Fantasy Baseball Prospect Report: Hottest Names to Watch for on the Waiver Wire
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There's still time.
Prospect promotions may have slowed down after the early-September flurry we noted in last week's column, but there are still plenty young players who have debuted in the past month or two and are getting regular action over the final few weeks.
Of course, September also means shutdown time for many prospects, including those in the majors who will no longer make any more starts or get any more at-bats (i.e., Taijuan Walker), as well as those still in the minors whose playoffs have come to an end (i.e., George Springer).
If you're fighting for your league's championship, then you need to be aware of all of the above, which is where all of the below comes in—the weekly look at prospects who can impact what's left of the 2013 fantasy baseball season.
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 (55.0 Percent Owned)
After earning his third win Wednesday in a solid outing on the road versus the Twins (5 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 7:3 K:BB), Gray now has started his career by allowing just 36 hits and 14 earned runs and only 14 walks—compared to 51 whiffs—in 48 innings. That means two things: 1) He's been really good; and 2) the next time he starts, he's going to surpass the 50-inning mark, thus exhausting his rookie status. Last chance for this spot to suggest you grab him.
2. Michael Wacha, RHP, Cardinals (29.0 Percent Owned)
Like Gray, this should be the last time Wacha, who has a 2.71 ERA and 1.04 WHIP, is eligible here, as he's already thrown 46.1 frames and is set to toe the rubber Saturday. By the way, he goes up against the Seattle Mariners, which is a good matchup for fantasy owners looking for a spot start.
3. Danny Salazar, RHP, Indians (10.5 Percent Owned)
The Indians continue to limit the electric arm of Salazar for fear of overworking a guy who has a history of injuries, but he owns a 2.92 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 45 strikeouts in 37 innings. Better yet, he gets the White Sox on Friday. If you're looking for a streaming option today, he's a good one.
4. Billy Hamilton, SS/OF, Reds (18.9 Percent Owned)
A week and four stolen bases into his big league career, Hamilton finally got a pair of plate appearances and went 0-for-2 on Tuesday. What's more, he hasn't gotten a steal since last Saturday. Too bad he can't pinch run for every guy who gets on base.
5. Khris Davis, OF, Brewers (24.1 Percent Owned)
A left wrist injury has kept Davis out for the past week, but the MRI results came back negative, per Todd Rosiak of the Journal Sentinel, and there's a chance he could return to the lineup over the weekend. His numbers (.279-9-21) remain worthy of starting as a fourth or fifth outfielder.
6. Josmil Pinto, C, Twins (2.3 Percent Owned)
The 24-year-old Pinto has gotten his career off to a roaring start, going 14-for-30 (.467) with five doubles and a homer over his first nine games. He hit well in the minors before his September call-up (.309/.400/.482) and should keep squatting now that Joe Mauer, who is dealing with a concussion and hasn't played since Aug. 19, has been sent home to rest—perhaps for the season—as Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press reports.
7. Jackie Bradley Jr., OF, Red Sox (1.7 Percent Owned)
Bradley has been getting starts in center for Boston now that Jacoby Ellsbury is expected to miss the next couple weeks with a fracture in his right foot. The 23-year-old lefty hitter has gone 3-for-13 with a pair of runs scored and should continue to play against most right-handers until Ellsbury's back.
8. Xander Bogaerts, SS, Red Sox (4.3 Percent Owned)
Bogaerts' playing time is still coming in fits and starts, but he did manage to hit his first big league home run in the past week, proving that he's capable of contributing when active. Owning him, though, requires diligence to make sure his righty bat actually is in the lineup, which usually happens against left-handers.
9. Chris Owings, SS, Diamondbacks (0.0 Percent Owned)
Owings has been scratching out a little more PT of late and taking advantage of his opportunities by going 5-for-14 with a couple of steals over the past week. With fellow shortstop Didi Gregorius around, Owings won't be getting regular run, but he should see enough to make him a useful add in NL-only leagues.
10. James Paxton, LHP, Mariners (0.2 Percent Owned)
Paxton's major league debut last Saturday against the Rays went rather well (6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 3:1 K:BB), so he'll get another turn this Saturday, albeit against the Cardinals. It's risky to spot start him in that one, but the 24-year-old does have strikeout stuff (8.1 K/9 at Triple-A), if you're desperate for Ks.
Honorable Mentions: Mike Zunino, C, Mariners; Robbie Erlin, LHP, Padres; Josh Fields, RHP, Astros; Andre Rienzo, RHP, White Sox; Grant Green, 2B/SS, Los Angeles Angels; Erik Johnson, RHP, White Sox; Nick Castellanos, 3B, Tigers; Travis d'Arnaud, C, Mets; Kevin Gausman, RHP, Orioles; Matt Davidson, 3B, Diamondbacks; Kolten Wong, 2B, Cardinals
Players who have exhausted their prospect eligibility since last week: Corey Dickerson, OF, Rockies; Brett Oberholtzer, LHP, Astros; Jonathan Villar, SS, Astros; L.J. Hoes, OF, Astros
Next in Line
1. George Springer, OF, Astros (0.1 Percent Owned)
Springer's Triple-A club, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, was swept out of the first round of the PCL playoffs, but not before he went 4-for-10 with a homer and a steal. Springer, who wound up with 37 homers and 45 steals in the regular season, finished second to the Twins' Byron Buxton for Baseball America's Minor League Player of the Year. Whether any of the above is going to lead to a call-up, though, remains to be seen.
2. Yordano Ventura, RHP, Royals (0.0 Percent Owned)
Ventura's start last week was skipped for disciplinary reasons, but he was back on the mound Wednesday, where he threw six innings of one-run ball with six whiffs to help put his Triple-A Omaha Storm Chasers club on the verge of the PCL championship, as Cash Kruth of MLB.com writes. With the Royals still very much in contention for a wild-card spot, Ventura could be up as a pitching reinforcement within a few days.
3. Mike Olt, 3B, Cubs, (0.0 Percent Owned)
Frankly, with not even three full weeks left in the major league regular season, any of these names in this portion are long shots for a promotion. That goes for the power-hitting Olt, too, as the Cubs appear content to go with a combination of Donnie Murphy and Luis Valbuena at the hot corner from here on out, as Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports.
4. Archie Bradley, RHP, Diamondbacks (0.0 Percent Owned)
After last week's solid start to open the Double-A Mobile BayBears' Southern League playoffs, Bradley wasn't nearly as effective the second time around. On Wednesday, the 21-year-old lost by giving up six earned on seven hits with a 2:4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in only five frames. Bad time to have his worst outing of what has been a downright dominating year, and Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that Bradley's MLB debut is unlikely to come before 2014.
5. Rafael Montero, RHP, Mets (0.0 Percent Owned)
The Mets seems content to let retread veterans like Daisuke Matsuzaka and Aaron Harang pick up meaningless late-season starts for them, so it's unlikely the 22-year-old Montero, who had a 2.78 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 8.7 K/9 between Double- and Triple-A, will get the call. The fact that he was only so-so in his playoff outing for Las Vegas last Thursday (4.1 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2:3 K:BB) didn't help matters.
Honorable Mentions: Marcus Stroman, RHP, Blue Jays; A. Wojciechowski, RHP, Astros; H. Morris, 1B, Brewers; Bryce Brentz, OF, Red Sox
All ownership percentages come from ESPN Fantasy Baseball.
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