Versatile Franklin gives M's options

Infield prospect off to a hot start in Pacific Coast League

Nick Franklin recorded 52 extra-base hits in 121 games last year. (Jordan Megenhardt/

By Ashley Marshall / Special to | April 24, 2013 8:30 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.

In this week's Fantasy Focus, we examine the fantasy value of Mariners prospect Nick Franklin and the long-term impact of speedster Delino DeShields.

There's a rundown of the top rehabbers of note, including Yoenis Cespedes and Wilson Ramos, a look into the continued struggles of a baseball writer's fantasy team and a recap of what's top 10 prospects have been doing in the past week.

Top 10 Prospects

Organization   Player  
Texas Rangers   Jurickson Profar Profar went 3-for-23 with a homer and four RBIs in six games this week. He drew three walks, scored a run and is batting .218 on the season.
Baltimore Orioles   Dylan Bundy reported Tuesday that Bundy went to see Dr. James Andrews in Florida after trying to throw from flat ground and experiencing persistent pain in his elbow. He has not thrown off a mound since March.
St. Louis Cardinals   Oscar Taveras Taveras went 6-for-23 this week with a homer, three RBIs, five runs scored and two stolen bases. Over his past 10 games, he's hitting .195 for Memphis.
Tampa Bay Rays   Wil Myers Myers hit safely in all five games this week, going 6-for-19 with a homer and three RBIs. He struck out seven times and worked three free passes. He has a .419 on-base percentage, having reached safely in all 16 of Durham's games.
Seattle Mariners   Taijuan Walker In his only start this week, Walker allowed an unearned run on one hit and four walks while striking out six batters over six strong innings on Sunday against Pensacola. He has a 1.64 ERA on the season.
New York Mets   Travis d'Arnaud d'Arnaud fractured his left foot on 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 The Reds tagged Fernandez for five runs on six hits over four innings on Thursday. He walked three batters and fanned four in his third Major League start.
New York Mets   Zack Wheeler Wheeler walked a season-high six batters on Friday against visiting Sacramento. He yielded four runs on three hits while striking out four over 4 1/3 innings. He remains winless in four Pacific Coast League outings, having walked 12 batters in 18 1/3 frames.
Pittsburgh Pirates   Gerrit Cole On Sunday, Cole yielded one hit over four shutout innings against Louisville. He walked five batters, making it nine free passes in his past two starts.
Arizona Diamondbacks   Tyler Skaggs Skaggs worked six scoreless innings Tuesday before walking the bases loaded in the seventh and eventually giving up two runs. His final line was two runs on two hits and four walks with five strikeouts over 6 1/3 frames.


Rehabs of note

Cubs right-hander Matt Garza is expected to begin a rehab stint with Double-A Tennessee this week. Sidelined with a strained left lat, he could return to Chicago in early May, pending no further problems.

Garza threw a two-inning simulated game last week and it was reported that he likely will be limited to three innings -- or 45 pitches -- in the first of four Minor League outings.

* * *

Wilson Ramos was sent to Florida to get some at-bats while rehabbing his left hamstring. The Nationals catcher isn't far away from a return -- he's currently on the 15-day DL -- so keep an eye out for reports between now and the weekend to see if he's worth picking up in deeper NL leagues.

Jhonatan Solano likely will be sent down when Ramos returns. He was called up from Triple-A Syracuse when Ramos hit the DL, and there's no reason for the Nats to carry three catchers. Kurt Suzuki also will probably lose a few at-bats each week if Ramos moves back into a platoon behind the plate.

* * *

A's outfielder Yoenis Cespedes took BP on Monday and should start rehabbing his strained left hand Friday or Saturday.

He's expected to start for Sacramento over the weekend before returning to the Oakland lineup on Sunday. He was batting .200 with three homers and seven RBIs in 40 at-bats before the injury. It's doubtful any owners dropped him outright, but if they did, you should feel comfortable claiming him off waivers over the next day or two.

Stock Up, Stock Down

Stock up: Nick Franklin's No. 47 prospect has at least one hit in 10 of the 11 games he's played for Triple-A Tacoma -- he missed the start of the season with flu-like symptoms -- and is putting together a .325/.449/.500/.949 slash line in that span. That's a great start for a guy who's never batted higher than .283 or had an OPS above .841 in a full-season league.

