Futures Exchange: Win some, lose some
Ramirez catching on in Texas; Storen storming toward DC
Sometimes, I swing and miss.
And sometimes, it's important to come clean.
With that in mind, I give you the following exchange with a fantasy enthusiast recently:
Fantasy owner: Thoughts on Luis Atilano? Worth $1 in my NL-only keeper league?
Me: Hmmm ... well, he's the No. 5 guy with the Nats now, right? That means he's got, what, about a month to show what he can do (obvious reference to Stephen Strasburg's eventual arrival)? That makes me think no, it's not worth it, though for $1 maybe you'll get lucky.
Fantasy owner: I'll pass, thanks.
This is an abridged version of Fanasy Advice Theater, but you get the gist. I could try to claim I told the guy to go for it, but that was a lukewarm endorsement, at best. Of course, Atilano has won his first two starts, allowing just three runs in 12 total innings. The fact that he's walked five and struck out just two might mean the long-term future isn't so great, but the two wins alone would have been worth the $1 investment.
Win some, lose some. Doesn't hurt the 'ol confidence, though. There's plenty of that as this week's Exchange gives you a new slate of young players worth keeping an eye on.
In the bigs
If you're in an AL-only league and you need catching help, this could turn out to be a good week for you, at least in the short-term.
The first possibility, coming from Texas, is a bit of a surprise. Both Taylor Teagarden and Jarrod Saltalamacchia are in the Minors. Teagarden was optioned because he wasn't playing well. Salty was on a rehab assignment, but the Rangers officially optioned him so he could play there longer. The result is he'll have to spend at least 10 days in Oklahoma City.
That opened the door for Max Ramirez, who is now Matt Treanor's backup. Ramirez has always been able to hit, and now it seems the Rangers like the improvement he's shown on the defensive end, as well. While Treanor did homer on April 27, he's just gone just 3-for-18 in his last six games. Ramirez didn't exactly have a stellar 2010 debut (0-for-4, 3 Ks), but his bat could find its way into the lineup and help out your squad, at least for the next week or so.
Sticking in the American League West, it's looking more and more likely that Kurt Suzuki is heading to the disabled list, though the A's haven't made the move yet. If Suzuki does end up on the shelf -- he's missed five games already -- then Josh Donaldson will be the likely beneficiary. Considering Landon Powell and Jake Fox, the team's other catching possibilities, aren't exactly lighting the world on fire (Fox isn't a long-term catching solution anyway), a Donaldson callup might be interesting. He's hit since coming from the Cubs to the A's in 2008 and owns a career .279/.371/.460 line. He's slugging .522 so far this year in his first taste of Triple-A. Again, not a long-term fix by any means, but you might get a week or so of production out of him if he indeed comes up.
A phone call away
While that Strasburg fellow gets most of the ink -- deservedly so, considering his .115 average against, 23/3 K/BB ratio and 0.52 ERA -- it was the Nationals' other 2009 first-round pick who got moved up from Double-A to Triple-A first. That would be closer-of-the-future Drew Storen, who was taken nine picks after Strasburg.
Storen had the benefit of throwing 37 pro innings last summer and probably shouldn't have started the year in Double-A anyway, so this promotion shouldn't really surprise anyone. Neither should the fact the right-hander had a 0.96 ERA and four saves in seven games with Harrisburg. He gave up just five hits (.161 average against) and one run -- a solo homer -- while walking one and striking out 11 in 9 1/3 innings. In his brief pro career, Storen has 15 saves, a 1.75 ERA and an 11.7 K/9 rate in 46 1/3 innings. I know Matt Capps has been getting it done so far this year, but Storen's going to make an impact on that bullpen before the year is over and that closer job should be his, even if it's not until next year.
A year away
A quick pat on the back here: Last week, I said that Royals lefty Mike Montgomery should get to Double-A soon. Voila, he's there, and he's starting Friday night for Northwest Arkansas.
At what point do people take Koby Clemens seriously? He was drafted by the Astros, I'm sure some people thought, because his dad pitched for the team at the time. He scuffled at the outset, spending two years with Class A Lexington and having some difficulty settling into a defensive home. He then moved up to Lancaster and the California League and had a monster year, though the doubters just claimed it was the result of playing in a hitter-friendly park. Clemens himself knew he'd have to prove it at the next level for people to believe.
Well, believe. Clemens, now 23 years old, looks like he's settling in as Double-A Corpus Christi's first baseman, with the power bat to show for it. Clemens leads the Texas League with seven homers and ranks second with his .605 slugging percentage. I'm not saying to label him with superstardom just yet, but it's time everyone took him a little more seriously, no?
Further down the road
About two years ago, I did a story on two-sport athletes in the 2008 Draft. One, Casey Kelly, has taken off and is pitching in Double-A. Another was Destin Hood, taken by the Nationals in the second round that June.
Hood has moved along slowly and is making his full-season debut right now. He's only 20, so it's not like he's stalled developmentally or anything like that. And he's flat-out raking. To date, Hood is hitting .368 over his first 21 games, leading the South Atlantic League. The amazing thing is that he might just be scratching the surface. Hood still needs work on his plate discipline (three walks, 28 Ks), his power hasn't really come yet (five doubles, one triple, one homer) and his speed hasn't translated on the basepaths. It might take him a while, but you'll be thanking me when he's ready to hit the big leagues.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.