Billy Hamilton could cause major havoc on the basepaths if the Cincinnati Reds promote him.
Fantasy baseball owners looking for a boost during the stretch run can receive some much-needed provisions through September call-ups.
When MLB rosters expand during the final month, teams will call up their young talent to audition them for the 2013 season.
In some cases, those clubs might even count on the young guns to jolt their playoff aspirations. Fantasy players should look to do the same by scouring the waiver wire for hot prospects.
Some savvy owners might be saving an elite prospect or two on their bench, and the majority of these names should already be owned in dynasty leagues. But in a standard re-draft league, chances are most of these future stars are still waiting in free agency.
Here's a look at 10 top prospects with potential to impact fantasy leagues in September.
Entrenched in an improbable playoff run, the Oakland A’s can use some middle-infield help to fuel their fight for a wild-card spot.
Cliff Pennington’s .263 on-base percentage and Adam Rosales’ .333 slugging percentage won’t cut it much longer at second base. With a much more respectable line of .294/.339/.455 along with 14 homers and 13 steals in Triple-A, Grant Green is ready to seize the job.
Drafted as a shortstop, Green has tried his hand at several different positions. The 24-year-old has tested the waters at second base, third base, shortstop, left field and center field this season, but the A’s currently have a gaping hole at second that Green can fill.
Oakland has shown no qualms over relying on their youth, having already inserted Derek Norris and Chris Carter into their lineup. Green should be the next rookie to see regular playing time during crucial September games.
They would also be riding the hot hand; Green has hit safely in nine of his last 10 games.
Green won’t take the league by storm, but he offers a decent combination of power and speed that makes him an intriguing option in AL-only leagues and deep mixed leagues.
This one is cheating: Mauro Gomez is already in the majors. Now that the Boston Red Sox have shipped Adrian Gonzalez out of town, it’s time to give Gomez a closer look.
As Gonzalez delighted the Los Angeles Dodgers by homering in his first at-bat, Gomez also homered on the same night in a four-hit effort.
The soon-to-be 28-year-old is hardly a young, blue-chip prospect who will make Boston’s faithful forget about Gonzalez. He did, however, crush Triple-A pitching and faces a clear path to playing time—especially if David Ortiz lands on the disabled list.
In 100 games, Gomez hit .310/.371/.589 with 24 round-trippers and 74 RBI in the minors. The burly, 230-pound slugger only got better as he moved up Boston’s farm system, and he is now presented with a golden opportunity to prove that he can be more than a Quadruple-A raker.
He’s not the long-term solution at first base. They have young stud Anthony Rizzo…wait, they gave him up to acquire Gonzalez. Well, they still have 24-year-old Lars Anderson…what, they traded him a month ago to the Cleveland Indians for a 27-year-old knuckleballer?
Well, Gomez might be the best option available until they pay someone else $100 million to handle the job.
So maybe you should cheat as well and add Gomez before September 1.
I have a serious man-crush on Robbie Erlin.
Some guys are into Megan Fox. Others prefer Scarlett Johansson. Just show me Erlin’s stat line.
Formerly an unknown commodity, Erlin turned some heads by registering a 2.12 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 9.8 K/9 ratio as a 19-year-old in Single-A. The following year, the lefty earned a 2.99 ERA and 0.95 WHIP between Single-A and Double-A.
Erlin continued his statistical dominance in Double-A before falling victim to elbow tendinitis this year, accumulating a 2.66 ERA and 61 strikeouts through 50.2 innings. Since returning from a three-month hiatus, Erlin has given up two earned runs in as many starts.
Erlin is everything a fantasy owner should want from a pitcher. Although he strikes out batters at ease, it does not come at the expense of control. Through 316.2 career minor league innings, Erlin has only walked 48 batters.
Did I mention the best part yet? Petco Park is waiting. Erlin was part of a trade last season that sent Mike Adams to the Texas Rangers, so Erlin is now fighting to pitch in the league’s premium pitcher-friendly ballpark instead of the bandbox at Arlington.
If Erlin gets the nod this September, his arrival could create a stir akin to Daniel Straily—another relative no-name that owners rushed to claim off waivers when they gazed his stats.
Calling up a player posting unexciting numbers in Double-A usually makes little sense, but the Colorado Rockies should let Nolan Arenado play in Coors Field this September.
Although he is only hitting .276/.331/.416 this year, the third baseman is still a highly touted prospect one year removed from driving in 122 runs.
Also, the Rockies are bad. Really, really bad. Their offense is already Carlos Gonzalez and a bunch of minor leaguers, so why not give a minor league with high upside a shot?
While Arenado has not displayed major power—he has only hit 11 home runs this season—he can inflict some damage hitting balls in the heavy Colorado air.
Colorado is nowhere close to a playoff hunt, so why not let their top prospect enjoy the friendly confines of Coors Field in a no-pressure scenario? He just might notch some power at a scarce position for fantasy owners down the stretch.
Most of the excitement in Kansas City stems from the arrival of a highly touted outfielder (more on that later), but they also hold a future front-line starter in their farm system.
Currently possessing one of baseball’s weakest rotations, the Royals should jump at the chance to promote a talented young arm. If they’re smart, Jake Odorizzi will receive some starts this September.
Acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers as a centerpiece in the Zack Greinke trade, Odorizzi has registered a 3.14 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in the minors this year. The 22-year-old recently took home Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Week honors for his stellar performance during the week of August 13-19.
Although he sports a 9.1 K/9 ratio through five seasons, Odorizzi has only fanned 82 batters in 102.1 Triple-A innings. Don’t expect him to instantly dominate, but he could take advantage of some fortuitous matchups.
