After a week long hiatus the prospect power rankings are back at ya. Much has changed since this space was last updated so there is plenty to touch on. Michael Pineda continues to tear up the league and cause even the most accomplished of major league hitters look foolish. Eric Hosmer has cooled down a bit from his white-hot start, but figures to make the adjustments necessary to be successful. Meanwhile Kyle Drabek has finally fallen off the list due to his lackluster control and inability to work deep into games. A couple of familiar names popped back into the list this week for a multitude of reasons, the most prominent of which being injury woes to proven stars. As I sit here typing this, the heat index is rising to nefarious levels much like these talented youngsters. Log in and get reacquainted with these fantasy baseball up and comers.
1) Michael Pineda – Sea (LW:2)
Two more starts, two more dominating performances from the young Mariners flamethrower. Pineda continues to baffle proven big league hitters and has been making it look much easier than it really should be. His last two starts combined tell the tale: 14 innings, four hits, zero runs and 16 strikeouts. Granted one of those starts was against in spacious Petco Park and the other was against the hapless Minnesota Twins, but the results cannot be denied. He is striking out better than one batter per inning and his ERA is has been hovering around 2.00 with visions of slipping below that benchmark. With eight quality starts in nine tries, Pineda seems to have every intention of running away with the AL rookie of the year award with very little opposition.
2) Eric Hosmer – KC (LW:1)
Eric Hosmer came blasting out of the gates during his first week in the bigs, but has cooled off a bit as of late. Many within the Royals organization have no fear that he will make the adjustments he needs to make in order to sustain success. He will be forced with the challenge of making the very same adjustments that pitchers have made to him, but he has shown the willingness to do so. He has a tireless work ethic and raw ability that not many can boast. Despite being just two for his last 15 at the plate, expect Hosmer to turn it around in a hurry and prove why he was such a hot waiver pickup a couple weeks back. Don’t jump ship too early or you will regret it.
3) Zach Britton – Bal (LW:3)
Zach Britton just continues to roll right along all the while showing why fantasy baseball owners had such an extreme amount of faith in him from jump. He has been saddled with a no-decision in each of his last three starts, but one of those outings saw him go nine innings only to have the Orioles need extra innings to grab the win. His ERA still sits at a tidy 2.35 and his WHIP is also quite remarkable as it resides right around 1.00. A start against the Athletics in Oakland is on tap for the holiday weekend so make sure he is firmly entrenched in your lineups.
4) Alexi Ogando – Tex (LW:5)
Alexi Ogando just wont go away. Fantasy baseball enthusiasts and scribes all across the country have been predicting this youngsters demise for weeks now, but it just doesn’t seem to be on the horizon. He is undoubtedly going to fall victim to a pitch count at some point this season which will surely stunt his value, but i recommend you don’t let that scare you away in the interim. Last week Ogando was the just the latest in a long line of opposing pitchers who took full advantage of a lackluster White Sox squad. He fired his first career complete game shutout and struck out six as well. His ERA is presently an unsustainable 1.81, but many sense that a correction is coming as his xFIP rests at 3.72. Regardless of all that you should feel comfortable running him out there every fifth day, the Rangers certainly do.
5) Anthony Rizzo – SD (LW:7)
Anthony Rizzo earns a slight uptick in value this week for no other reason than that he continues to make a mockery of the Pacific Coast League. No matter if someone is playing in little league or the PCL, the following numbers are sure to astound you. .367 average, 14 homeruns and 56 RBI in just 44 games. Couple that with his absurd 1.154 OPS and Rizzo has been nothing short of spectacular. The Padres are still being coy as to their plans with the prized youngster, but you can expect to see him mashing balls around Petco Park before too long.
6) Danny Duffy – KC (LW:9)
Danny Duffy has been far from spectacular in his first two outings, but the young lefty has also flashed plenty of signs that hint at future success. He owns no official record yet as his first two starts resulted in no-decisions, but he has shown the ability to maintain composure under duress which is a sure sign of maturity. He will absolutely need to find a better feel for the strike zone or he will share the same plight as Kyle Drabek, but since he is a lefty he has a slight advantage. The Royals will give him a few more starts to prove he belongs before sending him back down to AAA for more seasoning, but make no mistake about the fact that they would love to see this kid thrive.
7) Brandon Belt – SF (LW:NR)
Brandon Belt makes his triumphant return to the rankings this week and he is the main beneficiary of the gruesome injury suffered by Buster Posey. Belt was a regular on this list at the onset of the season, but struggled out of the gate an earned himself a demotion. Many fantasy baseball owners are hoping that he found his stroke down in Fresno and that he brought it with him back to the Bay Area. Belt was hitting .337 down in AAA since the time he was sent down and has shown great plate discipline. His future is certainly bright and there is a good chance the wake up call and subsequent trip to the minors did him good.
8) Brett Lawrie – Tor (LW:NR)
Brett Lawrie works his way back into the rankings this week as he continues to tear up minor league pitching and as many Blue Jays fans wondering when he will get the call. He is batting .335 with nine homers and 32 RBI down on the farm while learning a new position. One adjustment Lawrie has made since the beginning of the season is his willingness to work a walk and see more pitches per plate appearance. Lawrie has also swiped 10 bags thus far while only being caught once which will surely help him to build value all across the board. Keep an eye out for this kid because i suspect we will see him in the majors well before June is out.
9) Juan Nicasio – Col (LW:NR)
Here is an interesting name to store away. Juan Nicasio is the beneficiary of a prolonged slump out in Denver which has led to some drastic lineup changes. Nicasio has been called up and will make his major league debut this weekend at home against a potent Cardinals squad. In nine starts down at AA Tulsa, Nicasio is 5-1 with a 2.22 ERA and a sterling 6/1 strikeout to walk ratio. He has electric stuff and could be the type of prospect that flies under the radar and makes a huge impact once the dust has settled. The Rockies just lost Jorge De La Rosa for the season to Tommy John surgery so the opportunity is right in front of Nicasio for the taking…will he rise to the challenge?
10) Rubby De La Rosa – LAD (LW:NR)
The Dodgers are a complete disaster zone right now. Between their owner struggling to make payroll and the bullpen being in complete shambles, its becoming tougher and tougher to find positives. Rubby De La Rosa may very well be the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. The Dodgers called this young prospect up somewhat surprisingly last week and he responded by firing an inning of perfect relief in a high pressure situation. De La Rosa was working as a starter down in AA for Chattanooga and compiled a 2-2 record with a neat 2.93 ERA. He registered 52 punch-outs in just 40 innings and has the Dodgers thinking his arsenal may translate well to the bullpen for now. His fastball touches the high 90′s and he features a filthy change-up that has drawn comparisons to Pedro Martinez. With the Dodgers bullpen in such tough shape, we could be looking at the second coming of Neftali Feliz here with this guy. Don’t be shocked to see him grab the closers job and run away with it.
Dropped Out: Brandon Beachy (Atl), Kyle Drabek (Tor), Trayvon Robinson (LAD), Domonic Brown (Phi)