April 12, 2010 JunkyardJake.Com
Mike Leake , Cincinnati Reds, SP Hey, wait a minute, did we just waste the last few weeks anticipating the future exploits of Aroldis ‘The Cuban Missile’ Chapman? Was this not the left-hander who could tame wild beasts, alter the weather, and defeat third world illiteracy with the magnificence of his 100 mph fastball?
Then, abruptly, just after most of us all learned how to spell his first name, it was like Janet Reno sent her SWAT team to apprehend the 22-year old Cuban defector in the middle of the night, loaded him on a bus and sent him down to Triple-A Louisville. Not to fret, because the Reds have probably made much worse decisions than choosing former Arizona State wunderkind Mike Leake to fill their number five rotation spot.
Leake is a two-time Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year, who really hit his stride in 2009, when he finished with a sparkling 1.71 ERA and 162 strikeouts in 142 innings. Although he doesn’t make headlines with his 90 MPH fastball, it’s his advanced control, plus changeup and the way he persuades hitters to constantly hit harmless groundballs which makes him an interesting prospect.
Leake was especially stingy with walks over at Arizona State, granting just 1.68 free passes per nine innings over his three-year amateur career. Certainly, if he can generate even half the success that he enjoyed at the collegiate level, he will make a worthwhile fantasy acquisition in the early weeks of the season. Available in 50 percent of all CBSSportsline leagues.
Ian Desmond , Washington Nationals, SS The polls are in, and while Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank, both Congressional Chaplains, the Obama family dog, Senator Blabby Blowhard from the great state of South Morontopia, and even the guy who dry cleans John Roberts' judicial black robe have all fallen into the teens on their approval ratings, the Washington Nationals have somehow escaped the wrath of the electorate, at least temporarily.
So what’s the justification for this blind optimism? Well, it can’t be Washington’s pitching staff as their best pitcher, Stephen Strasburg, was sent down to double-A before the season where he will work on destroying the confidence of minor league hitters for the next couple months.
One possible reason for the early season enthusiasm is the arrival of rookie shortstop Ian Desmond. Drafted at the age of eighteen back in 2004, Desmond has always shown a penchant for stealing bases, but really didn’t show much else for his first few years. In 2008, he started showing a bit of power hitting 12 HRs at the AA level, and then earned a promotion in 2009 to triple AAA, where he hit .354 over 55 games.
He won the starting SS spot for the Nationals with a great spring, so it’s his job to lose and he makes a solid fantasy pickup in the early going. Available in 55 percent of all CBSSportsline leagues.
Austin Jackson , Detroit Tigers, OF Heralded as one of the top prospects in the NY Yankees farm system for the past couple years, Austin Jackson was essentially exchanged for Curtis Granderson in a trade between the Yankees and Tigers this offseason.
Actually, to be fair, the trade was more confusing than that, as it also involved sending Ian Kennedy and Edwin Jackson to the Arizona Diamondbacks, some pork belly futures contracts, and an attempted return of Staten Island to the Lenape Indians. (They respectfully declined, and who could blame them).
Time will tell if this trade works out, but amazingly enough, this might be the most frugal roster move the Yankees have made since they traded for Roger Maris in 1959. (Granderson is scheduled to make only $5.5 million this year, or about 10 million less than the typical retail price the Yankees typically pay for shiny new players.)
As for Austin Jackson, he doesn’t have Granderson’s 30 HR power, but he is a smooth defensive player who could very well hit .280 with 10-15 HRs and 20 plus stolen bases. He’s off to a good start this season and the Detroit Tigers seem committed to him for the immediate future so Jackson makes a good pickup to round out your fantasy outfield in mixed leagues. Available in 47 percent of all CBSSportsline leagues.
Allen Craig , St. Louis Cardinals, 1B/3B/OF It’s hard to get too excited about the rookie whose primary job on the St. Louis Cardinals is possibly backing up Albert Pujols at first base. That’s kind of like expecting Carrot Top to fill in for Conan O’Brien, or winning the thankless and lonely job as the George Clooney stand-in who specializes in only scenes that call for the actor to get hit in the face with a barstool.
So why is Allen Craig an interesting waiver prospect? Well, for one thing, he is probably funnier than Carrot Top, just by default. More importantly though, his minor league numbers suggest a player who might be ready to start launching the ball over the walls at Busch Stadium if given the chance anytime soon.
Over the past three seasons as he progressed through the Cardinals minor league affiliates, Craig has demonstrated consistent power, blasting 24 HRs in 2007, 22 in 2008 and then 26 HRs in 2009. All three seasons, his average exceeded .300, including his .322 BA at AAA Memphis last year.
Although Craig is not known for his defensive skills, he does play third base in addition to first base, and should also see time at the corner outfield spots. Available in 98 percent of all CBSSportsline leagues.
Other Players To Consider:
Dallas Braden , Oakland A's,SP
Available in 42 percent of all CBSSportsline leagues.
Drew Stubbs , Cincinnati Reds,OF
Available in 44 percent of all CBSSportsline leagues.
Gaby Sanchez , Florida Marlins,1B
Available in 77 percent of all CBSSportsline leagues.
Carlos Gomez , Milwaukee Brewers,OF
Available in 62 percent of all CBSSportsline leagues.
Jaime Garcia , St.Louis Cardinals,SP
Available in 69 percent of all CBSSportsline leagues.