Singleton takes step closer to Houston

First baseman proving his case with promotion to Triple-A

Jonathan singleton is batting .286 with five homers across three levels. (Walter Barnard/

By Ashley Marshall / Special to | June 19, 2013 7:27 AM ET

Fantasy Focus is a regular 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.

This week's Fantasy Focus looks at why Indians hurler Danny Salazar is flying under the radar, what the Rays can expect from Wil Myers, how close Jonathan Singleton is from making an impact in Houston and why Kevin Gausman's stock has fallen for the Orioles.

There's also roundup of rehabs for Jose Reyes, Ian Kinsler and Austin Jackson.

Stock Up, Stock Down

Stock Up: Jonathan Singleton

The Astros' top prospect batted .271 with five homers and 13 RBIs in 17 games between Class A Quad Cities and Double-A Corpus Christi following his return from a 50-game suspension for a second drug policy violation. Even if those numbers weren't encouraging, Singleton would still have a good chance of being featured here simply by making his Triple-A debut on Sunday at just 21 years old.

The left-handed first baseman showed he could handle the Texas League last year (.284/.396/.497, 21 homers, 79 RBIs) in his first full season in the Houston system, making the recent move to Oklahoma City a natural one this season. He's off to a solid start with the RedHawks -- 4-for-12 with three doubles in three games -- and just one step from the Majors.

Although the Astros have shown an unwillingness to rush their prospects, Singleton could force their hand with a strong introduction to the Pacific Coast League. If that's the case, he'd bring power and patience as a solid backup option at first base in AL-only leagues.

Stock Down: Kevin Gausman/Michael Wacha

Both are featured here for the same reason. They're back in the Minors. Gausman was sent to Triple-A Norfolk -- where he's scheduled to start Wednesday -- when the Orioles needed bullpen help, and Wacha was shipped back to Memphis upon the return of Jake Westbrook to the Cardinals rotation.

That's not to say either underperformed during their stay in the Majors, however. Gausman had the rougher go (0-3, 7.66 ERA in five starts) but finished on a high note, allowing just two runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings against Boston last Thursday. Wacha, on the other hand, was solid in his three-game stint (1-0, 4.58).

Unfortunately, it's not immediately clear when either will return to the Majors, so owners in non-keeper leagues should look elsewhere for steadier starting options in the meantime.

Under the Radar

Danny Salazar, a 23-year-old right-hander, could appear in the Majors before long if the Indians decide he can help them stay in the AL Central hunt. He breezed through Double-A to begin the year, recording a 2.67 ERA with 51 strikeouts to 10 walks in 33 2/3 innings.

He's continued to prove he can miss bats in Triple-A with a 29-to-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 24 1/3 frames while posting a 4.81 ERA. He's the kind of arm that could catch fire in a big-league stint and help out pitching-starved AL-only teams.

Will He Stick?

The moment so many fantasy owners were waiting for finally came Tuesday -- Wil Myers' big league debut. We've already talked about what the 22-year-old right fielder wcould bring to the Rays, but it's worth echoing, given his recent uptick in production. The Rays top prospect put up a .339/.377/.696 slash line with five homers and 14 RBIs in 14 games for Triple-A Durham before the promotion. He ranked fourth in the International League in homers (14) and first in RBIs (57) on the season as a whole.

He's expected to play every day in right -- the Rays wouldn't call him up if that wasn't the case -- and manager Joe Maddon batted him sixth in the order in his first game to help ease him in. It shouldn't take much easing, however, after more than a season's worth of domination at the Triple-A level. Scoop Myers up if you haven't already, trade for's No. 4 prospect if you can or prepare for the regret that will follow.

Rehabs of Note

Shortstop Jose Reyes went 2-for-3 with a pair of runs scored for Class A Advanced Dunedin on Monday in his first rehab start, leaving the game after the five innince, and followed that up with a 1-for-5 performance the next night.

The four-time All-Star has been sidelined since spraining his left ankle April 12 in Kansas City. Reyes was batting .395 with a homer, five RBIs and five steals in 10 games before the injury. He is expected to return to Toronto by the end of the month, if not sooner.

* * *

Ian Kinsler went 0-for-8 with a walk and three strikeouts in two games with the Double-A Frisco RoughRiders last Thursday and Friday.

The process was more important than the results, and the Rangers activated him Saturday and slotted him right back into the leadoff spot to face the Blue Jays.

It was initially thought that Jurickson Profar would make way for Kinsler -- who had a right intercostal strain -- but Texas optioned Leury Garcia to the Minors instead.

* * *

Austin Jackson made a final of three rehab appearances for Toledo last week before returning to the Tigers. He went 2-for-5 with a run scored and a strikeout against Syracuse, showing no signs of the pulled left hamstring that had kept him out of action for a month.

The Tigers activated him Friday and he immediately had consecutive multi-hit games.

There's no reason for Jackson to be unowned in any league, so pick him up immediately if an impatient owner got careless.

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Transaction of Note

It's hard to believe Aaron Hill has really been out almost all season, but he's finally on his way back to the Diamondbacks after they sent him to Tucson to begin a rehab assignment Saturday. The second baseman, who hit .302 with 26 homers last year, batted.306 with two homers in the first 10 games with the D-backs this season.

Through three games with the Aces, he's gone 4-for-12, and his return will mean a lot for owners who've either stashed him on the DL or have kept an eye on the waiver wire and picked him up when someone else cut bait.

Keep an Eye On

Joey Gallo -- the 39th overall pick in the 2012 Draft -- grabbed some headlines last year when he hit 22 homers in 59 games between the Arizona and Northwest Leagues. He's hitting for power again this season with a Minors-leading 22 long balls so far with Class A Hickory, and recently put on an impressive display at the SAL All-Star Derby.

However, the left-handed slugging third baseman deserves mention at this time for the way he's been able to hit for average of late. With his average down to .214 entering this month, Gallo has raised it nearly 40 points after going 24-for-67 (.358) in his first 16 games in June. Of those 24 hits, 17 have gone for extra bases, including nine homers. One more round-tripper ties his career high for most in a month, established last July in the AZL.

Ashley Marshall is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @AshMarshallMLB. Sam Dykstra and Jonathan Raymond 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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