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.
We are well into June, and that typically means most waiver wire options are fresh call-ups from the minor leagues. This is true again this week, with four of our eight options seeing the major leagues for the first time in their careers. Whether you're looking for injury replacements or overhauling your entire roster, this mix of players has you covered.
* Owned percentages via Yahoo!
- SS/2B, Minnesota Twins (8% owned)
If there Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire had other infield options in mid-May, Twins hitter Alexi Casilla probably would have lost his job, but in the past two weeks Casilla has really turned it around at the plate. Since then, he has gone 19 for 48 at the plate (a .396 average), produced a 1.016 on-base-plus-slugging average (OPS), scored nine runs, and stolen 5 bases. He is due for some regression in the near future, but you have to ride the hot hand while you have a chance, and there aren't better options on the wire right now.
- RP/SP, Seattle Mariners (21% owned)
- 2B/3B, Oakland Athletics (0% owned)Scott Sizemore, a once highly-touted prospect for the Tigers, is getting another chance at the big league level in Oakland. The 26 year-old Sizemore, who was recently called up share time at third base after the demotion of Kevin Kouzmanoff,
has put up very good numbers in Triple-A this season. His triple-slash of.368/.485/.557 (average/on-base/slugging) over 135 minor league plate appearances this season indicates that he is both being patient at the plate and driving the ball, though he has only 3 home runs on the year. Sizemore has potential and should see the bulk of the playing time at the hot corner, making him a must-add, but the presence of other Oakland infield options will mean that he'll probably has a short leash and may be benched if he doesn't perform right away. He's exclusively played second base in his short big-league career, but will quickly earn third base eligibility.
- 2B, Oakland Athletics (0% owned)
Jemile Weeks, younger brother of Milwaukee Brewers standout second baseman Rickie Weeks
, was promoted to the major leagues Tuesday to replace injured A's second baseman Mark Ellis
. Jemile, similar to his brother, offers a little bit of power and speed to go along with a solid batting average. His 2011 triple-slash at Triple-A Sacramento was a solid .321/.414/.446, with three home runs and nine stolen bases. The 24-year old may struggled some with his batting average and won't hit too many home runs in Oakland's Coliseum, but should be added in all AL-only formats because of his potential- and be sure to spend the extra buck in any keeper/dynasty formats.
Even if you don't play in a league that recognizes holds as a category, there is still room for middle relief pitchers on your roster if they have numbers like Seattle righthander David Pauley. The former starter has been absolutely dominant out of the 'pen this season, posting a 0.99 ERA and a 0.77 WHIP with 22 strikeouts in 36.1 innings pitched. Pauley will probably never be in true consideration for the closer job in the great Northwest, but if he stays effective, his ratios would help any pitching staff in need of short-term help while the waiver wire is thin on starting pitching options.
Anthony Rizzo - 1B, San Diego Padres (6% owned)
Of all the recent call-ups mentioned in the article, San Diego Padres first baseman Anthony Rizzo is
the one you really want to get. After making his way to the Padres organization as
part of the trade that put Adrian Gonzalez in Boston, Rizzo is set to take
over as the everyday first baseman in San Diego and will likely stay there for the
next several years. He was dominating in Triple-A this season,
posting a .365 batting average with a 1.159 OPS, 16
home runs, and 63 RBI in just 52 games. Pacific Coast League
ballparks are much more hitter-friendly than San Diego's PETCO Park, so one should temper
expectations on home runs this season, but Rizzo is a must-add and a real
prize to have in any dynasty/keeper league format.
- SP, New York Mets (25% owned)
Similar to R.A. Dickey
last year, righthander Dillon Gee has been surprisingly effective since joining the New York Mets rotation in mid-April. Over his 11 games (eight starts) this season, Gee has a 3.33 ERA, a 1.11 WHIP, and has struck out 39 batters in 54 innings. Gee's past struggles at the major league level have been tied to his low strikeout rate, but last season at triple-A he struck out 9.2 batters per nine innings pitched, and in 2011 he has improved his major league rate to 6.5 strikeouts per nine innings. However, the one thing to be wary of is Gee's home-to-road splits. While at Citi Field, Gee has posted a 1.77 ERA in 35.2 innings pitched, but when on the road his ERA jumps to 6.38 (over 18.1 innings). He is scheduled to only have one more home start this month, but if he learns how to pitch better in away games, he won't be available come July.
- OF, Colorado Rockies (0% owned)
Blackmon, one of the Rockies' top-performing prospects this season, was
promoted from Triple-A Colorado Springs after an abdominal injury recently
landed starting Colorado centerfielder Dexter Fowler
on the disabled list. Blackmon brings a legit power-speed threat
with him to Denver, as evidenced by his 10 home runs and 12 stolen bases while in
Colorado Springs this year. Not only are his counting stats
impressive, but his triple-slash of .337/.393./.572 gives hope that he will not be
overwhelmed at the major league level. He doesn't have a clear path to
playing time as long as Ryan Spilborghs
is around, but Blackmon's upside is much higher and he could take the starting job from the veteran if he performs at the plate.
- SS, Los Angeles Dodgers (6% owned)
Dee Gordon, son of former major league closer Tom "Flash" Gordon, is being rewarded for his great play at Triple-A Albuquerque this year with the everyday shortstop job for the Dodgers, while starting shortstop Rafael Furcal
is once again on the disabled list. Gordon is a solid defender, which will keep him in the lineup, and he also has the ability to steal bases at will once he reaches base. In 220 minor league plate appearances in 2011, he has swiped 22 bags while maintaining a triple-slash of .315/.361/.370. All of Gordon's value this season will be via the stolen base, but playing at such a weak position in the National League makes him a little more desirable to own.