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Perhaps you were expecting the usual Saturday morning two-start pitchers post, but it’s All Star week and there are no two-starters.  The timing works out well, though – I’ve been vacationing south of the border and had to skip one of our precious Scouting the Unknown posts.  We’ll fit that one in now.

Yordano Ventura | RHP, Royals | Born:  6/3/1991

We’ve written plenty about Ventura in our Minor Developments reports over the past couple years, usually in the profiles-as-a-dominant-closer context.  I suppose it’s tough to escape that outlook when you stand 5-11, 180 (he’s put on considerable weight over the past year to get even that big), and you chuck 100 mile-per-hour fastballs.  There just aren’t many pitchers with that sort of frame who can sustain that sort of stuff over a full-season workload.  He doesn’t pass the “eye test”, the scouts would say.  He’s passing every other test there is, however.

Ventura played at High- and Double-A in 2012, posting a 3.62 ERA, a 1.22 WHIP, and a K/9 at 10.7 across the two levels.  The huge whiff figures are of no surprise considering the fastball, which is delivered with ease and sits in the mid-to-upper 90s.  He returned to Double-A Northwest Arkansas to begin 2013, but this time with vastly improved secondary offerings.  His curveball has always flashed big upside, but his changeup has taken huge strides forward this season, and the overall results have been impressive:  2.34 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 11.5 K/9 in 11 starts with Northwest Arkansas.  Kansas City then moved the 22-year-old to Triple-A Omaha, where his numbers have regressed (5.19 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 9.35 K/9), but much of that regression can be attributed to lousy luck on the batted ball side of things (his FIP reads 3.52).  The Royals are as intent as ever to continue Ventura’s development as a starter, and while it’s unlikely that we’ll see him in Kansas City this season, he figures to play a sizeable role in the fantasy game for 2014.  If you’re seeking big K upside, look no further.

Maikel Franco | 3B, Phillies | Born:  8/6/1992

Maikel Franco is a dude who’s been popping up in our minor league reports quite a bit lately.  There’s good reason for that:  he’s friggin’ mashing this year. Admittedly, I wasn’t big on Franco in the preseason, ranking him 7th in my 2013 Phillies preview.  But I wasn’t entirely down on him either.  Here’s what I wrote:  “Franco started slow at Low-A, but turned things around with a huge second half, ending up with a line at .280/.336/.439.  He can hit, and the power projection is certainly there, but physically, the 20-year-old is very raw, allowing some uncertainty about his ability to stick at third.  Franco is an intriguing prospect and a guy to keep an eye on, nonetheless.”  See, it wasn’t all bad, but the #7 ranking sure seems dumb in hindsight.  Were I re-ranking now, he’d be #1 (yes, ahead of Biddle – not by much, but when it comes to fantasy forecasting, you gotta go with the hitter over the pitcher).

Franco, age 20, began the year at High-A and hit .299/.349/.576 with 40 XBH (16 HR) through 289 PA at Clearwater.  That level of production earned him a call-up to Double-A Reading last month, and through his first 19 games there, he’s posted an unreal line:  .392/.400/.671 with 5 more long balls.  The jump from A-ball to Double-A is considered the biggest leap in baseball, aside from, of course, the jump from wherever to the bigs.  What Franco has been doing at Reading over these past few weeks is truly special.  And while questions still remain about his long-term defensive projection, it’s appearing more and more likely that his bat will bring him to the bigs – and make him a significant fantasy asset – regardless of where he ends up in the field.

 

Note:  I’m still in Mexico.  Was supposed to return to Chicago last night but my flight was cancelled and now I’m back at my resort, sipping a boozy beverage.  Poor me.  Anyway, this all came about very last-minute, so I’m hoping one of my Razzball colleagues will be able to field your questions this morning.  If not, I’ll be back stateside late afternoon-ish (I hope), and I’ll talk to you then.

