Several new faces have shown up over the past week. Some of the names you may know while some are relatively unknown to the average fantasy owner. These players are slowly making their way on to fantasy rosters, but should they be and are they right for your leagues? Lets take a look.
Domingo Santana: I discussed Santana several weeks ago when I broke down the Houston Astros for 2016. To sum things up; he has decent power, hitting 23 and 25 home runs in A+ and AA the previous 2 seasons. Prior to his promotion, Santana had 13 home runs in AAA along with a .304 batting average over 319 at bats. While that may look enticing, he also has 99 strikeouts this year and K’s have always been an issue for Santana. He may get off to a hot start and you could catch lightning in a bottle. Any short-term success he has could be short-lived once pitchers get a look at him and figure him out. He primarily played right field in the minors, so he may make some mistakes early on getting used to playing in a new field. Owners are starting to grab him, but Santana is not for everyone. In 10 team leagues you can add him to your watch list, but there is no need to add him. In 12 and 14 team leagues that use 4 or more outfielders he’s worth a speculative add if you’re hoping for a hot start, but I wouldn’t drop an established bat or arm for him. You can probably take a wait and see approach in these leagues unless you play in a league where prospects are scooped up the second they’re promoted. AL only and 16 team leagues or deeper he should already be owned, but if he’s available throw a dart his way.
Odrisamer Despaigne: His brief time in the minor wasn’t exactly a success, but those 7 games were basically spring training for the Cuban import. Still 18 walks in 32 minor league innings is a little worrisome, and 4 in his second game vs Arizona shows he still has some work to do. He did have 41 strikeouts in the minors, but so far only 3 in the majors. He has 5 pitches in his arsenal, but the sinker is his bread and butter pitch. So what did he do before joining the Padres? Despaigne played for the Cuban National baseball team, making his debut in 2007 for the Industriales. It took me some time, but here’s what I dug up from his time in Cuba.
** The 2013 Season was split into two halves with 8 teams advancing from the first round to play in the second half.
There is decent but not lights out strikeout potential. The walks issue he had in the minors for the Padres has been a problem for years. He’s good at limiting the number of home runs allowed, and his new home park will help to keep that in check. He’s well-stretched out for the remainder of this season, throwing 142 innings last year. Is this someone to own in fantasy. Not in 10 team leagues, pitching is usually plentiful there. 12 and 14 team leagues I think he deserves a flyer. Since it will take teams time to scout him out, he could have success in his first run through the league. NL only and 16 teams or deeper, absolutely roster him. The Padres are desperate for pitching that Despaigne will be given a somewhat long leash. I grabbed him in 2 leagues, just to monitor him from my bench.
Mookie Betts: Peter Waterman covered Mookie in-depth on Tuesday, you can click on the link and read all about him. I can’t really argue with anything Pete has to say regarding Betts. I don’t see him getting enough consistent playing time to make a difference. He’ll get some at bats playing in the outfield but has little chance of playing the infield. Shane Victorino could return to his rehab assignment within a week, so Betts has about 2-3 weeks to make an impression. If he doesn’t, Victorino and Brock holt will man 2 of the outfield spots leaving Betts battling it out with Jackie Bradley. Boston also has Gomez and Nava, and if either heats up, Betts is doomed. Mookie has a decent future in the majors, but I don’t see it being this year. Even though he’s flying off the waiver wire, 10, 12 and possibly 14 team leagues can probably leave him. AL only and deeper leagues, use your own discretion. He’s not going to make much of a difference this year.
Oscar Taveras: This is Oscar’s second attempt to catch on, and this time it seems the Cardinals are willing to give him every day at bats for the most part in an attempt to see if he will stick. By this point you should be well aware of Taveras, his talent and what he has to offer. Scouts have raved over his contact rate and raw power, but he is just 21 so fantasy owners should temper their expectations. 2012 in AA was a stand out year. The other years were fine, but they were marred with injuries. Before his call up, Taveras was hitting .318 with 8 home runs in 239 at bats. Extrapolate that over 550 at bats and you’re looking at about 20 home runs. Not bad for a 22-year-old but outfielders that can hit 20 home runs in the majors grow on trees. Taveras has long-term value so odds are he’s gone in keeper/dynasty leagues as well as NL only leagues (as he should be). For the rest of us, 10 team leagues can ignore him for now, especially ones that only use 3 outfielders (I don’t care if you have 2 utility slots). 12 and 14 team leagues he’s worth a gamble, but only if you use 4 outfield slots or have a bench consisting of 6 or more players. The only exception I would make in any of those leagues is if you have some prospect hungry owners. If that’s the case, grab Taveras and flip him as soon as possible to one of those owners. If you can turn a waiver wire pick into an upgrade at another position, do it.
Zach Putnam: OK he isn’t a recent call up and isn’t new to the league, but he could be the new closer for the White Sox. Nothing has been made official, but it appears Robin Ventura is leaning that way. Considering the Sox haven’t had that many save opportunities, even if Putnam wins the job he will only be a low-end option similar to Chad Qualls. He’s available in just over 90% of Yahoo and CBS leagues so if closers go quick in your league, you may want to take a gamble now before anything becomes official.
Could be here soon:
Arismendy Alcantara: He’s come in under the radar as far as prospects go and is forcing the Cubs hand with his performance at AAA this year. So far this year he has 10 home runs and 20 steals with a batting average just over .300. While he hasn’t demonstrated it this year in the minors he does have patience and has the ability to draw a high number of walks. The strikeouts are high but not to the point that they’re out of control. Alcantata could get the call soon after the all-star break, but by then most fantasy publications will have hyped him up to the point that he may not be available. If you have a weak option at second or use a MI slot, a preemptive strike may be in order. Alcantara has the abilities to hit the ground running and could be a difference maker over the final two months.
