A reader, obviously not one of this weekly column, asked us last week what the significance of June 1 call-ups is. Omar Minaya was on Mets flagship network SNY on Thursday, helping us explain it.
Minaya said he breaks the general management of a team's season down into thirds:
- In the first 50 games, you see what you got.
- In the second 50 games, you look for what you need.
- Down the stretch in the final months, you let it rip.
(This is off the topic, but coincidentally, Manny Ramirez, your next 50 games, you have to watch them on TV.)
We are still in the first third of the season, but we will switch to Stage 2 right around June. Teams are analyzing their major league talent and organizational prospects now. Soon they will be dispensing their problem players from the majors and likely replacing them from ones from the minors. That comes before they resort to the trade market amid the second 50 games.
We already saw a few moves happen around May 1, including the Matt LaPorta arrival and a slew of disappointments getting ushered back to the minors. It should only mark the beginning of the impact guys, although this looks like a down year for Rookie of the Year candidates.
These players we expect to see in the majors before June 1 and subsequently change the quiet year for rookies (FYI, in this space last year we hit on everyone of the High-Five June 1 guys):
1. David Price, SP, Rays
When Price was ticketed to Triple-A this spring because the Rays wanted to limit his workload, we said he would go 25 innings in Triple-A and come up after a month. It is May, of course, and Price is just one start from reaching that 25-inning mark.
Price hasn't been dominant, but it could be because he is a bit bored in Durham.
Have you seen Bull Durham? Hopefully this Nuke LaLoosh doesn't get into bar fights with his pitching hand.
Price is 1-3 with a 3.92 ERA and .250 batting-average against. He has struck out 21 batters but walked 11, allowing four homers, in 20 2/3 innings. His next start comes Friday night in Charlotte and should be watched like a hawk.
Price is a hot-button guy, because Jeff Niemann is 2-3 with a 5.68 ERA and a 1.66 WHIP through five starts. Coincidentally, Niemann started Thursday night vs. the potent Yankees and couldn't get out of the fourth inning, which could allow Price to take his next turn.
In a complete role reversal of last season, the Rays' low standing in the AL East makes it more likely Price will be the fix for what the Rays need.
2. Tommy Hanson, SP, Braves
Tommy Hanson is living up to the hype so far in Triple-A.
Hanson has struck out at least six batters in every start he's made this season and his past two starts were his best (nine strikeouts in six shutout innings April 30 and 10 strikeouts in six innings of one-run, two-hit baseball May 5). For the season, he has a 1.65 ERA and an eye-popping 48 strikeouts and .179 batting-average against in 32 2/3 innings.
Hanson is going to win NL Rookie of the Year honors, and it doesn't project to be close. Stash him in all leagues immediately. If you own Price and Hanson is available, drop Price for Hanson.
The recent good reports on Tom Glavine (shoulder) might seem to give the Braves pause -- they only want Hanson up to stay -- but Kenshin Kawakami's struggles (1-4, 6.41) open a second door of possibility. If the Braves are not inclined to demote Glavine fill-in Jo-Jo Reyes (0-1, 5.00) for Hanson, they might make a move on Kawakami to slot Hanson.
Either one is fine. Just get this big-time ace in the major leagues ... and on all of your Fantasy teams.
Remember all of this column's warnings about rookie pitchers? Ignore them in this case. Hanson is special.
3. Nolan Reimold, OF, Orioles
All of the talk in Baltimore is about the elite pitching prospects that will eventually come up to fix their rotation woes. It is what is making so many overlook the hot start of Reimold, whose name sounds like rhyme-old, according to the spring training PA announcer.
Reimold has hit .393 (35-for-89) with eight homers, 25 RBI, 19 runs, four steals, a .476 OBP and a .753 SLUG through 25 games. The Orioles are halfway to 50 games on knowing what they have with Reimold: A potential star.
It won't take much longer for them to realize what they don't have with Pie (.158 with 9-for-57). Luke Scott is supposed to DH full-time and that is what we expect he will do once Reimold arrives.
4. Luke Hochevar, SP, Royals
A funny thing has happened while Greinke was busy becoming this year's Cliff Lee, the Royals have become a sleeper contender. Heck, they currently look like runaways in the AL Central.
That means, development be damned, get the talent up to help the big club while the getting is still good. Sidney Ponson, despite some decent outings, is still Sidney Fatson (1-4, 5.91).
Hochevar, who threw eight shutout innings Thursday night against Memphis with nine strikeouts, is doing his part back in Triple-A, too. He entered that outing a perfect 5-0 with a 1.13 ERA, .213 battting-average against and 21 strikeouts to 10 walks in 32 innings pitched. He even has a complete-game shutout on his resume, something that rarely happens with prospects on pitch counts in the minors.
