Welcome back for this week’s edition of the NL Wire.
Last week’s edition was focused mainly on a group of older, somewhat grizzled veterans, so for this week, I decided to return to the fountain of youth, so to speak.
This week’s selections are focused on a trio of youngsters, two of whom are returning for another go-around with their big league clubs, while the other is in the process of transforming himself from a top prospect into a solid rotation contributor.
Check ‘em out...
Homer Bailey, SP – CIN – Owned in 27 percent of CBS leagues
Homer (the pitcher, not the poet) has been on quite an odyssey thus far in his professional career. He’s been given the opportunity to stick in the Cincy rotation for four seasons, starting in 2007.
At one point, he was a highly touted prospect who began his tenure in the Reds’ system at 18 after being drafted seventh overall in 2004. Prior to the 2007 season, Bailey was named the top prospect in the Reds’ farm system by both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus.
Since then, very little has gone Homer’s way in the majors. His first shot came in June of ’07 after 12 starts for AAA Louisville, where he went 6-3 with a 3.08 ERA and 1.20 WHIP. However, in only nine starts split between June/July and a September recall, he was 4-2 with a 5.78 ERA and 1.57 WHIP. Bailey surrendered 43 hits in 45 innings and had an underwhelming K:BB ratio of 28:28.
His fortunes did not turn around until the tail end of the ’09. He finished the season with a 4.53 ERA in 113 innings with 86 K’s while posting a record of 8-5. Subsequently, he made the Reds’ rotation out of spring training, but his good fortunes came to an end. Bailey was forced to the DL in May, and the Reds considered moving him to the bullpen during his rehab.
However, a few weeks ago he was summoned back to the big league club and given another shot at the rotation. In his two starts since returning, Bailey is 2-0 and has allowed one ER in 13 innings with 10 K’s and only two BBs. He managed to lower his ERA by one full run in only two starts.
We can only hope that Homer has finally found his way at the ripe old age of 24 and that he continues his hot streak. Bailey has always had the tools to succeed but never seemed to stay on track long enough. As a fresh arm for the playoff-contending Reds, Bailey’s value is on the rise for this season (already up 12 percent this week) and surely for next season in keeper leagues.
Eric Young, 2B – COL – Owned in 10 percent of CBS leagues
EY2 was summoned from AAA Colorado Springs on August 14 and has started every game since. He had a previous stint for the Rockies in ’09 that lasted 30 games, but he was in the starting lineup only 11 times. The speedster led all minor leaguers back in ’06 with 87 stolen bases, but at 25 he is hardly a top prospect.
Throughout his minor league career, Young’s batting average has hovered between .290 and .300 and his OBP between .359 and .407. In addition, he’s been a legit stolen base threat, compiling 303 SBs in five-plus seasons. He’s been a consistent run-producer, scoring over 100 runs twice and driving in as many as 63 runs. Needless to say, he’s a well-seasoned minor leaguer ready for an opportunity.
The Rockies would like to get a long look at Young through the rest of the season and give him that long-awaited opportunity. They are hoping he can be the spark plug and offensive catalyst teams look for in the leadoff spot.
In 10 games since his recall, Young has 12 hits, five stolen bases, and a .293 average. His on-base percentage is a respectable .341, and he has been crushing right-handed pitching with a .417 overall batting average in 19 total games this season.
Young is garnering attention in mixed leagues as well as NL-only leagues. His ownership will jump to 18 percent next week but is still low enough that he’s flying under the radar in most leagues. Whether you play in a rotisserie league or a H2H points league, Young can be a valuable contributor down the stretch. He will be firmly entrenched in the leadoff spot and will be playing his home games at Coors Field, where he’s hitting .333 on the season.
Bud Norris, SP – HOU – Owned in 22 percent of CBS leagues
David Norris, more commonly known as “Bud” in baseball circles, was previously considered the top pitching prospect for the Astros. He was drafted in the sixth round in 2006 and got his first taste of the majors in 2009. That audition lasted only 10 starts before he was shut down to prevent injury after logging 175 combined innings.
Bud did manage to garner national attention when he was named the Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Year after leading the league with a 2.63 ERA. In 19 starts he posted only four wins, but he had a 112:53 K:BB ratio in 120 innings to add to his league-leading ERA. His performance clearly earned him a shot at the Astros’ rotation to start the ’10 season.
Norris has had a rocky season thus far for the lowly Astros. In 18 starts he has only five wins and a 5.42 ERA to go along with his mediocre 1.50 WHIP. On the bright side, he has 108 K’s in 99.7 innings. Norris seems to struggle the second and third time against the opposing lineup, posting a 5.86 ERA versus 3.69 the first time through.
Norris appears to be turning the corner as of late, going at least six innings in seven straight starts. In his last three starts, he hasn’t allowed more than two runs and has thrown in a 14 K effort against the Pirates. Since the All-Star break, he is 4-1 with a 4.14 ERA and 43 K’s in 43 innings with an opponents’ batting average of .232.
It’s time to strike while the iron is hot and pick up Norris. He’s putting together a nice run of starts and has logged slightly less than 100 innings. He’s in no danger to be pulled from the rotation, as the Astros have very little left to play for this season. Norris should be a mainstay in the Astros' rotation for years to come.
Joe Blanton, SP – PHI – Owned in 40 percent of CBS leagues
Blanton is 4-1 since the break with a 3.63 ERA. He has 44 K’s in 52 innings and is a solid starter for a playoff-contending team with a potent offense.
Randy Wolf, SP – SF – Owned in 50 percent of CBS leagues
Wolf is 3-0 with a 2.67 ERA in the month of August and a 20:6 K:BB ratio over that span. He seems to be finally finding his groove in Milwaukee.
Blake DeWitt, 2B – CHC – Owned in 13 percent of CBS leagues
DeWitt has been hitting leadoff for the Cubs recently and is batting .338 with three HRs in 22 games since his trade from LA. He’s batting .304 since the break—solid production from the 2B position.
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