By Moe Koltun, Matt Cott, and Matthew Schwimmer of Roto Analysis
In recent weeks there have been a ton of impact prospects called up to the big leagues. In our weekly article, we at RotoAnalysis are going to profile a few of the most important guys and break down their performances, their talents, and their fantasy upside.
Gerrit Cole, RHP, Pirates
The #1 pick of the 2011 draft, Cole was a top prospect from the moment he touched a minor league mound and has lived up to his billing. After being called up recently Cole has carried the Pirates to 2 comfortable wins. From a scouting level, there’s no doubt that Cole has ace stuff – since he was in college scouts have described him as having some of the best raw stuff of any pitcher in the minor leagues. The few issues they had were with his attitude and lack of command. 2 starts in, Cole’s command looks great as he hasn’t walked a batter in any of his 12 innings. However, this has come with a drop in strikeouts that nobody was exactly expecting, as Cole has just 3 strikeouts in 12 innings. One other worrying note is that Cole is throwing his fastball just under 80% of the time – that would be the 2nd highest in the big leagues. He has the offspeed stuff to be quite successful but appears to be a little cautious to use it against MLB-level hitters. Cole should have a solid, not spectacular, finish to the season – his billing as a prospect is legit and he has made strides of improvement but until he starts really striking out batters and really puts it all together, I’d sell on his hype.
Wil Myers, Outfield, Tampa Bay Rays
After a disappointing 2011 season, Wil Myers went into 2012 with a lot to prove, and prove he did. After absolutely tearing up Triple A to the tune of 13 homers and a .343 average through 35 games, Myers got called up to Double A in the Pacific Coast League. The PCL is known as an enormous hitter’s league, so it wasn’t surprising when he continued that success. However, after being traded to the Rays and subsequently called up to Triple A, Myers struggled early this season posting a .289 average with 3 homers in April and a .255 average with 6 homers in May. After making some adjustments to his swing, Myers went on another tear in June, hitting .339 with a .696 slugging including 9 extra base hits through 14 games, which garnered him a call to the bigs. I expect the same pattern to follow—Myers will struggle to start, but after making some adjustments, will come back all the stronger for it. So, I wouldn’t expect much fantasy production for the next month or two, but by the time September comes around (and particularly looking forward to next season) look for Myers to be a legitimate contributor in both power and average.
Zack Wheeler, RHP, New York Mets
Acquired from the San Francisco Giants for Carlos Beltran, Wheeler arrives on the scene and is immediately tied to the other young Mets phenom Matt Harvey. In addition to making his major league debut in the second game of a doubleheader, in which Harvey pitched the first, both righties displace elite fastballs and have impressive strikeout numbers. However, it is not fair to compare Wheeler to Harvey just yet as Wheeler has some control issues that need to be worked and needs to perfect his breaking pitches. This was all summed up in Wheeler’s first start as he walked five batters while striking out seven and allowing no runs in six innings of work. For the rest of the season, expect a bumpy road for Wheeler as he will show signs of brilliance while at the same time experiencing growing pains. However, in the long-term, Wheeler should be classified amongst the leagues best if he continues to make improvements.
Mike Zunino, Catcher, Seattle Mariners
The baseball industry was shocked when the Mariners called up top catching prospect Mike Zunino. Zunino began the minor league season smoking hot, but cooled considerably throughout the year. Although the Pacific Coast League is a strong hitters league, Zunino’s home park is a park geared for pitchers. This is shown in his strong home and road splits:
Home: .135 average with 1 homer
Away: .333 average with 10 homers
In the short run, expect Zunino to display power, but struggle to provide owners with too much batting average and I would anticipate an average around .250 this year. In the long term, Zunino has the chance to be an elite offensive catcher who hits for average and elite power.
Agree? Disagree? Questions? Tweet @RotoAnalysis and be sure to follow Moe @MoeProblems, Matt @KidCotti21, and Matt @Schwimingly. Check out their work on RotoAnalysis.com, as well as The RotoAnalysis Fantasy Sports Podcast.