.194).

If that weren't enough, his 10 steals in that time rank fourth -- most among Class A Advanced baserunners. Given that Will Middlebrooks seems to have a hold at third for the time being and Xander Bogaerts may eventually find himself at the hot corner, Cecchini might have to find a new position within the Boston organization, or he could be trade fodder somewhere else. But keep your eye on him for now. Such a hot start deserves at least that much.

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.

The first month of the season is officially over and I can report that my team was in last place every single day.

Some of my draft picks have, to their credit, produced (Mike Napoli .280-4-27, Ryan Howard .285-3-16, Lance Berkman .318-2-15, Lorenzo Cain .315-1-11, CC Sabathia 4-2, 3.34 ERA), while others have just crippled any hope of me digging myself out of this hole (Pedro Alvarez hitting .188 despite the recent power, first-round pick Josh Hamilton at .201-2-9, third-rounder Jay Bruce at .252-1-11, and the rest of my pitchers, etc).

Some recent thoughts:

  • Is it a bad sign when Barry Zito seems really tempting to pick up?
  • Fellow Alvarez owners are probably awaiting his plunge back to roto destruction, and so after a pair of hitless games, I dropped the equally embarrasing Ben Revere for Josh Donaldson last night so I can bench Mr. K for now at third.
  • David Price. Cy Young and 20-game winner. This season, he's on pace to go 6-12 with a 5.19 ERA
  • Mat Latos has actually been pretty awesome, but he only has two wins and is now banged up.
  • I spoke to Zack Wheeler yesterday and resisted mentioning that I own him in fantasy. How many owners out there would kill to get a phone call from one of their players so they could whine and complain and offer ridiculous advice?
  • Outside of Napoli, I think my best offensive player thus far has been Travis Hafner, which is both sad and impressive for Brian Cashman and I.

Top 10 Prospects

Organization   Player  
Texas Rangers   Jurickson Profar Profar went 6-for-23 with three RBIs, three doubles and a triple in six games this week for Triple-A Round Rock. He has hit safely in each of his last five outings.
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-23 with a homer and two RBIs in six outings. His longball against Nashville on Sunday was just his second in 20 Triple-A games.
Tampa Bay Rays   Wil Myers Myers homered twice last week -- against Toledo and Syracuse -- and he has five RBIs and six runs scored in seven games. He's batting .233 over that period.
Seattle Mariners   Taijuan Walker In his only start last week, Walker (2-2) fired seven two-hit innings in Jackson's 6-2 win over Chattanooga. He yielded two hits and four walks while striking out seven, lowering his ERA to 1.55 in the win.
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 allowed six runs in nine innings over two starts against the Twins and Mets. His ERA has risen to 4.50 after allowing one run in his first two games.
New York Mets   Zack Wheeler Wheeler yielded a season-high five runs Thursday against Tacoma but bounced back with eight strikeouts over 6 2/3 one-run innings in Reno on Tuesday.
Pittsburgh Pirates   Gerrit Cole Cole surrendered a run over seven innings against Gwinnett on Saturday. He was unhappy with his four walks, but he lowered his ERA to 2.31 in the victory.
Arizona Diamondbacks   Tyler Skaggs Skaggs got rocked for eight runs -- five earned -- versus Las Vegas on Monday. It's the second time in five games he has allowed eight or more runs and failed to get though five innings.

Ashley Marshall is a contributor to MLB.com. Sam Dykstra and Danny Wild also contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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