Royce Lewis Rolls Into Town Wearing Pink Like Kirby

As the fantasy community mourned the destruction of Minnesota SS Carlos Correa’s middle finger this week, we also wondered if such an injury would be the spark that lights a major league candle for Royce Lewis. The Twins wasted no time in promoting him, making the announcement before we learned that Correa’s finger was not broken as first reported. Even so, it’s the middle finger of his throwing hand, and it was damaged badly enough that initial examinations suggested it was broken. I don’t know when you last made the throw from shortstop over to first base, but you used your middle finger to do it. I suspect Correa will DH for a while before he goes back to short, giving Lewis some runway to establish himself as a viable big league option. If he does, the team might try to find room for him in the outfield. Don’t drop him yet.

Graduated from Volume 1, Oneil Cruz Control: SS Royce Lewis, 3B/1B Jose Miranda, 3B Elehuris Montero, C MJ Melendez, 1B/3B Juan Yepez, 2B/OF Vinny Capra.

Now like Jock Jams we move on to Volume 2.

1. Seattle RHP George Kirby (AA)

Bit of a cheat here as Kirby was No. 3 on the list when news broke Saturday that he’d be called up to start Sunday’s game. He hasn’t thrown more than five innings in AA, but some of that is likely just the Mariners playing it safe because he could’ve gone deeper into a lot of those games, having racked up 32 strikeouts and a 0.89 WHIP in 24.2 innings across five starts. The NFBC’s quirked up rules means he might not be available in your spendingy redraft leagues even after throwing Sunday’s game.

2. Miami RHP Max Meyer (AAA)

Meyer was picked up this week in my 12-team, 5-keeper league with a season-long limit of 50 transactions. I reacted like a person who’s just been highway hypnotized and snaps back into himself when the wheels feel the rut-rut-rut off the side or middle of the interstate. Pretty easy to fall asleep at the wheel for little stretches of road when you’ve got 15 leagues, but this one stayed in my blood like that near-death rush of dozing off while driving 70 miles an hour down Fury Road. Mad Max was third on that initial stash list, and I didn’t stash him despite that league’s settings bending toward starting pitching. I’ve never played in a league with a moves-limit before, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. I kind of like the combo of daily lineups with an overall moves limit, but I also like to pick a player up just to look at him mixed in with my roster and see what shakes loose.

My team is playing well, so I’m trying to store up some flexibility for the stretch run and playoffs, but this one stung. There’s also a minor league component in the settings, whereby each team can store one player for the season. This rule, I know I hate. I drafted Julio Rodriguez with my first pick in the draft (my sixth player) only to learn he was carried over for free as somebody’s minor league pick from 2021, at which point the team that Julio decided he’d never trade him. Tough look. But enough about the complications of joining a league mid-stream as a replacement team: let’s go back to Miami like Will Smith where we could hide out in a beach-side bungalow.

Meyer has aced AAA this season, recording 39 strikeouts and a 0.86 WHIP in 31 innings. Prospect Hobbs has long loved Meyer’s ability and is on course to be proven right in buying the dip as his star seemed to fade this winter for reasons of . . . check notes . . . hearsay? I’m not 100 percent sure why people faded him a little except that the whisper mill dropped him in the reliever bucket.

3. Boston 1B Triston Casas (AAA)

Dobby Malbec is slashing .145/.233/.224 with one home run in 24 games. Casas has been hitting all season but especially this past week, slashing .364/.375/.682 with one home run in 22 at bats. Boston is theoretically a contending team, albeit a last-place contending team with a 10-and-17 record. From the outside looking in, this one is tough to understand. Teams like the Red Sox shouldn’t be worried about service time for corner infielders, and maybe they’re not, but it’s hard to explain this one any other way. Dalbec had a hot second half last year, I suppose, but he also had a .298 on base percentage and a 34.4 percent strikeout rate.

4. Baltimore C Adley Rutschman (AAA)

Catcher isn’t as thin as it used to be, but Rutshman would still be an instant starter in just about any fantasy league. He’s fresh off the IL with five walks and one strikeout in eight games, slashing .429/.529/.607. Worth your while to make a quick lap to see if he got dropped in your leagues. He’d be number one here if I trusted Baltimore to bring him up before June.

5. Pittsburgh SS Oneil Cruz (AAA)

I have to wonder if Cruz is pouting a little bit in AAA. He told reporters he doesn’t want to play outfield. Looks like he’s pissed off all the time, trying to force the issue by hitting every pitch a million miles. He finally started taking his walks last week, working his way to six free passes over the last six games. This kind of one-month-in patience is often a prelude to a loud stretch for hyper-talented bats like Cruz, but I’m officially worried about him. Minor league life is just so much worse than big league life, riding buses instead of planes, staying on couches instead of beds. Cruz signed for $950,000 back in 2015, so let’s hope he’s still got some of that seven years later and settles into a comfort and rhythm that allows him to block out the irritations of day-to-day AAA life. My best guess here is the Pirates will now wait until the middle of June no matter how he’s playing to (they hope) ensure he doesn’t collect a bunch or Rookie of the Year votes. Yarr.

