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Minor League Barometer: Fresh Faces in New Places

Jesse Siegel

Jesse Siegel

Siegel covers college football, college basketball and minor league baseball for RotoWire. He was named College Sports Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

The trade deadline has come and gone, and some fresh faces are in new places. Has the wheeling and dealing pushed anyone up or down the ranks? Let's find out in this week's Barometer.

UPGRADES


1. Brett Wallace, 1B, HOU
- After being mired in Toronto with the Jays' Triple-A affiliate for nearly the entire 2010 campaign, Wallace was shipped to Houston for fellow minor leaguer Anthony Gose. Once Lance Berkman was sent packing to the Bronx Bombers, Wallace suddenly found himself as the starting first baseman for the Astros. Along with Hunter Pence, Wallace has become one of the young, future offensive stars for the 'Stros, who are clearly playing for 2011 and beyond. In other words, Wallace will get every chance to become their first baseman for the foreseeable future.

2. Chris Archer, P, CHC
- Archer finally allowed an earned run in his sixth start for Double-A Tennessee, elevating his ERA to 0.27 in 33.1 innings for the Smokies. The 21-year-old righty has been wildly effective, posting a 31:18 K:BB ratio while holding opposing hitters to a .179 BAA. Although command issues should eventually bring Archer back to earth a bit, there's no denying that he's off to a blistering start in Double-A and one of the few bright spots for the Cubbies' talent-starved system.

3. Dellin Betances, P, NYY
- Betances has been lights out since returning from ligament replacement surgery, posting a 1.26 ERA and 68:15 K:BB ratio in 57 innings for High-A Tampa. The 6-foot-8, 245, righty had perhaps his best start of the season Aug. 2, allowing one hit in six scoreless innings. The 22-year-old walked one while fanning 11. If Betances can keep mowing down opposing batters consistently and stay healthy, he has as much upside as any pitcher in the minors.

4. Wilin Rosario, C, COL
- Rosario's power surge has clearly drawn scouts' attention, as the 21-year-old catcher is destroying previous highs with 19 home runs and 52 RBI through 71 games for Double-A Tulsa. His plate discipline could use a little work, as he's drawn just 20 walks while fanning 54 times. However, he's still batting .289, and with an excellent defensive build for a catcher, Rosario could contend for the 2011 starting catcher's slot for the Rockies.

5. Peter Bourjos, OF, LAA
- Bourjos will get his chance at the big-league level after torching Triple-A pitching his last 10 games to the tune of .422/.469/.844 with four home runs and 12 RBI. Bourjos is no slouch on the basepaths either, swiping 27 bags while getting caught just five times. His newfound power, combined with his ability to make contact and steal bases, makes him an intriguing pick-up for AL-Only leagues, and perhaps beyond.

6. Wilson Ramos, C, WAS
- It wasn't a matter of if, but when Ramos would be dealt. The Twins just signed reigning AL MVP Joe Mauer to a monster extension, making Ramos expendable and, quite frankly, a waste of his talents as merely a back-up catcher. Still, the Nats got a pretty good deal in exchange for closer Matt Capps, as Ramos is widely considered one of the better catching prospects in the game. With Ivan Rodriguez only a temporary solution, Ramos could be the Nationals' starting catcher beginning in 2011.

Honorable Mention


1. Matt Moore, P, TB
2. Kila Ka'aihue, 1B, KC
3. Jordan Zimmerman, P, WAS
4. Michael Pineda, P, SEA
5. Zach Litz, 3B, NYM

DOWNGRADES


1. Derek Norris, C, WAS
- Norris clearly will be adversely affected by the Matt Capps deal, as Wilson Ramos is in Triple-A and considered further along than the 2007 fourth-round pick. Although Norris may have more upside with the bat, his defensive skills are lagging, and he might eventually be moved to another position, which would also change the production expectations.

2. Tanner Scheppers, P, TEX
- Scheppers has now pitched out of the bullpen in four consecutive games for Triple-A Oklahoma City. Although he has a live arm and ascended to this level quickly, it appears that he is more suited for relief work. It remains to be seen what the Rangers will do with Neftali Feliz in 2011, but as the depth chart stands now, the best case scenario for Scheppers on the Rangers is as the setup man. In other words, clearly not a huge fantasy impact.

3. Christian Friedrich, P, COL
- It looked like Friedrich was finally on his way back, including a 12-strikeout masterpiece on July 8. However, he did not record an out in a start on July 18, and lasted just 2.1 innings in his last start for Double-A Tulsa. Friedrich's ERA over his last 10 contests is a bloated 6.75, and opponents are batting .323 against him over that span. Once considered a breakout prospect, Friedrich has taken a step back in 2010.

4. Austin Romine, C, NYY
- It's been quite a few weeks for Romine, who went from the Yankees' catcher of the future when the Bombers almost got Cliff Lee in exchange for Jesus Montero, to being relegated to backup status and trade bait once again. Montero subsequently went on a tear as well, further displaying his talents over Romine with the bat. Although Romine is the better defensive option, Montero will be given every opportunity to succeed Jorge Posada as the next great Yankee backstop. The future for Romine is much murkier at this point in time.

5. Dee Gordon, SS, LAD
- Just a fantasy warning about Gordon; he has drawn just 24 walks in 2010 while striking out 64 times in 98 games. He also has just two home runs and 30 RBI. His value is linked to the stolen base; he's an excellent base stealer with 39 this season. However, his plate discipline for a prototypical leadoff hitter is not stellar, and if he doesn't hit .330 (he's batting .280 for Double-A Chattanooga), he may not make much of a fantasy splash once he hits the bigs.

6. Tim Beckham, SS, TB
- Beckham has drawn more walks and swiped a few more bags in 2010, but his batting average stands at .247, and he's fanned 93 times in 92 games for High-A Charlotte. He's just 20, and the Rays are hoping his power stroke and plate discipline will come along as he matures, but Beckham hasn't exactly crushed minor league pitching since being drafted No. 1 overall in 2008.