Five prospects likely to make an impact in the June sweepstakes
Anthony Rizzo is likely to take over first base when called up by Cubs in early June
D'backs phenom Trevor Bauer struck out 11 in his first start at Triple A this season
Wil Myers Myers has started .400 with four walks and three strikeouts in Triple A
It is a prospect hound's Christmas season, the month of June. We might as prepare our wish lists now.
Let's make a list, check it twice and decide who's been naughty -- Dylan Bundy: Downright nasty -- or nice.
June is the moving month in the minor leagues. Prospects get advanced to higher levels, the low Class A short seasons open, the First Year Player Draft commences and highly anticipated call-ups come in droves.
We have already unwrapped some of the best gifts in Mike Trout, Bryce Harper and Will Middlebrooks, and this past week saw two monsters of the minors, Trevor Bauer and Wil Myers, move up to Triple A. It makes this June a bit less highly anticipated, but who knows?
If you celebrate the holiday, you know some of the best Christmases come when you least expect it. Maybe this call-up season has some surprises in store.
Here is this writer's annual High Five, a quintet of prospects boldly predicted to be ushered to the major leagues in the month of June, listed in order of anticipated arrival date:
Here is what Rizzo did to the Cubs' plans to keep him down in the minors the entire season: He smashed them like one of his Pacific Coast League-leading 15 homers. Rizzo went 3-for-5 Tuesday night, with a homer, three RBI and five -- yes, five -- runs scored, running his season's totals to an incredible .352-15-42-32-2 (.418-.697). He has improved his strikeout-to-walk rate (34-17) and begun hitting left-handers (.327), perhaps the last two things he needed to solve.
It is no wonder the Cubs' tune has changed.
"He's done everything he can down there," manager Dale Sveum told MLB.com on Sunday. "But once again, when you bring somebody up like that he has to play everyday. That's the million-dollar question: How do we get that playing time? But that's definitely something we're going to talk about, probably in the beginning of June, interleague play when we need the DH and those kind of things."
Bryan LaHair, a lone bright spot in yet another lost season on Chicago's North Side, is capable of playing the outfield. That likely means Rizzo will slot in at first, which is where the former Padres prospect apparently wants to play:
"I'm competitive and athletic enough to believe that I could play in the outfield," Rizzo told the Des Moines Register. "I would love to play center field and shortstop, but that's obviously not going to happen. My focus is on first base. Over the years, I've grown into a routine. Taking ground balls is a way of life."
Rizzo's ownership in CBSSports.com's fantasy leagues has shot up to 38 percent after Sveum's quote came out, and if you have lost a slugger at the position like Lance Berkman (knee) and missed out on LaHair, Rizzo can help you soon -- maybe even before the setting of next week's fantasy lineup.
Bauer has something Rizzo doesn't: Mystique. Fantasy owners have already seen Rizzo for 128 at-bats a year ago, and we didn't get blown away.
Bauer is going to blow everyone away, like he has in his minor-league-leading 71 whiffs. A call-up to Reno and the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League didn't stop him. It merely made him stronger.
"You have to be pretty sure it's time for them to move," Diamondbacks farm director Mike Bell told the Arizona Republic. "I think every circumstance is different. The pitcher, first and foremost, has to be mentally prepared for it and understand that they may give up a few extra runs pitching in that environment. I wish there was a perfect formula for it. Internally, we felt like he was ready."
Ready? As in, ready to take on the world.
Bauer fanned 11 and breezed through a career-high eight innings in his Triple A debut last Friday, running his season's totals to 8-1 with a 1.60 ERA, those 71 strikeouts and a mere .186 batting-average against in 56 1/3 innings.
Bauer is a prospect on the level of a Mark Prior, who's Pac-10 strikeout record Bauer broke. He may even prove to be in the Stephen Strasburg stratosphere.