The 22-year-old has experience at both second base and shortstop, where neither Dustin Ackley nor Brendan Ryan has exactly torn it up offensively for the Mariners. A few more solid months of solid production in the PCL and Franklin could force his way into Seattle's infield conversation.

Stock down: James Paxton

It hasn't been all rosy for M's prospects in Tacoma. The organization's No. 5 prospect hasn't had the nicest introduction to the PCL. He allowed six runs on eight hits, including two homers, and three walks in 1 2/3 innings on Monday.

Through four starts, the 24-year-old left-hander is 1-2 with a 6.61 ERA, 17 strikeouts and 10 walks in 16 1/3 frames. He was expected to reach Seattle at some point this year, but he'll have to keep working on his control for the Rainiers before that has a chance of happening.

Under the Radar

Second base is a problem for most fantasy owners this season. And if you waited a while to fill the position and gambled on Milwaukee's Ricky Weeks, his .171 average, one homer and three RBIs after 18 games haven't exactly delivered a winning ticket.

But another Brewers second baseman might be able to help. Scooter Gennett is off to a hot start with Triple-A Nashville (.386/.407/.439 in 14 games) and the soon-to-be 23-year-old could get a look with the streaking big league club. Gennett has hit between .293 and .309 in each of his three full seasons in the Minors. He also knock a few doubles, score some runs and steal a base or two. It may not be eye-catching, but it could upgrade more than a few second base situations for fantasy teams.

Will He Stick?

Anthony Rendon: The timeline for the Nationals' top prospect was put on the fast track when Washington called him up from Double-A Harrisburg to replace Ryan Zimmerman (left hamstring strain) at third base. Rendon, who missed most of the 2012 season with a fractured ankle, was performing well for the Senators before the callup, batting .292 with a .962 OPS, two homers and seven RBIs in 18 games.

The 22-year-old isn't likely to stay in the Majors once Zimmerman returns, but given the latter's injury history, it's a decent bet Rendon will be back at the hot corner before the year is over.

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Transaction of Note

When Justin Maxwell hit the DL, a door was opened in the Houston outfield for Robbie Grossman, whom the Astros recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City.

For fantasy purposes, Grossman does primarily two things -- get on base and score runs. In 2011, he was the first Minor Leaguer since Nick Swisher to score 100 runs and walk 100 times in a season.

If you're in a league that uses OBP, the 23-year-old outfielder, who was hitting .324/.452/.353 in 19 PCL games, has a good chance to provide value in, say, an NL-only format. He's also capable of hitting for a decent average, contributing some doubles and swiping a bag or two.

Finders Keepers

Delino DeShields: DeShields made waves last year as the only man not named Billy Hamilton to steal 100 bases in professional baseball. This year, he's doing it with his bat. Playing for Class A Advanced Lancaster, he ranks third in the California League with a .349 average and is reaching base at a .417 clip while slugging .558.

The 20-year-old second baseman looked like he made strides with the bat in a split year at Class A Lexington and Lancaster in 2012, but he could be taking it to the next level this season. The steals haven't quite been there yet -- DeShields has five in 10 tries -- but they undoubtedly will follow.

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.

Another week has passed and my team continues to own a stronghold on last place. People typically say "It's early, ride it out" when it comes to fantasy baseball in April, but I know my season is over already. Drafting CC Sabathia, David Price, Mat Latos and Dan Haren has earned me the worst pitching in my league. I dropped James McDonald for Josh Beckett, who got lit up in his debut. Among my good luck lately:

  • Mike Napoli has been a beast, but the rest of my team has made up for his production. Josh Hamilton, for example, went 5-for-21 in his last seven games, and four of those hits came on Monday.
  • It took Jay Bruce about a month, but he finally homered. Thank goodness CBS predicted he'd hit about 40 this year.
  • Since holds is a category in my league, I drafted Kenley Jansen and I try to occasionally start him. I did that on Sunday, when Greg Holland picked up saves in both ends of the Royals' doubleheader -- on my bench.
  • ERAs for my starters this past week: Sabathia 4.80, Price 7.50, Brandon Morrow 8.43, Haren 5.78, Beckett 9.52.
  • As I type this, my team is 2-for-19 (.105) and has lost 20 more points.

Ashley Marshall is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @AshMarshallMLB. 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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