This week’s cover boy, Taijuan Walker, deserves more ballyhoo then he got in my Mariners preview two weeks ago. He has been a top ten prospect in all of baseball for the past two seasons and at 6’4, 235 he has the build and the naturally nasty stuff to be a thoroughbred top of the rotation ace for a decade. With a similar build and body type to teammate King Felix Hernandez, the comparisons are going to come. I do not believe he will replace Hernandez as “The King”, though I do think Seattle will find themselves blessed with a King and an Ace. One helluva poker hand! Walker has been a favorite of mine throughout the fantasy draft season and I was lucky enough to get him on most of my teams. As the end of the preseason neared, savvy owners began to take notice of the dominant preseason Walker was putting together and started snatching him up in the middle rounds. His preseason was ridiculous; 27 IP, 10 hits, 2 earned runs (both solo HRs), 26 Ks and 5 BBs equalling a 0.67 ERA and 0.56 WHIP. I know it is only Spring Training, but keep in mind this is a kid who struck out 9.7 per nine over 453 minor league innings. Featuring a 95.2 MPH average fastball and possessing a devastating 73-76 MPH 11 to 5 curveball that he has learned to throw for strikes, he is going to make some excellent hitters look foolish this season. He also mixes in an 87 MPH change-up that will give hitters a lot to think about. If you are in a shallow league and he is sitting on the waiver wire, go get him now! If he is rostered, make an offer to the other owner and acquire yourself an ace at less than ace value. At the price he cost most owners on draft day, Walker is the kind of payer who will be on a high percentage of championship teams this season.
Late Spring Developments
Sonny Gray almost goes Destiny’s Child on Opening Day. Gray took a no-hitter into the top of the 8th when Ryan Rua singled to lead off. It was still a stellar eight inning, one hit effort that brought Gray to 1-0 on the young season. I touted Gray as a breakout star in my A’s Preview and this is great start to me living up to Zoltar status.
Josh Hamilton exonerated. Hamilton will not serve a suspension for partying like he resides in Vice City. The only hurdle now is recovery from a shoulder injury. A return is anticipated sometime in May. Look, we all know what a healthy, drug free Hamilton can do, so if he is a free agent in your league grab and stash him if you have the DL spot to do so.
Johnny Giavotella beats Josh Rutledge for Angels starting 2B gig. I am filing this under “who cares”. I wrote about Rutledge’s inability to produce in Coors making him un-rosterable. Heeeere’s Johny! Giavotella offers no power, no speed, no plate discipline and will bat 9th. Not that it matters in fantasy, but he is not even a good fielder. He does not even have youth on his side to suggest maturation is on the horizon. I don’t care how deep your league is or how desperate you are at 2B, there will be better options.
Andrew Heaney sent to minors. Another “who cares”. I labeled him as a bust in my Angels preview and now everyone can forget him.
Ryan Rua named Rangers starting LF. I mentioned the ugliness of the Rangers’ left field situation in my Rangers preview. Then, out of left field (pun intended),Rua gets the job. In the minors he hit 32 homers in 2013 and twice stolen double-digit bases. He is worth watching. Rua got off to a great start by singling off Sonny Gray in the 8th inning Monday, saving the Rangers the embarrassment of being no-hit on Opening Day.
Waiver Wire Rescue
Stephen Vogt, C/1B, OAK – Depending on your league settings, you will have to wait a certain number of games for Vogt to gain catcher eligibility. If you are in a deep league or a two catcher league the wait will be worth it. Vogt offers 20 HR potential and position versatility.
Marcus Semien, SS, OAK – 2B and 3B eligible, Semien will soon be SS eligible as well. A high on-base player who profiles to be a 15/15 guy with all those positions should be owned in all leagues until he proves he can’t hit at the big league level…not saying he can’t.
Ryan Rua, OF, TEX – Reference above. Rua should be owned in deep leagues and monitored in shallow ones.
In the coming weeks I will fill you in on under performers who you can cut loose. At this point, I will give everyone the benefit of the doubt that a good season is on the horizon. There is no question that there will be plenty of The Walking Dead on everyone’s rosters before the season is over.
“And Boggs Never Walked Again”
Josh Hamilton, OF, LAA – Shoulder, expected return in May.
Garrett Richards, SP, LAA – Knee Surgery, expected return mid to late April.
Yu Darvish, SP, TEX – Tommy John Surgery, out for the season.
Coco Crisp, OF, OAK – Elbow surgery, expected return late May.
Josh Reddick, OF, OAK – Oblique strain, expected return April 11th.
Sean Doolittle, RP, OAK – Shoulder, expected return early May.
Jarrod Parker, SP, OAK – Tommy John Surgery, expected return mid-season.
Chris Taylor, SS, SEA – Fractured wrist, expected return late April.
Should I roster injured closers like McGee, Parnell or Doolittle? from Buster in California
Listen here, Buster! HAHA. Just kidding. Yes. You should roster them all if you can. McGee and Doolittle had brilliant seasons as closers in 2014 and are due back in about one month. Parnell had an outstanding season in 2013 as closer and is due back in a couple of weeks. With the recent development of Jenrry Mejia being placed on the disabled list, the door is wide open for Parnell to claim the spot he was so effective in before undergoing Tommy John Surgery.
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