Alan HarrisonFantasy Baseball

Minor League Buzz: Carlos Correa, Vincent Velasquez & Francisco Lindor

Carlos Correa, Major League Baseball’s number one overall draft pick in 2012, provided enough punishment to his Minor League opponents to start the 2015 season and is on his way to Houston to join the parent club. In 53 games between Double-A Corpus Christi of the Texas League and Triple-A Fresno of the Pacific Coast League, Correa triple slashed .335/.407/.600 10 home runs, 18 stolen bases, 44 runs scored and 44 batted in.

And Correa did all this in pretty good form, too. The Astros’ shortstop displayed the speed and power combo while still being selective at the plate — Correa maintained at least a 10% BB% or better at each stop through the minors since 2013 — and not being overly aggressive — he never struck out more than 18.8% over that same time frame. This may be somewhat apples and oranges, but for comparison fun, Joey Gallo owns a career 48.1% K% and Joc Pederson owns a 29.9% K% while they both take their fair share of walks.

What should we expect from Correa once he debuts tonight? Steamer suggests a .251/.305/.383 with seven homers and 11 swipes the rest of the way assuming he’ll earn 338 plate appearances. Seems very reasonable. He’s 48-of-63 in stolen bases attempts since the 2013 season with what scouts refer to as “average” or “50” grade speed on the 20-80 scouting scale, so 11 stolen bases doesn’t seem like it will be hard to achieve, assuming he adjusts well at the plate and gets on base.

If he’s not already owned in your league/format, you should open up a new window in your browser and add him now. He’s still available in 45% of Y! leagues at the time of this writing. Note: Just as I was about to run this article, I noticed that Brett ran a piece on Correa’s fantasy value on RotoGraphs, which is much better written and goes into a bit more detail. Give it a read here.

The youth movement continues for the Houston Astros as they are also set to promote Vincent Velasquez — the organization’s third-best prospect according to our colleague at FanGraphs Kiley McDaniel — to the league in time to start Wednesday against the Chicago White Sox. Velasquez has struggled to stay healthy in his short career — already undergoing Tommy John and missing all of 2011 — but appears primed and ready for a shot at the rotation given his recent progress on the farm.

In five starts at Double-A Corpus Christi of the Texas League, Velasquez is 3-0 with a 1.37 ERA (2.13 FIP), a 0.91 WHIP and a 27.7% K-BB%. Baseball America suggests the right-hander excels on the mound thanks to a fastball that sits 92-95, but touches 96 with late life to pair with a plus changeup. “He may have the highest ceiling of Houston’s pitching prospects,” says Baseball America, which at the time included the likes of Mark Appel, Mike Foltynewicz and Lance McCullers. A decent group of players to be bunched with, considering what we’ve seen from Folty and McCullers to start the ‘15 campaign.

Steamer has yet to post a rest-of-season projection for Velasquez, but the team already indicated he’ll be jumping right into the rotation with Roberto Hernandez off to the bullpen. I’m adding Velasquez in all keeper, dynasty and AL-Only formats if he’s not already owned and would consider him in deeper 12-team and 14-team mixers if your pitching staff is struggling.

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Rumors swirled about a potential call up for Cubs’ infielder Javier Baez after being asked to play third base, but all of that is on hold now after Baez suffered a non-displaced fracture on his left ring finger sliding head first into second base on Sunday. The injury will have Baez sidelined approximately four-to-eight weeks, unfortunately just as his approach at the plate was taking a turn for the better.

After dealing with a family issue early on in the year, Baez returned to post a .314/.386/.536 with eight homers and seven stolen bases. Those in baseball circles knew that Baez had the potential power/speed combination, it was his plate discipline that was keeping him from showing those tools off. A strikeout rate north of 40% in 52 games with the Cubs last season needed to be fixed. And through 37 games at Triple-A Iowa of the Pacific Coast League, it seemed as if Baez was on the right track with just a 25.7% K%, but we’ll have to wait at least another month to see if the progress continues in the right direction once his finger is healed up.

On Sunday, The Cleveland Indians optioned shortstop Jose Ramirez to Columbus, immediately resulting in the name Francisco Lindor swirling around Twitter at a high rate of speed. But despite being named the International League’s Player of the Week thanks to a .423 (11-26) average with 6 2B, 2 3B and a HR, it appears we’ll have to wait just a bit longer to see the Indians’ top rated prospect. Lindor was considered an option for the Indians, but it sounds as if the brass wants to wait until the shortstop’s and and oblique are completely healthy. When he does arrive, we can expect a plus defender that eventually hits for some average and steals some bases. Keeper, dynasty and AL-Only leagues need apply for now.

Aaron Nola, the Phillies’ second-best prospect — and “best pitching prospect by a large margin” — according to Baseball America, has been dealing to start the year at Double-A Reading. The former first-round pick out of LSU is 7-3 with a 1.76 ERA (2.79 FIP), a 0.87 WHIP and a 17.1% K-BB% in ten starts. He’ll get his start skipped this week in an effort to earn the right-hander some rest, presumably to keep him fresh for later in the year if-and-when Cole Hamels and Aaron Harang are dealt to other clubs. But even if they don’t it doesn’t seem as if Jerome Williams or Sean O’Sullivan are good enough options to keep Nola on the farm for the remainder of the season. Like Lindor, keeper, dynasty and NL-Only leagues need apply for right now, but Nola could be deeper mixed-league relevant come season’s end.

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