Other notable additions that might be available:
Joe Smith: Most assumed (including myself) that when Jason Grilli arrived in Los Angeles that he would be handed the 9th inning duties. Surprisingly it was Joe Smith who recorded back to back saves in Tuesday’s double-header. For now it appears that Mike Scioscia has seen the light, or maybe he was told behind closed doors to put Smith in. Regardless, ho-hum Joe Smith is now the closer for the Angels and available in 50% of Yahoo and CBS leagues. He’s worth a flyer if available and I would pick him up, but given Scioscia’s unpredictability I wouldn’t feel 100% owning him. Don’t let that stop you though; use him while he’s getting saves and if he loses his job down the road, worry about it then.
Brock Holt: I made a quick mention of his availability several weeks ago, and yet he is still available in 40% of CBS and 50% of Yahoo leagues. I said this before and I’ll say it again, anyone hitting over .300, receiving full-time at bats at the leadoff position and qualifying for 1st, 3rd and OF should be rostered in leagues with 12 or more teams. I know the power and speed are limited, but the average and run totals make up for that. He’s just a fun player to own and you can plug him into so many places in your lineup. I can’t put him on your team, but I wish I could.
Steve Pearce: Last week I listed Pearce as a player who was being added in way to many leagues. In my mind, he’s a 31-year-old guy who hasn’t had any success in the majors and wasn’t worth a look. Yup, I let my own bias blind me and that doesn’t happen too often. While I still wouldn’t gamble on him, I have to acknowledge what he is doing. Pearce is batting over .300 with 10 home runs in just over 150 at bats. Lefty/Righty, Home/Away, it doesn’t matter where he is or who’s on the mound, he’s hitting. Not only that, Pearce has received full-time at bats over the past two weeks and thanked his manager by clubbing 5 home runs. I’ve always said ride the hot hand, and Pearce is hot and available in 50% of CBS and 70% of Yahoo leagues. Next time I’ll try not to let my personal feelings cloud my judgment.
James Jones: There is zero power here, but what Jones lacks in power he makes up for in speed. Since taking over centerfield in May, Jones has hit .293 with 17 stolen bases (6 in the past 15 days). He hasn’t walked much in the majors, but his minor league track record suggest they will come in time. I think the Mariners will excuse the lack of walks considering he lowered his strikeout percentage to 16.8. While his minor league batting average is only .282, he showed improvements as he advance levels so he should be able to maintain his current average. He’s a 3 category players and if you need steals, Jones is available in 73% of CBS and 87% of Yahoo leagues.
Dan Straily: Traded to the Cubs late Friday night, Straily becomes a person of interest. After a promising showing in his first full year in 2013, Straily took a step back this season and was demoted to AAA to work things out. He struggled to keep the ball in the park, but the rest of his numbers seem ready for the majors again. Now that he’s a member of the Cubs organization and there are several holes in the rotation, it won’t be long before Straily makes his debut in Chicago. Straily is available in over 80% of Yahoo and CBS leagues. In 10 team leagues Straily is a streamer option, but in 12 team leagues or deeper he could make a nice addition for the back end of our rotation. Some 12 team leagues can take a wait and see approach depending on the depth of your bench and aggressiveness of the other owners. Straily is not a must add, but he’s a definite watch.
Taijuan Walker: If you play in a CBS league you have little chance to acquire Walker, but he is available in 50% of Yahoo leagues. Casual fans probably forgot about Walker’s debut last season and he might have been overlooked since he missed the first 3 months of the season with shoulder issues. Walker is now back and if his first start this year is an indicator of things to come, he won’t be available long (that’s a hint Yahoo people). All the hype he received in the past still applies now, and if Walker is available in your league, get him NOW.
Notes on last weeks picks
- Jesse Hahn: He only went 5 innings vs the Reds, but struck out 9 without allowing a run. The window is closing on Hahn and with a potential shutdown looming near the end of July, take advantage of the hot rookie while he’s still useful.
- Jarred Cosart: Seattle smacked him around on Tuesday. With a road game against the Angels and home game against Boston on tap, you may want to exercise caution. Houston’s schedule for the rest of the month after the All-Star Break looks good if you’re looking ahead.
- Danny Duffy: Still a good add, but he will be tested with a road game against the Reds and at home against the Tigers. KC has a nice schedule for August if Duffy remains solid(a good month to own KC starters).
- Brad Miller: Miller has cooled off this week. Hold him if you picked him up but hold off picking him up if he’s available.
- Scooter Gennett: At bats were limited this week, but he hit well when given the chance. Sooner or later he’ll bump Rickie Weeks out-of-the-way.
- Travis d’Arnaud: A lot of one hit games but nothing that screams pick me up, although that’s not stopping CBS owners. Continue to monitor his progress on waivers.
- Adam Duvall: The playing time is there for him, but it doesn’t look like he’s ready for the majors yet. Drop him if you own him, but keep your eye on him if he looks like he’s turning it around.
- Mike Bolsinger: 3 quality starts in a row. The jury is still out on his mixed league usefulness. Next two games at Atlanta and vs Miami will be the tell. Leagues with 14 or more teams should still give him a look, everyone else can watch from the sidelines.
- Carlos Pena: He was a deep league grab. I said beggars can’t be choosers, but I might choose to go with an open roster spot over Pena. Forget I mentioned him, it was the alcohol talking.