By now, unless you are really old school or hardcore, you are finally done drafting your leagues. I had my last draft of the season last night and am glad it is all over with as it gives me seven standard roto leagues and one scoresheet league that I am in where I'm competing with our own Jeff Erickson. I use the term competing loosely as I went 1-5 in my first week thanks to a pitching staff of James Shields, Hiroki Kuroda, Homer Bailey, and other pitchers that were roughed up in the first few games of the season.
Now that you have your 23 man rosters, I know you’re already thinking about who to drop and who to pick up. I know this because I am being bombarded daily with inquiries on Twitter about it. Frankly, unless the move involves replacing an injury like Mike Morse, Scott Baker, or Drew Storen, I am not a fan of moves this early on in the season. What I am a fan of is scouring the minors to find guys I can get on my reserve roster right now as they could be in line for a call-up as Jarrod Dyson was yesterday when Lorenzo Cain was placed on the disabled list with a groin injury. Dyson was already a perfect six for six in the stolen base department on the young season in Omaha. Nobody has had more than two starts or 35 plate appearances in the minors heading into yesterday just yet, but here's a look at how some guys are doing down in Triple-A.
Brian Dozier: He owns a .311/.385/.427 slash line in his minor league career and is off to a scorching start in Rochester for the Twins hitting .458/.536/.708 in 24 plate appearances. Meanwhile, until yesterday’s win over the Angels, the Twins were scoring less than high school freshmen at the prom. The collection of middle infielders for Minnesota have been on base just 12 times all season and have scored a mere three runs. The fan base is already clamoring for Dozier to be called up in a utility role and bears close scrutiny in AL-only leagues as middle infield was not a deep position on draft day. Trust me, I own Chris Getz and Jeff Keppinger in far too many leagues.
Michael Taylor: It does not help that Oakland still has too many outfielders, but Taylor is not sulking in Sacramento as he already has seven extra base hits, 11 runs driven in, and an OPS of 1.228 out of the gate. In order for Taylor to find playing time, injuries have to happen in Oakland—but we all know that has never been a problem in the past.
Travis Snider: He scorched the ball in the Grapefruit League but lost out to Eric Thames and his awesome facial hair. The consolation prize was being assigned to Las Vegas where hitting is more enjoyable than the average night in the casinos and Snider is raking to a .409/.458/.682 start to the season. Snider is my favorite type of post-hype sleeper prospect that others give up on so that you can pick up off the scrap heap on the cheap and hope it pans out later.
Anthony Rizzo: The Cubs are already in mid-season form losing games left and right and Rizzo is raking in Iowa biding his time while the Brian LaHair experiment plays itself out. Rizzo has already found the seats three times this season in an all-or-nothing stat line as his other nine hits are all singles. If you have LaHair, or are in a NL keeper league, you should already be hedging your bets here.
Mike Trout: He did not have the best of springs, but he is currently hitting .433/.471/.633 in Salt Lake City while the Angels try to figure out how to share plate appearances with their crowded outfield and DH situation. Bobby Abreu has already played left field once this season which is one time too many.
Starling Marte: The Pirates prospect has the athleticism to be an intriguing fantasy prospect, but he has yet to talk a walk in 33 plate appearances this season. He does have four steals already but walks would do wonders for his .333 on base percentage.
Will Middlebrooks: Kevin Youkilis does not look that great to start the season and Middlebrooks is a nice insurance policy to have around or if you play in a dynasty league. Like Marte, Middlebrooks is still looking for his first walk of the season as he approaches 30 plate appearances and is hitting .310/.310/.793
Brett Jackson: Good news, he has four walks! Jackson also has ten strikeouts in just 29 at bats and has an OPS below .800 at this early point of the season. The Cubs are rumored to be shopping Marlon Byrd around to free up playing time for Jackson, but the 20/20 ceiling he has is unlikely to be realized in 2012 if he is called up to the majors before June 1st.
Tim Wheeler: Can someone remind him he hits in the Pacific Coast League and Colorado Springs? He is off to a .217/.333/.304 start to the season with more strikeouts (9) than base hits (7).
As far as pitching goes:
Corey Kluber: The 26 year old leads the International League in strikeouts with 18 in just ten innings of work this season. He has won both of his decisions so far but has also walked five in those ten innings. He is repeating his stint in Columbus last season in which he punched out 8.5 per nine innings but also walked 4.2 per nine innings.
Brad Hand: Well aloha there, Mr. Hand. Last season, Hand struck out 71 in 108.2 innings of work for New Orleans but already has 17 punchouts in his first eleven innings of work and he has yet to be scored upon in two outings. Like Kluber, Hand has walked six batters already, but the punchout rate is quite the spike from his career norms.
Casey Kelly: 14 strikeouts and zero walks in 12 innings is impressive, especially when you consider his strikeout rate was just 6.6 last season. The Padres have changed his delivery in that they have moved him on the rubber a bit toward the first base side rather than the middle and the early results are very positive. Joe Wieland got the first call from the farm for the Padres but Kelly could be next.
Kevin Slowey: Who among us are shocked that Slowey is already leading Triple-A in home runs allowed?
Dellin Betances: He is off to an awful start of the season as he have given up ten runs, three home runs, 11 hits, and seven walks in just 8.1 innings of work to start the season.
Neil Ramirez: The Rangers are loaded with pitching and Ramirez is a perfect 2-0 in his first two starts and has permitted just five baserunners in nine innings while striking out ten batters.
Alex Torres: The Rays are not going to have room for him any time soon in the rotation, but he already has 13 punchouts in his first 9.1 innings of work while allowing just four hits. The issue with him continues to be control as he has seven walks already. If he has a future with the Rays in 2012, it could be as a lefty specialist as his career numbers from the stretch are much better than his numbers from the windup.