Fantasy Baseball 2013: 5 Minor Leaguers You Need to Pick Up Before It's Too Late
While not always the obvious play in fantasy baseball, picking up hot minor league prospects can prove to be extremely fruitful.
Just ask anyone who owned Mike Trout last year.
And while there may not be another Mike Trout waiting in the minor leagues this season, there are still some smart pickups available for vigilant fantasy managers.
Watch these players closely over the next few weeks, but don't wait too long to pull the trigger. Their potential may begin to show at the big league level sooner rather than later.
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The third overall pick in the 2012 draft, 22-year-old catcher Mike Zunino has been fitted with some lofty expectations by the Seattle Mariners.
Up to this point in his career, he's done nothing but live up to them.
Already playing at the Triple-A level, Zunino has already notched four home runs and 18 RBI in his first 10 games.
And while he's currently in a light slump, it's nothing compared to the career-long slump of Mariners first baseman Justin Smoak.
Currently hitting .204 with no home runs and three RBI, Smoak is at the point in his career where he can no longer be considered a prospect. He needs to produce at the major league level, but he has yet to prove he can.
And while catcher Jesus Montero has been just as bad, he's three years younger than Smoak at just 23 and had a solid if unspectacular 2012.
Look for Zunino to occasionally play at first base over the next few weeks with Triple-A Tacoma, and if Smoak continues to be a waste of space in the Mariners lineup, Zunino will almost certainly have a shot on the big stage.
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Chris Archer must have been a tad discouraged over the past two years when he looked up at the pitching depth the Tampa Bay Rays possessed at the major league level.
This year, he might have found an opening.
The 24-year-old starter has been average in his first three starts of the season, posting a 4.20 ERA and .246 BAA with 18 strikeouts in 15 innings.
But where Archer has been average, the artist formerly known as Fausto Carmona has been poor.
Roberto Hernandez has gone 0-3 with a 5.79 ERA in his first three starts with Tampa Bay, and his track record shows that things might not get better.
In his six full major league seasons before being caught as a faux Fausto, which left him suspended for most of 2012, Hernandez only had two seasons with an ERA below 5.25.
If the Rays choose to bail on Hernandez, Archer will be the man to take his place.
Tail Hernandez over the next few starts, and if things don't change, make a move for Archer.
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Tyler Pastornicky is on this list because of a potential opportunity with a different club than the one he plays for now.
Pastornicky, a 23-year-old shortstop playing for Triple-A Gwinnett in the Atlanta Braves organization, has been a force to be reckoned with at the plate this year.
Currently hitting .390 with Gwinnett, Pastornicky has attracted the attention of the team that drafted him in 2008, the Toronto Blue Jays.
According to ESPN's Jim Bowden, the Blue Jays are interested in trading for Pastornicky in response to the injury of Jose Reyes.
Pastornicky played 76 games for the Braves last season and proved he is capable at the major league level. If he does go to Toronto, look for him to make the trade worth it for the Blue Jays.
And even if he stays with the Braves, don't forget about him.
Andrelton Simmons, the man who beat out Pastornicky for the Braves' shortstop role, is only batting .200 in the midst of a hot Atlanta team. If Simmons' struggles continue or worsen, another opportunity for Pastornicky wouldn't be out of the question.
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Jarred Cosart's name isn't as high-profile as the other players on this list, most likely because he pitches in the Houston Astros organization.
That doesn't mean the talented young starter can't be a daffodil among the dandelions.
The 22-year-old is currently with Triple-A Oklahoma City and has been stellar to begin the season, striking out 15 in 12.2 innings over the course of his two starts while allowing just one run.
The rotation at the Astros' major league level, however, should probably be playing at the Triple-A level.
Of the five men in the rotation, only Phil Humber has an ERA lower than 4.70.
And with Bud Norris likely to be traded to anybody wanting him, manager Bo Porter will need Cosart even more with the club.
Look for Cosart to receive a call-up by July, if not sooner.
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Wil Myers may be the beneficiary of a horrendous Tampa Bay Rays offense.
Currently in the outfield for Triple-A Durham, Myers is hitting .304 over his first 12 games, over 90 points higher than the Rays' overall batting average this season.
The Rays' .289 OBP and .324 slugging percentage could definitely use a boost as well.
The 22-year-old was originally going to be given plenty of time to develop by Tampa Bay, but under the current circumstances, the organization could be forgiven for going back on its word.
Myers will be called up in weeks rather than months, and look for the Rays to give him regular at-bats immediately.
The biggest no-brainer on this list, Myers will hit and hit well for many years to come.