Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Top-10 Pickups for Week 10
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 Chris Archer, Marcell Ozuna, Phil Hughes, Collin McHugh, Kolten Wong and Jaime Garcia—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 10.
All ownership percentages courtesy of ESPN Fantasy Baseball. Players owned in more than 50 percent of leagues were not considered.
Wilson Ramos, C, Washington Nationals (43.1 percent owned)
Corey Dickerson, OF, Colorado Rockies (1.4 percent owned)
Conor Gillaspie, 3B, Chicago White Sox (7.1 percent owned)
Tommy La Stella, 2B, Atlanta Braves (1.0 percent owned)
Tom Koehler, SP, Miami Marlins (12.6 percent owned)
Roenis Elias, SP, Seattle Mariners (4.2 percent owned)
Jorge De La Rosa, SP, Colorado Rockies (26.6 percent owned)
Ryan Vogelsong, SP, San Francisco Giants (31.9 percent owned)
A.J. Pierzynski, C Boston Red Sox (34.7 percent owned)
Yonder Alonso, 1B, San Diego Padres (3.3 percent owned)
Because there's so much ninth-inning volatility, the overlooked/new/replacement/interim/potential closers who are available in the majority of leagues are ranked on this slide as follows:
- Cody Allen, RP, Cleveland Indians (29.8 percent owned)
- Chad Qualls, RP, Houston Astros (35.6 percent owned)
- Daniel Webb, RP, Chicago White Sox (0.8 percent owned)
- Joe Smith, RP, Los Angeles Angels (41.3 percent owned)
- Bryan Shaw, RP, Cleveland Indians (8.4 percent owned)
- Adam Ottavino, RP, Colorado Rockies (0.7 percent owned)
- Rex Brothers, RP, Colorado Rockies (29.0 percent owned)
- Jake McGee, RP, Tampa Bay Rays (1.4 percent owned)
- Darren O'Day, RP, Baltimore Orioles (4.5 percent owned)
- John Axford, RP, Cleveland Indians (45.6 percent owned)
- Jeurys Familia, RP, New York Mets (0.4 percent owned)
- Vic Black, RP, New York Mets (0.0 percent owned)
- Ronald Belisario, RP, Chicago White Sox (15.6 percent owned)
- Josh Fields, RP, Houston Astros (0.8 percent owned)
No. 10: Marcus Stroman, SP/RP, Toronto Blue Jays (1.1 Percent Owned)
Maybe Marcus Stroman simply needs to be a starting pitcher in the majors rather than a reliever. The Blue Jays brought up the 23-year-old in early May and used him out of the bullpen, which didn't go all that well, as he allowed 13 hits and nine earned runs through his first 6.1 big league innings.
Upon recalling the 2012 first-rounder on Saturday, though, Toronto inserted him into the rotation, and Stroman responded with six frames of five-hit, one-run ball with six strikeouts and no walks, earning the win in the process.
Granted, the undersized right-hander (5'9") beat a Kansas City Royals team that ranks among the bottom 10 in baseball in runs per game (3.80) and dead last with 24 homers, but Stroman was impressive, nonetheless.
Pitching in the AL East is never easy, even if the offenses in the division are having a bit of a down year. But then again, the Jays offense is thriving and will be backing Stroman going forward. There are bound to be bumps along the way as Stroman transitions to the big league level, but he's worth snatching up to see if his potential turns into fantasy production.
No. 9: Rubby De La Rosa, SP/RP, Boston Red Sox (1.4 Percent Owned)
While Rubby De La Rosa has spent the past two-plus seasons first recovering from Tommy John surgery and then being more or less forgotten about while stuck in Triple-A after joining the Red Sox as part of that blockbuster, the hard-throwing righty did his best to remind everyone just how good he can be on Saturday.
Sure, his opponent was a hapless (if riled up) Tampa Bay Rays squad, but RDLR dominated with seven scoreless innings in which he allowed only four hits while whiffing eight. One gets the feeling that he might've dominated no matter the competition.
If his place in the Red Sox rotation were more secure going forward, the 25-year-old De La Rosa would be an even more promising pickup. As is, however, the former Los Angeles Dodgers prospect is a very intriguing option given his big arm and pedigree.
No. 8: Jake DeGrom, SP, New York Mets (4.1 Percent Owned)
With one of Jake deGrom and Rafael Montero, two of the Mets young right-handed pitching prospects vying to stay in the five-man over the weekend, the former made the latter more or less irrelevant.
After Montero, 22, had been battered by the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday, the 25-year-old deGrom struck out 11 batters over six frames on his way to posting his fourth straight quality start to open his big league career.
Based on his early numbers, deGrom needs to reduce the walks and homers—he's surrendered 12 free passes and four long balls in 26.0 innings—but otherwise, his 2.42 ERA, 5.5 H/9 and 8.7 K/9 have him looking like a nice spot starter with some upside.
He has the kind of arm that can succeed pitching in the NL and at Citi Field, and he's scheduled to face the Chicago Cubs on Thursday as he goes for his first career "W."
No. 7: Jonathon Niese, SP, New York Mets (42.4 Percent Owned)
Speaking of Mets pitchers who have been compiling quality starts, Jon Niese is 8-for-11 in that regard, but he easily could have 10 if he'd gotten merely one more out on two different occasions to reach the required six innings.
In fantasy, the lefty Niese has become a sort of Rodney Dangerfield of pitchers—he gets no respect. Despite an injury scare at the outset of 2014, the 27-year-old has been healthy and very startable almost every time out thanks to a 2.69 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. We tried to get you on board a month ago, too.
Niese's strikeout rate is down a bit from years past (6.5 K/9), but he's managed at least five whiffs in seven of his outings, including Sunday, when he went a season-high eight innings and struck out six Phillies while giving up just two runs for what was yet another quality start.
