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Monday 26th Jun 2017

As introduced last week, we are taking a look at the early 2017 performances of the rookie-eligible players selected on draft day in National League LABR. These players were rostered during the first week of spring training contests, so much has occurred since then – some good and some bad.

In Part 1, I highlighted 21 players, but only made it halfway through the 12-team NL LABR league’s initial rosters. Here, we will pick up the rest, starting with those who were offered up for bidding in the main auction draft, followed by the reserves.

Drafted

Austin Barnes, C, Dodgers – Steve Gardner, USA TODAY, $1
Though the former Miami prospect remains a reserve, his 52 plate appearances here in 2017 is already a new career high. Barnes also has a career-best .511 slugging percentage with two-thirds of his hits having gone for extra bases. In a two-catcher NL-only league of 12 teams, simple math tells us at least nine backup catchers will have to be active at any point in time. Barnes looks like he was a good end-game choice.

Amed Rosario, SS, Mets – Gardner, $1
As the infield injuries mount, the most recent being the move of Asdrubal Cabrera to the disabled list, the questions at Citi Field increase. When will Rosario be promoted from Triple-A Las Vegas? Well, the Mets say he is not ready, sliding Jose Reyes over to short and using Cabrera’s roster spot on a reliever. Still, expect Rosario to make his MLB debut after his Super Two risk passes, likely by mid-season.

Hunter Renfroe, OF, San Diego – Derek Van Riper, Rotowire, $11
The outfielder was handled a bit oddly last September, with a guessing game as to whether or not he would be added to the Padres roster. Despite just getting 35 MLB at-bats from the 21st on, Renfroe’s 14 RBI in 11 games and impressive minor league pedigree made him a popular pick in drafts this spring. It has been tough sledding in 2017, however, as he is batting just .218 with a 27.2 percent strikeout rate. On the positive side, the 25-year old has seven home runs and 17 RBI through 40 games.

Austin Meadows, OF, Pittsburgh – Van Riper, $1
Meadows’ off-season outlook seemed to be tied to the on-and-off trading saga that ended with Andrew McCutchen remaining with the Pirates. Yet when center fielder Starling Marte went down last month, it was not Meadows who received the call. To be fair, it was not warranted. Meadows’ poor results at Triple-A to date, including a .221 batting average in 295 plate appearances over this year and last, suggests more development time is needed.

Josh Hader, SP, Milwaukee – Doug Dennis, BaseballHQ, $4
Milwaukee’s top mound prospect is progressing at Colorado Springs, not an easy place to pitch. On the positive side, the 23-year old has 36 strikeouts in 40 2/3 innings, but the 24 walks and nine home runs yielded have to be addressed before Hader will be deemed ready for the bigs.

Josh Bell, 1B, Pittsburgh - Dalton Del Don, Yahoo Sports, $19
Last season, Bell was just two at-bats short (128 of 130) of losing his rookie eligibility. What we have seen in 2017 in comparison to his 2016 debut is a lower batting average and higher strikeout rate, but more power. He will need to step up his play to provide a solid return on that $19 investment, which is certainly quite possible.

Reserves

Rio Ruiz, 3B, Atlanta – Van Riper
With only struggling Adonis Garcia ahead of Ruiz, Atlanta’s starting third sacker’s move to the disabled list with an Achilles injury last week could have opened the door for the prospect, but that did not happen. Instead, Johan Camargo was called up to sit behind Jace Peterson, who is moving over from second. Ruiz’ struggles against left-handed pitching is what appears to be the holdback, despite him swinging a hot bat overall at Triple-A. My guess is that if this was later in the season, we would see Ruiz now.

Amir Garrett, SP, Cincinnati – Dennis
Doug Dennis lives in the Queen City and as such, is to be trusted on his choice of Reds. After being taken in NL LABR, Garrett impressed in spring camp and made the rotation to open the season. After a month of being bombed, though, the 25-year old was returned to Triple-A, but he will be back to face the Cubs on Thursday. Despite the bumps in the road, Garrett remains one of Cincinnati’s best five starting options.

Jeff Hoffman, SP, Colorado – Derek Carty
The Rockies’ top take in the Troy Tulowitzki trade has yet to make his mark. Hoffman did not make the team this spring and was passed over when Jon Gray was injured. Still, the right-hander was called up to make a spot start last week and performed credibly against the Dodgers at home (three runs in 5 1/3 innings). When all is said and done, however, any pitcher who makes half of his starts at altitude will be a “rocky” choice. Add to that the fact that LABR does not allow streaming of pitchers and it is a challenge to see 2017 value for Hoffman in this league.

Brock Stewart, SP, Dodgers – Carty
Injuries caused the 25-year old to be pressed to the majors early, as he made five starts for the Dodgers last season. However, a lingering shoulder injury that surfaced this spring has kept Stewart on the disabled list all season to date. There is no clear return date for the talented lefty.

Grant Dayton, RP, Dodgers – Carty
Well, there is quite a pattern here, with Derek Carty having taken three NL West pitchers among his reserves. Unlike the other two above, Dayton is a lefty reliever who was coming off a strong 2016 debut. After making the club this spring and pitching well early, the 29-year old suffered an intercostal strain last month. Struggling following his return, Dayton was sent down to Triple-A earlier this week.

Tyler Beede, SP, San Francisco – Del Don
The 23-year old reported to camp as one of the combatants for the fifth starter job, but not only did not make the Giants, he was also passed over when Madison Bumgarner had his unfortunate dirt bike-related injury. Through 36 2/3 Triple-A innings this season, Beede has an uninspiring 26 strikeouts to 14 walks and a decent 3.68 ERA. His time will surely come soon enough.

Socrates Brito, OF, Arizona – Del Don
The last profiled player has undoubtedly the worst luck. After stints with the Diamondbacks the last two seasons, Brito seemed positioned to play a greater role in 2017, likely as the fourth outfielder. However, early in spring training, the 24-year old suffered what sounds to be a very painful injury – an “open dislocation” of his left ring finger. Surgery and a move to the 60-day disabled list followed. Perhaps there will still be time for Brito to contribute in the second half.

Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 18-year history. He also holds the all-time NL Tout single-season records for wins and saves. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com. Follow Brian on Twitter @B_Walton.

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