Peter Bourjos opened the 2014 season as the Cardinals’ primary center fielder, but he batted .160 with a .510 OPS in March and April, and Jon Jay was drawing the large majority of starts in center when the beginning of May arrived. That tide now seems to be turning back.
Bourjos went 2-for-4 with a run scored this past Monday in the Cardinals’ series-opening defeat of the Braves and then finished 3-for-4 with his first home run of the year in Wednesday’s series finale in Atlanta -- another victory for St. Louis. The Cardinals acquired Bourjos from the Angels this winter to provide a major defensive upgrade and to add a dose of speed to their beer-league-softball-like lineup. Now that he appears to have settled in offensively, the dynamic 27-year-old should be more of a full-timer going forward.
Bourjos predicted in January that he could steal 40 bases in a starting role. He only has two right now, but that’s partly due to his .288 on-base percentage and diminished playing time. As the OBP rises -- and it should -- Bourjos can get more aggressive on the basepaths.
Bourjos hit .271/.327/.438 with 12 home runs and 22 steals in 147 games with Anaheim in 2011. He carries big fantasy upside if he can prove himself worthy of manager Mike Matheny’s trust.
Jay is a mediocre defender with a .273/.348/.371 batting line in his last 716 plate appearances, and it seems like the Cardinals have given up on the idea of trying top outfield prospect Oscar Taveras in center. Taveras remains at Triple-A Memphis, and could be there until June.
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Mets Look To Flores
As first reported by Kristie Ackert at the New York Daily News and then confirmed by Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, the Mets are promoting infield prospect Wilmer Flores from Triple-A Las Vegas and could be ready to play him regularly at shortstop in place of Ruben Tejada, who finished Wednesday with a .183 batting average and .509 OPS.
Flores isn’t a good defender, but the 22-year-old entered play Wednesday at Las Vegas with a .296 batting average and .844 OPS, then proceeded to go 3-for-6 with two RBI in the 51s’ win over the Triple-A affiliate of the Angels (Salt Lake).
Flores has good power -- he boasts 69 minor league home runs -- and is probably worth a flier in all NL-only fantasy formats and some deep mixed leagues. Baseball Prospectus ranked him No. 71 on this winter’s Top 100 Prospects list.
The Reemergence Of Pomeranz
The A’s continued their run of success with other teams’ castoffs on Wednesday, with former Indians first-round pick Drew Pomeranz delivering five scoreless innings in the second half of a doubleheader against the Mariners. Pomeranz allowed just two hits, walked none, and struck out five in the 68-pitch performance. It was only supposed to be a spot start, but the A’s can give him Tommy Milone’s rotation spot if they so choose. Milone has a 5.86 ERA and 1.55 WHIP on the year, so it’d be tough to argue against Pomeranz being an upgrade.
Including his start Wednesday, the left-handed Pomeranz has a 1.45 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and 16 strikeouts in 18 2/3 innings (one start and nine relief appearances) this season. The 25-year-old is throwing harder here in 2014 than he ever did before and that has helped his curveball become more effective. Grab the former top prospect in deep mixed fantasy leagues.
National League Quick Hits: Reds speedster Billy Hamilton hasn’t started a game since spraining the third and fourth knuckles on his left hand last Thursday … Zack Wheeler struck out seven over six scoreless innings Wednesday in a no-decision against the Marlins … Ryan Braun (oblique) expects to return from the disabled list when first eligible on May 13 … Diamondbacks closer Addison Reed earned his 10th save of the season on Wednesday … Carlos Gonzalez homered and doubled in the Rockies’ trouncing of the Rangers on Wednesday night in Arlington, Texas … Adam Wainwright improved his ERA to 2.02 with eight innings of one-run ball Wednesday in Atlanta … Nationals outfielder Nate McLouth remains day-to-day with a deep scrape on his right hand … Jim Henderson (shoulder) still hasn’t been cleared to resume throwing … Aroldis Chapman has allowed a total of eight runs in his first two rehab appearances … Tom Koehler tossed eight shutout innings Wednesday to lead the Marlins past the Mets … Brewers shortstop Jean Segura is just 6-for-11 on stolen base attempts this season … Brandon Belt doubled and homered in the Giants’ loss to the Pirates on Wednesday … Cubs setup man Pedro Strop is expected to miss the next 3-4 weeks because of a groin strain … Nationals closer Rafael Soriano collected his seventh save of the season Wednesday against the Dodgers … Cliff Lee was lit up for six runs in 6 1/3 innings Wednesday as the Phillies fell to the Blue Jays … Matt Holliday went 3-for-5 with three RBI as the Cardinals downed the Braves on Wednesday … Reds first baseman Joey Votto went 0-for-4 on Wednesday and is now without an RBI in 10 straight games … Mike Minor has allowed 18 hits -- including three home runs -- in 10 1/3 innings since returning from the disabled list May 2.
American League Quick Hits: Orioles catcher Matt Wieters is expected to avoid the disabled list after an MRI taken Wednesday on his right elbow showed no structural damage … Jim Johnson earned his first save since April 6 on Wednesday night against the Mariners … Josh Hamilton (thumb) is aiming to return to the Angels the weekend of May 23-25 … Derek Jeter went 2-for-5 with a homer and two runs scored Wednesday in the Yankees' defeat of the Angels ... Royals ace James Shields tossed seven scoreless innings in a win over the Padres on Wednesday … Edwin Encarnacion slugged a three-run homer Wednesday in the Blue Jays’ rout of the Phillies … A’s center fielder Coco Crisp was diagnosed with a strained neck Wednesday after running into the wall while snagging a Kyler Seager line drive … Mariners shortstop Brad Miller went 0-for-5 in Wednesday’s doubleheader with the A’s and is now batting just .178/.235/.299 on the season … Joe Mauer remained out of the Twins’ lineup on Wednesday with a back injury but should return sometime this weekend … Michael Bourn is day-to-day with soreness in his surgically-repaired left hamstring … Adam Jones slugged two solo homers Wednesday in the Orioles’ win over the Rays … Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie remains day-to-day with tightness in his right hamstring … Dustin Pedroia struck out four times Wednesday against the Reds … Omar Infante was out of the Royals’ lineup on Wednesday due to back stiffness … Astros shortstop Jonathan Villar is day-to-day with a jammed thumb … Robbie Ray will take another turn in the Tigers’ rotation Sunday against the Twins … Eric Hosmer finished 3-for-4 with four RBI in the Royals’ defeat of the Padres on Wednesday … A’s setup man Ryan Cook may be unavailable for the next few games because of a mild right forearm strain … Mark Buehrle improved to 6-1 after throwing six shutout innings against the Phillies on Wednesday.