6. Baltimore RHP Grayson Rodriguez (AAA)

Rodriguez has been undressed his last couple times out against Atlanta’s Gwinnett Stripers (8 ER in 7.1 innings), bringing his ERA up to 4.15. He’s still got a 1.02 WHIP and 32.2 percent K-BB rate, so it’s probably just a couple bad nights. Let whoever has never known that kind of next day pain throw the first stone. On the plus side, that Oriole bullpen looks alright, so he might get some wins whenever he makes the trip to Baltimore.

7. Arizona OF Alek Thomas (AAA)

Thomas has been hot this week, with six walks and three strikeouts over his past six games and a .452 on base percentage to show for it along with a homer and two steals. He’s now walking and striking out at about the same rate (11.2% BB / 13.8% K) and slashing .277/.362/.495. Is he in a similar bucket as Cruz, Contreras and the Orioles, situationally speaking? We just don’t know how non-contending teams will play this new CBA structure that penalizes teams for a rookie’s success. On the other hand, Arizona has a winning record (14-and-13), spent money on their bullpen this off-season, and Zac Gallen looks like an ace again. Might as well push some chips in with Thomas.

8. Tampa 2B Vidal Brujan (AAA)

Seems to have lost out to Isaac Paredes and Taylor Walls, who are playing well enough to keep Brujan stewing even though he’s playing well in AAA, logging more walks (9) than strikeouts (8) and slashing .294/.400/.451 with five stolen bases.

9. Pittsburgh RHP Roansy Contreras (AAA)

The trouble with Contreras is the trouble with all Pirates pitchers. Even when he’s really good, his chances of picking up a win are not.

10. Kansas City 1B Vinnie Pasquantino (AAA)

He’s got 17 walks and 13 strikeouts in 26 games to go along with five home runs, three stolen bases and a .270/.391/.528 slash line. It’s time to see if Cousin Vinnie can identify big league spin as well as he understands tire tracks outside the Sac-O-Suds.

11. St. Louis 2B Nolan Gorman (AAA)

As much as everyone loves Gorman, Juan Yepez beat him to the big leagues because Gorman is striking out 35 percent of the time. He’s doing plenty of damage when he makes contact, slashing .298/.350/.681, so it’s probably just a matter of time before we find out if the all-or-nothing approach he’s employing this year will work at the next level .

12. Los Angeles 3B Miguel Vargas (AAA)

He’s ready. Just not enough playing time to go around in Dodger-land.

13. Detroit OF Riley Greene (AAA)

Did you know the Tigers are already 8-and-18 on the season. I didn’t. One reason I like doing the stash list is it forces me to try and figure out the whole landscape of the league as it looks today, and today it doesn’t look good for these cats in Motown.

14. Washington SS Luis Garcia (AAA)

I have no idea what’s going on here. He’s 21 years old, slashing .356/.411/.644 with six home runs and just 18 strikeouts in 24 games. That kind of line would throw serious shine at a 28-year-old quad-A type who’s been there and back again like Bilbo Baggins. If Garcia got dropped in your league, and there’s a good chance he did, see if you can squeeze him onto the back of your roster.

15. Arizona of Stone Garrett (AAA)

Here’s what I wrote about Garrett last Sunday in Prospect News: Atlanta’s Arm Factory or Stone’s Throwing Rocks Tonight:

Garrett will be pretty high on the next stash list, assuming he doesn’t get the call before then. The club’s AAA numbers are always inflated, but Garrett’s plus power and .375/.430/.764 slash line look good enough to mix in with that lineup, at least.”

And that’s me quoting me after hyperlinking to more me!

Line looks much the same today: 7 HR, 4 SB, .727 slugging percentage. Gotta take Arizona AAA numbers with all the salt in Utah, but Garrett’s looking at near-term playing time and has enough speed to help us in roto leagues if he gets the time.

The next ten:

16. Texas 2B Josh H. Smith (AAA)

17. Baltimore OF Yusniel Diaz (AAA)

18. Miami 3B Charles Leblanc (AAA)

19. Texas 3B Josh Jung (AAA)

20. Kansas City 1B Nick Pratto (AAA)

21. St. Louis OF Moises Gomez (AAA)

22. Cubs OF Nelson Velazquez (AAA)

23. Los Angeles RHP Ryan Pepiot (AAA)

24. Miami RHP Edward Cabrera (AAA)

25. Washington OF Josh Palacios (AAA)

Thanks for reading!

And Happy Mother’s Day!

I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter.

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