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Kolten Wong | 2B, Cardinals | Born:  10/10/1990

Tyler Greene was the 30th overall selection in the 2005 draft.  It was the Cardinals second pick that year; they took Colby Rasmus two spots earlier.  At this point, both players appear to be busts, really.  I suppose St. Louis fans can take solace knowing that the Cards flipped Rasmus for important pieces in their World Series run.  But there’s little consolation on Greene’s side of things.  He’s awful, and it’s clear that he’s not a long term option as an everyday 2B.  There is hope for St. Louis, however.  Kolten Wong is officially the Cardinals’ 2B of the future.  He took that right after being drafted 22nd overall a year ago, and his performance in the minors has only solidified his position as such.

Out of the University of Hawaii, Wong made his pro debut at Low-A Quad Cities where he batted .355/.401/.510 over 222 PA.  Most had him pegged for High-A to open 2012, but the Cardinals chose to move him along more aggressively, sending him to Double-A Springfield out of camp.  The 21-year-old has responded by hitting .305/.381/.441 through his first 32 games in the Texas League.  At 5-9, 190, Wong is small, but he can handle the bat and he can provide some pop too.  His advanced approach to hitting has allowed for an easy transition to Double-A and it will surely shorten his path to the bigs.  I expect an arrival sometime early in 2013, but if Wong continues to get on base while increasing his XBH production, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him at Busch Stadium this September.  Once he’s settled in the majors, look for Wong to post a .300+ average along with 15 homers and double-digit steals.  He’s my favorite 2B prospect in the minors and he’ll be valuable in all fantasy formats.

Robbie Erlin | LHP, Padres | Born:  10/8/1989

In my 2011 Padres Review, I noted that for fantasy purposes Joe Wieland and Robbie Erlin were essentially the same dude.  Wieland had a bit more polish, and that earned him some starts earlier this year in the San Diego rotation, but now he’s on the DL and the Padres are starting 37-year-old Jeff Suppan.  Sure, Suppan’s been serviceable through his first few starts, but it won’t last and neither will he.  And if Wieland doesn’t rebound quickly from his elbow ailment, the Padres could certainly look to Erlin for help.

Procured in the Mike Adams swap last year, Erlin has been at Double-A San Antonio ever since.  Through his first 34 IP in 2012, he’s struck out 45 and earned a 2.67 ERA.  The only thing holding him back for now is command.  His BB/9 sits at 2.7 on the year, as opposed to the 1.0 BB/9 mark he posted over 147 innings of work in 2011.  He’s always been a plus command guy, which is why the slip in that regard is so perplexing.  This early in the season, I like to blame the sample and assume that Erlin will sort out the issue.  Once he does, he’ll have a fairly clear path to Petco.  Erlin should put up nice ERA and WHIP in the bigs, and his changeup could draw plenty of K’s too.   Of course, any pitcher throwing at Petco is worth fantasy consideration.  Erlin will certainly be no exception.

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  1. DT says:
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    Kolten could always hit, but other parts of his game were disappointing when watching him in college, especially the complete lack of hustle and poor defense. Hopefully he turns that around and reaches his potential.

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @DT, The Cardinals have been pleased with Wong’s mental approach as pro, which certainly factored into their decision to skip him over High-A, so it does seem like he’s shaken some of the laziness from the college days that you reference. Good instincts at 2b, but he’s not the rangiest. Likely won’t be anything more than an average 2b, defensively.

  2. chris says:
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    As someone who covers fantasy and prospects. Just wondering your thoughts on a current proposal I was offered. I would give up Ubaldo and receive Francisco Lindor and a 2nd round pick in our rookie draft (whatever is in the yahoo player pool next season). Thoughts on this?

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @chris, Interesting proposal. I like Lindor quite a lot, but he’s just 18 & still a ways off. Plenty can happen over the next two or so seasons that could derail a young prospect like that. For me, it’s tough to trade established major league talent for someone in the low-minors… even if that someone is a top-20 overall prospect. Then again, Jimenez will be 29 next season & it’s fair to wonder if he’ll ever get back to where he was a couple seasons ago. Really comes down to whether or not you believe in Ubaldo going forward. Keep in mind that you’d be selling him awfully low. You also should be factoring win-now vs. win-later scenarios, of course.

  3. Mark says:
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    You make it sound like a 2.7 BB/9 is a bad thing. It’s still just 6.5% which is well above average. Dude still has a 2.67 ERA with a .383 BABIP and nominal strand rate. The knock I always heard on him is that he’s more of a fly ball guy (which made the prospects of a switch from Texas to SD particularly drool-worthy), and he got away with it by not walking anyone ever. This year, the flipside to the excellent rather than inhuman walk rate is that his grounders seem to be up (1.07 GO/AO according to MiLB.com, easily the best mark of his career). The HR/FB is probably still low, but due no more correction than the BABIP is.

