Fantasy baseball Prospect Watch: Wacha's debut was simply stellar
After watching two rookie performances this week, it's hard to explain why Michael Wacha dominated Thursday night, but Kevin Gausman fell flat Tuesday. Maybe the Cardinals just have the Midas touch when it comes to their pitching prospects, while the Orioles are just constantly unlucky.
At least this theory is consistent with how great Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller and now Wacha have been, while Dylan Bundy (idle in elbow rehab), Jake Arrieta (wallowing in Triple-A), Brian Matusz (banished to middle relief) and Gausman (11.00 ERA and 2.00 WHIP) can't get out of their own way. All of those Orioles arms have, at one time, been more highly touted prospects than Lynn, Miller and Wacha, but none of them has been as immediately effective.
In his debut, Wacha, who toyed with perfection after 13 batters, finished with a no-decision after seven innings of one-run ball, allowing just two hits and striking out six. His ownership in CBSSports.com leagues, which was at only 10 percent in mid-May, shot up to two-thirds of leagues after one mesmerizing performance.
About the only things that went wrong last night were the blown lead in the ninth inning and playing through rain-delayed extra innings until 4 a.m. ET. Wacha had to wait about eight hours after his first pitch to discuss how he immediately dazzled on the mound.
"[Catcher] Yadi [Molina] was putting down signs and I wasn't shaking them, for sure," Wacha told MLB.com in the wee hours of the morning. "I was able to keep them off balance with those two pitches [92-96 mph fastball and change up]. I'll remember it for the rest of my life. It was an unbelievable feeling out there on the mound and it was a lot of fun."
Even if he's limited to 150 total innings in his first professional season after being drafted 19th overall out of Texas A&M last June, Wacha still has around 90 innings of mixed-league fantasy worthiness ahead of him. Because he's a Cardinals' pitching prospect, he'll likely remain effective until late August.
Now that it's June, the storied time of the year when the best wave of prospects reach the major leagues, let's go around the minors for news on some of the most impactful players in the minor leagues:
There was wide speculation the Dodgers would call up Joc Pederson from Double-A to fill the hole left by Matt Kemp's (hamstring) latest trip to the DL. That was wishful thinking -- the Dodgers put Andre Ethier in center field Thursday night and plan to call up an outfielder from Triple-A before the end of the weekend, according to MLB.com.
Yasiel Puig, who mostly plays the corner outfield spots, was playing center field for just the third time in his career Thursday night for Double A Chattanooga, because regular center fielder Pederson was out of the lineup. This set off some rumors that Pederson was going to get the call-up to L.A., but it was just a scheduled day off.
Mattingly doesn't want to rush either Puig or Pederson for a short-term fix in Kemp's absence. This is a signal that Puig, or Pederson, won't be true candidates for a call-up until the second half. Fantasy owners take note.
The Mets are rolling after sweeping the Yankees in the Subway Series for the first time in history, but it hasn't tempered the enthusiasm for the eventual call-up of Zack Wheeler. Wheeler, who returned from an AC joint inflammation in his right shoulder Monday night, is reportedly just a few more quality starts away from making his major-league debut.
Since Matt Harvey has pitched more like a Cardinals prospect than an Orioles prospect, there might be some legitimized hope the Mets will provide us with another impact fantasy pitcher in the coming weeks.
Wheeler didn't do anything to warrant a call-up in his return start, though. He allowed five runs (three earned), four hits (two of them homers) and three walks in four laborious innings for Triple-A Las Vegas. After a mini hot streak, Wheeler has given up five homers in his past three starts. That is a lot even for the Pacific Coast League.
Wheeler can still post an ERA around 4.00 with a strikeout per inning once he is called, so keep him as the most-owned minor-league pitcher.
When it was announced Wil Myers would begin the season in the minor leagues, many owners anticipated he would arrive in Tampa Bay by June 1. It hasn't happened yet, but a lackluster May has given way to a great stretch. Myers has five homers during his current eight-game hitting streak (13-for-35, .371).
If not for an alarming 60 strikeouts in 49 Triple-A games, we might have seen Myers in the Rays' lineup already. As the best slugging prospect in the minors right now, he warrants being the most-owned minor-leaguer in fantasy at 74 percent. This hot streak gives him a chance to hit the ground slugging for fantasy owners once he does arrive.
On the other side of the ledger, Marlins outfield prospect Christian Yelich has cost himself a June 1 opportunity with a ghastly 0-for-23 stretch. He went hitless for seven consecutive games before posting a 2-for-4 Thursday night for Double-A Jacksonville.
With Giancarlo Stanton (hamstring) unable to rehab his original injury because of lingering knee soreness, the Marlins might have considered Yelich as a call-up with streaking Marcell Ozuna. Ozuna is hitting .317 and is riding a 14-game hitting streak.
Yelich will arrive this year, especially since the Marlins have nothing left to do except evaluate their future, but there is going to be an extended waiting period for their top prospect now.
Tony Cingrani's fantasy owners will want to spew venom on the Reds for this, but Cingrani hasn't taken getting sent to the minor leagues lightly. He has struck out 14 in 10 innings, allowing just one run in two starts since his demotion.
However, an interesting note -- he's pitched just five innings apiece in those two starts. It might be because of the pitch counts run up by his nine walks, or because of the fact the Reds know an 180-inning limit is going to rack up quickly down in the minors. They surely want Cingrani available to them down the stretch in a potential pennant race.
Cingrani has totaled 57 1/3 innings in his 11 starts between Triple-A and the majors. If he sticks to five innings a start in Triple-A it will leave him with plenty innings to contribute to fantasy owners come August and September during crunch time.