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Minor Developments: Notable promotions

By Rob Steingall

Yahoo Sports

About the only way Rangers prospect Jurickson Profar was going to reach the majors this season was an injury to one of the Rangers starters, and Ian Kinsler’s tender ribs have given him a chance. The bad news for fantasy owners is that he’ll most likely be splitting time with the far less exciting and marginally talented Leury Garcia, meaning you’ll need to temper your expectations. If you’re in a yearly league, I’d recommend not burning a high waiver priority on him, as there will be plenty more promotions to come of players who have a better chance of keeping a full time gig, since Profar will surely be back down on the farm upon Kinsler’s return. The young shortstop hasn’t been setting the world on fire down at Triple-A (.278, 4 HR, 19 RBI, 6 SB), but the talent is obvious, and he’s the most exciting fantasy prospect in the minor leagues. The Rangers have a very good problem on their hands trying to find playing time for him in the future, although his best avenue to a full time gig may be a trade out of Texas.

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Jake Odorizzi pitched five strong innings in his MLB debut. (USAT)

Another promotion that appears to be temporary, but is certainly worth noting, is that of Rays pitching prospect Jake Odorizzi. He looked pretty good during his Monday debut (5 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO), and may have earned himself a look as a spot start during his next turn. Odorizzi doesn’t overpower you with his arsenal, but mixes in four pitches well and displays good control of his offerings. He’ll never be an ace, but a decent strikeout rate with usable ratios is a valuable fantasy asset in deeper leagues. Pick him up when he’s up for good. The Rays being great at developing pitchers is an added bonus.

Pirates shortstop prospect Alen Hanson is starting to turn it on for High-A Bradenton, batting .350 during the past ten games, raising his season average to .272 (1 HR, 19 RBI, 10 SB). Hanson is an athletic shortstop with modest pop and very usable speed, making him an attractive target to those in deep dynasty formats. Hanson’s tools are still making the transition to usable skills, so you’ll need to be patient awaiting his arrival. With little in the way at short in Pittsburgh though, he could breeze through the system if things keep clicking. A best-case scenario for his arrival is mid-to-late 2015.

Another name making noise in the minors is Phillies pitching prospect Jesse Biddle, who is mowing down hitters for Double-A Reading (2.95 ERA, 42.2 IP, 20 BB, 51 SO). Biddle sits in the low-90s with his fastball from the left side, bove average velocity for a lefty. His fastball comes in a bit straight, although his delivery adds a bit of deception, which helps play up his heater. Biddle throws an upper-60s curveball with good movement, and is developing his slider. Mechanically, he’s very sound, and is able to repeat his delivery well. The progress of his changeup will determine how effective he is in the majors, making this season crucial in his development.

We’ll close this week with a long time favorite prospect of mine, White Sox catcher Josh Phegley, who has finally put it all together at Triple-A (.336, 10 HR, 27 RBI). The bat has always been his calling card, with defense being the main question regarding his ability to handle a full-time catching gig in the majors. Tyler Flowers and Hector Gimenez have both been pretty brutal offensively, so it may not be long before Phegley gets a look. He could make for an intriguing AL-only pick up.

Rob Steingall is a syndicated fantasy analyst. You can follow him on Twitter (https://twitter.com/#!/rsteingall) and email prospect questions to MinorDevelopments@yahoo.com
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