Gambling on Prospects: September Hitter Call Ups

This series will look at prospects and show whether they are worth an investment on your fantasy team. Every owner knows that the secret to a strong minors system is knowing who to throw away and knowing who to keep. Each player featured in this series will be given one of the following recommendations:

  1. Hold ’em : If you own this prospect, hang tight. While times may seem rough, the talent is worth holding onto and/or monitoring.
  2. Fold ’em : If you own this prospect, now is the time to sell while they may still have some name value.
  3. Walk Away: This prospect is not worth paying attention to in your league.
  4. Run: Get to the waiver wire immediately and put a claim in for this prospect.

We’re less than 20 days away from the yearly influx of minor league players to their respective big league clubs. Below are some players to target now that may be able to help your team in the stretch run. Usually I focus on lesser known players for dynasty leagues, but this is all about TODAY and redraft leagues, where these guys may not be owned. If you’re in a deep league or a dynasty, hang tight, as this can still be of help to you. Some of these players can be targeted if you are making a run for your playoffs, or sold if you are not. (example, maybe trading Corey Seager for Jorge Soler makes sense if you’re contending and have a need at OF) In this first part of the series, I’m looking at impact bats that can make a real difference over the season’s last remaining weeks.

I’m expecting the following players to have an impact this season:

Jorge Soler: Signed in 2012 to a 9 year major league contract, Soler just needed to perform and be healthy prior to a call up. To say he’s there would be grossly understating it. Soler missed most of the early part of the season with hamstring injuries, returning in July to Tennessee. His line of .415/.494/.862 in AA earned him a promotion to AAA Iowa where he’s hitting .309/.433/.709. He’s walking as much as he’s striking out and is just pounding the ball as evidenced by that .400 ISO. The Chicago Cubs obviously aren’t going anywhere right now, but Soler is already on the 40 man roster with that 9 year deal, meaning they have nothing to lose by promoting him. Back in May, I wrote that Soler was one of my favorite hitting prospects and I believe we’re now on the cusp of witnessing the next great hitting prospect be promoted. Recommendation: Run. 2014 Projected MLB stats: 100 AB, 18 R, 6 HR, 20 RBI, 0 SB, .300 AVG

Maikel Franco: When everyone was bailing on Franco in April, I suggested you hold on. Your patience (hopefully) is about to pay off. Since July 1st, Franco has hit .328 and slugged .547. Blessed with plus power, Franco could make an immediate impact once he assumes his [rightful] spot in the Phillies lineup. Recommendation: Run. Projected 2014 MLB stats: 80 AB, 9 R, 4 HR, 12 RBI, 0 SB, .240 AVG

Francisco Lindor: Lindor has slumped throughout the month of August, but hopefully last night’s 2 hit performance, including a three run home run is a sign that he’s turning the corner. With Jose Ramirez hitting .211 with less than stellar defense, it makes sense for the Indians to see if their shortstop of the future is ready. Lindor has good plate discipline, an excellent hit tool, plus speed and of course sparkling defense. Recommendation: Hold ‘Em. Projected 2014 MLB stats: 70 AB, 8 R, 0 HR, 5 RBI, 5 SB, .280 AVG

Joc Pederson: Just 3 home runs and 4 stolen bases away from a 30/30 season, Pederson is still waiting for a spot to clear in the crowded Dodgers outfield. With a resurgent Kemp, and Puig playing a good center field, the desperation for Pederson to take a spot has lessened for the Dodgers. Carl Crawford has taken the lions share of the left field at bats with Ethier the odd man out. Pederson should be called up when rosters expand, as he’ll need to be added to the 40 man roster this year irregardless. With his power/speed combination and his ability to work counts, Pederson should produce good numbers if he gets the playing time. With the likelihood of injury in the current roster, I’m wagering he will. Recommendation: Hold ‘Em. Projected 2014 MLB stats: 80 AB, 9 R, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 2 SB, .250 AVG

Alex Guerero: Before the most unfortunate incident with Miguel Olivo, Guerrero had hit .376 with 10 home runs in just 33 games. When Hanley Ramirez went down to injury at the end of May, it could have been Guerrero’s time to shine. Instead, 2 months later he returned from his injury and is slowly regaining some of that form. With Dee Gordon securely in place for the Dodgers, Guerrero has played some third base and left field since his return. Generally when players move around at the highest level, they’re bound to be promoted. The problem for Guerrero will be getting regular at bats. Recommendation: Hold ‘Em. Projected 2014 MLB stats: 50 AB, 8 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 0 SB, .260 AVG

Stephen Piscotty: With Oscar Taveras struggling and the Cardinals fighting for a wild card spot, Piscotty may be the offensive injection the team needs in September. Hitting .282/.347/.397 for AAA Memphis, Piscotty has good speed, a good hit tool with a modest amount of power. He may not overwhelm for fantasy purposes, but he should provide enough bat to ball skills to help in most formats. With another shut out last night, the Cardinals need to find a spark for the offense and Piscotty may just be it. Recommendation: Hold ‘Em. Projected 2014 MLB stats: 60 AB, 8 R, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 1 SB, .275 AVG

I don’t believe it will happen this season:

Kris Bryant: In his first professional season, Bryant has hit 38 home runs, driven in 98 runs while scoring 106. His slash line reads an astonishing .341/.438/.690, clearly demonstrating the power, hitting ability to become a top fantasy third baseman for years to come. That time according to Theo Epstein is not 2014. Now, general managers aren’t always forthcoming, but here is a quote from Epstein:

“Nothing has changed,” Epstein said. “I still don’t foresee a scenario where Kris would get called up this year. It would really take extraordinary circumstances to call up anybody in his first full professional season. For us… not only would the player have to be doing extraordinary things, but there would have to be unique circumstances with the big league team, where we were in a pennant race and really needed that boost.” 

I’m taking Theo at his word, mostly because Bryant is not on the 40 man roster and there is no real reason for the Cubs to start his service clock. Recommendation: Walk Away (for 2014). Projected 2014 MLB stats: 0 AB, 0 R, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 SB, .000 AVG

The guy I want to see:

Jose Peraza: The Atlanta Braves are in trouble, currently 2.5 games out of a wild card spot. This 20-year-old second baseman was the player of the month in July hitting .359 with 16 stolen bases. Peraza is up to 59 steals for the season so far after swiping 64 in 2013. He makes excellent contact (8.1% K rate in AA) and could be a real difference maker for the Braves in September as a pinch-runner even. The second baseman of the future for the Braves may not be ready to wrestle the role from Tommy LaStella, but he can be an impact player with his legs this September. Recommendation: Hold ‘Em. Projected 2014 MLB stats: 15 AB, 8 R, 0HR, 1 RBI, 9 SB, .285 AVG

Don’t forget about me:

While these guys have already seen time in the majors this year, I didn’t include them as potential “September call-ups”. While the new names are often the most exciting, some of these may potentially bring the greatest reward:

Mookie Betts, C.J. Cron, Nick Franklin, Garin Cecchini, Christian Bethancourt, Billy Burns

 

 If you’re gonna play the game boy, you gotta learn to play it right.

 

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Paul Hartman

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Fantasy Baseball player since 1987. Creator of Fantasy Assembly, yet just fortunate enough to be a part of it.