Fantasy baseball Prospect Watch: Yelich's call-up approaching
Christian Yelich owners, along with the few Marlins fans left in South Florida, are unified in their mantra right now: Can it just be mid-June already?
Yelich is on a ridiculous tear and that rough Super Two expiration period cannot come soon enough. The Marlins' No. 1 position-player prospect slugged two homers Wednesday night and one Thursday night, raising his May count to six. He's giving prospect hunters hope for an impact bat in fantasy that we just don't seem to have in the minors right now. Yelich is hitting .400 in May (20-for-50) and now has Double-A totals of .337, six homers, four triples, nine doubles, 23 RBI, 22 runs, two steals, a .409 on-base percentage and a .705 slugging percentage through 23 games. Eleven of his past 16 hits have gone for extra bases.
Translation: He's hotter than the Jacksonville Sun. Just imagine a mid-June Marlins outfield of Marcell Ozuna, Yelich and Giancarlo Stanton left to right -- that is a legit long-term trio.
Yelich, the Marlins' only two-time Minor League Player of the Year, is trying to keep his mind off a big league call-up, even if his numbers are screaming for one.
"I kind of got off to a slow start coming off the DL, and so it's nice to be in the middle of things and be able to help your team on a nightly basis," he told MiLB.com after Wednesday night's two-homer game. "I'm just staying consistent, within myself, trying to play a solid approach in each game. If you do that, you'll see the results."
With recent results like his, Yelich will be seeing a big-league paycheck in about one month's time.
Every May, I write about the High Five, prospects I guarantee will be called up after the Super Two deadline expires. Yelich tops the list right now because of his hot streak, but these others should be stashed in all formats with reserves, if not immediately than at least in the coming weeks. Come mid-June, they're going to be impacting fantasy leagues.
• SP Zack Wheeler, New York Mets -- His recent AC joint inflammation notwithstanding, Wheeler is all but ready to help the pitching-needy Mets right now. Before he missed a start for a medical exam in New York, the Las Vegas 51s right-hander went 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA, 19 strikeouts and just three walks in his past three starts over 20 innings.
The New York media hype was rising right before news of his "sore clavicle" broke. GM Sandy Alderson even went so far as to publicly state that Wheeler's call-up isn't contingent on Super Two status.
That likely means that one or two healthy starts, the most-owned minor league pitcher will be backing up the irrepressible Matt Harvey at the front of the Mets' rotation. If you ask scouts (and Baseball America), Wheeler is so good that his ceiling is even higher than that of Harvey. Right now, Harvey looks like the best pitcher in fantasy, so you can imagine the expectations Wheeler is going to have to live up to immediately.
If you are lamenting not drafting Harvey this spring, you should go after Wheeler right now.
• OF Wil Myers, Tampa Bay Rays -- The most-owned minor leaguer is an obvious choice on talent, but not quite on merit. Myers, hitting just .252 for the season (.189, 10-for-53 in May), isn't proving fantasy-worthy in Triple-A fantasy leagues -- if there is such a thing out there in cyberspace. Myers is a streaky slugger, though, so he should heat up soon.
If might not even need to come before mid-June. The Rays could still make the call to Myers after the Super Two deadline to let him adjust to the major league level. Owned in 75 percent of CBSSports.com's leagues, he is probably not available to be picked up, but here is a vote of confidence that owners shouldn't be cutting him anytime soon.
• SP Trevor Bauer, Cleveland Indians -- He has been back and forth on the shuttle between Triple-A Columbus and Cleveland, but come mid-June, we will see him in the majors to stay.
He just needs to settle down a bit. Bauer has walked 15 batters in his three major league starts over 16 1/3 innings. He has been only slightly better in Triple-A in that regard, walking 10 in 24 2/3 over four starts.
Once he shows he can consistently throw strikes, he should win a permanent spot in the Indians' rotation behind Justin Masterson. Bauer has limited Triple-A batters to a .185 batting average against, and major leaguers are hitting just .161 off him. He is capable of striking out a batter per innings and pitching effectively enough to be used in all fantasy leagues once he arrives in earnest. Consider him a bargain, as he's owned in just 33 percent of CBSSports.com leagues.
• SP Gerrit Cole, Pittsburg Pirates -- The first overall pick of the 2011 First Year Player Draft gets overlooked in fantasy because he is a Pirates farmhand. They've had very little success with pitching prospects, but Cole could change that stigma.
He is 3-1 with a 2.55 ERA and a .204 batting-average against through eight Triple-A starts (42 1/3 innings). Like Bauer, he is trying to curtail his walk total -- 20 already -- but once he does, he is going to be chucking for an undersold Pirates team in the NL Central.
Cole is much more talented than his numbers suggest, and he's more worthy of being stashed than the 34 percent ownership in CBSSports.com leagues suggest. If you own the Diamondbacks' Tyler Skaggs or the Orioles' Dylan Bundy in a non-keeper league, you are better off cutting them for a pitcher who can win games for you come mid-June.
So, this completes our 2013 High Five, prospects who I guarantee will be helping fantasy teams in a month or less. Owning any other minor league players in the coming weeks is just grabbing at straws, including Oscar Taveras, Jurickson Profar, Yasiel Puig, Billy Hamilton, Travis d'Arnaud, Bundy and Mike Zunino. They're all talented long-term keepers, but the High Five are worthy of being picked up right now in seasonal formats.