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Under the Radar - AL/NL Only Leagues
Nate Springfield | Wednesday September 7th, 2011
Devin Mesoraco is an exciting young rookie for the Reds (Icon SMI)
Devin Mesoraco is an exciting young rookie for the Reds (Icon SMI)
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 a group of young players with low-percentage ownership numbers in most leagues, while all are getting playing time now, a few are better long term investments than 2011 pickups. For managers looking to make that final push on their single-league fantasy teams, look no further.

* Owned percentages via Yahoo!

AL-Only Players
Henderson Alvarez - SP, Toronto Blue Jays (4% owned)
Henderson Alvarez may have been overlooked as a top-pitching prospect in the Blue Jays organization due to the hype that surrounded fellow prospect starting pitcher Kyle Drabek at the beginning of the season, but in his first six starts, Alvarez has shown flashes of dominance while on the mound.  The 21 year-old's current streak of 14 scoreless innings was capped off by holding the Boston Red Sox scoreless for six innings in his last start.  Taking into consideration that Alvarez has pitched at least six innings in his past four starts, walked only six batters over his 36 2/3 innings pitched, and will remain in the rotation the rest of the season, he's a must add in any AL-Only format.

Trevor Plouffe - 2B/SS/OF, Minnesota Twins (3% owned)
Utility man Trevor Plouffe has been collecting quite a few at-bats recently and making the most of them.  Since August 1, he has raised his batting average 50 points, had 10 multi-hit games and scored 15 runs. Expect the Twins to continue to find playing time for Plouffe the rest of the season, as they evaluate his production level for next season.  

Kosuke Fukudome - OF, Cleveland Indians (4% owned)
Upon being traded to the Indians from the Chicago Cubs at the trade deadline, Japan native Kosuke Fukudome has been an everyday player due to injuries.  Most recently, he has been starting in right field for the injured Shin-Soo Choo. In his last 15 games, he has six multi-hit games, three home runs, and plated eight RBI.  Choo is scheduled to come off of the disabled list on Monday, but look for Fukudome to see a bulk of the starts in left field when Choo comes back as he continues to produce at the plate.

Matt Angle - OF, Baltimore Orioles (0% owned)
If you are looking for a player to possibly collect a few stolen bases down the stretch, Matt Angle may be your man.  The speedy center fielder has been logging innings in right field recently, and even though he has not collected a hit in the past week, he does have three stolen bases.  With a batting average just over .100, you can't count on much more than the stolen base from the 25-year-old rookie, but his minor league numbers support a high stolen base total, and if he can swipe five or more bags before season's end, he may be worth the addition.


NL-Only Players

Eric Surkamp - SP, San Francisco Giants (0% owned)
Eric Surkamp is a 24-year-old left-handed pitcher, who was not only featured in this week's Prospect Press, but also made his major league debut on August 27 against the Houston Astros.  His performance that game (one earned run and four strikeouts over six innings pitched) earned him another start.  In his second start, against the Padres, he collected his first major league win after allowing three earned runs in five innings pitched.  While in the minor leagues this season, Surkamp carried a 1.94 ERA while striking out 10.3 batters per nine innings pitched (K/9).  He is currently listed as a two-start pitcher in fantasy week 24, making him especially worthy of a pickup before next Monday. 

Rex Brothers
- RP, Colorado Rockies (1% owned)

For owners playing in a keeper/dynasty format, Rex Brothers should be on your radar because it's possible that he is the closer for the Rockies in the near future.  Even though both Rafael Betancourt and Huston Street are under contract through the 2012 season, Brothers has shown that he has the makeup to be inserted into the ninth inning role if needed.  In his last 11 appearances, the 23-year-old southpaw has not given up a run, allowed only four hits, and struck out 13 batters.  If you don't play in a keeper league, definitely keep Brothers name in the back of your head for draft day next season. 

Juan Francisco - 3B, Cincinnati Reds (0% owned)
The offensive minded Juan Francisco, who broke camp this past spring training with the Reds but was sent back to the minors in April, was recalled to the major leagues when rosters expanded on September 1.  Since his recall, Francisco has been receiving everyday at-bats while filling in for the injured Scott Rolen.  The 24-year-old Dominican Republic native carried a .286 batting average with 16 home runs and 53 RBI in 67 games at Triple-A Louisville this season.  Francisco won't hurt your team's average and could possibly providing a little pop and run production.

Devin Mesoraco - C, Cincinnati Reds (1% owned)
Even though Devin Mesoraco will be fighting for playing time in the final weeks of the season, his upside makes him worth picking up in NL-only formats, especially in two-catcher leagues.  In 120 games at Triple-A Louisville this year, Mesoraco hit 15 home runs while posting a .855 on-base-plus-slugging (OPS). Ramon Hernandez is a free agent at season's end, so the Reds should give Mesoraco a good chunk of the playing time the rest of the way to see how he is able to handle playing at the major league level.
Nate SpringfieldNate Springfield joined the Baseball Press crew for the 2010 season and hosts the site's podcast. His love for the game has grown thanks to fantasy baseball, with a specialty in NL-only auction leagues. You can contact him at nate@baseballpress.com or follow him on Twitter @NateSpringfield.