Each week, Baseball Press provides some "under the radar"
fantasy players for AL-only leagues, NL-only leagues, and mixed leagues. We'll review the diamonds in the rough on the waiver wire that might
help you boost your fantasy team in 2011.
This week's AL/NL-only list features an unexpected home run source on baseball's best team, some American League pitching help, and a hurler-turned-outfield prospect who is making waves in Houston. For managers looking to make that final push on their single-league fantasy teams, look no further.
* Owned percentages via Yahoo!
- SP/RP, Oakland Athletics (8% owned)
The Oakland Athletics, despite their disappointing season record, have a promising crop of starting pitchers this season and one of their biggest surprises has been 27 year-old righthander Guillermo Moscoso. The former Texas Rangers hurler's 6-7 win-loss record isn't very impressive, but his 3.28 ERA and .219 opponent batting average in 90 2/3 innings (15 starts) has turned a few heads. He has just 52 strikeouts in those 90 2/3 innings, though, so his fantasy value is fairly limited in some leagues. Moscoso posted top-tier numbers as a Tigers farmhand, including an 8.8 strikeouts-per-nine-innings (K/9) rate in 542 2/3 minor league innings, so his 2011 success isn't a complete shock. American League fantasy rosters looking for ERA and WHIP help for a late season push could do a lot worse than him, though his Saturday start against Boston is probably best avoided. After that, though, Oakland faces Cleveland, Seattle, and Kansas City.
- 2B/3B/SS, Baltimore Orioles (7% owned)
Baltimore infielder Robert Andino was featured in our AL-Only Under the Radar back in late-May
when he was taking over the second base job from veteran Brian Roberts
, but the 27 year-old hit an unimpressive .258 with just one home run and two stolen bases in 58 games in April, May and June. In 46 games since then, though, Andino has hit .285 with six stolen bases while playing second base, shortstop, third base, and even a few games in left field. AL-only fantasy teams suffering from infield injuries or late-season slumps could get a lot of use out of a player like Andino, who provides solid contact numbers and some stolen base potential all over the infield. The double-digit home run power he showed as a minor leaguer hasn't surfaced yet, but there's still reason to be optimistic for him to finish strong this year.
- RP, Toronto Blue Jays (3% owned)
On Sunday, Toronto reliever Casey Janssen picked up his second save of the season with a three-inning, five-strikeout, no-hit outing against Oakland. Janssen was filling in for incumbent closer Frank Francisco, who has battled injuries and ineffectiveness all season. With setup man Jon Rauch
on the disabled list while battling appendicitis, Janssen has assumed a bigger role in the Blue Jays bullpen. With a 2.14 ERA, a 1.10 WHIP, and 43 strikeouts in 42 innings, Janssen is in the midst of his best big league season, and the 29 year-old could collect several more save opportunities before the end of the year, especially now that he is the primary setup man and next in line for the closer role.
- 2B/3B, Seattle Mariners (3% owned)
With six multi-hit performances in his last eight games, including a four-for-four, three-double effort on Wednesday, Mariners infielder Kyle Seager has catapulted himself into fantasy relevance and raised his season batting average to .313 (and .379 in August). The 23 year-old rookie has overcome a rough big league start and is looking more like the player who hit .328 as a minor leaguer and posted a .387 mark in 24 games for Triple-A Tacoma this season. Baseball America ranked him as Seattle's ninth-best prospect at the start of 2011, even though he was still profiled as more of a utility player. Seager doesn't contribute a lot of home run power or stolen base numbers, but he could be good for double-digit marks in both over a full season. His position flexibility and excellent batting average numbers make him a valuable late-season addition, and playing for the Mariners will ensure him plenty of starts over the final weeks of the 2011 campaign.
- C, San Diego Padres (12% owned)
As with any baseball season, many players have unlikely hot streaks and become viable fantasy options for owners who are willing to ride their temporary success but cut ties when things cool off. Padres catcher Nick Hundley fits that description very well lately, as the 27 year-old, who entered 2011 with a .242 career batting average, has had one of baseball's best August hitting performances and pumped his season average up to .272. Hundley has just 5 home runs and 20 RBI this year, but his 18 for 38 performance (a .474 average) this month has made him worth a roster spot in NL-only leagues and even some deeper mixed leagues (or just ones with owners desperate to find some offense at the catcher spot). Hundley showed flashes of power in the minor leagues and has a respectable 21 home runs in just over a thousand big league plate appearances, but he'll probably lose his fantasy value as soon as his average dips back to his regular line.
- OF, Philadelphia Phillies (7% owned)
Many things have broken well for the Philadelphia Phillies this year, and one has been the solid play of outfielder John Mayberry, who has been excellent in July and August and is putting up great numbers while filling in at the outfield spots and at first base. While his fellow outfielders Raul Ibanez
and Ben Francisco
have posted sub-.240 averages this year, Mayberry has increased his batting line to .269 and added 12 home runs and 6 steals, all in fewer than 200 at-bats. The 27 year-old has nine of those home runs since the start of July and is getting regular playing time, something he wasn't afforded in his stints with the club in 2009 and 2010. In the minor leagues, Mayberry was just a .258 career hitter but showed 15 to 20 home run potential and even swiped 20 bases for Triple-A Lehigh Valley last year, so his recent success shouldn't be written off as strictly temporary or fluky. His all-around contributions in July and August make him a smart fantasy pickup, and with seven games and four starts at first base this year, league owners could soon have another place to put him.
- OF, Houston Astros (2% owned)
Brian Bogusevic's journey from failed first-round pitching prospect to major league outfielder is one of major league baseball's best little-known stories this season but, due to his recent play, his path has become much more than just a good tale. As a lefthanded pitcher, the Tulane product and 24th overall pick in the 2005 amateur draft didn't progress as expected, but a switch to the outfield gave him another shot and he reached the majors last season. Baseball America ranked him as the Astros' 27th best prospect prior to 2011 but, while being shuttled between Houston and Triple-A Oklahoma City, his play in 39 games for the big club between April and July resulted
in just a 7 for 36 (.194) stat line and zero home runs. This month, he has hit 20 for 49 (a .408 average) with six doubles, four home runs, and 12 RBI while mainly hitting fifth and playing right field. He has just one stolen base with the Astros this year, but he swiped 55 total for Triple-A Round Rock in 2009 and 2010 and collected 20 in just 58 games for the affiliate this season, so if he is allowed to run, he could finish 2011 by contributing in another fantasy category.
- OF, Florida Marlins (1% owned)
Marlins outfielder Bryan Petersen smacked a combined 23 home runs and hit .293 with a .370 on-base percentage for three minor league affiliates back in 2008 and carried that success into a solid 2009 season for Double-A Jacksonville, but he regressed and struggled for both Triple-A New Orleans and brief stints for Florida in 2010 and
lost some of his prospect shine. Baseball America
ranked him as Florida's 18th best prospect entering this season, and he regained his hitting stroke in a big way by batting .351 with a .434 on-base mark and 11 home runs in 67 games for New Orleans before being recalled by the Marlins. He may eventually be destined to become a fourth outfielder, but his good contact skills, strong throwing arm, ability to play all three outfield spots, and above-average speed are earning him everyday playing time right now. When swinging well, Petersen can contribute a bit in all standard offensive fantasy categories and could be a very useful piece for many fantasy rosters.