Fantasy Baseball Prospect Report: Hottest Names to Watch for on the Waiver Wire
There may not be that much time left for just-called-up rookies and prospects to make much of an impact on the fantasy landscape, but that doesn't mean they can't help your team down the stretch.
Due to September's expanded rosters, there already have been 19 big league debuts through just the first five days of the month. And there will be plenty more where that came from, so it's helpful to keep tabs on the new kids on the block. (No, not those.)
Of course, because of all the promotions and call-ups over the past handful of days, there aren't quite as many worthwhile names in the "Next in Line" section as there were in last week's column. There are still a few, though.
As for the "Already Up" portion of our programming, well, there's plenty of new names this time around. To find out who, just scroll down for a weekly look at a batch of prospects who could make a fantasy impact from here on out in 2013.
But before we get to that, here's a reminder of the criteria for this column:
This spot will include prospects who already have been called up ("Already Up"), as well as others who are in the minors but are considered to be major league-ready and on the verge of getting the call ("Next in Line").
To allow for more turnover from week to week, the list below does not include young players who have exhausted their prospect eligibility by exceeding 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched.
1. Sonny Gray, RHP, Athletics (53.6 Percent Owned)
With yet another sterling start Thursday (8 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 7:1 K:BB), Gray has taken over the top spot in these rankings. And deservedly so, given that he's sporting a 2.51 ERA and 1.00 WHIP and has 44 whiffs in 43 frames.
2. Michael Wacha, RHP, Cardinals (7.2 Percent Owned)
Having been shuffled between Triple-A and the majors—as well as a starting and relieving role—for the past several weeks, the 2012 first-rounder is now in St. Louis' rotation and in line to start Sunday against the Pirates. After hurling six shutout innings on the road against the Reds last week, the 22-year-old is worth a spot start.
3. Khris Davis, OF, Brewers (54.6 Percent Owned)
Davis did it again Thursday, hitting his ninth home run. In just 111 at-bats, he's also totaled 21 runs and RBI apiece, as well as eight two-baggers. His 29-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio indicates his .279 average may come down, but if you need a power plug-in, Davis does that.
4. Danny Salazar, RHP, Indians (6.1 Percent Owned)
Salazar continues to pitch brilliantly for an unheralded rook. His latest outing? Merely six scoreless innings with five strikeouts...on the road...against the Tigers. His opponent next time out? The Mets.
5. Taijuan Walker, RHP, Mariners (22.7 Percent Owned)
Walker drops a couple spots this week, mainly because, unlike the three arms ahead of him, the 21-year-old is not in a postseason race, so Seattle doesn't have to push Walker, who many receive only another start or two before being shut down.
6. Billy Hamilton, SS/OF, Reds (18.5 Percent Owned)
How fast is Hamilton? After a record 155 steals last year and 75 more at Triple-A this year, the dude has two in the majors despite not even having an official big league at-bat yet! Both of his swipes have come as a pinch-runner, and he's scored twice, too. It'll be tough to know when he'll get in, but when he does, he'll run.
7. Corey Dickerson, OF, Rockies (0.2 Percent Owned)
Even while battling a knee injury, Dickerson went 7-for-16 over the past week, including two doubles, a triple and a homer. His average is up to .298, and he should keep getting action as long as he can stay healthy, especially since Carlos Gonzalez is having trouble doing that himself.
8. Mike Zunino, C, Mariners (0.2 Percent Owned)
Recovered from a broken hamate bone in his left hand that cost him a month-plus, Zunino should see the lion's share of backstop duties for Seattle going forward. Selected No. 3 overall only 15 months ago, Zunino hasn't torn it up yet (.236/.315/.327 in 111 AB), but he's more rested than other rookies due to the missed time.
9. Brett Oberholtzer, LHP, Astros (4.3 Percent Owned)
After skating around the outskirts of the top 10 in this section for the past few weeks, Oberholtzer finally breaks through, thanks to a complete game shutout of the Mariners his last time out. The 24-year-old doesn't throw hard (5.6 K/9), but he's walked only seven through his first 48.1 frames, which helps explain his 2.79 ERA and 1.06 WHIP.
10. Chris Owings, SS, Diamondbacks (0.0 Percent Owned)
The 22-year-old gets the last spot on spec. He does have two at-bats since being promoted, but he's yet to start for Arizona. Manager Kirk Gibson, though, indicated that the shortstop, who batted .330 with 12 homers at Triple-A and finished second in the minors with 180 hits, could see plenty of time this month.
#Dbacks SS Owings to get some time in September. Gibson: "You want to find out what he can do for sure." Owings was PCL MVP/rookie of year— Jack Magruder (@JackMagruder) September 4, 2013
Honorable Mentions: Xander Bogaerts, SS, Red Sox; Robbie Erlin, LHP, Padres; Travis d'Arnaud, C, Mets; Nick Castellanos, 3B, Tigers; Kevin Gausman, RHP, Orioles; Erik Johnson, RHP, White Sox; James Paxton, LHP, Mariners; Matt Davidson, 3B, Diamondbacks; Wilmer Flores, SS/3B, Mets; Jonathan Villar, SS, Astros; Kolten Wong, 2B, Cardinals; Michael Choice, OF, Athletics; Jonathan Schoop, 3B, Orioles
Players who have exhausted their prospect eligibility since last week: Scooter Gennett, 2B, Brewers
Next in Line
1. George Springer, OF, Astros (0.1 Percent Owned)
After coming up just shy of a 40-40 season in the high minors—he finished with 37 homers and 45 steals—Springer is doing his thing for the Oklahoma City RedHawks in the PCL playoffs. It may be wrong, but perhaps fantasy owners should start rooting for his club, which already dropped the first two of its five-game series with Omaha, to lose as quickly as possible, so Springer can get a few weeks in the majors in preparation for being Houston's Opening Day centerfielder.
2. Mike Olt, 3B, Cubs (0.0 Percent Owned)
In many ways, it was a lost year for the 25-year-old, who struggled with injuries, vision problems and most of all with making contact. Getting traded to Chicago, though, gives him a much clearer path to playing time going forward. He finished the Triple-A regular season strong, going 10-for-30 (.333) with 10 walks over his final 10 games, and it's not out of the question his new organization gives him a look this month.
3. Archie Bradley, RHP, Diamondbacks (0.0 Percent Owned)
At this point, Bradley's probably a long shot to make his debut this year, as he pitched Thursday in Double-A Mobile's opening game of the Southern League playoffs. For what it's worth, though, he threw well, going seven strong and allowing only eight baserunners with four strikeouts for the win.
4. Yordano Ventura, RHP, Royals (0.0 Percent Owned)
In a case of really poor timing, Ventura was scratched from Wednesday's starting assignment to open Omaha's postseason, as MLB.com reported, due to "undisclosed team violations." Even with the Royals chasing down the second wild card position in the AL, it's unlikely they would reward the 22-year-old with a call up.
5. Marcus Stroman, RHP, Blue Jays (0.0 Percent Owned)
The 2012 first-rounder was suspended 50 games for testing positive for a banned stimulant, but he didn't disappoint after coming back. The 22-year-old compiled a 3.30 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 10.4 K/9 over 111.2 innings, all at Double-A. His last start was his best of the season (8 IP, 2H, 1 ER, 11:0 K:BB), and Toronto's beleaguered rotation currently is being held together with Band-Aids and chewed gum.
Honorable Mentions: Jake Odorizzi, RHP, Rays; Allen Webster, RHP, Red Sox; A. Wojciechowski, RHP, Astros; H. Morris, 1B, Brewers
All ownership percentages come from ESPN Fantasy Baseball.
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