  1. Scott says:
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    As a Royals fan, I enjoy your take on Ventura. Thanks for that, Scott. What are your thoughts on Brad Miller so far? Looks like he’s doing very well and is a good leadoff guy. What do you project for him next year? I have a chance to acquire Jed Lowrie but I’d have to drop Miller. Lowrie has been good this year but he doesn’t steal or really hit home runs. The best thing he has going is his average which is far above his past numbers. Which has a better 2014 in your opinion? I’m leaning towards Miller.

    • malamoney

      malamoney says:
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      @Scott: Miller

    • Terse

      Terse says:
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      @Scott: I watch a lot of A’s games, and Lowrie is simply crushing. He’s go a 29% LD-rate and is striking out less than usual. He still has that pop and is good for 15 homers a year. He’s got more power than Miller.

      Miller will steal more bases though.

      A healthy Lowrie>Miller.

      • Scott says:
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        @Terse: So you think he’s really put his .250 BA days behind him?

        • Scott says:
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          @Scott: I really appreciate your firsthand account btw

          • Terse

            Terse says:
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            @Scott: maybe not .301 sustained, cuz 29% LD isn’t gonna keep, but .270-.280 is where I see him. and thanks dude

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      I like Miller’s 2014 & beyond outlook better than Lowrie’s… Miller simply has the better stick.

  2. de nachos says:
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    Love to see the positive reviews on Franco, especially since conventional wisdom says GM Ruben Amaro decimated the Phils prospects bringing in Halladay, Lee (x2), Oswalt, and Pence. If I can do some home-town bragging, the park in Reading is a GREAT place to see a ball game.

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      Never been to Reading, but it’s on the MiLB bucket list. Would love to get there this season & get a chance to see Biddle & Franco.

  3. Chuckles Tiddlesworth says:
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    Speaking prospects (kinda), what’s the take on Josh Rutledge ROS? Bench in Denver? Or back to Colorado Springs? Will he continue to suck this bad when/if he does play?

    • Sky

      Sky says:
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      @Chuckles Tiddlesworth: Scott’s having some issues at the airport right now. Full body cavity search, actually, so he’s having a hard time getting to some of these questions. Rut is looking pretty lost at the plate as of right now. Knowing the Rockies and their yoyo’ing ways of how they deal with their young hitters, I’d say he’s back in Colorado before too long.

      • Scott Evans

        Scott Evans says:
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        The cavity search was the most enjoyable part of the ordeal.

  4. The Red Cyclones says:
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    I streamed too much to compensate for RA Dickey’s horrible first half and Aaron Hill’s injury leaving a huge hole at 2B and now although I’m in 2nd place in a points league, I’ve got one pick left. I keep getting tempted by rookie pitchers, is there some kind of rehab for this? I want to pick up Cosart so badly…

      • The Red Cyclones says:
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        @Terse: It was a really grisly situation in a 16-team league. I owned Maicer Izturis and Lombardozzi a week each.

  5. TobiasFunkeAnalRapist says:
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    I just heard about a guy named Henry Urrutia, what do you know or think about the guy? Thanks.

    • Terse

      Terse says:
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      @TobiasFunkeAnalRapist: This is more Scott’s realm, obviously, but Urrutia’s crushing. 26 already but only his first year in the pros. He hits but not for much power and not much speed. I wouldn’t get my hopes too too up.

      He’ll be in the Futures game, so keep your eye out.

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      He can mash. Big league-ready stick, but he does nothing else well. I’ve heard he’s an absolute liability on the bases & cannot be trusted anywhere in the field… no instincts. Still, wouldn’t surprise me to see him up as a PH/DH type guy later this season.

  6. Chicken Dinner says:
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    What rook makes the most second half impact with the bat?

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      Wil Myers.

  7. MB says:
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    In first, desp for a bat. Is giving up Addison Russell and Lewis brinson for Alex Gordon too much to give up?

    15 team dynasty

    Thanks

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      I think so… Russell is a special talent at short. Some might say better upside than Profar, if we’re talking strictly fantasy….

      • MB says:
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        @Scott Evans: how about for a gonzalez, choo or billy butler?

        • Scott Evans

          Scott Evans says:
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          I’d be more inclined to do it for Choo or A-Gon.

