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Collette Calls: Fun with Early-Season Numbers

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 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.

One of the things I don't want to get into this season is trying to predict when prospects are going to be called up. The easiest thing to do is that as long as there are no major injuries on the 25-man roster, look for bigger prospects to come up by mid-June.

That said, there are definitely some guys putting up some Playstation-like numbers so far in the minor leagues and while they may not mean much right now, they are certainly fun to look at. Some of the fun factoids with different categories heading into play Thursday:

*There are 15 different players with slugging percentages of .700 or higher right now with Tyler Austin of the Yankees leading everyone with a .907 figure as he has 12 extra-base hits and just six singles.

*There are 45 different players who have an on-base percentage of at least .450 so far this season with the ageless wonder Bobby Scales showing all of the kids how it is done with a .537 mark. He has 19 hits this season and 10 walks while striking out just four times.

*There are 55 players with at least 10 walks on the season. Ryan Langerhans, now with the Angels, setting the pace with 16. His slash line: .333/.525/.548.

*One guy has 10 or more steals and it should come as no surprise to anyone that it is the Reds' Billy Hamilton. Hamilton is 11-of-14 heading into Thursday but also has a .474 OBP and has seven walks and just nine strikeouts in his first 49 at-bats. Those are good rates for a guy that walked just 52 times while striking out 133 times last season. Way, way, way down on the list is Gary Brown who is just one for three in steals this season and is hitting .208/.306/.226 during his awful start to the season. Yes, it is an excellent buy-low opportunity for anyone who is freaking out over his slow start.

*16 different hitters have already whiffed 20 or more times on the season. Jai Miller, one of the hot names in spring training, has returned to his old habits and has already whiffed 25 times in his first 48 at-bats. Charlie Jones of the Giants has done him three worse as he has struck out 28 times in 51 at-bats.

*Minor league veteran Justin Christian is hitting an unbelievable .490 this season while 67 other players are hitting at least .350 so far. The most notable name would be Travis Snider who is raking at a .417/.491/.750 clip in Las Vegas while waiting for an opportunity to open up in Toronto. He hit very well in spring and he is continuing to hit well in the pinball machine in Vegas. Further down the list, we find Mike Trout hitting .390/.439/.559.

To steal a line from Jeopardy, here are some other notable potables:

*Derek Norris is coming off a disappointing season batting average wise. The good news is that he is hitting .326 on the young season. The bad news, he has zero walks in his first 49 plate appearances which is strange for someone who is usually much more patient than that. He does already have 10 extra-base hits in the PCL that include seven doubles, a triple and two home runs. Kurt Suzuki plays more frequently than most catchers so Norris is unlikely to see a callup or get decent playing time after that callup unless Suzuki is either hurt or traded.

*Tyson Gillies is right alongside Norris in that he has zero walks in his first 55 plate appearances. Gillies is in Double-A Reading and has plenty of speed to burn, but has just one stolen base on the season due in part to a .291 on-base percentage.

*Tony Campana has his track shoes on in Iowa. He is 8-of-11 in stolen base attempts but more importantly, is getting on base at a .355 clip.

*Starling Marte could join the Pirates sometime this season, or perhaps sooner if they game scores continue to resemble soccer matches. Marte is already 7-of-8 in steals this season, but a .316 on-base percentage is limiting his opportunities and two walks compared to 12 strikeouts is part of that problem.

*Holy Toledo - Brad Eldred leads the minors with eight home runs in his first 57 plate appearances. Power has never been Eldred's issue but making contact has been and a 3:13 BB:K ratio puts him on an early pace for the International League MVP award.

*Anthony Rizzo - he continues to crush the ball in Iowa and his slash line is up to a gaudy .370/.404/.667. He did this same thing last year for Tucson and then came up and looked like a hot mess for the Padres. One has to hope it was a learning experience last season and that he has made the necessary changes to his swing to tighten things up as he was way too easy of an out last season after his recall.

*Evan Gattis has an even more impressive slash line of .435/.509/.848 in his first 57 plate appearances. Still, it is tough to overlook the fact he is 25 years old and playing in A ball while putting up those kinds of numbers.

Stolen Base leaderboard:

1. Billy Hamilton (Reds, A+): 11
2. Markus Brisker (Blue Jays, A-): 10
3. Jeff Kobernus (Nationals, AA): 9
4. Tony Campana (Cubs, AAA): 8
5. Delino DeShields Jr. (Astros, A-): 8
6. Kyrell Hudson (Philies, A-): 8
7. Theo Bowe (Reds, A-): 8
8. Rico Noel (Padres, A+): 8
9. Gauntlett Eldemire (Phillies, A-): 8
10. Alex Castellanos (Dodgers, AAA): 7

Extra-Base Hits leaders:

1. Brad Eldred (Tigers, AAA): 16
2. Alex Castellanos (Dodgers, AAA): 13
3. Alen Hanson (Pirates, A-): 13
4. Tyler Austin (Yankees, A-): 12
5. Roger Kieschnick (Giants, AAA): 12
6. Brad Miller (Mariners, A+): 11
7. Blake Tekotte (Padres, AAA): 11
8. Ronnie Welty (Orioles, A+): 10
9. Michael Taylor (A's, AAA): 10
10. Brandon Barnes (Astros, AA): 10

Next week, we'll take a look at the pitchers who are off to hold and cold starts, but if you have questions about them in the meantime, please use the comments below.