The dust has just recently settled on the All-Star game, and the rosters are nowhere near expanding, but several MLB teams are giving extended looks to their younger talent here at the end of July. Let’s take a look at who is flying off the waiver wire, and which sleepers to keep an eye on as we roll towards the fantasy baseball playoffs.
Henry Urrutia – OF – Baltimore OriolesUrrutia was called up on July 19th, and thus far has started twice out of 3 games (with a pinch hit in the other). After a 3 for 5 performance against the Kansas City Royals on Monday, his batting average stands at .400 with 2 RBI (0 HR/ 0 SB). Let’s take a look at his minor league numbers this year before the call up.AA – 52 games, 200 AB, .365/.433/.550, 7 HR, 37 RBI, 1 SB/ 1 CS, 36 K/ 24 BBAAA – 15 games, 60 AB, .367/.406/.467, 0 HR, 6 RBI, 0 SB/ 0 CS, 6 K/ 4 BBCouple things stand out here. Obviously, Urrutia hit for a terrifc average at the minor league level, which will likely translate to a .280-.300 average at the big league level (Assuming he keeps hitting for contact). There was some limited power on display, but overall owners should not view Henry as a power hitter or a base stealer. He is mainly an add for his average at this point in his career. Urrutia is 26 years old, so is getting the call at a relatively late stage in his career, but with that maturity comes the expectation that he can handle himself at the big league level.For owners in roto formats that are struggling with their average, or need that slight boost to put them over the top, I would recommend Urrutia as the flavor of the week. With an outfield currently consisting of Adam Jones, Nick Markakis and Nate McLouth, Urrutia figures to see most of his playing time at DH or the expense of McLouth, but if an injury occurs he will likely step into the everyday role Brad Miller – SS – Seattle MarinersThe Mariners seem to have a never ending string of “top prospects” from Justin Smoak, Jesus Montero, Dustin Ackley, Mike Zunino, Nick Franklin, and now Brad Miller we are bombarded every season by the next can’t miss player in their organization. The latest name to be added to that list is Brad Miller who has taken over the starting SS gig from the defensive minded and fantasy irrelevant Brendan Ryan.Miller is in the same mold as Henry Urrutia as a high average hitter, but he brings quite a bit more power to the table at a thinner position. Check out the minor league numbersAA – 26 games, 104 AB, .356/.426/.596, 6 HR, 28 RBI, 2 SB/ 1 CS, 18 K/ 15 BBAAA – 42 games, 153 AB, .294/.379/.471, 6 HR, 25 RBI, 4 SB/ 3 CS, 30 K/ 20 BBSo maybe you are a Jhonny Peralta / Everth Cabrera owner looking for a little insurance against Biogenesis, or maybe you’re hanging on to Jose Iglesias but need more power? It obviously bears mentioning that Miller will be playing half his games in Seattle, at one of the better pitchers ballparks in the game, so his power numbers could take a slight hit. But as we saw over the weekend in Houston with his 2 HR/ 5 RBI performance, Miller has the potential to be a game changer in the near future, and is one of the few prospects the Mariners have called up in recent years that I am actually excited about. Give Brad a look if you need help at MI on your fantasy squad as we head towards the playoffs.Marcell Ozuna and Derek Dietrich (both shipped back to the minors). Christian and Jake are flying off the waiver wire in fantasy baseball leagues around the country, but before you run out to do that, let me make my case here.First off, let me say this move reeks of desperation, and is probably just another desperate attempt to sell tickets at a ballpark where they can’t give them away. It all started with Ozuna and Jose Fernandez earlier this year, and when Ozuna predictably cooled off, the Marlins went ahead and grabbed a few more of the prospects of the future, and plugged them in today.I have 2 major problems with Yelich and Marisnick at this point in the season, and their names are Juan Pierre and Justin Ruggiano. Ruggiano has earned some playing time with his 12 HR and 12 SB (although he is batting just .202) and Pierre is still doing his thing with 18 SB this season. Is Miami really going to bench their former starters in lieu of 2 minor league budding stars? What happens when the predictable slump occurs for one or both hitters?Here are the numbers for Yelich and Marisnick at double-A this season:Christian Yelich – 49 games, 193 AB, .280/.365/.518, 7 HR, 29 RBI, 5 SB/ 5 CS, 52 K/ 26 BBJake Marisnick – 67 games, 265 AB, .294/.358/.502, 12 HR, 46 RBI, 11 SB/ 6 CS, 68 K/ 17 BBKeep in mind, those numbers are from Double A. There will be plenty of owners who point at the high batting averages, and solid power numbers and say these guys are stars in the making!! Both guys never even saw the light of day at Triple-A, and now they will be expected to face some of the best pitchers in the game in the AL East at the big league level? I don’t think so as there is too much risk here, and with the time share in the OF, I wouldn’t waste my time grabbing either player at this juncture. Could one of them turn into the second coming of Yasiel Puig? Anything is possible, but outside of NL-only formats, not worth the risk of dropping one of your current starters.
Junior Lake – SS/OF – Chicago CubsIt sure was confusing when I read that Junior Lake, the AAA SS of the Chicago Cubs had received the call. Were they really prepared to demote Starlin Castro? Turns out the answer was no, they had plans for Lake involving centerfield, and after 4 games at the big league level (3 @ COL, 1 @ ARI), it looks like a stroke of genius! Lake is currently hitting .529 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 2 SB. Let’s take a look at those AAA numbers, shall we?AAA – 40 games, 156 AB, .295/.341/.462, 4 HR, 18 RBI, 14 SB/ 5 CS, 33 K/ 10 BBSolid numbers from a prospect that hasn’t been discussed much in fantasy baseball circles. I think the main question here is what happens when David DeJesus returns, probably later this week. The Cubs already have a logjam in the outfield as they continue to rotate Nate Schierholtz, Dave Sappelt, and Julio Borbon. Will Lake be added to the mix, or will he perhaps be moved to the infield for the defensive minded Darwin Barney? Too many questions here with no answers, as it seems likely that the Cubs continue to build for the future, and have little incentive to play Lake on an everyday basis for the remainder of the season. While I like his average and speed, Junior needs to work on his plate discipline a little more, and it remains to be seen how Theo Epstein and company will manage to find him playing time on a roster full of guys trying to keep their jobs at the big league level.
If there are any other callups/ sleepers you would like me to cover in future articles, please post them in the comments section below.