For the first time since its inception, the power rankings found it within itself to drop four prospects from the list this week, an all-time high. Between the overwhelming amount of prospects called up to the show early this season and the up and down performance of those already in the bigs, these changes seemed necessary. Another of the “super-hyped” prospects that fans have been waiting on for over a year made his major league debut this week, while a couple of prospects who haven’t received the same level of praise are making their mark as well. Not all of these guys will be fantasy baseball relevant right out of the gate, but they certainly warrant mentioning and absolutely need to be monitored in your respective leagues for sure.
1) Eric Hosmer – KC (LW:1)
Hosmer finds himself mired in the first mini-slump of his young career, but has still managed to maintain his usefulness throughout. He has only five base hits in his last 20 plate appearances, but has a modest four game hitting streak over that span. He is still displaying the type of outstanding plate discipline we all bought into while scooping him off waivers a couple weeks back, but as with any young phenom he could certainly benefit from taking a few more walks. His 30/12 K to BB ratio is by no means terrible, but the closer that creeps to 1-1, the better off this young superstar is going to be. In the month of June thus far, Hosmer has not struck out more than once in any game and while that doesn’t necessarily translate high levels of success it’s an nice indicator that he knows full well what he’s doing while in the batters box. He’s a keeper.
2) Michael Pineda – KC (LW:2)
Many predicted that Pineda would hit the proverbial rookie wall sometime around the All-Star break, but he is doing his best to hold those particular doubters at bay. While his last start contained its fair share of stress, it ultimately wound up in a victory for his team and that remains the focal. He took a no-hitter into the sixth against a potent Phillies lineup before running into a bit of trouble. He was able to settle in and lock down his seventh victory of the year to along with some very remarkable peripherals. Keep a close eye on his pitch counts and any rumblings from the Mariners pertaining to how they plan to use their young ace moving forward, but keep him in your fantasy baseball lineups until further notice.
3) Zach Britton – Bal (LW:5)
I keep looking for ways to bump Britton down this list because quite honestly, im tired of writing about him. He is quickly becoming a modern day Livan Hernandez, it’s never going to be flashy but more often than not the job is going to get done. Britton continues to pitch just well enough to keep his floundering team in games, but few people are giving him much credit for it. He hurled five solid innings of one-run ball against the Nationals on Friday night while striking out four. Since the Orioles are struggling and are located in the impossible AL East, I cant recommend him as a must-start, but watch for matchup plays with upside.
4) Alexi Ogando – Tex (LW:3)
Alexi Ogando has finally suffered his first loss of the year so we can put all the hurried comparisons to Nolan Ryan to bed. What we can say about Ogando is that he is a definitive talent and the Rangers will surely try their best to keep him fresh for the duration of the season. After all, getting blown up by the Yankees in the Bronx is not a distinction that Ogando holds alone and he certainly wont be the last. Remember, he picked up a nice primer for the rigors of major league pitching last year when he threw close to 50 total innings. Fatigue is sure to set in at some point and his numbers cant be expected to sit where they are presently, but he figures to remain quite useful pitching in front of that lineup in Arlington.
5) Jeremy Hellickson – TB (LW:7)
It certainly appears as though Hellickson is past his struggles from earlier in the season and seems to have settled in nicely for the Rays. Facing a white hot Red Sox lineup last Wednesday, Hellickson promptly fired seven innings of solid baseball only relinquishing three runs. His strikeout numbers have been very inconsistent this season, but he has been able to keep the baseball in the park for the most part and keep his squad in games. The Rays feel confident trotting him out to the bump every fifth day and you should share in that faith. Keep rolling with him and don’t stress pitch counts with this youngster, he’s in it for the long haul.
6) Dustin Ackley – Sea (LW:NR)
Now we arrive at the focal of this weeks rankings, Dustin Ackley. After having been talked about ad nauseam for the better part of the last year, the former Tar Heel finally makes his way to the great Northwest. Mariners fans had grown quite tired of watching the revolving door at second base since the departure of Jose Lopez who wasn’t exactly inciting comparisons to Robinson Cano anyway. Ackley brings a keen batting eye and above average defense to the big leagues and figures to be a fixture in Seattle’s lineup for the next handful of years. He hit his first big league homerun on Saturday night doesn’t seem to be over matched in the early going. Ackley compiled a .346 average and .538 slugging percentage in 13 games down in AAA this month and looks poised to continue that success at the next level. With second base being such a wasteland for fantasy baseball owners this season, he is certainly worth a speculative add.
7) Charlie Blackmon – Col (LW:NR)
Here is a name that you certainly haven’t heard a whole lot about, but I suggest you get familiar. Charlie Blackmon is an unheralded young outfielder whom the Rockies selected in the second round of the 2008 amateur draft and is starting to really turn some heads. He was batting .337 with 10 long balls and 49 RBI down in AAA before being recalled after Dexter Fowler continued to disappoint and then ultimately injured himself. Since taking over for Fowler in Coors Field spacious center field, Blackmon has batted .381 and has already racked up five steals. With the Carlos Gonzalez leadoff hitter experiment quickly coming to a close, manager Jim Tracy has mentioned more than once that he would love Blackmon to slide right into that slot in the lineup. He projects as a great on-base guy so the fit seems natural at the top of the order. Keep your eyes on this youngster because he seems to be just about ready to explode.
8) Anthony Rizzo – SD (LW:4)
Since his recall on June 9th from AAA, Rizzo had been saddled with some very unrealistic expectations. The much hyped prospect was supposed to arrive on the scene in San Diego and make each and every fan instantly forget Adrian Gonzalez and that was never fair to this young kid. AGon is an MVP candidate over in the AL as he continues to destroy the collective mindset of all the pitchers in that league. Rizzo will surely be a fine player, but these things tend to take some time and there are undoubtedly going to be some bumps and slumps along the way. Rizzo has homered just once since his callup and his batting average of .148 obviously leaves a lot to be desired. The Padres are committed to the young first baseman and he is going to ultimately turn it around so don’t get caught jumping ship prematurely.
9) Desmond Jennings – TB (LW:NR)
Here is a name that hasn’t been seen in the rankings since the first few weeks of the season, Desmond Jennings. Jennings came equipped with insane amounts of publicity this offseason once it became clear that the Rays were not going to resign Carl Crawford. Many assumed Jennings would step right in and assume his spot in the lineup, but the Rays clearly had other intentions. Jennings is presently doing his best to show the Rays brass he is ready as he runs wild all over his opponents in the minors. Jennings is getting on base with regularity at Triple-A (.377 OBP), and has hit nine homers and stolen 12 bases, but Justin Ruggiano has been hitting well for the Rays which has allowed them to be more cautious with the youngster. Jennings had close to 90 steals in the minors the past two seasons and could be a game-changer in the stolen base department when he arrives, assuming he is given the playing time he seems to have earned.
10) Brett Jackson – CHC (LW:NR)
Another prospect who hasn’t been talked about all that much is Brett Jackson of the Cubs. Jackson missed the better part of the last month with a finger injury, but was hitting well before landing on the disabled list. He stepped back into the lineup at AA Tennessee over a week ago and has looked comfortable at the plate. Jackson has posted a .391 on-base percentage, a .465 slugging percentage and has stolen 13 bases in 44 games with Double-A Tennessee and is pushing hard for a promotion. There is growing sentiment in the Cubs organization that the next player brought up from the minors should be this kid. With the Cubs outfield presently in sire straits, that call be be coming sooner rather than later.
Drop Outs: Rubby De La Rosa (LAD), Mike Moustakas (KC), Brett Lawrie (Tor), Kyle Gibson (Min)