Each week, Baseball Press will be providing some "under the radar" fantasy players for NL-only leagues, AL-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.
With all of the unpredictable injuries, slumps, and job changes, many fantasy owners are already looking to the waiver wire for help in keeping their early season hopes alive. Here are some mixed league options for owners looking to make additions at this point in the season:
* Owned percentages via Yahoo!
- SP, Detroit Tigers (22% owned)
20 year-old Rick Porcello burst into the big leagues in 2009 by winning
14 games and posting a 3.96 ERA for the Detroit Tigers, all after just
24 minor league starts in the season before. In 2010, Porcello
struggled to a 10-12 record and a 4.92 ERA, even seeing some time during
a minor league demotion. For 2011, Porcello was a big question mark
for a Detroit team in need of rotation stability and, despite some
missed time due to injury, he's seized his opportunities by tallying
four wins and zero losses with a 1.59 ERA in his last six starts. As
one of the hottest pitchers in baseball, it's surprising that Porcello
is still available in so many fantasy leagues. He's due to level off,
but at just 22 years old he could be set for his best big league season.
- C, Milwaukee Brewers (36% owned)
years of offensively deficient backstops, the Milwaukee Brewers appear
to finally have a catcher who is an asset at the plate in young Jonathan
Lucroy. Lucroy wet his feet in splitting catcher duties with the big
club last year but didn't appear ready to take on the full-time gig, due
in part to his limited pro experience beyond the Double-A level.
Despite just 21 games at Triple-A, Lucroy appears to be well on his way
to a breakout season, with a batting average of .321, 5 home runs, and
22 RBI in 32 games for the Brewers in 2011. The Florida native was a
.298 hitter in his minor league career and smashed as many as 20 homers
in a year (in 2008), but he probably won't lay all-star numbers all
season. A more reasonable expectation for Lucroy would be around 15
home runs and possibly a .275 average, but at the catcher spot those are
very valuable numbers and he'll have plenty of RBI chances in the potent
Brewers lineup. He could be a great pickup for a fantasy club looking to fill
the void left by Buster Posey's injury.
- 1B/OF, Washington Nationals (14% owned)
The recent season-ending injury to Nationals player Adam LaRoche
opened a full-time job for 29 year-old Mike Morse, who will take on the job as Washington's everyday first baseman. Morse has had several stops and starts throughout his career with the White Sox, Mariners, and Nationals organizations, including several stalls at the Triple-A level, but his 15 home run partial season for the Nats in 2010 set him up for a roster spot as a reserve first baseman and corner outfielder for the team in 2011. Morse has solid power potential and could crack 20 home runs over a full year of work, though his batting average has fluctuated throughout his pro career. He's been particularly hot at the plate lately, batting .395 with 4 home runs and 10 RBI in May, and he smashed a home run in each game of the Nats' recent three-game series against Milwaukee. Don't expect superstar numbers all season, but Morse finally looks ready to be a big league fantasy contributor.
The Arizona Diamondbacks entered 2011 spring training hoping that one of their organizational guys would seize the first base job, but alas free agent pickup Russell Branyan
seemed like the best option at the start of the year. However, Branyan struggled through most of the first two months of the year and was finally released by the club, opening the door for 28 year-old Juan Miranda. Miranda is a former New York Yankees farmhand who defected from Cuba and began his pro career in 2007. He's shown solid power and good on-base ability in the minor leagues, but has generally failed to turn the corner at the big league level. Recently, though, Miranda has strung together some multi-hit games and could provide a nice boost for a fantasy club in need of on-base help and some power. His 2011 on-base percentage (OBP) has been hovering around .390 lately, and with regular playing time he could have good home run numbers by season's end.
With David Wright
shelved by a stress fracture in his back, the third base duties for the Mets have fallen to 26 year-old Justin Turner. Turner, a former Cincinnati and Baltimore farmhand, logged a .309 career average in 513 minor league games and showed double-digit home run potential, but hasn't really made any significant move to fortify himself as anything more than a utility player at the big league level. However, so far this season, Turner has posted a batting average over .300 and, since May 13th, he's notched five multi-hit games, including a home run and five-RBI game against the Houston Astros on May 15th. He's not a big time slugger, but Turner could provide a steady supply of hits and decent run production while Wright is out of commission, and his eligibility at a pair of infield spots could help fantasy rosters too.
One of the few bright spots for the sinking ship that is the Los Angeles Dodgers this season has been infielder Jamey Carroll. Given regular playing time, Carroll has thrived and hit .304 with 25 runs scored and 5 stolen bases. The 37 year-old journeyman utility player has a .277 career batting average, a .356 career OBP, and some stolen base ability, and he's used his skill set to cement himself in the number two spot of the Dodgers lineup. With sluggers Matt Kemp
and Andre Ethier
behind him, Carroll could continue to score a lot of runs as the team's everyday second baseman, and his multi-position eligibility make him a very valuable fantasy commodity.
Trips to the disabled list for Atlanta outfielders Nate McLouth
and Jason Heyward
have opened an opportunity for prospect Joe Mather, who should see a lot more playing time in the Braves outfield. The 28 year-old former Cardinals farmhand has spent most of his pro career as a minor leaguer, but during that time he has posted solid power numbers and the ability to get hot, including a 31 home run season between Double-A and Triple-A in 2007. He won't maintain anything close to his current 2011 batting average of .342, but Mather could provide a solid power bat and some RBI as an everyday player
in the Braves lineup. He may finally reach his potential (in a Ryan Ludwick
sort of way), or he may just be a career minor leaguer riding a hot streak, but either way Mather could be worth a look for some fantasy owners.Nolan Reimold
- OF, Baltimore Orioles (1% owned)
A formerly hot prospect, Nolan Reimold was forgotten by many baseball fans and fantasy owners after injuries and lack of production derailed the 2010 followup to his breakthrough 2009 rookie year. However, Reimold has already made a huge impact in just a few big league games after his recent promotion with the Orioles this year, with three home runs (two on Thursday) and 6 RBI in just 4 games. Reimold wasn't posting particularly impressive numbers at Triple-A Norfolk prior to his call-up, but this immediate power surge can't be ignored and, with Derrek Lee
on the disabled list and Luke Scott
playing through a torn shoulder labrum, Reimold could see a lot of playing time in his immediate future. It's tough to levy much of an expectation on Reimold at this stage, but if you're in need of some quick power numbers, he could be worth adding to your roster.