With 11 of their September contests against the lackluster Twins and Indians, Odorizzi could deliver some productive starts during his audition for a permanent rotation spot in 2013.
Help is on the way for San Diego’s anemic offense, if they want it.
Jedd Gyorko is crushing Triple-A pitching, slashing a .339/.391/.609 line with 23 home runs and 79 RBI. The Padres have converted the 23-year-old to second base, where they lack a legitimate starter.
Calling him up this September makes sense from a talent standpoint, but there are roadblocks that could prevent Gyorko from reaching the majors this season. Gyorko is not on the 40-man roster, and the team also might want to postpone his debut to delay his time until hitting free agency.
Even if he does receive the call, Petco Park is where offense goes to die. Yonder Alonso, another promising young Padres hitter, has only blasted seven home runs after registering a .545 slugging percentage in a small sample size with Cincinnati last season.
Carlos Quentin and Chase Headley are both in the midst of productive seasons, but they have inflicted most of their damage on the road. The Padres play 11 of their final 26 games away from Petco, and six of those contests are in the spacious Dodger Stadium and San Francisco's AT&T Park.
While the circumstances may limit Gyorko’s ceiling to win any fantasy titles this September, his domination in the minors should award him deep league consideration.
And as a power hitter manning second base, he’s a must-add in all dynasty leagues and should start in 2013.
After struggling mightily early in the year, Shelby Miller is finally beginning to resemble one of the game’s top pitching prospects.
Heading into the season, Baseball America ranked Miller No. 8 on their top prospect list ahead of Trevor Bauer, Dylan Bundy and Gerrit Cole. Unlike those other gifted arms, Miller has underwhelmed in the face of circumstantial hype.
His stats hardly scream future ace, as the 21-year-old is posting a 4.89 ERA and 1.40 WHIP.
In an odd year with an ever odder beginning—the St. Louis Cardinals were displeased with the youngster losing weight over the offseason—Miller is finally starting to turn his season around.
In his last six starts, Miller is 5-1 with a 3.05 ERA and 0.91 WHIP. Even more encouraging during that stretch is his astonishing 52 strikeouts to only four walks in 38.1 innings pitched.
Now that their premier prospect has righted the ship in Triple-A, the Cardinals should consider replacing Joe Kelly as their fifth starter.
Although Miller labored through growing pains this season, he still boasts a 10.4 K/9 ratio, so owners could anticipate some gaudy strikeout totals in Miller’s premiere. Don’t give up on the elite prospect just yet.
The thought of super prospect Dylan Bundy debuting in 2012 would have seemed nuts a few months ago, but the Baltimore Orioles are now deeply considering it.
They don’t want to just get his feet wet a little, either. Presented with a chance at playoff contention for the first time since 1997, Baltimore might look to Bundy to propel them to the postseason.
Too much pressure to place on a 19-year-old?
Perhaps, but Bundy is not some ordinary teenager looking to hit the grand stage. Baseball America tabbed Bundy as the league’s top prospect in their midseason rankings.
In 98.1 innings pitched spread out between Single-A and Double-A, Bundy has recorded a 2.01 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and 113 strikeouts. Against the clearly overmatched South Atlantic League, Bundy pitched 30 scoreless innings—allowing seven baserunners to earn an insanely low 0.23 WHIP—before advancing to the next level. This is all in his first year playing professional ball.
Banking on a teenager to conquer the AL East with a playoff spot on the line is a risky gambit, but his massive upside is undeniable.
Stolen bases: 150.
Nope, that’s not a typo.
In 125 games, Billy Hamilton has swiped 150 bases. Obviously, Hamilton will be a fantasy monster if he achieves anything close to that mark in the majors.
That’s more stolen bases than any MLB team has tallied, and it’s not that close with the Miami Marlins' first with 123. Combine the bottom three base-stealing clubs' totals and it still falls short of Hamilton’s 150.
As one would expect from a player with 150 steals, Hamilton has no issue with getting on base. The 21-year-old is hitting .318, but more importantly boasts a .418 on-base percentage in time split between high Single-A and Double-A.
Many other prolific young base-stealers (see: Anthony Gose) are limited by rules prohibiting them from stealing first, but Hamilton displays patience at the plate that gives him a leg up (pun sort of intended) over the competition.
Jumping the shortstop straight from Double-A to the big leagues seems a bit rushed, but the Cincinnati Reds can sure use some production at their top of the order. The top two batters in their lineup—Zack Cozart and Drew Stubbs—each sport on-base percentages below .300.
Unfortunately, Hamilton is unlikely to receive regular playing time immediately, but he still might be a worthwhile fantasy asset even if used solely as a pinch-runner.
We all know by now that Wil Myers is crushing the inferior minor league competition, but we’ll have to discuss it some more to kill time before his eventual promotion.
The 21-year-old outfielder hit .343/.414/.731 with 13 home runs in 35 Double-A games. Out of mercy to Double-A pitchers, he finally moved onto Triple-A, where he has continued to rake with a .296/.377/.546 line, 22 homers and 73 RBI.
So what’s the delay in calling up a guy hitting .309 with 35 homers and 103 RBI this year? Seems like a player that a team with a slumping offense should want on their squad.
Come on, are the Royals seriously delaying Myers’ debut because they have Jeff Franceour locked in at right field? I could throw a baseball from my bedroom in New Jersey, and Franceour would still swing at it from Kansas City.
Since they have kept Myers in the minors this long, they likely will wait until his Triple-A club—who already clinched a playoff berth—finishes their year. This means his promotion won't come on September 1.
The Royals should eventually call up Myers, and he should immediately hit enough to satisfy most fantasy owners. You probably shouldn't even wait until his call-up to add him.