Hochevar belongs back in the majors and he is going to get another shot as soon as the Royals realize a good start needs to become a great first half.
5. Matt Wieters, C, Orioles
Among the projected June 1 guys at the end of this spring, we had to seriously doubt Wieters would be No. 5 on this list. Arguably the No. 1 prospect in baseball, Wieters has been the least impressive of this year's High-Five June 1 call-up predictions.
Sure, he was held up by a sore hamstring in mid-April, but the thought was the Orioles would go to the well on their future catching star by mid-May. It might take all the way until June as the Orioles wait for Wieters to stay hot for extended period.
Wieters, hitting .324 in his past 10 games after returning from the injury, is merely .297 (22-for-74) on the season with just one homer and a .405 SLUG. It really won't matter what Wieters' numbers look like in Triple-A, though, because Gregg Zaun is acting his age (39) in the majors: .157 (11-for-70) with just one homer and two RBI. That homer came Tuesday, coincidentally amid Wieters' recent hot streak.
While Wieters is last on this list, he is also the most certain to impact all Fantasy leagues immediately upon his arrival. The thin catcher position got thinner with the struggles of Brian McCann (eye), Geovany Soto, Russell Martin and the DL stints of Joe Mauer (back), Ryan Doumit (wrist) and Jorge Posada (hamstring).
Heck, if Victor Martinez wasn't so resurgent or Bengie Molina so darned consistent, we would be inclined to consider Wieters the No. 1 catcher to have in Fantasy Baseball once he arrives in the majors.
And one honorable mention ...
Chris Tillman, SP, Orioles
Remember our mention of the Orioles' rotation woes? Tillman is savior No. 1 in Triple-A. Jake Arrieta and Brian Matusz will be down the road, perhaps after guys like Troy Patton and David Hernandez get initial looks.
Tillman is the 100 mph piece in the Erik Bedard trade that also netted the Orioles burgeoning star Adam Jones and temporary closer George Sherrill. Tillman hasn't been touched in Triple-A yet, going 3-0 with a 2.52 ERA, .209 batting-average against and 27 strikeouts to 10 walks in 25 innings through five starts.
We don't like the fact he will be called up to save a sunken last-place team, but if Jordan Zimmermann is worthy of being owned in 70 percent of CBSSports.com's leagues, Tillman will too come time of his call-up.
The only problem with Tillman right now is he is just 21 years old. The Orioles have no good reason to usher him up too soon. However, a few more dominant starts and the Orioles might just be inclined to reward him.
Each week, we break down all the minor leaguers who are owned in at least 1 percent of our Fantasy leagues. This will be your essential guide to unearthing the elite prospects before they hit the big time.
Top AL rookies to date
- Scott Richmond, SP, TOR -- Off to a great start, but he is sell high candidate. He is not supposed to be this good.
- Elvis Andrus, SS, TEX -- We thought he would struggle at the plate, but he has been great.
- Travis Snider, OF, TOR -- He is still slumping, but the streaky hitter is the most likely to stay on this list.
- Chris Getz, SS, CHW -- He has held off a slew of challenges, which suggests he is solid long term.
- Andrew Bailey, RP, OAK -- A's are saying he could be used as a co-closer with Brad Ziegler.
- Honorable mentions: Rick Porcello, SP, DET; Ryan Perry, RP, DET; Ricky Romero, SP, TOR; Koji Uehara, SP, BAL; Matt Palmer, SP, LAA; Derek Holland, RP, TEX; Phil Coke, RP, NYY; Brett Cecil, SP, TOR; and Trevor Cahill, SP, OAK.
Top NL rookies to date
- Dexter Fowler, OF, COL -- His season is still being carried by his six-steal game.
- Shairon Martis, SP, WAS -- We don't give him much of a chance to sustain it, but he has been good.
- Jordan Zimmermann, SP, WAS -- He had a reality check in his third start, but he is an elite arm.
- Micah Hoffpauir, OF, CHC -- The power in place of Milton Bradley has been solid, but he needs a starting job.
- Jason Jaramillo, C, PIT -- He has been solid for NL-only owners, replacing Ryan Doumit.
- Honorable mentions: Brian Barden, 3B, STL; Colby Rasmus, OF, STL; Jordan Schafer, OF, ATL; Joe Thurston, 2B, STL; Ronald Belisario, RP, LAD; Dan L. Meyer, RP, FLA; Jason Motte, RP, STL; Felipe Paulino, RP, HOU; J.A. Happ, RP, PHI; Mitchell Boggs, SP, STL; and Danny Herrera, RP, CIN.
You can e-mail Emack your Fantasy Baseball prospect questions to DMFantasyBaseball@cbs.com. Be sure to put Attn: Prospects in the subject field. Please include your full name, hometown and state. Be aware, due to the large volume of submissions received, we cannot guarantee personal responses to all questions.