Impact Call-ups
August 15, 2005

The first wave of next year's impact rookies are making their way to the majors via early call-ups, as well as some not-so-young call-ups that could have an impact in single league formats this year. 

The biggest name promoted since the trade deadline passed was Felix Hernandez (SEA).  Often unfairly compared to Dwight Gooden in terms of talent, he nevertheless will become one of the better strikeout pitchers in the league.  But just like Scott Kazmir when he was first called up, he will have his share of ups and downs this year and through a good part of 2006.  Last night's 10 K outing was an obvious "up", but was it because he was simply on his game or because he was facing the Royals?  He'll be a solid contributor to strikeouts the rest of this year, and with his friendly home park will probably be a help in ERA.  But wins and WHIP help probably won't come until 2007.

I wanted to add a couple of notes about Seattle before moving on... one day after Mike Hargrove said without reservation that Mike Morse would not start over Yuniensky Betancourt at shortstop, Morse started at short while Betancourt was at 2nd.  There are some managers who are completely safe to ignore everything they say... Wiki Gonzales got sent down in favor of Miguel Ojeda.  Gonzales had been hitting extremely well before he pulled a hamstring earlier this summer.  Since then, not so good.  I guess once he returned he finally realized he was Wiki Gonzales.  Ojeda is not a particularly adept catcher, especially when it comes to throwing out baserunners, but he's got some pop in his bat.  He won't replace the offensively challenged Yorvit Torrealba because of his defense, but he could have some value as a Sal Fasano-type occasional home run hitting back-up catcher.  OK, back to the topic...

Juan Dominguez (TEX) had an impressive return to the majors, striking out 10 Yankees this weekend.  Early in his minor league career he racked up strikeouts at an impressive rate so this some aberration where he got to face John Flaherty and Tony Womack (although he did face those two and struck out both twice).  He also struck out Gary Sheffield twice, something that Sheffield had done only twice since early June.  But the biggest positive from his start in the Bronx is that he didn't allow a rough first inning or a two-homer third to set off a complete meltdown.  Dominguez lack of control, not of the strikezone but of his emotions, had been his biggest obstacle so this should be a signal that he has finally turned the corner.  He's a definite buy in AL-only leagues.

With Rondell White out, Curtis Granderson (DET) got the call and hopefully the Tigers will realize that he deserves to stick around the rest of the year.  He's not on exciting Conor Jackson-type talent who will be a perennial All-Star within the next few years, but he will be a Grady Sizemore-type all around useful player.  He won't be quite as good as Sizemore because he's slightly older and doesn't have the good strikezone judgment, but he should contribute 12-15 homers and steals a season as soon as he gets regular playing time.

I've never been a big fan of Todd Linden (SF), but it's hard to argue with 30 home runs even if he did get them in AAA Fresno.  My concern had been his plate discipline, but it looks as though he made a concentrated effort to improve this season as his walk rate is up slightly and his strikeout rate is down by almost a third.  He should be capable of 20 homers next year with 500+ at bats and will be the best position player the Giants developed in recent memory (not saying that much there really).

Brady Clark's injury afforded Corey Hart (MIL) his first look at the bigs and not surprisingly, he hit his first major league home run in his first game.  Hart has often been compared to Richie Sexson because of his height, lankiness and home run power.  While he doesn't have nearly the home run potential of Sexson, he does offer considerable speed to more than make up for it in terms of fantasy value.  In each of the last 4 years he has stolen at least 17 bases with a high of 31 set this year in AAA Nashville.  Obviously, 20/20 talents with position flexibility like Hart - he's listed as an infielder but has played just about everywhere but short, second and catcher - are rare.  Hopefully, the Brewers will see their future with Hart a little more clearly than they've seen some of their other prospects.