As we all well know by now, the Cubs called up their top prospect, Starlin Castro the other day, shifting Theriot to short and the second base platoon to the bench. Castro just turned 20-years of age in late March and at this point will likely benefit the Cubs most for his defensive prowess. As for fantasy impact, he is an excellent contact hitter (90|PERCENT| of the time this year) with an improving batting eye though he is not likely to walk much more than 8|PERCENT| or so of the time. Note that he is not a base stealer – 69|PERCENT| career success rate and 44|PERCENT| of the time in 9 attempts this season. Instead, I think of him as perhaps being a Placido Polanco who can steal 5 to 10 bags, maybe 15 or so home runs at his peak, and hit over .300. Keep in mind t hat thus far he has been predominately a ground-ball hitter at 50|PERCENT| of the time while hitting fly balls just 31|PERCENT| of the time. So do not break the bank trying to get him. At his age his power is not fully developed and it is possible in coming seasons that he may add loft and power to his swing. For this season, however, he could be easily be something like a player Cubs fans are sure to recall– Rey Sanchez, just with greater long-term upside.
I was taking a peak at Andy LaRoche's performance and it is possible we may finally seeing some hints of the player he was originally expected to be. Actually LaRoche translated much of his skills to the Majors last season - good contact making skill, decent patience, and a pretty good glove. What did not translate was the power and what we found was a high percentage of ground balls placing a possible cap on his long-term power potential. The result was a decided lack of enthusiasm for him at the draft table this spring. Well so far this season LaRoche has shown more patience (over 10|PERCENT| of the time), is making more consistent contact, and .hitting a majority of fly balls at 39|PERCENT| while turning over 11|PERCENT| of those fly balls into home runs. There has been speculation that he could move over to second base in the long run to make room for Pedro Alvarez, but if the fly-ball skills stay, that is something we could well be cheering on to happen.
And finally if you are a Joel Pineiro, do not give up on him just yet. Of course no one expected him to repeat last season, but his peripheral numbers are in fact right in line with rest season even if his ERA is not. He is still getting ground balls 57|PERCENT| of the time, walking 2 batters per nine innings pitched, and has even raised his K/9 to over 5.0. What has happened is – a .351 BABIP and a 15.6|PERCENT| HR/FB. That's a ton of home runs for someone who allows less than a quarter of his balls in play to go as fly balls. While he is still an inning eater type likely to have an ERA over 4.00, he is not nearly as bad as he has been.