    My guess is the hitters in Double-A just have no idea what to do with his changeup, so they’re being super-patient deep in counts, leading to more walks but also more called third strikes.

    He’s shaping up to be one of my favorite sleepers in next year’s drafts, assuming he doesn’t come up earlier than expected this year and wow everyone.

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @Mark, Wasn’t trying to imply that his walk rate was especially poor, just that it’s more than twice the rate that he’s put up throughout his pro career, which is a little alarming. I like your reasoning, though. Seems logical that AA hitters are taking a more patient approach with Erlin and getting deeper into counts, drawing a few more walks in the process. I do have a feeling, however, that fantasy players will get to know Erlin before this year is through, spoiling his sleeper status somewhat for next year. Great comment, Mark.

      • Mark says:
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        @Scott Evans, Thanks!

        Yeah, mostly just pointing out that the increase in walks neither shocks or worries me. I’m more encouraged by the fact that the Ks are still up than discouraged that the walks are.

        Also keep in mind both his K/9 and BB/9 are artificially inflated by the high BABIP. They’re both up, but not as drastically as the “/9″ rates indicate. If you give him a .320 BABIP, a few quick calculations indicate that yields about a 36.2 xIP (since more outs per batter faced means fewer batters per inning, so facing 154 batters would span a larger number of innings) and around 32 xHits. That would make his xK/9 around 10.9, xBB/9 around 2.4, and xWHIP would go all the way down to 1.15 (since we’d both be reducing his hit total and increasing his outs and therefore innings total). They’d all be even lower if you drop his BABIP to .300 (didn’t run the numbers on that since, like many minor leaguers, his career BABIP is on the higher side, but my guess is it’d go to around 10.6, 2.3, and 1.10 or so).

        I hope you’re wrong about his ETA. I could see him coming up around the break this year, but at the same time he has only 100 upper level innings so far and the Padres have no reason to rush him to the show. I don’t doubt he’ll show up by September, but this isn’t like the Royals last year when they called up Hosmer, Duffy, and Moustakas so they could show off all their shiney hyped prospects to sell tickets. Not that Erlin doesn’t have that hype, but the Royals system on the whole was so over-touted last year that it seemed like they were trying to take advange of that perception every step of the way, despite remaining stuck in a state of competitive futility.

        And he’s also no Matt Moore, even with the gaudy numbers he doesn’t pass the “eye test” in the same way and won’t have the chance to dominate the Yankees and Rangers in pressure packed starts in September and the playoffs. I’m hoping at worst he’ll be viewed more like the way Jeremy Hellickson was viewed heading into 2011–a guy you can get in the 175-200 pick range in mixed leagues, depending on how aggressive you want to be.

        • Scott Evans

          Scott Evans says:
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          @Mark, Good stuff, man. Assuming he gets a handful of effective starts under his belt this season, he could enter 2013 with similar value to that which Cory Luebke entered 2012 with. Agree that lack of ace-stuff will leave him a rung below frontline arrivals next year like Miller, Skaggs, etc.

      • Mark says:
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        @Scott Evans, Actually shorted him on the xK/9 and xBB/9 a bit, it’s more like 11.1 and 2.5 with a .320 BABIP, just to clarify. 1.15 WHIP is correct though.

  4. Commish Cauda says:
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    Who is a better minor slot stash in a deep 16-team, H2H-Points Keeper League? (If they are not on a MLB roster on Aug. 30th, then I can keep them next year for free.)

    Ideally, you want guys who will be called up and contribute this year, (I had Myers and Middlebrooks at the start of the season). If not, then high potential guys who will be up next year who you can use as trade bait at this year’s deadline.

    Starling Marte
    Jake Odorizzi
    Kolton Wong
    Jon Singleton
    Matt Davidson
    James Paxton
    Travis Snider

    • Commish Cauda says:
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      @Commish Cauda, throw Tyler Skaggs in there as well

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @Commish Cauda, Skaggs would have to lead that list. Followed by Odorizzi, then Marte, Singleton, Paxton, Wong. Those last four are pretty close, though.

  5. barker says:
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    does anyone know when wil myers will be called up just lost ramos and realized he was C eligible in yahoo

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @barker, Hard to say. He was just promoted to AAA. I think July would be the earliest we could see him, but most probably, he’s not up ’til September. Of course, injuries & whatnot can alter the timetable.

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