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 2012.
This week's AL/NL-only waiver wire pickups features players who can provide some early season help to owners in need of stopgaps and youngsters with upside. Whether your fantasy team needs home runs, steals, or strikeouts, or even if you're just chasing wins, this mix of players has you covered.
* Owned percentages via Yahoo!
AL-Only PlayersJohnny Damon
- OF/DH, Cleveland Indians (4% owned)
38-year-old Johnny Damon recently signed a minor league deal with the Cleveland Indians, and within a week, Indians' fans and fantasy owners alike should expect to see Damon in the lineup for the major league club as either the team's designated hitter or left fielder. Even though age has started to affect his performance, Damon was very serviceable last year with the Tampa Bay Rays, hitting .261 with 16 home runs and 19 stolen bases over 582 at-bats. There may be a small decline in offensive numbers because he will be featured in a weaker offense this season, but he should receive every day at-bats until he gives the team a reason to remove him.Chris Davis
- 1B/3B, Baltimore Orioles (10% owned)
Chris Davis never quite lived up to the hype he had when working his way through the Texas Rangers minor league system, and some thought his change in scenery to Baltimore last year would help him live up to those former expectations. Even though he didn't show immediate improvement upon arrival in Baltimore, he has started the 2012 season red-hot, collecting 12 hits in his first 34 at-bats (.353 batting average) with a home run and four RBI. His strikeout-to-walk rate of 8/1 still is a cause for concern, but if he keeps making solid contact, expect more good things from him for the remainder of the year.Tommy Milone
- SP, Oakland Athletics (7% owned)
So far, recently acquired Tommy Milone has pitched up to the expectations put on him when the A's acquired the southpaw from Washington in the Gio Gonzalez
trade this off-season. The 25-year-old has impressed in his first two starts of 2012 (facing the Royals and Mariners) - allowing 4 runs over 14 innings pitched (2.57 ERA), owning a 0.86 WHIP, and striking out 5. He may be getting a little lucky with his sub-1.00 WHIP, but batters have yet to make solid contact against him outside of a few bad pitches when facing the Mariners. Milone could easily turn into a long term option for AL-only owners considering his pedigree and the park that he pitches half of his games in.
NL-Only PlayersGerardo Parra
- OF, Arizona Diamondbacks (2% owned)
With recent injuries to Justin Upton
and Chris Young
, Gerardo Parra will be picking up a lot of at-bats in the near future. Known more for his great defense, Parra was no slouch at the plate last season, carrying a .292/.357/.427 triple-slash line with 15 stolen bases and 8 home runs over 445 at-bats. His batting average may have been slightly inflated last year, but he will likely not hurt your team's average while contributing nicely in the stolen base and runs categories. Parra will definitely find himself in the lineup until both Upton and Young are healthy enough to be back to playing everyday.Chris Johnson
- 3B, Houston Astros (4% owned)
Making a great first impression in 2010 with a .308 batting average and 11 home runs over 341 at-bats, Chris Johnson's sophomore season was marred by injury and disappointed many fantasy owners that took a flier on him. This year, Johnson appears to be healthy again, and is back on track with his minor league and rookie season numbers, hitting .319 with 4 extra base hits in his first 47 at-bats. However, it's concerning that he has yet to collect a walk and has struck out 11 times, but that is not abnormal to his previous performance in the years he has had success at the plate. A .285 batting average is more realistic than the .300 mark, but also expect Johnson to reach double digit home runs pretty easily, making him a great option at a very thin NL-only position.Trevor Bauer - SP, Arizona Diamondbacks (5% owned)
Tyler Skaggs - SP, Arizona Diamondbacks (1% owned)
The early season performance of Josh Collmenter
has a lot of people beating the drum for the promotion of Trevor Bauer, 21 years-old, or Tyler Skaggs, 20 years-old, to replace him in the Diamondback's rotation. Both pitchers have started out their minor league seasons brilliantly. Bauer has held opponents scoreless in his first 10 2/3 innings pitched at the Double-A level while striking out 18 batters. The number three overall pick in last year's amateur draft may need more seasoning in the minors before being called up to Arizona, but he should have the ability to make a fantasy impact before the end of the season.
Arizona's other top pitching prospect Tyler Skaggs was a 2009 first round pick that already has two years of minor league experience even though he is younger than Bauer. Skaggs is also starting the season at Double-A, striking out 15 in his first 11 innings pitched with a 3.27 ERA. Because of his experience, he may make his major league debut before Bauer. Either pitcher is worth taking a flier on now if your roster allows, because either one should perform well at the major league level and will cost a lot more after they are pitching for the Diamondbacks.