Each week, Baseball Press will be providing 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 list of players includes two utility men from the American League East, a rookie starting pitcher with a funky delivery, two veteran National League outfielders finding opportunities due to injuries, and a rookie Dodgers reliever who could find save opportunities.
* Owned percentages via Yahoo!
- 2B/3B/SS, Baltimore Orioles (1% owned)
Robert Andino is normally a utility man for the Baltimore Orioles, but with Brian Roberts suffering from concussion systems and likely out for three weeks, Andino will see a bulk of the playing time at second base. Andino won't hit for a high batting average or power, but he could steal a few bases while scoring runs from the leadoff spot. In addition to second base eligibility, Andino also offers fantasy owners position flexibility at third base and shortstop.
- 2B/3B/OF, Tampa Bay Rays (14% owned)
Sean Rodriguez wears many hats for the Tampa Bay Rays, but he usually splits time between second base, third base and, most recently, shortstop. His 26% career strikeout percentage is a little alarming, but he's cut down on strikeouts so far in 2011. Rodriguez didn't have much offensive production during the first month of the season, but he has started to heat up recently, hitting .333/.474/.600 with four extra-base hits over his last six games. With Sam Fuld
going cold at the plate and Ben Zobrist
playing right field, Rodriguez will likely play second base on a routine basis.
After ending a horrible month of April with a 1-4 record and a 5.14 ERA, Twins starting pitcher Nick Blackburn has turned things around in the month of May. In his last five starts, Blackburn's 3-0 with a 1.72 ERA and has struck out 5.2 hitters per nine innings. Granted, his last two wins were against the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners, but Blackburn has given the Twins and AL-only fantasy owners a glimmer of hope. His strikeouts wont attract many owners, but his ability to keep the Twins in the game could help him sneak out a few wins for owners. He could also be worth a look in deep mixed leagues for managers in search of a spot-start win against weaker opponents.
Originally slated as the Padres' fourth outfielder, Chris Denorfia will now see a healthy dose of at-bats while starting in right field, as offensively struggling outfielder Will Venable
was optioned to Triple-A Tuscon earlier this week. The 30-year-old righthanded hitter won't blow you away with talent, but he doesn't strike out much and knows how to work a walk. He's a useful option to NL-only fantasy owners, with a possible look in deeper mixed leagues based on his playing time.
Not only does rookie starting pitcher Josh Collmenter have a 3-1 win-loss record this season and a 1.19 ERA, but he also had a 24-inning scoreless streak prior to his last start. He's been a pleasant surprise for the Diamondbacks since stepping into the starting rotation earlier this month, posting a 2-1 record with a 1.10 ERA in three starts. Collmenter has a deceptive, over-the-top delivery, allowing him to keep hitters off-balance from both sides of the plate. Despite the great start, Collmenter only has a mid-80s fastball and a changeup in his pitching repertoire, which will limit his ability to face opposing hitters three and four times through the lineup . It's likely that he will continue to fool hitters with his delivery, but they'll figure him out eventually. Owners should continue to ride his hot streak, but plan accordingly once he starts to stumble.
The Atlanta Braves placed Nate McLouth
and Jason Heyward
on the disabled list last weekend, opening up some regular playing time for reserve Eric Hinske. Hinske, a career journeyman, has serious home run power and an average walk rate, but he also brings a high strikeout rate. Owners should pluck him off their waiver wire for home run help and decent on-base percentage numbers, but expect to drop him once the Braves outfield returns to full health. If Hinske is taken, fellow outfielder Jordan Schafer
is worth a look, but only as a deep and desperate option.
The most recent Dodgers reliever to see action is recently promoted Rubby De La Rosa. Originally a starter for Double-A Chattanooga, De La Rosa will pitch in the later innings for Los Angeles. In eight Double-A starts this season, De La Rosa had a 2-2 win-loss record, a 2.92 ERA, and 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings (K/9). He was lights-out in his major league debut earlier this week, entering the game in the eighth inning, striking out two batters, and earning a hold. With the Dodgers playing "closer roulette" this season due to injuries and other issues, De La Rosa could potentially see a few save opportunities.