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Collette Calls: Opportunity Knocks

Jason Collette

Jason Collette

Jason has been helping fantasy owners since 1999 at RotoJunkie, Fanball, Baseball Prospectus and now here at RotoWire. He covers the Tampa Bay Rays at theprocessreport.net. You can hear Jason weekly on many of the Sirius/XM Fantasy channel offerings throughout the season as well as on the Towers of Power Baseball Hour Podcast on iTunes. He was selected as the Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year by FSWA in 2013.

We are getting closer and closer to that magical Super Two date passing when the promotions should start happening a bit more frequently than they are these days. We have been teased by the Royals promoting Eric Hosmer and Danny Duffy while the Braves have given us Julio Teheran and Mike Minor, but don't focus on just the big names as some other guys will sneak along the transaction wire to get to the 25-man roster. Here are some of the players doing well in Triple-A that have either recently been promoted or could be on their way up soon.

Todd Frazier - The Reds called him up Monday as part of the surprise move that sent Opening Day starter Edinson Volquez to Triple-A. Frazier is 25 years old and has been in the organization since being drafted 34th overall out of the Rutgers University in the 2007 draft. He has spent his last 793 plate appearances as a member of the Louisville Bats. His overall Triple-A slash line is .285/.358/.488, but he was having a terrific season for Louisville prior to his promotion. In 186 plate appearances, he had a .293/.366/.579 slash line with 24 extra-base hits, 29 runs, and 33 RBI. He joined the Reds in Philadelphia last night meaning he was able to debut in front of many family and friends as he is from the Toms Rivers, NJ area. He has the athleticism to play anywhere the Reds want to play him which could help find at-bats if his callup is more than just temporary making him an intriguing addition for NL-only players.

Jose Lobaton - Lobaton is not much of a prospect for the Rays and, on paper, is behind Robinson Chirinos on the depth chart. That said, the Rays' catching situation has been terrible as John Jaso and Kelly Shoppach have combined for just a .190/.256/.314 slash line in 168 plate appearances and have had trouble throwing out runners on the bases. Lobaton is good defensively and this season, has also been hitting well. Lobaton is currently in his ninth minor league season and his overall slash line is .257/.344/.407 with a .270/.340/.415 effort in 521 Triple-A plate appearances. In 2011, he has a .337/.420/.570 slash line in 102 plate appearances that includes 11 extra-base hits, 13 walks, and just 22 strikeouts. Lobaton was one of the better hitters in spring training as well so it may not be out of the question to see him called up before Chirinos should the Rays run out of patience with their under-performing duo at catcher. As it stands now, Lobaton has the third highest wOBA of all hitters in the International League with at least 100 plate appearances.

Michael Aubrey - Remember him? A long time ago, in a fantasy league far, far, away, fantasy owners chased Aubrey to stash on their fantasy team after the Indians took him with the 11th overall pick out of Tulane. His career has been littered with back troubles and he has only collected 145 plate appearances at the major league level with a .259/.310/.444 slash line. He showed some signs of finally hitting for power last season with the Norfolk team in Triple-A with a .495 slugging percentage, but had just a .235 batting average and a .310 on base percentage. This season, he has a .282/.390/.494 slash line in 100 plate appearances and has 15 walks compared to just eight strikeouts. Adam LaRoche has gone on the disabled list with the shoulder problem and the Nationals have said that Rick Ankiel is likely to replace him on the roster as he comes off the disabled list but as the Nationals fade out of significance, someone like Mike Morse could be dealt opening up a spot for Aubrey to give it one more whirl at the big league level. He currently has the sixth best wOBA in the International League at .411.

Josh Fields - Speaking of bad backs, look who took up residence in the lofty altitudes of the Pacific Coast League to resurrect his career. I saw a note the other day that the Rockies were contemplating bringing Fields back up to the major leagues as his bat has gotten their attention. Yes, it is the PCL, but a .379/.448/.685 slash line in 143 plate appearances is still impressive and he has 16 walks and just 28 strikeouts - both better ratios than his usual work at the major league level. He hit .306 with a .810 OPS in a brief cup of coffee with the Royals last season before joining the Rockies on a minor league free agent deal. Stranger things have happened but it is not as if Ty Wigginton is giving the club anything over on the hot corner and at worst, Fields could give Todd Helton a rest against tougher lefties. I am at least intrigued by what he's doing at the plate thus far this season enough to put some FAAB money down on him in NL leagues with a reserve bench. Fields' wOBA currently trails only Wily Mo Pena, Anthony Rizzo, and what Eric Hosmer did in the PCL before his promotion.

Charlie Blackmon - Fields' teammate with the Sky Sox has a .344/.405/.601 line in 206 plate appearances this season with 11 stolen bases and 27 extra-base hits. He has played right field nearly all season but also has a lot of center field experience as well. He had an eight percent walk rate and a 13 percent strikeout rate for Double-A Tulsa last season and while he has held his walk rate in Colorado Springs, his strikeout rate has jumped up a little bit to 17 percent. An outfield of Carlos Gonzalez, Dexter Fowler, and Seth Smith is not going to give up much playing time and Blackmon also has to fight Eric Young Jr for a shot at a promotion so Blackmon would need someone to get hurt to see any real chance at playing time at the major league level unless the Rockies decide that Dexter Fowler's awful offensive numbers need to receive less playing time. Blackmon's wOBA is in the top 10 of the PCL at .449 which ties him with Brandon Belt for all players with at least 100 plate appearances.

Clint Robinson - This bat really intrigues me from a statistical perspective. He played in the Sun Belt Conference as a member of the Troy Trojans and wasn't drafted until 756 picks into the 2007 draft. He went to Idaho Falls in the Pioneer League and won the league batting title hitting .336 while slugging .593 within its friendly confines. His numbers in Low-A were .264/.333/.472 and he put up a .298/.356/.463 line in the Carolina League in 2009. 2010 was a true breakout year for him as he won the Triple Crown in the Texas League hitting .335/.410/.625 while hitting 75 extra-base hits and driving in 98 runs at Double-A Northwest Arkansas. He has was the teammate of Eric Hosmer before his promotion and now he plays with Mike Moustakas and is putting up another huge slash line of .352/.434/.630 in 189 plate appearances with 24 doubles. 32 runs scored, and 32 runs driven along with a 12 percent walk rate and just a 19 percent strikeout rate. Given that he is quite challenged offensively, the obvious Kila Ka'iahue comps are going to come up but in all honesty, Ka'aihue did not get a fair shake before his demotion. Secondly, both he and Robinson are essentially at a dead end within the organization with Hosmer playing first base and Billy Butler DH'ing for the foreseeable future. Butler just signed his new contract extension so it is terribly unlikely he is going anywhere and Hosmer definitely is not leaving so Robinson really needs an opportunity to open up via the trade market with another organization in order for major league team to be realized for him. Robinson has a .340/.414/.626 slash line in 737 plate appearances involving playing time at both Double-A and Triple-A so eventually, the Royals will have to either give him a chance to fail as they did with Ka'aihue (hopefully a longer one), or move him to another organization with a need for a mostly-DH type player.