Fantasy Notes: Around the Diamond
We’re going to bounce all over the map today, discussing some minor leaguers, some major leaguers, some Indy players and even some international players.
Nevin Ashley, the Rays’ sixth rounder in 2006, is struggling to adjust to High-A ball this season. The former First Team All-Missouri Valley Conference catcher is just 5-for-33 in his last ten games, and his OPS is a putrid 501 through 29 games. The 23-year-old enjoyed a productive season at A-ball in 2007, earning a spot on the mid-season South Atlantic League All-Star team, but his offensive progress has really stalled.
The Rays had to be breathing a big sigh of relief on Saturday when Scott Kazmir tossed six shutout frames at the Halos. Coming off an ugly season debut after starting the year on the DL, Kazmir was very sharp this weekend, limiting the Angels to just three hits and three walks, while fanning five. Next up, he’ll face the Yankees in Tampa Bay on Thursday, and with New York’s offense looking middling at best so far, Kazmir should definitely be activated. Recall that we rated the Ray ace as a top 15 pitcher prior to the season.
Back to the minors, I like what I’m seeing out of White Sox 2006 sixth round pick Brian Omogrosso at Double-A so far. The 24-year-old righty recovered nicely Friday, tossing three shutout frames after taking a beating in his first start of the month. He was injured earlier this season, so is still being babied with short outings and, through five starts, Omogrosso has been very tough on lefties (1.50 ERA), but I’m concerned about his command so far. A full-time starter in 2008 after being used as a swingman in High-A last season, Omogrosso will need to sharpen his command before he starts getting noticed as a legitimate prospect.
Third baseman Ronnie Prettyman, the Mariners’ tenth round pick in 2005, is struggling mightily at Double-A this season. While he had some injury issues last year, he earned a rapid promotion to Triple-A, and performed quite well. This season, however, Prettyman is back at Double-A, and not looking anywhere near ready to get back to Triple-A. He’s currently mired in a 1-for-14 skid and is batting just .205 over the past ten games. Overall, Prettyman is batting just .209 through 31 games and 110 at bats. He has scored 20 runs, but his 605 OPS is not going to cut the mustard. Already 26, Prettyman will need to turn his season around quickly or very soon will be written off as a future major league prospect.
It looks like the end of the line for former Diamondback farmhand Aric Leclaire. The 30-year-old southpaw, taken by Arizona in the 19th round in 2000, was released last month by the Camden Riversharks of the Independent Atlantic League. He hasn’t pitched in organized ball since 2004, so stick a fork in him.
If you’re seeking relief help in an NL-only league, take a peek at Mitch Stetter of the Brew Crew. The 27-year-old lefty had a control meltdown in his last outing, but with 15 Ks in just 11 1/3 IP, he’s got my attention, especially considering he’s the only southpaw in the Milwaukee bullpen.
In other NL bullpen news, reliever Joe Thatcher, hit hard in his last outing as his ERA rose to 6.75, has been farmed out by the Padres to make room for Bryan Corey, just acquired from the BoSox. Corey hasn’t pitched well this year, struggling with his command in limited action, but I’ve always liked his arm and wondered how he’d do if he could just get an extended look. Hopefully, a return to the NL and a pitching friendly park will be the tonic Corey needs to get going. Watch him.
Clint Barmes, who we highlighted in The Wire Troll last month, is still available on many wires, but you better move quick as he’s getting snapped up. He’s riding a six-game hit streak heading into action Tuesday and Barmes has really revitalized his career after bottoming out last season. I’d like to see him score more runs, but perhaps if he maintains that .330 BA and nice gap power, he’ll move up in the batting order over the struggling Yorvit Torrealba.
Remember Alex Graman? The Yankees’ third round pick in 1999 appeared in only five games for New York before winding up in Japan. He’s become a solid NPB closer, making me wonder if the 30-year-old lefty will generate any interest back home.