  8. THE_FREAK says:
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    Scott, when ranking and projecting players from a fantasy perspective, how much stock do you put a given organization’s ability to develop prospects? It seems like certain organizations (Tampa & STL) have a much better track record than others (KC and Pitt). KC’s track record with SP prospects is downright turrible (in a Charles Barkley voice).

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      Not as much as you might think… If anything, I’ll give the benefit of the doubt to fringy guys from quality player development orgs like STL & TB, but when it comes to ranking the high impact guys, it’s all about tools & future role. Those high end guys can come from anywhere… just because Pedro Alvarez flopped doesn’t mean I don’t trust Cole/Taillon to turn into fantasy assets. Talent supersedes org.

      • THE_FREAK says:
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        @Scott Evans: Makes sense on the fringe guys, never thought about it that way. I agree with your what you’re saying on Alvarez and Cole/Taillon. I ended up adding Ventura, I’m hoping he’s actually the Royals SP prospect that makes it

  9. Scott says:
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    With the way George Springer is performing this year, does he make the opening day roster or do you still think he’s a June call up?

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      I think June. Astros have no reason to rush him.

      • Scott says:
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        @Scott Evans: That’s what I thought. I just landed Springer and Andrus for Anibal in an AL keeper. How’d I do?

        • Scott Evans

          Scott Evans says:
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          Seems like a needs-based trade, but fair deal. Springer has big time potential.

          • Scott says:
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            @Scott Evans: What were your thoughts on Salazar’s start the other day? I’ve heard a wide range of views on him and that he profiles more as a bullpen guy because of his limited repertoire.

            • Scott Evans

              Scott Evans says:
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              Love him as a high-leverage relief arm. Tough to sustain as a starter with only FB/SL arsenal, although those two offerings of his are FILTHY

  10. yeshcheese says:
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    Thoughts on Wil Myers after a month?

    I’ve been watching (&owning) young Wil and I see the raw power…and some streakiness…with a decent batting average + the Ks.

    Would a Corey Hart comp be too far off?

    Or does Wil have more tools and will adjust? I’m not seeing >30 HRs per season.

    Thank you Prospect King

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      Prospect King? I don’t agree, but I’ll take it! Myers has been a tad aggressive in his first month. Needs to be more selective — not to do with the K’s, I expect this sort of whiff rate from him going forward, but I’d like to see him draw more walks & adjust approach. And he will. When he does, expect more consistent power & less streakiness. More pop than Hart… Myers can post 40 HR seasons if everything clicks.

  11. LT says:
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    When can we expect Yelich to get up here? Marlins owner sounded like the antichrist early in the year, then the Blue Jays stink and I think he made the right call. Maybe wrong way to do it? He makes the OF sick for years to come. Is he starting opening day next year for sure or is it depending on Stanton being moved?

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      Yelich only just returned to AA last week after rehabbing his abdominal injury. He’ll need to catch another significant heater if we’re to see him before September.

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      I do think he’s in the opening day outfield next season.

    • goodfold2 says:
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      @LT: soria’s received badly because he’s a sharp hustler who preys on the weaknesses of local fans. He tricked a city into paying for an ugly, expensive stadium to make himself richer under the guise of making a team competitive, and then as soon as he could dumping off all of the players possible to save even more money for himself. The problem is that the same thing that makes somebody a good, sharp, business man (namely using people and preying on their weaknesses, just like in poker) isn’t looked upon as a good thing to the victims/marks. And it certainly doesn’t make for a good baseball team.

  12. goodfold2 says:
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    wayne H. did the same thing, but he also knew enough to first make the team compete for at least 1 year at a time. He was lucky in that they actually won twice in those “competitive” years.

    • goodfold2 says:
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      @goodfold2: this is invariably true, as business is a zero sum game, by that i mean every dollar gained by somebody is a dollar lost by somebody else.

  13. Oz says:
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    Who do u like more both short/long term? Danny Salazar or Jared Cosart? I’m in a dynasty league (25/38) and it’s SUPER pitcher heavy. Thanks!

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      Cosart for both.

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