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Rookies On the Way:
Jason Kipnis, 2B, Indians
A second round pick out of Arizona State, this 24-year old is bound for a late call-up by the contending Indians. A .300 hitter in the Minor Leagues, Kipnis has deployed a nice combination of power and speed at Triple-A this season. Considering second base is currently being help by Orlando Cabrera, who is batting just .244, it seems like promoting Kipnis would actually be an upgrade at the Major League level.
Jacob Turner, SP, Tigers
Just 20-years old, Turner was the ninth overall pick of the 2009 draft and his ability to throw strikes may be enough to earn a call-up to the Big League level. The Tigers are not afraid to bring a young hurler to the Majors, after all, they did with the 20-year old Rick Porcello just three years ago. Turner is able to miss bats more effectively than Porcello, so in other words he has greater potential.
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks seem afraid to let their young players contribute. Heck it took long enough for Brandon Allen to earn the call up to the Majors this season despite blasting 25 home runs last season at Triple-A. The problem here is that Allen, who hit 18 home runs with a .306 average at Triple-A before recently earning a promotion. Then there’s Paul Goldschmidt, a former 8th round pick with 80 home runs through three Minor League seasons. It might make sense to trade one of these two boppers, but with a .424 OBP and a .616 slugging, it looks like Goldschmidt is the one they want to keep.
Desmond Jennings, OF, Rays
The Rays have come to realize that they called upon Desmond Jennings to contribute a bit too early last season. They also are doing a great job of alleviating the pressure of replacing Carl Crawford from Jennings this season by keeping him in the Minors for an extended period. However, do not be confused, Jennings is very much a long-term solution for the Rays. After a mediocre start to the season, Jennings has come on as of late with 12 home runs, 17 steals, and now a .280 average. He still fans a bit too often, but Jennings has all five tools and will make his return to the Big Leagues in the coming weeks.
Kyle Gibson, SP, Twins
The 22nd pick of the 2009 draft, Gibson is a 6’6 right-hander with front of the rotation potential. He hasn’t had the best season so far at Triple-A, as his record is just 3-8 with a 4.68 ERA. However, the number to pay attention to is the 22 walks in 90.1 innings. While his stuff is solid, as suggested by his average of a strikeout per inning, what’s more impressive is his ability to control his entire arsenal of pitches. Improved game-calling by Major League catchers should help Gibson out, but based on his stuff and control, he could be a surprise contributor in the pennant race.
The Rookie Report
Dee Gordon, SS, Dodgers
This 23-year old shortstop may have been rushed a bit to the Majors because of the injury to Rafael Furcal. Gordon is by all means a speedster, who has swiped 50-plus bases in back-to-back seasons in the Minor Leagues.
His lack of power actually plays well at the pitcher-friendly Dodgers Stadium, where deep flies often die at the warning track. Gordon just has to prove that he can get on base and make the plays at shortstop. Gordon was batting .315 through 50 games before his call up to the Majors. If in need of speed, he’s an intriguing fantasy pickup.
Brett Lawrie, 2B/3B, Blue Jays
Lawrie is everything that Blue Jays fans could ever have dreamed of. Just 21 years old, this former first round pick is a British Columbia native who boasts all five tools, particularly power and speed. Though playing in the Las Vegas desert inflates his statistics a bit, you cannot ignore his 15 home runs, 49 RBI, and .354 batting clip through 52 games.
Lawrie was expected to be called up this week before a recent beaning set him back a week. There’s still a chance that Lawrie gets the call to man third base, a position that has become a black hole for the Blue Jays since Jose Bautista moved to the outfield.
Dustin Ackley, 2B
The second overall pick of the 2009 draft, Ackley has made some solid improvements in his second season in the Minor Leagues. There is not a particular statistic that jumps out at you when studying Ackley’s performance, but he is solid across the board.
He is an incredibly patient batter with some pop and speed. Ackley is also a middle infielder, and despite rumors of a move to the outfield, he is likely to man second base when he earns his call up to the Big Leagues.
Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Padres
Mired in last place, the Padres are certainly feeling the effects of letting Adrian Gonzalez go to the Red Sox. On the other hand, through the trade they acquired a monster bat that is tearing up the Minor Leagues and ready for a promotion to the Majors.
We’re talking about 21-year old first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who is currently batting .365 with 16 home runs and 63 RBI through just 52 games at Triple-A. The numbers are a bit surprising, considering Rizzo has never hit for average before, but at this point, the Padres can’t afford to let the Brad Hawpe/Jorge Cantu platoon continue at first base considering both veterans are batting less than .240 this season.
Desmond Jennings, OF, Rays
One of the most hyped prospects in all of baseball, Desmond Jennings may have been a bit overrated, considering people were talking about him as a sure-fire replacement of Carl Crawford as early as last season. The comparisons are understandable since both talents have a similar skill-set, but Crawford was an MVP caliber player while Jennings is just trying to get his career started.
In his first taste of the Majors last season Jennings hit just .190 with two steals in 17 games. The Rays deemed Jennings not ready to man left-field in the Major Leagues, so he is playing at the Triple-A level for a third year in a row. The good news is that Jennings has become more patient at the plate and is starting to drive the ball with more power. He has been far from dominant, but considering the Sam Fuld experiment is starting to go flat, Jennings would be an upgrade.
Jemile Weeks, 2B, A’s
If you missed out on acquiring Rickie Weeks for your fantasy team, you ought to get to know his younger brother Jemile Weeks. A first round pick out of Miami, Weeks is also a second baseman who will get to fill in for the injured Mark Ellis.
Weeks has yet to develop the power of his older brother, but he can supply Oakland with some much-needed offense. Through 44 games at Triple-A, Weeks boasts a .321 average with four triples and nine stolen bases. The big question now is whether Bob Geren will provide Weeks with some regular at bats, or if he’s merely an insurance option behind Scott Sizemore and Adam Rosales.