The Wire Troll: Go West, Young Man
It was an interesting week in the world of Fantasy baseball with two of the big three young phenoms most of us have been waiting for finally arriving in the Show. Matt Wieters and David Price were both promoted this past week, leaving only Tommy Hanson awaiting the call among the truly elite prospects. For those of you in the two per cent of leagues that both Wieters and Price are unowned, give it a quick check to make sure that the league is still active. Both players have unlimited potential, but again, they are kids with limited experience, so you might want to leave the Hall of Fame induction speech for a bit later in the season.
Tony Pena, Arizona Diamondbacks, RP: Every year there is a reliever that steps up and manages to amass solid win totals and 2009 looks to be Pena’s year. In 24 1/3 IP, he’s already managed five wins and a great 1.85 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. Pena also generates hold points in leagues that use this category and is solidly entrenched as the go-to guy in the event that incumbent Chad Qualls stumbles.
Jake Fox, Chicago Cubs, 1B/OF: The 26-year-old Fox managed to hit 17 homers drive in 50 RBI and bat an incredible .423 BA at Triple-A Iowa. He has hit for power at every level except one. The big question is where does he fit into Lou Piniella’s plans? Since being recalled Wednesday, he’s managed the grand total of four at bats in four games. If you have the bench space in your league, he is worthy of a bench slot until the playing time issues get resolved or interleague play resumes in a couple of weeks.
Fernando Martinez, New York Mets, OF: The 20-year-old phenom was called up to replace Ryan Church who went on the DL with hamstring issues. At Triple-A Buffalo, Martinez hit eight homers with 28 RBI and a .291 BA. In all probability, this is just a short-term visit until Church returns. Enjoy the preview and get him rostered for the short term in NL-only leagues and all keeper formats for the long haul. Martinez is going to be worth the wait.
Luke Scott, Baltimore Orioles, DH: Since being activated off the DL May 27, he now has amassed six homers, 14 RBI, and seven runs scored in just four games. It doesn’t get much better than that. Scott has been the hottest pickup in the game in daily transaction leagues over the past several days, but might still be available in leagues with weekly pickups. Grab him while he’s hot and enjoy the ride.
Alexi Casilla, Minnesota Twins, 2B: Since his demotion at the beginning of May, Casilla has managed eight RBI, six thefts, and a .316 BA. Not exactly stellar numbers, but with Nick Punto on the DL for the next couple weeks, Casilla is getting another opportunity to prove that last years’ line was no fluke. There is no doubt the kid can run; getting to first base seems to be the bigger concern. He’s a solid acquisition for the short-term in AL-only leagues and keep a watch on him in deeper mixed leagues in the event that he regains that 2008 form.
Randy Choate, Tampa Bay Rays, RP: With Choate coming off back-to-back saves this weekend, the 33-year-old lefty specialist is worthy of a gamble, even in the current bullpen-by-committee situation in Tampa. A save is a save and it appears that at least for now Joe Maddon will be going with the hot hand.
Ben Francisco, Cleveland Indians, OF: The Indians finally made a move with Grady Sizemore , putting him on the DL Sunday with that lingering elbow problem. Francisco has been filling in very capably in centrefield as of late and with five homers and 20 RBI, and that new-found speed makes him a solid acquisition. He’s currently owned by only 14 per cent of teams over at CBS so is certainly available.
David Hernandez, Baltimore Orioles, SP: The 24-year-old righthander made his debut Thursday and had a solid first outing against the Tigers, allowing five hits with four walks while striking out three over 5 1/3 IP to gain his first victory. At Triple-A Norfolk, Hernandez posted a very solid 2.91 ERA in 43 1/3 IP, allowing 33 hits and 13 walks while fanning 60, yes 60. In his final start for the Tide, he posted 14 strikeouts in 7 1/3 against Rochester. Hernandez is a great acquisition in AL-only leagues and all keeper formats, and should be on the radar in mixed formats.
Sean West, Florida Marlins, SP: The 22-year-old southpaw, at 6′8″, has drawn some early comparisons to another tall, lanky lefty — Randy Johnson. With those 22 free passes at Double-A Jacksonville, they both seem to have the walks as well as the height in common (well, Johnson was certainly wild when he first came up, anyways). Since West’s recent promotion, he has pitched two decent outings and currently is sitting with a 2.25 ERA and 1.08 WHIP while still looking for that first big league win. He is going to be prone to bouts of wildness, but the strikeout potential from this young southpaw can’t be ignored and he should be owned in all keeper and NL-only formats.
Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay Rays, SS: The injuries to both Aki Iwamura and Jason Bartlett will take Zobrist from his super-sub role into more of a regular at second for the Rays. He’s managed eight homers, 26 RBI, and a great .306 BA and the multi-positional eligibility is a nice bonus as we attempt to deal with those inevitable injuries. Zobrist is a solid acquisition in all formats.
Joel Hanrahan, Washington Nationals, RP: It appears that Hanrahan’s confidence is returning and he’s been re-installed as the closer in Washington. He’s a gamble, but probably the best suited in the current National pen to fill the role given his ability to bring the high heat. Hanrahan is currently owned by only 32 per cent of the teams playing over at CBS so if he’s available and your bullpen is in a mess, as most are, grab him while he’s still flying a bit below the radar.
Antonio Bastardo, Philadelphia Phillies, SP: Let’s ignore the rather obvious shots, I’m sure Antonio has heard them all before. The kid can pitch and is certainly an intriguing prospect. A year ago, he was pitching in the Florida State League, and now he’s in the bigs. The Phillies are going to attempt to solve the void created by the season-ending hip injury suffered by Brett Myers internally for now. Bastardo has now made two moves in the past two weeks with his recent promotion to Triple-A Lehigh Valley and has been successful at every stop along the way. The 23-year-old Dominican managed 39 strikeouts in 34 2/3 IP at Double-A Reading with a great 1.83 ERA. He should be rostered in all NL-only and keeper leagues, and put on the radar in mixed formats.
Jerry Hairston, Cincinnati Reds, 2B/3B/SS/OF: Hairston has managed a very productive start to the 2009 campaign for the Reds with seven homers, 16 RBI, 30 runs scored and four stolen bases. Why is he owned by only 42 per cent of the teams playing at CBS? He’s the perfect super-sub and should be rostered in all formats.
Elijah Dukes, Washington Nationals, OF: Dukes is tentatively scheduled to return this coming week and he should get there quick as he does have that $40,000 debt for legal fees to his ex-wife to take care of. He’s currently rehabbing a strained hamstring, but when healthy he brings an intriguing power/speed combination that shouldn’t be ignored.