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Minor Developments: Cubs' cache

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The Cubs recently made a huge prospect splash with the Jeff Samardzija/Jason Hammel trade, acquiring Addison Russell from the Athletics. Russell has missed most of the year due to a hamstring issue, but was hitting .333 for Double-A Midland before the deal that sent him to Chicago. Russell is a tremendous athlete with good instincts and tools that should allow him to stick defensively at short. At the dish, he shows excellent bat speed with a contact-oriented approach, using the whole field to spray line drives. The power is still developing, and 15-20 homers aren’t out of the question in his prime. The Cubs now have an embarrassment of infield riches, boasting Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Arismendy Alcantara, as well as Russell. It would be throwing darts to predict where all these guys end up on the diamond, but each are worth owning in dynasty formats.

Staying in Chicago, Cubs outfield prospect Jorge Soler recently returned to the diamond after a lengthy injury layoff, and is punishing baseballs once again. Out since May with a hamstring injury, Soler has gone 5-for-9 in his first two games back, smacking two home runs. While the injury has kept him from seeing pitches and developing his pitching recognition skills, it clearly hasn’t affected his power, which some scouts grade highest (80). He’ll likely finish out the year at Double-A, with an eye on the majors in 2015.

With the news that Ricky Nolasco is experiencing elbow discomfort, is it possible the Twins finally give top pitching prospect Alex Meyer a look? Fantasy owners sure hope so, as they big right-hander has put together a solid season at Triple-A Rochester (83.1 IP, 3.46 ERA, 93/39 K/BB). He features a huge fastball and wipeout slider, could be a huge boost to fantasy owners down the stretch. If you’re in need of pitching and have the roster space, Meyer is worth a speculative add in all formats.

The Yankees have had a bit of bad luck with prospects recently, but that could be changing with pitcher Luis Severino, who has skyrocketed up prospect lists with his 2014 efforts. Between Charleston and Tampa, the Yankees' Single and High-A affiliates, Severino has dominated hitters (84.1 IP, 2.56 ERA, 90/19 K/BB) with a 93-96 MPH fastball and slider/change secondary combination. The 20-year old has a good feel for his arsenal, and is still developing his secondary pitches, which both flash plus at times. Here is a great scouting report on Severino from the always excellent Mike Newman over at RotoScouting.com. If you’re a dynasty player and he’s available, make the add.

The Yankees have another interesting prospect rising through their system in second baseman Robert Refsnyder. Making the move from the outfield has been a slow adjustment for the former College World Series Most Outstanding Player (2012), but he’s making positive strides, and scouts feel he could play an average second base given some more development time. His calling card is his bat, which fills a serious organizational need at second, and has been on fire all season long across Double and Triple-A (.333, 11 HR, 43 RBI, 8 SB). While it would be prudent he remain on the farm to continue his transition to the infield, if the Yankees feel he gives them the best chance to reach the postseason, it wouldn’t be shocking to see him in the majors at some point during the second half. AL-only players should file his name away in the event of a promotion.

News out of Houston is that first overall pick Brady Aiken has some elbow damage, and the club is renegotiating his contract to reflect this concern. The original agreement reached was for $6.5 million, but with this new medical information, the Astros are trying to get him to sign for somewhere in the $5 million range. Aiken remains a high upside dynasty stock with top of the rotation potential, thanks to his polished arsenal from the left side. If a dynasty owner is jumping ship over these injury concerns, look no further than the recovery of Lucas Giolito, another high ceiling prep arm who recovered from Tommy John surgery and is now dominating the minors.  Be a buyer.

We’ll close this week with Blue Jays outfielder Dalton Pompey, who is becoming a hot name in trade rumors this summer. The toolsy prospect has been slow to adjust to Double-A pitching (3-for-33), but was excellent in High-A (.319, 6 HR, 34 RBI, 29 SB), giving hope that this is just a small bump in his develop. He’s shown a good understanding of the strike zone during his minor league career, to go along with great speed, making him a candidate to hit atop a major league lineup in the future. His power continues to develop, and as a switch hitter, there is plenty of upside here. While he may not be fully ready for the show until 2016, he’s someone to immediately add in dynasty formats.

Follow Rob on Twitter @rsteingall

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