Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Top-10 Pickups for Week 9

Jason Catania@@JayCat11MLB Lead WriterMay 26, 2014

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Top-10 Pickups for Week 9

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    Stephen Drew finally inked a deal with the Red Sox last week, but Kendrys Morales is the better fantasy pickup even though he's still a free agent.
    Stephen Drew finally inked a deal with the Red Sox last week, but Kendrys Morales is the better fantasy pickup even though he's still a free agent.Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    A new week, another batch of waiver-wire additions, just the way you like 'em: hot and fresh out of the oven.

    From now until the end of the fantasy season, you'll find a rundown of the top waiver-wire pickups right here every Monday as you get set to face another week of lineup decisions and roster additions.

    Some players mentioned last week—including Tyson Ross, Drew Hutchison, Josh Beckett, Drew Pomeranz, Trevor Bauer, Seth Smith and Sean Doolittle—are already owned in many leagues by now, but they remain quality pickups if they're still available.

    In the interest of keeping the names new, though, let's avoid any repeats. Here are the top 10 waiver-wire pickups for Week 9.

    All ownership percentages courtesy of ESPN Fantasy Baseball. Players owned in more than 50 percent of leagues were not considered.

    Statistics are accurate through Sunday and come from Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs, unless otherwise noted.

Just Missed

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    With three homers and eight RBI over his past five games, Mark Reynolds is on one of his hot streaks.
    With three homers and eight RBI over his past five games, Mark Reynolds is on one of his hot streaks.Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Mike Leake, SP, Cincinnati Reds (34.1 Percent Owned)

    Tyler Skaggs, SP, Los Angeles Angels (14.6 Percent Owned)

    Jose Quintana, SP, Chicago White Sox (8.1 Percent Owned)

    Mark Reynolds, 1B/3B, Milwaukee Brewers (15.6 Percent Owned)

    Mitch Moreland, 1B, Texas Rangers (2.4 Percent Owned)

    Kolten Wong, 2B, St. Louis Cardinals (11.5 Percent Owned)

    Rafael Montero, SP, New York Mets (1.2 Percent Owned)

    Jaime Garcia, SP, St. Louis Cardinals (9.6 Percent Owned)

    Ike Davis, 1B, Pittsburgh Pirates (1.9 Percent Owned)

    Dexter Fowler, OF, Houston Astros (44.0 Percent Owned)

    Gordon Beckham, 2B, Chicago White Sox (20.4 Percent Owned)

Closer Circle

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    Converted starter Jenrry Mejia looks like he's gained some traction as the Mets closer.
    Converted starter Jenrry Mejia looks like he's gained some traction as the Mets closer.Kathy Kmonicek/Associated Press

    Because there's so much ninth-inning volatility, the overlooked/new/replacement/interim/potential closers who are available in the majority of leagues are listed on this slide as follows:

    • Jenrry Mejia, RP, New York Mets (25.5 Percent Owned)
    • Zach Britton, RP, Baltimore Orioles (41.2 Percent Owned)
    • Chad Qualls, RP, Houston Astros (25.6 Percent Owned)
    • Daniel Webb, RP, Chicago White Sox (1.2 Percent Owned)
    • Bryan Shaw, RP, Cleveland Indians (15.4 Percent Owned)
    • Cody Allen, RP, Cleveland Indians (30.5 Percent Owned)
    • John Axford, RP, Cleveland Indians (48.9 Percent Owned)
    • Adam Ottavino, RP, Colorado Rockies (0.2 Percent Owned)
    • Rex Brothers, RP, Colorado Rockies (33.0 Percent Owned)
    • Jake McGee, RP, Tampa Bay Rays (0.8 Percent Owned)
    • Joel Peralta, RP, Tampa Bay Rays (0.3 Percent Owned)
    • Brad Boxberger, RP, Tampa Bay Rays (0.0 Percent Owned)
    • Jeurys Familia, RP, New York Mets (0.2 Percent Owned)
    • Ronald Belisario, RP, Chicago White Sox (14.0 Percent Owned)
    • Jose Valverde, RP, New York Mets (7.0 Percent Owned)
    • Darren O'Day, RP, Baltimore Orioles (6.6 Percent Owned)

No. 10: Jake Odorizzi, SP, Tampa Bay Rays (6.1 Percent Owned)

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    Considered more of an innings-eating mid-rotation arm as a prospect, Jake Odorizzi has achieved results that don't quite jibe with that profile so far in his first full season.

