The Hot Eight: Week Eight
I hope everybody is enjoying this Memorial Day weekend. We have come to the point in the season where a sub .200 batting average, significantly less power numbers and less playing time can no longer be chalked up to a slump. At this point, you must forget all about draft position and treat players as they deserve to be treated this season.
You simply cannot afford to hold out hope for guys like Geovany Soto, David Ortiz or Ricky Nolasco any longer. We have already begun to see a bunch of top tier prospects called up to bail out struggling veterans and believe me when I say more are on their way.
So, put away the lawn mower, fire up the grill and let's see what players you should have your eye on to solve your roster blues.
1) David Price (LHP - Starter) -- Rays -- Is anyone not familiar with David Price at this point? There really isn't much to say about this move other than if he is still available and you haven't made your claim yet than you have bigger issues to deal with. Do not worry an ounce about Price's struggles earlier this season.
He is as polished and ready as a player can be and was probably bored out of his mind in Durham this season. One point I would like to make is don't read into the timing of this callup. David Price, like Matt Wieters, Ross Detwiler and the soon to be drafted Steve Strasburg have major league contracts that they signed when drafted.
These deals are not cut the same way as other draftees as far as service time and arbitration years and thus it makes little difference if they are called up in April or August.
This seems to be a confusing thing to many baseball analysts and I figured that I should clear the air a bit on this. Guys like Tommy Hanson and Neftali Feliz are the ones who are sitting around because of the arbitration years issue.
2) Alcides Escobar (SS/2B) -- Brewers -- Suddenly the Brewers wealth of infielders has been whittled down due to the injuries to Rickie Weeks and JJ Hardy. Weeks is out for the season, but Hardy will be OK in a few days after leaving a game due to back spasms.
Escobar has started the past few games at 2B for the Nashville Sounds, without a doubt this is in order to prepare him for his promotion to Milwaukee in the very near future. Escobar is an amazing defensive SS and not be the one switching positions but whatever the case this kid will be fantasy relevant very soon.
He has tremendous speed as evidenced with his 20 stolen bases already in AAA. He is a big kid who has added some muscle the past two seasons and now projects to hit 10+ HR's in the big leagues. He will likely hit toward the bottom of the Brewers order which will give him some fine RBI opportunities as well.
This is one of the best middle infield fantasy prospects that you will see this season so don't drop the ball when and if you get the opportunity to add him in the next week or so.
3) Ross Detwiler (LHP - Starter) -- Nationals -- If it is not obvious that Detwiler is ready for the big leagues after his two starts this week then I have never seen a major league ready pitcher in my life.
He tossed 11 innings giving up just three earned runs (2.45 ERA), struck out 10 batters and posting a 0.81 WHIP. Many scouts believed that Detwiler was major league ready when he was drafted in 2007.
He offers four plus pitches that he can throw for strikes and command on any count. He throws a 96 MPH fastball and can go to two seamer with downward sink in ground ball situations. His curveball has a tight spin and a big late break while his changeup has become a go-to pitch for him with supreme fade on it.
It is no surprise to see him doing well at this level. He is a much better prospect in my opinion than Jordan Zimmerman and will no doubt have much more fantasy upside. I don't expect him to spend any more time in the minor leagues this season or ever again.
4) Sean Rodriguez (2B/SS) -- Angels -- Rodriguez is next on the Angels list of impressive infield prospects. Brandon Wood seems to only hit in the minors, Howie Kendrick cannot get on base enough and Erick Aybar hasn't quite met previous expectations.
Rodriguez is among the leaders in HR (16) and RBI (47) in all of the minor leagues. He's raised his average to .280 with a .373 OBP which should be awfully tempting to the Angels right about now. Rodriguez has also cut down on his strikeouts this year, something that has been stressed to him after his brief stint in L.A. last season.
This guy can do some damage if put in the Angels lineup right now. He also has enough speed to swipe 15 bases or so in Mike Scioscia's aggressive system.
5) Yorvit Torrealba (Catcher) -- Rockies -- I've got a feeling about this guy right now and I just don't know what it is. He has proven to be a streaky hitter over his career and I just can't help but think that he'll have a nice little run while starting in place of the injured Chris Ianetta.
The catcher position is a wasteland right now as far as free agent are concerned and thus why Torrealba merits a mention in this weeks Hot Eight. You are going to get a full 15 days from Torrealba as Ianetta's hamstring injury will keep him out at least that amount of time.
If you are waiting on either Matt Wieters to be called up or Geovany Soto to regain form then I suggest taking a shot on Torrealba because anything you can get out of your catcher is a big plus in fantasy baseball.
6) Jake Fox (Outfield) -- Cubs -- Something needs to be done about Jake Fox. What he is doing at AAA Iowa is just disgusting. I mentioned Fox earlier in the season as his power numbers began to soar very early on.
I am convinced that he will eventually be a part of a trade, most likely to San Diego if Cubs ownership ever approved additional payroll needed to land Jake Peavy.
But a .423/.503/.908 line with 17 HR's, 50 RBI and only 26 K's in 142 AB's cannot be ignored much longer no matter how crowded your outfield is. Fox is killing AAA right now and every day that goes bye without him being promoted (or traded!) is an embarrassment to anyone who follows baseball.
7) Dale Thayer (RHP - Reliever) -- Rays -- The impending injury/retirement of Troy Percival leaves many questions in the Rays bullpen. The guy I thought would be the closer by now, Grant Balfour has a 5.03 ERA and a 1.80 WHIP and looks nothing like his 2008 self.
Enter Dale Thayer, who has collected 138 minor league saves in his career and is throwing lights out this season at AAA Durham with a 0.95 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP.
Thayer isn't necessarily a strikeout pitcher, but he has made a living getting people out and finishing off games. The Rays are crying out for a closer to step up right now and there is a good chance that Thayer will fall into that role real soon.
He already has recorded a three-inning save in his first major league appearance so the time to acquire him is right now before the rest of the world catches on.
8) Tony Gwynn Jr. (Outfield) -- Padres -- There isn't much in his history outside of his bloodline that tells us the younger Gwynn is anything more than a marginal major league player. But, the trade to San Diego seems to have set off a mountain of momentum that I could see propelling Gwynn to his best major league season ever.
He was hitting .309 with a .382 OBP in AAA this season with 15 stolen bases. Being closer to his Dad and getting everyday playing time for the franchise he grew up with is a very nice fit for a player like Gwynn. Maybe it is a sentimental pick, but anyone who knows me knows feelings never get in the way of reasonable thought.
I wouldn't go out and pick up Gwynn just yet, but monitor his numbers over the next week or two. If it comes to be that he is playing everyday and getting big hits for the Padres (somebody has to, right?) then add him to your outfield.
Any sort of BA or OBP along with the stolen base opportunities will make Gwynn surprisingly fantasy relevant down the stretch.
That is the Hot 8 for this week. What do you guys think? Post your comments below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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