MLB Real (Rookie) Talk

Canadians: can’t live with ‘em… that is all.

Photo Credit: Toronto Sports Nut

It’s a goddamn rookie bonanza here on MLB Real Talk, so bust out your favorite International League team cap and let ole’ Kid Clutch regale you with some prospect stories going ‘round the league:

Rumors were circulating yesterday that third base prospect Brett Lawrie would make his MLB debut Friday. That may be put on hold since he left yesterday’s AAA game after getting hit by a pitch on his hand. No word yet on the severity of the injury of the injury or if it would delay his call-up, but Lawrie deserves to be discussed with the numbers he’s putting up in the minor leagues. Prior to 2011, Lawrie was a prospect oozing with offensive potential, but it had not translated to awesome numbers. The Blue Jays told Lawrie they wanted to see him be more selective at the plate, and while his 7.2 BB% is actually lower than last year’s mark (7.7), he’s cut down on the strikeouts (17.9 K%; 21.3 last year) and is having an incredible year. With a .354/.413/.677 slash line in 250 PAs and outstanding counting stats (15 HRs, 49 RBIs, 51 Rs, 11 SBs), it’s clear that he has nothing left to prove in the minors. It’s worth noting that he’s doing all this in the PCL, where scrubs like Sean Rodriguez and Brandon Wood look like first ballot Hall of Famers. Still, a .323 ISO is mighty impressive from a dude who never even reached the .200 mark at any other level. Unfortunately for Yahoo! owners, you can’t make the preemptive strike and add him now as he is not in the player pool. That said, be prepared to spend your FAAB ducats or put in a waiver claim when he gets the call as Lawrie could make a big impact immediately.  

Jordan Lyles made his MLB debut yesterday, tossing seven effective innings of two run ball against the Cubs with four strikeouts, five hits, and no walks. He’s a top 50 prospect according to Baseball America and was enjoying a solid season at AAA prior to the call-up (59 IP, 2.57 ERA, 6.25 K/9, 2.44 BB/9). However, he is not a dominant pitcher. His fastball sits in the 89-91 range mostly, though he can touch the mid-90s. His secondary pitches are not of the swing-and-miss variety, but what Lyles lacks in pure, top-of-the-rotation talent, he makes up in control and moxie. He “knows how to pitch” despite lacking overpowering stuff, netting himself a fair number of ground balls while also keeping the ball in the park. Still, there’s not much fantasy upside here. The low number of whiffs in particular means he’d have to be pretty damn good in the ERA and WHIP departments to warrant consideration in 12-team mixed leagues. For now, consider him a spot starter.

Though Jordan Lyles’ debut generated mild buzz, Juan Nicasio’s call up came without any fanfare. For what is worth (and believe, my word is worth a lot), I’d rather own Nicasio than Lyles. For starters, Nicasio’s strikeout potential is way higher than than that of Lyles. Though he hasn’t pitched in AAA, Nicasio embarrassed AA hitters this year to the tune of a 10.01 K/9. He also has good control (career 1.99 BB/9 in minors). His eagerness to keep the ball over the plate can lead to him getting raked, but the fact that he’s committed to getting ahead of hitters and has the ability to put them away with strikeouts is very encouraging. Couple that with his solid ground ball rate and low HR totals in the minors, and you have a very intriguing fantasy rookie. Nicasio averaged 94.7 mph on his fastball in his impressive MLB debut against the Cardinals (7 IP, 1 ER, 6 H, 2 BBs, 2 Ks) and is worth a grab in deeper mixed leagues for pitching starved owners. Sure there is some risk in trusting a Rockies SP at home, but considering it will cost you nothing to roster him right now, there really is nothing to lose in taking the plunge here.



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Starbonell is the co-founder of Sons of Roto and one of the most insightful and colorful fantasy analysts in the game. Mixing intelligent and well-researched advice with an entertaining style of writing that is easy to digest, Starbonell is the king of info-tainment.