No. 6: Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Houston Astros (0.5 Percent Owned)
Don't laugh; the Houston Astros are playing well lately.
With youngsters like MLB hits leader Jose Altuve and Mr. Seven-Homers-in-Seven-Games George Springer atop the lineup, their offense is gelling and scored the eighth-most runs in the league in the month of May.
Unquestionably, though, the biggest hole in Houston remains at first base. The combination of Marc Krauss, Jesus Guzman and Chris Carter has combined for a laughably low .291 SLG and .561 OPS—both numbers being the worst in baseball in their respective category.
That will change soon enough, as Jonathan Singleton is not only arguably the top first base prospect in the minors, but he's also ready to take on The Show. The 22-year-old has cooled since we suggested him as a pickup back in Week 4 after a monster April performance (.293/.398/.646), but he's still sporting a .941 OPS overall and has 14 homers to his name.
Don't expect him to be more than a corner infield fill-in upon his promotion, which is inevitable this month, but Singleton has good power and, for those of you in on-base percentage leagues, great plate discipline.
No. 5: Andrew Heaney, SP, Miami Marlins (0.2 Percent Owned)
Arguably the top lefty pitching prospect in baseball right now, Andrew Heaney is making a push to debut with the Marlins right around two years after they picked him ninth overall in the 2012 draft.
Just promoted to Triple-A after having his way with Double-A hitters (2.35 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 8.7 K/9), Heaney's third outing at the level didn't go all that well (6.0 IP, 11 H, 5 ER), but he was pitching at one of baseball's toughest parks in Colorado Springs. Besides, his first two starts for New Orleans were dandies, including one where he posted six shutout innings of one-hit ball at the end of May.
At this point, Heaney has been too good and the Marlins rotation is too tattered and weak at the back end for them not to promote him in the next week or two. Heaney turns 23 on June 5, and he's got the stuff to be a gift for fantasy owners who act now and pick him up ahead of time.
No. 4: Josh Willingham, OF, Minnesota Twins (6.2 Percent Owned)
A 35-year-old 11-year veteran, Josh Willingham may not be quite as sexy and exciting as the prospects on the previous slides, but if you're an owner who needs help now, he's worth grabbing while he's hot.
Recovered from a wrist injury that cost him all but six games at the start of 2014, Willingham made his way back into the lineup at the very end of May. Since then, he's managed only six hits in seven games—but three of them have left the park, including one each in three of his past four games.
While his 2013 performance was disappointing (again, in part due to injuries that limited him to 111 games), Willingham did knock 35 homers in 2012 and 29 in 2011. He won't approach those numbers again in 2014, but Willingham could be a nice, cheap source of 15-to-20-homer power from here on out. Just don't expect him to be of much help in the batting average department.
No. 3: Oswaldo Arcia, OF, Minnesota Twins (5.4 Percent Owned)
While we're on the topic of Twins hitters with power who have battled through wrist injuries, hey, here's Oswaldo Arcia.
The former top prospect was hindered for a month by the ailment, and then the Twins kept him in the minors to prove himself and/or gain some confidence all over again once he was healthy. Since returning to the Twins seven games ago, he's gone 11-for-30 (.367) with five extra-base hits, including two homers.
Although Arcia needs to improve his plate discipline a little, this is a 23-year-old with enough power in his bat—he hit 14 four-baggers in only 378 plate appearances as a rookie last year—to make him a possible third or fourth fantasy outfielder this season—if it all clicks into place.
No. 2: Zack Wheeler, SP, New York Mets (49.9 Percent Owned)
To say Zack Wheeler had a rough go of it at times early on would be putting it kindly. Over a four-start stretch from early to mid-May, the righty allowed 37 baserunners and 14 earned runs in 20.1 innings, which left his ERA bordering on 5.00 and his WHIP nearing 1.60 at one point. That is not good, especially for a pitcher whom many pegged as a breakout candidate heading into 2014.
Things can change quickly, though, when it comes to young arms, and that's looking like the case with Wheeler, who only just turned 24 on May 30 and has made all of 28 big league starts between this year and last.
Yes, it's a minute sample size, but if his past two outings are any indication, Wheeler is starting to figure it out. The right-hander has dropped his ERA to 4.31, and most importantly for a kid with more than occasional command and control struggles, his K/BB is a sparkling 16/1 over 13.1 innings.
Wheeler may not be easy to own or trust, but he's the kind of arm that an owner should want to add to the roster if he's available due to the chance that the light switch flicks when he's on your team—and the possibility that it does when he's not.
No. 1: Gregory Polanco, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates (22.2 Percent Owned)
Gregory Polanco is about to follow in the footsteps of George Springer and the just-promoted Oscar Taveras (who we highlighted back in early May and already is owned in far too many leagues to qualify here again) to become yet another top outfield prospect to get the call and make a fantasy impact this season.
In case you're somehow not aware of Polanco—and really, if that's the case, then maybe this whole fantasy baseball thing isn't for you—here's the lowdown: he's a 22-year-old athletic, sinewy, strong lefty hitter with speed who's spent the first two months of 2014 tearing up Triple-A with a .350/.411/.548 line, 26 extra-base hits (six homers) and 14 steals.
The only thing that's kept him from making his major league debut to this point? The Pirates' penny-pinching ways, as they're trying to properly time the Super Two deadline so they won't have to deal with Polanco going through arbitration four times instead of the usual three. While there's no exact date, prospects who are promoted on or after June 15 typically don't qualify.
That gives the fantasy world about two weeks before being formally introduced to Polanco, who may not be a Super Two player but has the tools and the opportunity in Pittsburgh to be plain super, and soon. If he happens to be available in your league, go get him—like now.
To talk baseball or fantasy baseball, check in with me on Twitter: @JayCat11