Cleat Geeks

Playoff Preparations

 

Playoff season is almost upon us and there a few things you need to be paying attention to for your fantasy season. Players on pitch counts, teams in contention sitting their starters, but always one thing we talk about around this time is going to be: who are the young players who are going to be called up I need to be paying attention to? So let’s get to it.

OFFENSE

Vladimer Guerro Jr. – There’s one name everyone is talking about, and that’s the son of BDV (Big Daddy Vladdy). Vladimer Guerro Jr. has had a historic season, batting .400 (that’s batting average, not obp) with 18 home runs across AA and AAA. He has busted his way into our hearts much like Juan Soto. BUT! I will say I do have one hint of caution with Vlady Jr. He’s been in the minor leagues for just 2 years! That’s such a short amount of time, I’m always very cautious with these players as the minor leagues usually take a bit longer for teams to figure out a player’s weakness. So it can be that it’s not that Jr. doesn’t have weaknesses, but they just haven’t been figured out. Hopefully Jr. turns into the next Soto, but still, for future seasons, I’m a little cautious with Jr. and even still with Soto. I do have some hope for Jr’s future seasons though because of one thing – he’s the son of BDV. And that sort of tutelage can help a struggling player get through tough times. I’m obviously not saying Soto can’t continue his brilliance, but all I’m saying is to be cautious with these players who have such limited time in the minors. Because of Jr’s unique pedigree, I’m going to say, get some shares of him now, as he’s sure to be called up soon!

Eloy Jimenez –  This was my guy for 2018 as far as prospects go. I have more faith in Eloy hitting the ground running even than I do with Vlady Jr… but the problem is… those White Sox. They are trying my patience waiting on him! I know they want to hold off to keep control of him, but he’s batting .330 with 21 home runs! This guy is the real deal, and while I do believe the league will make some adjustments to him for next year, I’m really excited for him this year. Again, you can quote me (for this season only) I think Eloy is going to be as good or better than Vladimer Guerro Jr. stats-wise when he’s called up. They both can be monsters, but Eloy is I believe a bit more polished and I think he’ll adjust immediately to MLB pitching for 2018.

PITCHING

Josh James – James is the expected replacement for Lance McCullers now that Lance has gone down. James has been extremely impressive in the minor leagues with a stat line of 3.27 in 104 innings with 44 walks and 160 ks. However he’s had a few struggles lately giving up 3 earned runs in the last 3 starts. On top of that, the walks are not what you’d like. Consider however, over those 3 starts, his walks weren’t too bad (1, 1, 2) which might indicate his recent struggles are tied to him trying to throw more strikes. That happens sometimes when management says walks are what’s holding them back from the majors. So Josh James is a bit of a mystery, where he could be great, or he could really struggle when promoted. So far, I’ve liked how pitchers have been handled by Houston though as we’ve seen hard throwers such as Verlander and Cole really excel in this system, and Josh James also is a hard thrower. Still, the walks could be a problem, so don’t get too attached, but if you’re looking for a high upside prospect, he’s probably the one.

Taylor Widener – Ahhh, finally a name you may not have heard of. Well, perhaps you should have. Widener has been wrecking the minor leagues with a 2.49 era in 119 innings, 151 ks and only 36 walks! All things being equal, he could be my favorite pitcher to excel once promoted to SP. The only problem is, it’s IF he gets promoted and IF it’s as a SP. He’s with the Diamondbacks, who have also been a great club for improving pitchers, however, there isn’t an obvious spot for him to slide in. Clay Bucholz is probably the most likely choice, but while he’s pitching as well as he is, they’re unlikely to make that move while in a race. All the same, Widener is a great talent and is worth following in case someone struggles or an injury occurs.

*Tyler Glasnow – Yeah, he’s not a rookie, but he’s been reborn! And I wanted to put him in this article as I’ve been a believer in Glasnow for awhile. I was nervous that he’d never be as valuable as he could be when the Pirates moved him to the bullpen, but after being traded, he’s getting stretched out, ironically with Tampa Bay, which says something about how much they believe in this guy. Glasnow has changed his approach with his fastball and it’s made all the difference. He originally was attempting the Pirates philosophy of pitching low in the zone, but you could tell if you watched him, he never had much confidence with that strategy, and that’s what he’s said since moving to Tampa. And if you watch him now, he seems to have all the confidence in the world. But most importantly, he’s not walking guys! That was often considered the biggest issue, and now that he’s seemed to have improved his control, he’s looking like a top tier pitcher. Now Glasnow’s next start may be against Boston, and they’re very good at hitting the fastball, and making pitcher’s pay for their mistakes, so I’m not particularly confident with that start, but if he’s available, pick him up! You don’t have to start him vs. Boston, but his K numbers are too valuable not to take a chance on him even if he struggles down the line.

Good luck in the playoffs!

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