Yeah, it's two days late. Sue me.
Once again we're going to take a look at players who are likely available in deeper leagues, and who could provide some real value down the road.
Virgil Vasquez, Tigers: The 25-year-old has never been a top prospect, but he's increased his minor league strikeout numbers for three straight seasons even as he's moved up the ladder (5.70 K/9 at Double-A for 83.2 innings in 2005; 6.65 K/9 in '06 in a repeat at Double-A; 7.37 K/9 last season at Triple-A) and he's off to a flying start this April for Toledo, racking up a 14:2 K:BB ratio through two starts (10.2 innings).
Armando Galarraga, also off to a great start, will get the first chance to fill in for Dontrelle Willis but his minor league track record is even spottier than Vasquez's, and even if Galarraga sticks there should be other openings in the Tigers rotation down the road given than Jeremy Bonderman still doesn't appear quite himself, and Kenny Rogers is being considered for the Republican VP slot to make John McCain look younger. If he keeps rolling the Tigers will give Vasquez a look, and despite their early struggles Detroit has an offense that will provide great win opportunities for their starting pitchers.
Dallas McPherson, Marlins: Angels fans won't need a refresher course on McPherson's history, but for those of you who don't know his sad story he's a former 2nd round pick who made his big league debut in 2004 after cranking 40 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A that season, and he even saw nine postseason at bats for the Angels in '04. Back problems started up in training camp the following spring and never let up, limiting him to 320 big league at bats over the next two seasons before back surgery cost him all of 2007.
Cut loose by the LA A's of A, Florida gave him a chance only for McPherson to battle nagging injuries in camp. Jorge Cantu ended up winning the third base job for the Marlins, and McPherson was sent down to Triple-A to try and get his career back on track.
Two weeks later, things are looking very much up for the 27-year-old. Cantu has committed four errors through 11 games, and McPherson already has three home runs in 19 at bats for Albuquerque. The team also has Wes Helms sitting on their big league bench should they decide to give up on Cantu, and their lineup hasn't had many problems hitting home runs so there's no pressing need for his power, but McPherson's path to a starting job appears much clearer. All he has to do now is stay healthy.