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 2011.
This week's AL/NL-only waiver wire pickups features players who were given new opportunities because of the trade deadline. 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!
Jesus Montero - C, New York Yankees (5% owned)
On Tuesday, Jon Heyman of SI.com tweeted that minor league catcher and top New York Yankees prospect Jesus Montero will be arriving in the Bronx within the next couple weeks. Owners in two-catcher leagues carrying someone like weak hitters Lou Marson
or Jeff Mathis
as a second catcher would be better off picking up an inactive Montero for now and simply waiting for him to be called up. The 21 year-old backstop is currently hitting .283 with 10 home runs at the Triple-A level, and when arriving in New York he will immediately be receiving at-bats at catcher and designated hitter.
Trayvon Robinson - OF, Seattle Mariners (0% owned)
In the three-team trade that sent Erik Bedard
from Seattle to Boston, former top Los Angeles Dodgers outfield prospect Trayvon Robinson headed north along the west coast and found a new home with the Mariners Triple-A team in Tacoma. This is a great move for Robinson, because the Mariners have a much clearer path to their major league outfield than with the Dodgers do, and the Los Angeles native could certainly be receiving a big league paycheck at the end of this month. This year, the 23 year-old Robinson has not disappointed analysts who ranked him among the top outfielders in the minor leagues, as he's hit .291 with a .373 on-base percentage, while powering 26 home runs and stealing nine bases. The 2008 tenth-round pick should see time in the major leagues this season, and any keeper league owner should try to pick him up as soon as possible.
- SP, Toronto Blue Jays (15% owned)
Toronto pitcher Brett Cecil entered 2011 with high expectations after showing great improvement during his 2010 campaign. Unfortunately, in April Cecil struggled with his command, saw decreased velocity, and was demoted to Triple-A after just four starts with the Blue Jays. The 25-year old southpaw was hit hard in his first start after a recall at the end of June, but he seems to have "figured it out" and had a very solid month of July. In his five starts last month, he carried a 2.19 ERA and struck out 27 batters in 37 innings while walking only nine. What makes his July even more impressive is that he twice faced Texas, one of the best offenses in the American League, and even posted a complete game shutout against them in Arlington. Cecil could continue his current hot streak well into August, considering his next four opponents are at Tampa Bay, home against Oakland, at Seattle, and finally at Oakland.
- SP/RP, Toronto Blue Jays (12% owned)
Chasing wins was mentioned above and is not usually recommended by fantasy writers, but Toronto pitcher Carlos Villanueva is a two-start pitcher in fantasy week number twenty and presents a good opportunity to collect a few cheap points in the win column. His opponents, Oakland and Anaheim, respectively rank 12th and 11th in the American League in runs scored this season and, while pitching in relief earlier in the year, Villanueva held the two teams scoreless with six strikeouts over a combined 4 2/3 innings. Since moving into the starting rotation in late May, the 27-year old righty has seen his strikeout rate drop and his ERA rise from 1.48 to 3.60, but he is still worth a flier pickup as a two-start pitcher if you have an open rotation spot for the upcoming fantasy week.
- 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks (0% owned)
Arizona first base prospect Paul Goldschmidt was called up to the major leagues this past weekend following former first baseman Brandon Allen's trade to the Oakland Athletics. Goldschmidt, who was only ranked as Arizona's 11th best prospect at the start of the season, put up very impressive numbers while with Double-A Mobile this year. With Mobile, the Delaware native carried a triple-slash line of .306/.435/.626, which was good for an amazing 1.061 on-base plus slugging (OPS) percentage, and he also smacked a team-leading 30 home runs. The lack of top-prospect hype from many major league scouts may steer some fantasy owners away from the slugger, but Goldschmidt is definitely worth a gamble in the short term, considering that he has hit a total of 65 minor league home runs over the past two seasons.
- 3B/2B (1% owned)
Since July 21st, veteran infielder Miguel Cairo has been the primary third base fill-in at for ailing starter Scott Rolen
, and with the recent report of Rolen being sidelined four to six weeks due to arthroscopic shoulder surgery, Cairo should continue to see plenty of at-bats until his teammate's return. The 37-year old utility man has been very serviceable at the plate this season, with a .270 batting average and five home runs in his 174 at-bats. There is little upside to what Cairo will give you, but he will not hurt you in any fantasy category and can fill in at a very thin third base position.
- OF, Washington Nationals (2% owned)
At the trade deadline, the Washington Nationals were rumored to be looking for a new centerfielder. No deal was made and with the recent demotion of Roger Bernadina, 32 year-old Rick Ankiel took over in center field, essentially by default. Apparently, the former pitcher didn't let the situation bother him too much, because since the trade deadline he has been red hot, hitting .278 with three home runs (one a grand slam) and eight RBI. This may just be a hot streak for the lefty hitter, but there is no one on the roster to take playing time away from him right now and that makes him worth a look, at least as long as this good stretch lasts.
Homer Bailey - SP, Cincinnati Reds (15% owned)
Cincinnati righthander Homer Bailey, once the top pitching prospect in the Reds organization, is as streaky as they come as a starting pitcher (though some would rather describe him as "inconsistent"). Most fantasy owners forget that, though this is Bailey's fifth major league season, he is still only 25 years old and has time to improve. In the next fantasy week, Homer has two home starts, with the first against the struggling Colorado Rockies and the second against the offensively-challenged San Diego Padres. As mentioned earlier, chasing wins is not an ideal fantasy strategy, but Bailey will have a good opportunity to collect some strikeouts against those teams and, even though the Reds offense is not as good as it was last season, the team should be able to outscore both opponents behind even slightly better-than-average performances out of Bailey.