Daniel Hudson, returning from the DL, is replacing another former first-rounder Patrick Corbin in the Diamondbacks' rotation this weekend. A few rotations later, or sooner, they need make room for Bauer.
With Bauer owned in 57 percent of fantasy leagues, you had better act now. You're going to regret not having that Strasburg-like arm carrying your pitching staff in the summer months.
If you're anything like this writer -- lord, help you -- every time you see this prospect's name you can't help to be confused with former outfield/reliever Brooks Kieschnick and think less of him.
Well, it turns out they are related, distantly, but the future looks far more promising than most give Roger credit for -- less and less distant, too.
"Never met him, never talked to him," Roger Kieschnick told the Austin American-Statesman. "I get that question about him a lot, but I wouldn't say it is a burden at all. He was a very good baseball player and it's not a common name."
Kieschnick, 25, is doing right by the name. He scorched in April (.350) and his season's totals sit at an impressive .320-11-27-41-0 (.397-.618). The best part about his numbers is seeing the lefty hit southpaws at a .292 clip (19-for-65) with six homers and a .692 slugging percentage.
The Giants are without Pablo Sandoval (broken hand) and are still getting nothing out of the combination of Brandon Belt, Brett Pill, Nate Schierholtz and Aubrey Huff. Maybe it is time to give Kieschnick a try.
Owned in less than 1 percent of leagues, you're fine waiting on Kieschnick, particularly since the Giants haven't seen much success from the likes of prior prospects Belt, Schierholtz and Pill.
As much as you have never been switched on by the name Kieschnick, you probably have been turned off by LaPorta. After all, LaPorta has already had more than 900 mostly underwhelming at-bats in the major leagues.
At 27, LaPorta is no longer a prospect, per se, but he is at a prime age to break through, finally.
He is doing far more in Triple A than the Indians are getting out of Travis Hafner, Johnny Damon or Casey Kotchman (save for recently, in his case). LaPorta homered four times in a six-game span last week and has run his season's totals to .321-13-28-26-0 (.409-.657).
"It's not about the numbers," manager Manny Acta told MLB.com earlier this month. "It's about the quality of the at-bats and what he's working on. They're encouraged by the fact that he's been using his legs better and laying off some off-speed stuff due to that. That's what we've looked at."
LaPorta, a great value add at just three percent ownership in fantasy, is finally looking like the talent he was supposed to be when the Indians acquired him in the CC Sabathia deal years ago. Cleveland might see soon.
Myers might be fifth on this list, but only because he is the least likely of these to move to the majors in the coming days, or weeks. Myers just recently moved to Triple-A, like Bauer, but the rebuilding Royals are sure to be far more calculating on when they advance Myers to the majors.
Myers is doing his best to speed up the process. After going .343-13-30-32-4 (.414-.731) in 134 Double A at-bats, Myers has started .400 (8-for-20) with four walks to just three strikeouts in Triple-A. Tuesday night was his best performance yet: 3-for-5 with a homer.
"He has some quick hands and when he goes up there, he doesn't feel overmatched by anybody," Triple-A manager Mike Jirschele told Yahoo.
Myers, a converted catcher, is playing all three outfield spots and will play third base a couple of times a week. Because he will spend most of his time in center, Myers figures to join the young nucleus of DH Billy Butler, 3B Mike Moustakas, 1B Eric Hosmer, SS Alcides Escobar and OF Alex Gordon (that's quite a young collection!) sometime this summer.
If Jarrod Dyson and Myers continue doing what they're doing, it will be June.
So, there is it: The High Five, Christmas in June, wish list. Can't wait to cross them off one by one.
Eric Mack writes fantasy for SI.com. If you miss his Monday baseball trends, Wednesday prospect report or Friday pitching review, you can also find him on Twitter, where you can mock him, rip him and (doubtful) praise him before asking him for fantasy advice @EricMackFantasy. He reads all the messages there (guaranteed) and takes them very, very personally (not really).
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