SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

June 15, 2013

Puig-a-mania running wild

Fantasy Forecast
Andy Silva

---- — Oftentimes with prospects, the hype makes it so a player can’t possibly live up to the billing that precedes him.

Thus far, Yasiel Puig has actually made the hype look pale in comparison.

Puig has been so red hot since his callup that he’s beginning to take on a mythical-type reputation. Take one website, which claimed earlier this week that when Puig was hit in the face with a pitch during Tuesday’s wild game with the Diamondbacks, the ball actually went to the hospital.

Of course that was said in jest, but Puig actually stayed in the game after getting plunked in the face — well, at least until he was later ejected during a brawl which at one point resembled the WWE’s Royal Rumble when a Dodgers player attempted to dump an Arizona coach into the photographer’s well.

Anyways, back to Puig. The Cuban defector is slugging a ridiculous .886 through 10 games. He has 4 home runs, 10 RBI, a .486 batting average and an OBP of .514 in 35 at-bats That’s a very small sample size, but not one small enough to temper excitement surrounding the volatile outfielder.

All of which is to say that now is the time to sell if you picked him up when he joined the Dodgers.

He will never have as high a value as he does right now — and I mean that literally. There’s no way he can keep up even remotely similar numbers, so there’s really nowhere to go but down. And as displayed by his joining the ranks of Dodgers’ injured during a beanbrawl, Puig still is not fully developed emotionally. It’s the reason why he did not start the season with the Dodgers despite a torrid spring.

Puig is day-to-day with a strained shoulder, but that should do little to dampen the enthusiasm for the youngster. Despite the temptation to ride the wave, it’s better to sell high and get off the bandwagon earlier rather than be the last one on when the league makes its adjustments and Puig hits the wall.

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Not to be a naysayer, but I wouldn’t jump to add Daniel Nava to your roster.

He’s currently on a roll, hitting .327 with 2 HR and 11 RBI The last two weeks. He is quietly making a bid for an all-star nod, with a season stat line of .299, 9 HR and 44 RBI.

While Nava is certainly a feel-good story — and trust me I’m glad he’s a feel good story for the Red Sox — his career splits paint a picture that is murky for the second half.

For his career, Nava is a .290 hitter in the first half with an OBP of .387, .461 slugging percentage, 13 HR and 86 RBI in 549 plate appearances. Not bad. But he takes quite a dip in the second half — .186 batting average, .308 OBP, .282 slugging, 3 HR and 17 RBI. Granted, his playing time in the second half is almost half (209 plate appearances) what it is in the first half, but the underlying message is there: Nava does most of his damage before the league makes its adjustments.

I hope I’m wrong, and Nava certainly has been proving people wrong for his entire career. But I’m not buying prolonged production like he’s had thus far.

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The Mets will reportedly call up top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler on Tuesday to make a start against the Braves in Atlanta.

Wheeler, ranked in the preseason as the No. 11 prospect in baseball by Baseball America and No. 8 by MLB.com, doesn’t have a great ERA (4.14) in Triple-A this season. But he does have a 4-1 record and his strikeout per nine rate (9.4) is right in line with his career average in the minors (9.6).

He’s still a little wild (3.6 walks per nine innings pitched), so that could be an issue in the majors. But he does throw a mid-90s fastball and has what is considered to be a plus curve, so despite the growing pains he may be worth a roster spot (especially if you can take the hit to your WHIP).

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Stephen Strasburg threw a bullpen session Thursday and afterward was cleared to returned to the Nationals’ rotation. He will pitch tomorrow against the Indians. He had been out since May 31 with a lat strain.

Meanwhile, fellow Washington phenom Bryce Harper got a cortisone shot after visiting Dr. James Andrews and has been told to stay off his knee for a week. The Nationals say they’ll re-evaluate him in seven days to see where he’s at with his swelling.

The good news is that Andrews’ confirmed the team’s initial diagnosis and no surgery was required. Harper was seen wearing a pretty sturdy knee brace, so at this point it’s hard to tell how much longer he’ll be out.

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Finally, Blue Jays shortstop Jose Reyes is continuing to make progress in his recovery from an ankle injury and could be sent out on a rehab assignment in the not too distant future.

Reyes participated in some drills and went from first to third last week prior to being sent to the team’s minor league complex in Dunedin, Fla., and was scheduled to play in simulated games yesterday and today. If all goes well, he could return before the end of June.

However, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons has said he could see a scenario where Reyes plays in two weeks’ worth of rehab games, so don’t get too excited yet. Still, it’s worth keeping an eye on.

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Andy Silva writes the Fantasy Forecast column for The Salem News. You can read his blog at blogs.salemnews.com/fantasyforecast and reach him at asilva@salemnews.com. You can also follow Fantasy Forecast on Twitter at twitter.com/sn_fantasysport.