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!
- C, Oakland Athletics (1% owned)
After being acquired from the Nationals as part of the Gio Gonzalez
trade, Derek Norris opened the season at the Triple-A level. After 36 games at Sacramento, the A's recalled Norris after hitting .273/.331/.474 with eight home runs. While many thought Norris would be a backup to long time catcher Kurt Suzuki
, he's actually expected to platoon at the position with Suzuki the rest of the season. In a very small sample size, Norris is hitting .250/.250/.438 in 16 big-league plate appearances this season. Over the past six games that the A's have played, Norris has started in four of them, so his playing time shouldn't be in question. Norris, 23, has raw power and could help fantasy owners in the home run department. However, playing home games in Oakland's home ballpark could zap some of his power numbers.
- 2B/2B, Tampa Bay Rays (0% owned)
Starting the 2012 season with Milwaukee, utility infielder Brooks Conrad found playing time limited, appearing in just 25 games for the Brewers. After being placed on waivers earlier in the month, the Tampa Bay Rays (who have battled injuries all season long) took a chance on the 32-year-old switch hitter. While he's usually a bench player, Rays manager Joe Maddon is trying to make something out of nothing buy starting Brooks in the past three games. With Evan Longoria
's injury status undetermined, Maddon could ride the hot hand at third base for the foreseeable future.Aaron Laffey
- RP, Toronto Blue Jays (0% owned)
Prior to his start against the Boston Red Sox, lefty Aaron Laffey hadn't started a game since 2010 while with the Cleveland Indians. Although he didn't get the win against the Red Sox, Laffey threw six shutout innings while striking out two batters. On the 2012 season, he's 0-0 with a 1.80 ERA and 3.6 strikeouts per nine innings. He made a strong case to stay in the Toronto rotation, especially because the Blue Jays are hurting for pitchers due to injuries. If all goes accordingly, his next start could come at home against the Los Angeles Angels and he could also be a candidate for a two-start week. He's a low end option for AL-only owners.
Jonathan Herrera - 2B/3B/SS, Colorado Rockies (0% owned)
With superstar Troy Tulowitzki
on the disabled list, a bulk of the playing time at shortstop will likely be handed to the light hitting Jonathan Herrera. The 27-year-old middle infielder has only appeared in 31 games this season due to a hamstring injury, and is hitting .241/.275/.391 in 95 plate appearances. He doesn't have power and won't have a .300 batting average, but he will see regular at-bats for the Rockies over the next month. If you're desperate and need a shortstop or middle infielder, Herrera can fill the void.
- OF, Washington Nationals (1% owned)
Rookie outfielder/first baseman Tyler Moore made a splash in the Nationals minor league system by hitting 31 home runs in back-to-back seasons in 2010 and 2011, respectively. Moore, 25, opened the 2012 season at the Triple-A level and hit .310/.372/.660 in 28 games before becoming a permanent part of the Nats big-league roster due to injuries and poor performance. The Nats have been platooning the left field position since the return of Michael Morse and arrival of Bryce Harper, but that has recently changed due to veteran Xavier Nady
landing on the disabled list. With his recent offensive outbreak during the Rockies-Nats series, Moore figures to land plenty of playing time in left field while occasionally filling in at first base. In 22 big-league games, he's hitting .319/.396/.553 with a .949 OPS and three home runs. Moore is a must-add in NL-only leagues and worth a look in deeper mixed leagues.
- SP/RP, Milwaukee Brewers (1% owned)
During his last start against the Cincinnati Reds, Marco Estrada racked up 12 strikeouts. However, he was doomed once again by the home run ball. On the season, Estrada has allowed 10 HR in 42 innings pitcher (2.1 HR/9) but has also struck out 9.9 batters per nine innings. Although he doesn't have a win this season (0-3) - fantasy owners can still find value from his strikeouts and low walk totals. Estrada is likely a two-start pitcher next week (if all goes accordingly) - as he will make starts against Carlos Zambrano and the Miami Marlins on July 2 along with a start against the Houston Astros on July 7.