*A special from Lawr Michaels at Creative Sports
Well, I trust you all had a great Mother’s Day weekend, acknowledging mom and the women in your household! Of course, another goofy and fun week shot past us, with James Paxton shutting down the Jays, Justin Verlander losing as an Astro for the first time despite a strong performance, and with Ronald Acuna, Jr. proving not only that he belonged with the start of the season, but making the Braves look deadlier and deadlier all the time.
It is true, as Atlanta has a wad of prospects behind Acuna, Jr. and Mike Soroka, so keep an eye on this most fun of teams. In fact, it is really fun — as I like to note from time-to-time — watching teams with a plan, rebuild, and successfully adhere to that plan, even if it means a few rugged years in the standings. Such are the Braves. And, watch out for the Athletics, Padres, and Phils now and towards the end of the season, and the White Sox and Tigers in the future.
Actually, the high-priced prospect of the week in my view has already been relegated, but I am going to write about him and a few more folks I think might — or might not — be of interest this week.
Yohander Mendez (P, Rangers): Mendez is the guy I recommend, who did indeed come up briefly this week and was then sent back down. Just 23 in January, Mendez scored #171 on my Top 250 (7-8, 3.79 at Frsico) this year and #14 in 2017 (12-3, 2.19 with 123 whiffs over 118 frames at three levels). Mendez has now twirled 16 innings in the majors, with an 0-1, 7.31 and has similarly struggling at Round Rock this year at 0-3, 6.66, but this kid has moved up fast and is still pretty young, having turned 23 in January. Since the Rangers are going nowhere this year, Mendez makes a good bet to come up for a spell and show what he can do. I think he will prove to be good.
Freddy Peralta (P, Brewers): Peralta certainly had a much more auspicious debut than Mendez could have, whiffing 13 over 5.6 frames, allowing just a hit and a pair of walks to the Rockies. Peralta was 5-1, 3.63 at Colorado Springs thus far this season and has notched 470 strikeouts over 400 minor league frames. Peralta is a really good gamble right now under any format.
Guillermo Heredia (OF, Mariners): I am indeed a fan of Heredia’s, though his numbers have tumbled a tad since his recall to take the slot of Ichiro Suzuki. But Heredia stands to gain the lion’s share of play with Robinson Cano down for a protracted period, as the logical move in Seattle is to put Dee Gordon back at second and cover the outfield with a back-up. The Cuban import has only 99 minor league games to his credit but pretty good speed and he can obviously hit (.303-4-47 with 68 runs over those games) and should settle in with everyday play, possibly even earning a few swipes (well, I am hopeful).
Dustin Fowler (OF, Athletics): Speaking of speedy outfielders in the American League West, the Athletics advanced Fowler, ideally their center fielder of the future, to take the fourth outfield slot (Mark Canha still hold the main gig). The 23-year old former Yankees prospect, who missed most of last year due to injury. was hitting .310-3-16 with eight swipes at Nashville and should work in plenty of playing time as the Oakland player rotation affords time to everyone. He could be quite good, especially swiping bags atop the potent up-and-coming slugging lineup.
Tyler Clippard (P, Jays): Exit Roberto Osuna for an undetermined amount of time, right? Actually, I am thinking Osuna is gone for the season, for better or worse, so that means someone is going to get the saves in Toronto, and Clippard, who already has one in lieu of the alleged wife-beater, has not only held the job before (he has 62 of them), but the guy is remarkably consistent for a pitcher. I got him where I could, anyway!
Danny Valencia (1B, Orioles): This is a cautionary pick. Over his career, Valencia is .243-8-38 over 118 April games and .271-19-71 over 125 May games, but come June he’s .283-15-57 over 122 games and .279-14-66 over 130 July contests. Over the past two weeks, Valencia is hitting .391-2-7, raising his average from below the Mendoza line to .264 and appears to be heating up, per prescription. Keep and eye on Valencia and take advantage of the hot spell — he had a monster Mother’s Day with four hits including a home run, three runs and four RBI.
Mark Reynolds (1B, Nationals): He is 34 and just off the DL, but Reynolds clobbered 30 homers last year, driving in 97. And though he struck out an awesome 175 times, Reynolds walked 69, giving him a .352 OBP. He is probably no worse at this point than Ryan Zimmerman and is probably a power boost in most leagues, so Reynolds is worth a gamble, but bad numbers should facilitate a drop.
Mikie Mahtook (OF, Tigers): With Leonys Martin down, Mahtook was recalled. Kind of like Tyler Naquin sort of disintegrated last year after his solid 2016, Mahtook has collapsed this year. While the outfielder batted a solid .276-12-38 with 50 runs scored and six swipes, this year he struggled and went to Toledo where he hit .250-3-9 with 14 runs scored and has hit 40% of his 22 hits at AAA for extra bases. If Mahtook gets into a groove, he will stick for the remainder of the season.
Tune into the Tout Wars Hour on the FNTSY network, hosted by me, with Justin Mason and featuring Lord Z every Sunday, 2-4 PM ET/11 AM-1 PM PT, and you can follow me @lawrmichaels and Creativesports 2.0.