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Minor League Barometer: Yanks Ride Nova

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.

Poor Chris Sale. He never even had a chance. To make the Barometer, that is. Sale signed a contract with the White Sox on June 23. The 6-foot-6 21-year-old pitched his first game for the big club on Aug. 6, becoming the first 2010 draft pick to make the majors. He has a 1.42 ERA and 8:4 K:BB ratio in 6.1 innings for the ChiSox out of the pen and could be in line for some holds in the near future. Talk about immediate dividends. Anyway, let's take a look at who's been bearish and bullish in the dog days of August.

UPGRADES

1. Ivan Nova, P, NYY -
Nova received a spot start for the Yanks on Monday after posting a 2.86 ERA and 115:48 K:BB ratio in 145 innings for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He performed extremely well against Toronto, showing added velocity on his fastball while limiting his pitch count in 5.1 innings. Manager Joe Girardi may even decide to go with a six-man rotation or give Nova a few more starts to limit the wear and tear on Phil Hughes. Nova is a ground-ball pitcher who keeps the ball in the park. He also appears to be the most MLB-ready of the Yanks stable of young arms should they decide to go away from the old guard of Sergio Mitre, Dustin Moseley and Chad Gaudin.

2. Wil Myers, C, KC -
Myers has homered thrice in his last 10 games, his first for High-A Wilmington. Add that to a blistering line of .363/.463/.535 in 45 games, and the 19-year-old catcher will enter 2011 among the most-wanted prospects in the game. He has almost as many walks (26) as strikeouts (28) for the Blue Rocks. The only question remaining is if the Royals will move him out from behind the plate.

3. Blake Beavan P, SEA -
Maybe the Mariners did better than we thought for Cliff Lee? Although Justin Smoak was recently demoted, the 6-7, 250, Beavan has had three standout outings in his last four starts for Triple-A Tacoma. Although he's been slightly hittable, he's allowed three runs on 11 hits in his last 14 innings for the Rainiers. Over that span, the 21-year-old has an 11:2 K:BB ratio. Beavan doesn't project as a true strikeout pitcher, but gets plenty of worm burners and has advanced command for his age.

4. Mike Moustakas, 3B, KC -
Over his last 10 games, Moose is batting .395/.426/.628 with two home runs and seven RBI for Triple-A Omaha. The 21-year-old first-baseman should get a September call-up. Moustakas has incredible upside, but be wary that he's drawn a mere five walks in 37 games for Omaha.

5. Lonnie Chisenhall, P, CLE -
Check out these last 10 games for the Lon Ranger: .400/.500/.629 with one home run and 13 RBI for Double-A Akron. Chisenhall doesn't have quite the upside or power of Moustakas, but appears to be the safest bet to succeed of most of the up-and-coming prospects nearing the bigs at the hot corner.

6. Dustin Ackley, 2B, SEA -
Dustin the wind? That's what Ackley's slow first month in Double-A has become. The No. 2 overall pick in 2009 has actually been better in Triple-A, posting a line of .295/.360/.466 with three home runs and 15 RBI for the Rainiers. The move to second base only helps his value, as the power stroke hasn't quite developed in Ackley's short time in the Seattle system. Still, with the M's shifting management around and going nowhere fast, Ackley figures to get every possible chance to become a starter for Seattle, possibly as soon as September.

Honorable Mention


1. Matt Moore, P, TB
2. Nolan Arenado, 3B, COL
3. Brent Morel, 3B, CHW
4. Adam Warren, P, NYY
5. Brandon Beachy, P, ATL

DOWNGRADES

1. Jeremy Hellickson, P, TB -
A 2010 downgrade only for Hellickson, who shined as a starter for the Rays before being sent back down to the minors. Although he was 3-0 with a 2.05 ERA and 25:4 K:BB ratio in 26.1 innings as a starter, Hellickson will be transitioned to a reliever with "Jeremy Rules" in effect. This is due to a combination of an innings limit as well as the impending returns of Jeff Niemann and Wade Davis to the Rays rotation. However, Hellickson clearly made his presence felt in his short stint as a starter, and should be in the Rays rotation come 2011 with Matt Garza a free agent.

2. John Lamb, P, KC -
It took Lamb until his third different level of 2010 before he got some friction. After posting ERAs of 1.58 and 1.45 in Low-A and High-A, respectively, Lamb has been blown up in four starts for Double-A Northwest Arkansas. The 20-year-old lefty has a 7.94 ERA and 9:8 K:BB ratio in 17 innings with the Naturals. On the plus side, this seems like a blip on the radar for Lamb, who remains an elite prospect for the Royals and just needs a bit more seasoning.

3. Alex Liddi, 3B, SEA -
Liddi has fanned 21 times in his last 10 contests. Yes, you read that correctly. In fact, he hasn't drawn a single walk in that span. Although Liddi continues to knock in runs at an efficient pace with 80 RBI on the year, he has 132 strikeouts and just 14 home runs in 120 games. In other words, not enough contact - or dingers - to warrant those Ks.

4. Fernando Martinez, OF, NYM -
Have the Mets finally lost patience with Martinez? In his most recent go-round with the Metropolitans, the 21-year-old outfielder batted .167 in seven games before being sent back to Triple-A. Although the Mets do have a crowded outfield with Carlos Beltran, Jeff Francouer and Angel Pagan, one has to wonder if F-Mart has worn out his welcome after being talked about as the next Amazin' for years. He also injured his right knee Sunday, extent to be determined. All in all, while he is still 21, his star has certainly faded. I might put Kirk Niewenhuis ahead of him at this point.

5. Michael Pineda, P, SEA -
Pineda has still been striking out opposing hitters at an excellent rate for Triple-A Tacoma, but he's been knocked around a bit over his last four starts. He also hasn't been going as deep into games, possibly showing the effects of only throwing 47.1 innings in 2009. He's at 135.1 innings between Double-A and Triple-A right now. I still love Pineda's upside for 2011, and a 66:13 K:BB ratio over his last 10 games is proof that he's got the stuff. I just think the M's may shut him down as opposed to bringing him up in September and risking beating his career-high in innings (138.1) by a considerable margin.

6. Brandon Laird, 3B, NYY -
I'm wary of Laird for a few reasons, not the least of which because he's playing behind a guy named Alex Rodriguez who not too long ago signed a 10-year deal with the Yankees. I also get the sneaking suspicion that he's a Mat Gamel type: a decent prospect who is just having a monster offensive season and will come back to earth next year. He has already set career highs across the board this season with 25 home runs and 99 RBI. However, he's also fanned 100 times in 123 games and doesn't even walk as much as Gamel does. As a result, the 22-year-old will certainly need a trade to make the majors, but it remains to be seen whether he has the plate discipline to cut it even if he does.

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