    The 24-year-old right-hander has yet to throw more than six innings in any of his 10 starts, but he's also started to rack up strikeouts at a rate much higher than anticipated with 57 in 49.1 innings.

    Over his past four turns, including Sunday's six-inning, one-run start against the Red Sox, Odorizzi's been particularly impressive in that aspect—and overall—as he's allowed just four runs on 14 hits in 21.2 frames with a whopping 31 whiffs.

    A fantasy spot starter, Odorizzi is slated to see Boston again on Saturday, and if the Sox are still struggling, give him a whirl. 

No. 9: Collin McHugh, SP, Houston Astros (9.1 Percent Owned)

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    Collin McHugh, it seems, has turned into a sidekick for Dallas Keuchel as a second unknown Astros starter who continues to throw well.

    McHugh, 26, is a finesse arm, but he's also getting hitters to swing and miss at his well-located mix of stuff. Through his first six starts, he's totaled 41 strikeouts in 38.0 innings. His other numbers are good, too, including a 3.32 ERA and 1.03 WHIP.

    Be wary here, because McHugh has blowup potential given that he relies on location and command, but with his next turn coming Tuesday against a weak Royals offense, he's worth a start.

No. 8: Gavin Floyd, SP, Atlanta Braves (8.4 Percent Owned)

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    While the Atlanta Braves lost starters Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy to a second Tommy John surgery each before the season, they've benefited from another arm who has recovered from the procedure in Gavin Floyd.

    The former White Sox starter has been quite good in his first four outings since making his debut in early May. To wit, the 31-year-old has hurled 25.1 frames and surrendered only 32 baserunners (1.26 WHIP) and seven earned runs (2.49 ERA) while striking out 24. His fastball is again in the low-90s, and that tight curveball is back, too, as the video above proves.

    Oh, and after his work against the red-hot Rockies offense last time out on Friday, Floyd has gone up against the Cardinals twice and Giants, too. That's some stiff competition against which he's succeeded.

    Floyd gets Boston on Wednesday, and with the way the Red Sox have been self-destructing—10 straight losses!—he could have a fifth consecutive solid start.

No. 7: Stephen Drew, SS, Boston Red Sox (3.0 Percent Owned)

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    After he spent the first quarter-plus of this season unsigned before finally (and mercifully) being offered a one-year deal at a prorated rate of the $14.1 million qualifying offer he rejected at the start of last offseason, Stephen Drew's return can't come soon enough for the Red Sox. You might've heard: They've lost 10 games in a row.

    For both real life and fantasy purposes, though, Drew isn't exactly a savior. Sure, his production should be somewhat steady and useful for owners in need of something at shortstop or middle infield, but the 31-year-old is more of a deep-league pickup and starter.

    For now, Drew is on a rhythm-finding rehab assignment, and the plan is to have him accumulate about 25 at-bats in the minors before rejoining the Red Sox. If that holds true, he should be back by early next week, if not sooner.

No. 6: Maikel Franco, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies (0.0 Percent Owned)

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Second-year third baseman Cody Asche had been hitting well in May (.317 BA, 3 HR, .956 OPS), but he was put on the disabled list over the weekend with a hamstring strain. That opens up the possibility that the Phillies could promote top prospect Maikel Franco to handle third base in the short term, as Matt Gelb of The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

    Philly does have other options, like infielder Cesar Hernandez, but none are all that appealing for a team that is trying to stick around in the NL East. Franco is a 21-year-old righty hitter who had a true breakout campaign in 2013 when he batted .320/.356/.569 with 36 doubles, 31 homers and 103 RBI between High-A and Double-A.

    While he started slow in his first go at Triple-A with a .172/.234/.253 line through April, Franco has picked it up quite a bit in May with a triple slash of .301/.389/.482 to go with six doubles, three homers, 12 RBI and as many walks as strikeouts (11 apiece).

    Franco may struggle to adjust in the majors because he has an aggressive approach, but he's not a bad stash on spec to see what happens and how he fares if he does, in fact, get the call.

No. 5: Rougned Odor, 2B, Texas Rangers (0.7 Percent Owned)

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    We covered the call-up of Rougned Odor in this space a few weeks ago, but the rookie merits another mention here given the circumstances.

