MLB: The Hot Eight, Week Six

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MLB: The Hot Eight, Week Six
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Happy Mother's Day to all of the moms out there. Guys, please take care of the women in your life. Visit your mom today, give your wife some much-needed rest, and show them all how much you appreciate all they do. One day is not nearly enough for all these ladies do for us, so do an extra good job on them today.

1) Chris Coghlan (2B/3B/OF)—Marlins

Last Tuesday I announced on Fantasy Baseball Tonight that Coghlan would be up shortly to take over for Emilio Bonifacio. Well, that day came sooner than even I expected when Coghlan was called up on Friday.

He is a good OBP guy who always makes solid contact. He drives the ball to both gaps with some power. Coghlan was a first-round pick in 2006, played in the Futures game in 2007, and won the Southern League All-Star Game MVP trophy in 2008. He is a very smart player with a great work ethic—the kind of player managers love to have on their club.

He has average speed but studies pitchers well and will steal 20-plus bags in a full Major League season. I believe he is the Marlins' answer for a lead-off hitter, but in the meantime his ability to play multiple positions will keep him in the lineup quite often.

2) John Lackey (SP)—Angels

It is surprising how available Lackey is in most leagues right now. Considering many leagues have a DL spot, I just cannot believe people would let Lackey sit on the free agent wire this close to his eventual return.

Lackey has always been an overlooked starter, but when healthy does nothing but put up zeroes on the scoreboard and wins in fantasy owners' pockets. It should also be noted that Ervin Santana is set to be recalled after his rehab assignment this week.

Both of these guys are very worthy of roster spots on your fantasy team. Getting the two of them back will also stabilize the Angels rotation enough to get them back to winning form after what has been a very difficult start to this season.

3) Josh Whitesell (1B)—Diamondbacks

Just another in a long list of prospects the Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos organization let get away. Whitesell has the most important tool of any power hitting prospect—plate discipline.

He is a patient hitter who looks for his pitch and takes a strong, violent swing at what he likes. It looks as though new Arizona manager A.J. Hinch likes what he has in Whitesell and will give him plenty of opportunities to show what he can do. This will mostly come at the expense of Chad Tracy.

I think the Diamondbacks still have a strong young nucleus, and it will be very interesting to see what Hinch can get out of these guys that Bob Melvin just couldn't.

Whitesell has tremendous upside. I can see him making a big impact in fantasy numbers such as OBP, HR, RBI, and runs scored. He should also be available for OF pretty soon, which makes him a valuable member of any team's bench right now.

4) Ryan Freel (3B/2B/OF)—Cubs

Freel was one of the best—if not the best—utility players in the league while with the Reds a couple of years ago, but never was accepted after signing with Baltimore in the offseason. This trade will prove to be a difference maker for the Cubs, as they now have filled a huge void that was left with the departure of Mark DeRosa.

Freel will fill in immediately at third base for the injured Aramis Ramirez, who separated his shoulder and will miss nearly two months. Freel is a high-energy guy who gets on base and destroys left-handed pitching. Freel has great speed that will come in handy in Chicago.

I expect Freel to go on a tear in the next month or so as he is finally healthy and has a chance to play with a good team in a division he is very familiar with.

5) Andrew Bailey (RP)—Athletics

Brad Ziegler has been a mess lately. He has experienced elbow problems and caught a nasty case of the flu over the past few weeks. Bailey, meanwhile, has been Oakland's best reliever by far this season, posting a 1.27 ERA and giving up just six hits in 21.1 innings while striking out 24.

While Ziegler's throwing motion and ability to get ground ball outs is good, I feel that Bailey is a better closer candidate going forward. Bailey has a unique ability to run the ball in on the hands of both lefty and righty batters. He also changes speeds on his fastball and curve, which keeps hitters way off balance.

He has very good control, which will limit any damage done when a hitter finally does get a hold of his pitches. Look for more save opportunities from Bailey, as well.

6) Matt Gamel (3B)—Brewers

Gamel will get the call-up by the end of the month when the Brewers begin interleague play. I am hearing from my sources in Milwaukee that the plan is to add Gamel in time to be the DH in American League ballparks. With a stat line of .340/.425/.689/8 HR/30 RBI, he simply cannot be held back for too much longer.

What is most impressive about Gamel is that he is hitting .429 against lefties. He is a pure hitter who can hit for average and power and will get on base at a solid rate. It is not a matter of if you should pick up Gamel, but when.

I'm guessing that within the next 10 days, Gamel's ownership will quadruple, meaning that if your heart is set on adding a hitter of this caliber now is the time.

7) Kris Medlen (SP)—Braves

Living in the shadow of Tommy Hanson ain't all that bad.

Just ask Kris Medlen.

While everybody waits for the future ace in Hanson, all Kris Medlen has done is outperform the great one so far, while pitching on the same staff in Gwinnett. Medlen is 4-0 with a 1.17 ERA and 38 Ks in 30 IP. While starting pitching isn't exactly the Braves' problem right now, they do have a spot occupied by Jo Jo Reyes, who is filling in for Tom Glavine.

Having two studs dazzling in Triple-A makes no sense at this point, and thus my feeling is that Medlen will get a call up very soon.

Medlen will be the first starter called up between now and June 1. If Atlanta waits until after June 1 to call someone up, I believe the team will bring up Hanson first. This is all due to contract structure and arbitration-eligible years, which is all the rage in today's game.

Either way, both of these guys are worthy of being on your watch list and possibly a bench spot in NL-only leagues.

8) Jason Repko (OF)—Dodgers

Manny Ramirez is out for 50 games after a positive test for performance-enhancing drugs. This leaves a big hole for the Dodgers to fill in left and in the middle of their lineup.

Xavier Paul was called up to take Manny's spot on the active roster, but I am a big believer in Jason Repko. I have followed Repko's injury-prone career closer than anybody outside of his immediate family. He is a former first-round pick of the Dodgers and has shown flashes of brilliance between major injuries during his eight-year minor league career.

This kid can hit for power and has good speed. He hits for average and is a plus defender in all three outfield spots. I believe that he is closer to the starting left field job in L.A. than Xavier Paul.

Obviously Juan Pierre is the immediate fill-in for Manny and will get the most playing time, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Repko come up pretty soon and find his way into the lineup several times a week.

 

That is the Hot Eight for this week. What do you guys think? Post your comments below or email me at jeff@fantasybaseballsearch.com.

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