SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

May 4, 2013

Fantasy Forecast: Segura making strides for Brewers

Fantasy Forecast
Andy Silva

---- — When you were a kid, one of the key questions you faced when you got back to school in the fall was about how you spent your summer vacation. Since baseball players are at work in the summer, the key question for them can be how did they spend the winter vacation.

Luckily for the Milwaukee Brewers, and fantasy owners, Jean Segura had a very productive winter.

Segura, the key prospect the Brew Crew got back in the Zach Greinke trade with the Angels a few years back, spent his winter practicing his craft in the Dominican Winter League. He was quite impressive there, leading the league in hitting with a .324 average and also knocking in 21 runs and stealing 11 bases in 35 games. He has said playing in the Dominican this past winter helped prepare him to make the jump to the majors, as there were pitchers there throwing in the mid- to late-90s who could prepare him for the difference between a Double- or Triple-A hurler and a bona fide major leaguer.

The shortstop has translated that success in the winter into a hot spring, seeing him hit a team-best .367. That continued on when the Brewers kicked off their regular season, with Segura hitting .358 with 3 home runs, 10 RBIs and 8 stolen bases, which is good for a tie for second in the Majors. He had a hit in 15 of his first 19 games and has risen through the order all the way to the No. 2 spot, which should see him get plenty of protection with Ryan Braun lurking behind him.

All this has translated into his ownership rate rising to 79 percent in Yahoo! leagues, but if he is out there for the taking go pick him up while you still can. He may hit the wall at some point in the season as all young players do, but he seems equipped to recover from that dry spell and will still provide you with decent spend and runs scored should he remain high in the Milwaukee order.

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Now it’s time to go from a Brewer whose hot start I believe in to one who I am more skeptical about.

Yuniesky Betencourt has been a journeyman big leaguer, but he is off to a torrid start in 2013. Betencourt has 7 homers, is eighth in the Majors with 22 RBI and is hitting .279. For comparion’s sake, Betencourt hit 7 home runs and drove in 36 runs total last season.

One reason I am skeptical is all his statistics outside of the counting stats seem consistent with what he has done before. He’s walking about the same, striking out about the same and his OBP is still below .300. He is swinging at more pitches, both in and out of the strike zone.

Ultimately, I’m almost certain he will come crashing down to earth. If you want to pick up him to ride the wave, fine. If you think you can find someone to sell high to more power to you. It just won’t be me.

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Tony Cingriani, a third round pick for the Reds in the 2011 draft out of Rice, has been near dominant in this three starts thus far this season.

Cingriani is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA, 28 strikeouts and four walks in 18 innings pitched. Opponents are hitting just .182 against him this season, while he is striking out, on average, 14 batters per nine and walking two per nine.

Now, he may fall come back to reality some once the league gets a better look at him as his stuff doesn’t scream ace — he throws his fastball at just 92.1 miles per hour — but he is clearly turning some heads at the moment. He’s available in 30 percent of Yahoo! leagues, so he’s definitely at least a matchup candidate and if he keeps hurling like he is right now that could change very quickly.

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If you’re speculating for power, keep your eye on the Cardinals’ Matt Adams.

Playing time is an issue right now, as St. Louis really doesn’t have a spot for him at the moment. But when Adams is in the lineup he is mashing.

Adams has three homers, eight RBI and a .542 batting average in just 27 at-bats this season. He has shown an ability to hit for power throughout his career in the minors and at this point the question becomes whether or not the Cardinals can get him on the field or whether they use him as trade bait. Either way, he’s worth watching if your lineup could use a power boost.

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Andy Silva’s Fantasy Forecast appears every Saturday in The Salem News. Contact him at ASilva@salemnews.com and follow him on Twitter @SN_Fantasysport.