    For one thing, you probably heard that fellow former highly regarded infield prospect Jurickson Profar now is expected to miss most, if not all, of the season after re-aggravating his shoulder injury.

    For another, you should be aware that Odor has shown he can hang in the majors despite being just 20 years old and having played all of 62 games at Double-A before making his debut.

    Sure, the speedy, lefty-swinging Odor has yet to take a walk and has been unsuccessful in his three stolen base attempts in his first 13 games, but he's also gone 12-for-40 (.300) with four extra-base hits, including a homer and two triples (video of which can be seen up top).

    With Profar's setback and the Rangers still eyeing a playoff spot despite a ridiculous rash of injuries, expect Odor to be the starting second baseman going forward. The only way he loses the gig would be if he struggles, but there's the potential here for some sort of fantasy contribution in all five categories, especially runs and steals.

No. 4: Phil Hughes, SP, Minnesota Twins (31.8 Percent Owned)

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    Phil Hughes having success after leaving hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium—just about the worst park around for a homer-prone right-hander—isn't entirely shocking. That he's having this much success, though, is at least a little surprising.

    The 27-year-old already has five wins and is sporting a 3.15 ERA and 1.20 WHIP. And in case you haven't noticed, he hasn't walked a single batter since April 20—six starts ago! For the year, Hughes has a spectacular 47-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 54.1 frames.

    While Hughes has never fulfilled his former top-prospect status, he's shown flashes almost every season of his career. He's still hittable (9.1 H/9), so there's risk here, but maybe leaving New York and pitching in a much more forgiving Target Field will do the trick.

No. 3: Kendrys Morales, 1B, Free Agent (14.5 Percent Owned)

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    While fellow stranded free agent Stephen Drew is the one who actually signed a contract and will be back perhaps as soon as next week, Kendrys Morales is the better fantasy add.

    The 30-year-old first baseman/designated hitter remains on the open market, but he's bound to get signed soon enough; once the draft begins on June 5, Morales will no longer cost the team that signs him a compensatory draft pick for reneging the qualifying offer in the offseason.

    In other words, in about 10 days, a switch-hitter who hit .273 with 22 homers in 2012 and .277 with 23 homers last year will be picked up by someone. So after spending so many months in the irrelevant bin, Morales should be hitting in the middle of some club's lineup (the Rangers?), which will make him a fantasy factor again by mid-June.

    Go grab him now for the payoff later.

No. 2: Marcell Ozuna, OF, Miami Marlins (41.1 Percent Owned)

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    In just his second season (and first full one) in the majors, Marcell Ozuna has proved to be a streaky sucker.

    At April's end, the 23-year-old former top prospect was hitting .310 with four homers and 16 RBI in 26 games. His average, though, dipped all the way down to a season-low .248 on May 20.

    Since then? Ozuna's started up what seems like another hot stretch. In his past five contests, he's gone 7-for-19 (.368) with three homers and eight RBI.

    All in all, the righty slugger has a solid enough .261 average, but his real strength is, well, his strength: Ozuna has nine homers and 31 RBI for the season, and his power production was always his calling card while coming up.

    If you can stand some cold spells and a so-so average, Ozuna has the potential to hit 25 homers and drive in 80-plus.

No. 1: Chris Archer, SP, Tampa Bay Rays (47.7 Percent Owned)

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    If there's a theme this week, it's pitchers who made the Red Sox look bad. That's not all that tough to do these days—remember, they haven't won any of their last 10 games!—but Chris Archer made 'em look extra silly on Friday.

    The 25-year-old righty registered 11 strikeouts over six scoreless innings for his second straight start in which he held the opposition without a run after doing the same to the Angels in his previous game.

    Sure, Archer walked nine in 11.2 innings over those two outings and has a borderline-dangerous 3.8 BB/9 for the year, but a pair of fortunate starts could be just what he needed to turn around his season. Following his breakout 2013, Archer's ERA and WHIP sit at 4.11 and 1.44, respectively—and that's after these past two.

    No wonder Archer was mass dropped in enough leagues to be available in more than half of ESPN formats. But owners who snag him have to hope that his robust 8.2 K/9 and 3.22 FIP mean there's more to come.

    To talk baseball or fantasy baseball, check in with me on Twitter: @JayCat11