Diamondbacks finding value in prospects where others find flaws
Collin Cowgill has power, speed that belies his oft-maligned stature
Paul Goldschmidt has prodigious power but also strikes out often
Brett Lawrie still weeks from returning after suffering hand injury
Not all prospects are gold-plated blue-chippers. Occasionally, the ones that impress us the most once they arrive are the complete surprises, like they have come from the land of misfit toys.
The D'backs have a couple of them in Collin Cowgill and Paul Goldschmidt. Or, we should say, the D'backs will soon have a couple of them in Cowgill and Goldschmidt.
Think of them as the chippy Charlie-in-the-Box (Cowgill) and the big purple elephant (Goldschmidt).
Their minor-league numbers are becoming just too good to ignore, regardless if the scouts have some bones to pick with them. This combo is reportedly going to be contributing in the majors for fantasy owners, sooner than later.
"We're kind of approaching that time to where we'll make some decisions on people in our system," Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers told The Arizona Republic. "I think we're always looking for ways to improve the club and the first place we're going to look is internal.
"We want to make sure that with any of our young players, especially guys like Goldschmidt or Cowgill, when they come up, we want them to play."
It is not like the D'backs, amid a pennant race with their rebuilt pitching staff, couldn't use the help. The already went to the well on retread Wily Mo Pena as a DH for interleague play, and he homered Tuesday night.
At Goldschmidt's and Cowgill's positions, the needs are far more significant. Juan Miranda is not fooling anyone at first base, hitting just .231, and Gerardo Parra (.275 with four homers and six steals) continues to look like nothing more than a reserve outfielder.
That latter stigma is the one that has been attached to the fiery Cowgill, 25, for so long. Standing just 5-foot-9, Cowgill has been a victim of his stature, and perhaps his own intensity. He has gotten labeled gritty -- perhaps even an overachiever -- but he could be the next Eric Byrnes with speed and pop.
"He really has no pride; he really has no ego, other than the drive to be successful," said Triple-A manager Brett Butler, who knows a thing or two about being a dirt-baller. "There are certain guys who could have played in any era. He's one of them. You can pay him $5 or you could play him $50 million and he's going to be the same guy. He's going to give you his heart and soul every single day."
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He should be giving that heart and soul to the D'backs and not the Reno Aces. Cowgill has hit .367 with 12 homers, 49 RBI, 67 runs, 24 steals (in 26 attempts) with a .436 on-base percentage and a .594 slugging percentage. Sure, those numbers are inflated because of the dry air in the elevations of the Nevada desert -- go ahead and knock his production but you shouldn't ignore it.
Cowgill, perhaps because the scouts don't tend to be fans of grit and any outfielder under 6-feet, is flying well under the radar in fantasy. Just this week, he was finally owned in at least one percent of CBSSports.com's leagues. The story about a potential call-up has ticked him up to 3 percent.
Frankly, Rotisserie fantasy owners should be all over Cowgill Dee Gordon- and Jemile Weeks-style. Those two are owned in about 40 percent of leagues, basically what amounts to all Rotisserie leagues. Cowgill can make a bigger impact than either because he has pop -- despite his size -- to go with his steals potential.
Goldschmidt, 23, meanwhile, has neither had a scout's scorn with size, nor a scout's smile with speed. He is just a big galoot, standing 6-feet-3 and weighing 245 pounds, that hits bombs.
After posting eye-opening power numbers in the hitter-friendly California League last season (.314-35-108-102-5, .384-.606), everyone was more apt to point to his 161 strikeouts in 138 games. The fear was he would never make enough contact against upper-level pitching and those homers would happen far too infrequently.
Well, Goldschmidt has trimmed his strikeout rate to 53 whiffs in 70 Double-A games and he has managed to go .328-22-61-56-6 (.450-.656) in 250 at-bats in a far more pitching-friendly Southern League. You have to take notice now. Mr. Miranda is in Arizona, you can be sure of that.
Goldschmidt is becoming everything Brandon Allen, 25, should have been already. Allen is the reason Goldschmidt is stuck back in Double-A and Allen is holding his own at first base in Triple-A (.294-12-47-60-6, .424, .529).
But Allen is the devil we know, and don't care much for, in fantasy. He is owned in four percent of leagues. Goldschmidt is the devil we don't, but we're getting excited about (15 percent ownership).
D'backs GM Towers has already dipped into the farm on Pena (above) with instant results. It might not be much longer before we get to see the likes of Cowgill and Goldschmidt in our fantasy lineups, too. They are a pair of misfit toys with whom fantasy owners shouldn't mind playing.
1. 3B Brett Lawrie, Blue Jays (43 percent) -- He is resuming baseball activities but not yet swinging a bat after his hand fracture. He is still weeks away from action.
2. OF Desmond Jennings, Rays (41) -- He is stuck in a Triple-A funk in his past 10 games (.167), but he did hit his 10th homer Monday. He could be ready to get hot and get a call-up.
3. OF Bryce Harper, Nationals (34) -- He has gotten over a minor thumb injury and the Nationals have said publicly they have no intention of giving him a second-half call-up. He does deserve a promotion at least to high Class A, though.
4. SP Kyle Drabek, Blue Jays (32) -- He was very wild (seven walks in four innings) and got hit pretty good (eight hits) in his Triple-A debut. He clearly needs time to work out the kinks. He will still be a factor before the end of this year in Toronto, though.
5. C Jesus Montero, Yankees (28) -- After a hot start (.365 in April), the numbers just haven't been there to justifying taking the hit defensively with the raw 21-year-old backstop. It is almost time to cut him in non-keeper leagues. His impact will be minimal this season, if there is any call-up at all with Russell Martin and Jorge Posada in New York.
6. OF Mike Trout, Angels (25) -- Like Harper, Trout is still just a teenager. He is handling Double-A with aplomb. It gets him a legit shot at being a future fantasy superstar. It also makes it less likely he is coming up before his 20th birthday in early August. September is more likely.
7. SP Mike Minor, Braves (24) -- He had his best start of the season Tuesday and gets sent down for the return of Brandon Beachy on Wednesday. That makes is impossible for Minor to start the next time the Braves need a No. 5 starter Tuesday, June 28 at Seattle. The only way the Braves can void his 10-day option is to put another player on the DL.
8. OF Dexter Fowler, Rockies (23) -- He was removed from his Triple-A rehab assignment and optioned to the minors. He was a mere 3-for-34 (.088). Clearly, it is time to cut him.
9. SP Julio Teheran, Braves (22) -- Tommy Hanson (shoulder) is targeting a return June 28 at Seattle, which cannot be filled by Minor, as we said above. Teheran could take that turn if Hanson cannot -- although signs are pointing to he will. The 20-year-old Teheran has been as dominant as ever in June (3-0, 0.93 in four starts). The Braves are going to have a great luxury around the trade deadline, seven viable big-league starters.
10. 2B Mike Aviles, Royals (21) -- He is scorching back in Triple-A (.325-4-9-7-2, .326-.725) in his 10 games since a demotion for Mike Moustakas, but he doesn't warrant being owned over the likes of OF Dayan Viciedo (19 percent), OF Travis Snider (19) or Goldschmidt (15). Heck, Fowler owners should pick up Cowgill, too, if he is still available.
Eric Mack chimes in on potential impact rookies and prospects every Wednesday at SI.com. If you have a prospect you want to see highlighted, let him know. As always, you can mock him, rip him and (doubtful) praise him before asking him for fantasy advice on Twitter @EricMackFantasy. Hit him up. He honestly has nothing better to do with his free time.
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