Fantasy Baseball: Nine to Watch

Kenny SteinCorrespondent IJuly 2, 2008

Whether they're a perennial fantasy all-star or fodder for the waiver wire, these are nine guys who I simply feel like talking about and why I'll be keeping an eye on their stats.

In no particular order:

Brad Hawpe

He seemed to assert himself as another solid Rockies hitter last season with a 29-homer, 116 RBI effort.

But after a few weeks into the season it seemed like he could fall into a different, less-desired category: The one-hit wonder Rockies. (See: Preston Wilson, Clint Barmes, Troy Tulowitzki)

Luckily, Hawpe seemed to find the cure for what ailed him after a trip to the DL. In his last 80 at bats Hawpe has hit .300, with eight home runs, 18 RBI, 53 total bases and is reaching base nearly 40 percent of the time.

The best part about it? Hawpe has been moved to the clean-up spot. Gotta love high altitudes.

Chris Davis, Texas

I just hate it when I see ownership and/or GMs make the "business" decision to send down a rookie when an aging veteran who isn't doing much is gets off the DL.

It seems to me that winning and home runs are pretty good for "business." Yet, I keep hearing that once Hank Blalock gets activated off the DL, Davis goes back to triple A where he has nothing left to prove.

In 15 at-bats, Davis has five hits, two home runs, five RBI, and has scored three runs. I don't care if you play him at first, third, or DH.  Can I just see this guy play for an extended period of time? I like what I've seen so far.

Hanley Ramirez

I don't know what's stranger. The fact that a skinny kid like Hanley Ramirez is tied for the league lead in homers the past month with 11 or that he's tied with Marcus Thames and JD Drew.

Either way, I've got my eye on this kid.

He was the best player on the planet for the first few weeks of the season, then he got his big paycheck and it looked like we crowned him as player of the decade too early. But with a line of .298, 11 HR, 18 RBI, 27 runs, 75 total bases, and seven SB over the last 30 days, I think its okay to crown him the player of June.

Billy Butler

Billy Butler's back and you're gonna be in trouble. (Hey na, hey na, Butler's back.)

I don't really know where that came from, but I do know where Butler came from. The "fix your mechanics" world of AAA. And it seemed he did.

I just think its refreshing to finally see a DH that looks like a DH. A guy who you look at and "he must play great defense" isn't the first thing that comes to mind. Or the second, third, or fourth thing. He just looks like a guy that can mash.

He's gone 4-for-8 in his two starts since returning (0-for-1 as a pinch hitter) and I get the feeling that with Kansas City seeing improved play from Jose Guillen, Mike Aviles, David Dejesus and Alex Gordon, Butler will get plenty of RBI opportunities and be a major contributor in the 2nd half.

Miguel Cabrera

I just traded away Cabrera in my keeper league but not because I don't think he's going to bounce back. Only because I got Matt Holliday in return. (It was a 6-player deal, I don't think I'd get him straight up)

But this happens to almost everybody that switches leagues. You struggle for awhile and then bounce back eventually. Cabrera's track record is too long and too consistent to just fall off now.

And really, in a "down year" he's still on pace to drive in nearly 100 runs with 22 homers. Not a great year by Cabrera, that's for sure, but when he returns to form,Tigers fans will be happy they have him.

The real question is where would the Marlins be if they hadn't traded Cabrera? With Cameron Maybin in the minors and Andrew Miller not exactly pitching lights out, it would be something special to watch Hanley and Cabrera play together for one more season.

After his recent hip flexor, maybe a Hawpe-like trip to the DL would be the best thing for him.

Clay Buchholz

Just call him up!!!! Geeze! I hate the Red Sox, but this guy is tearing it up in the minors and is completely healthy.

And I know that Bartolo Colon is still going to get a chance before Buchholz does. Masterson has done a very good job, but Buchholz is your top prospect and he is ready now,  as evidenced by him striking out more than a batter per inning.

I need this guy on my fantasy team to start contributing, so give him another shot. Soon!

Chan Ho Park (Back with Dodgers in case you missed it)

Another thing that you may have missed is that Park is pitching...and pitching well.

I know, it shocked me too.

For the season he has a 2.45 ERA in 55 innings  with four wins and a save. And over the last month his K's have shot up to 10.55 per nine innings with 25 of them in 21.1 innings.

He also sports an ERA of 2.53, a WHIP of 1.17 and a K/BB ratio of 6.25 during that span.

Maybe its the return to LA, maybe its pitching out of the bullpen, who knows. Something has happened to Chan Ho to revitalize him and I'm all for it. I just picked him up myself a couple days ago, something that I thought I'd never, ever say.

Brandon Morrow, Seattle

I am sick and tired of hearing people say that the Mariners were fools for picking Morrow ahead of Clayton Kershaw and Tim Lincecum. Can we let these guys reach the age of 25 before we start judging who has had the better career?

Last time I checked Kershaw has not done much since being called up, which still gives him a chance of being a minor league wonder that never panned out. Morrow is really starting to pan out.

Nobody would have ever guessed that at this point in the season a Mariners reliever not name JJ Putz would have an ERA of 0.74, a WHIP of 0.86 along with 35 strikeouts in 24 innings

But those are the ridiculous numbers that Morrow has thus far.

For the rest of the season, Morrow could do one of three things, either A.) Close and be among the saves leaders for the final three months, because the Mariners traded Putz to a contender, B.) Setup for Putz when he is activated and be less useful for fantasy owners but still put up great numbers, or C.) Get sent down to the minors and stretch out his arm to be a starter in 2009.

I'm sure that Morrow will be starting in 2009, but I still can't imagine the Mariners not wanting this guy around all season long. I know I do.

Rick Ankiel

Love him. Hate him. Love him. Hate him. This is what runs through my head every few days with Ankiel.

His career has been so crazy and so up and down, that I just don't know what to think of the guy. Last year, I couldn't wait to see what he'd do if he got the call up and I wasn't disappointed.

This year, I can't wait to see Colby Rasmus get the call up so I can see what he can do. And if that means Ankiel is in a platoon situation, so be it.

That seemed plausible not too long ago. Mired in a season-long slump, could he have come and gone so quickly as a hitter, just like he did as a pitcher?

Not so fast. Ankiel has hit eight homers in his last 86 at bats, including four in the past week.

Even with all the power, Ankiel will never be a guy who hits above .280 and therefore will need to rely on stellar defense if he's to avoid being the next Russell Branyan.

I would love to see him go crazy and slug 50 homers one year, but as it stands now, I just like to watch him play.


    Pitcher Pukes 2x on Mound and Finishes Inning 🤮

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    Pitcher Pukes 2x on Mound and Finishes Inning 🤮

    Scott Polacek
    via Bleacher Report

    Baez Leaves Game with Arm Injury

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    Baez Leaves Game with Arm Injury

    Tim Daniels
    via Bleacher Report

    MLB Players Honor Their Dads on Father's Day

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    MLB Players Honor Their Dads on Father's Day

    via MLB

    Longoria (Hand) Expected to Miss 6-8 Weeks

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    Longoria (Hand) Expected to Miss 6-8 Weeks

    Adam Wells
    via Bleacher Report