If you're like me you're in multiple, if not too many, leagues. In some you're probably looking toward 2016 if it's a keeper league, while in others you're looking to fill holes on the waiver wire or trade front in order to make a run. This week, I'll focus on a few September call-ups that could help you this year and beyond, as well as a few others that have taken a step back in value, but could be decent buy low candidates.
There are obvious candidates like Corey Seager and Jose Berrios who could very well get the call at any moment, but let's focus on others that are potentially less obvious. I realize that many of these names will be very familiar to a lot of our readers, but for others that follow the minor leagues less closely, this could be helpful.
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Tyler Glasnow, P, PIT
GM Neal Huntington has recently come out and said that it was "doubtful" the team would recall Glasnow this year, but he didn't entirely rule it out. He's one of the top seven or so pitching prospects in the game, and with Jameson Taillon (hernia) sidelined for the year and the Pirates looking at a potential playoff spot, Glasnow could be tapped to help the rotation. He has all of 13 starts above A-ball, was just promoted to Triple-A this week, and is only 21, but the lanky six-foot-seven right-hander has evoked Adam Wainwright comparisons on his way to a K/9 approaching 12 this year. I bet we see him in September at the latest.
Robert Stephenson, P, CIN
The trades involving Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake have opened the door, but Stephenson will remain in Triple-A, at least for the time being. He's another top-seven or so pitching prospect, and the 22-year-old is certainly on the cusp of the big leagues. The big issue this year with Stephenson has been his control, but after posting a 5.0 BB/9 in 14 Double-A starts, the six-foot-two righty has dropped that to 3.3 in six Triple-A starts. Stephenson also posted a 4.9 BB/9 in Double-A last year, so if he can keep that around the 3.5 mark, he'll be up sooner rather than later. I see No. 2 SP upside.
Aaron Blair, P, ARI
Blair has been hit and miss in Triple-A, posting a 4.50 ERA for Reno after a 2.70 mark in the more pitcher-friendly Southern League. His 7.5 K/9 at Triple-A gives him the look of a No. 3 starter, and that's probably his long-term ceiling. I got to see his six shutout innings against Fresno here in Reno and while I didn't come away all that impressed compared to some of the elite starters I've seen, Blair's clearly going to have a big league career.
Bradley Zimmer, OF, CLE
This one may be a bit of a stretch given Zimmer has just 18 Double-A games under his belt, but the sweet-swinging lefty is 22 and was a first round pick last year. Think of him as the AL Michael Conforto although Zimmer offers more fantasy upside than the Mets outfielder, having already stolen 37 bases in just 42 attempts and hit 11 homers en route to a .290/.391/.466 slash. We'd like to see his 23 percent K-rate come down, but Zimmer has the look of a solid leadoff hitter, perhaps even evoking some (gulp) Grady Sizemore (in his prime) comparisons. He's far from a lock to debut this year, but it is a possibility.
A.J. Reed, 1B, HOU
Reed has just 22 games above A-ball himself, but he's also last year's second-round pick and he's 22 years old, so he's very advanced despite his lack of experience. I'm not a big counting stats guy, but it is notable that Reed has already hit 28 homers and driven in 101 en route to a . 333/.438/.622 slash. He's swiped just two bags in 172 minor league games, so that's not part of his game, but look at the issues the Astros have had at first base this year. With Chris Carter and Jonathan Singleton and two others combining for a first base slash of a paltry .196/.306/.369, the playoff-bound (it appears) Astros could roll the dice in a bid to increase production at a traditionally power-laden position.
Dalton Pompey, OF, TOR
You don't see a top prospect get demoted two levels typically, but after batting .193 in 83 big league at-bats, Pompey found himself in Triple-A. He hit just .207 there and then got demoted again to Double-A where something appeared to click. A .950 OPS at New Hampshire got him back to Triple-A Buffalo where he turned things around and posted a .968 July OPS. He has Kevin Pillar and his .303 OBP in CF ahead of him, but Pompey's looking like a lock to get a second chance. Remember what Rougned Odor did with his?
Trevor Story, SS, COL
Overall, Story has 18 homers, 15 stolen bases, and a .348 OBP, and depending what happens with Jose Reyes this offseason he could be in line for the Rockies' shortstop job at some point in the very near future. He's in a 4-for-27 slump, and in 29 Triple-A games Story's K:BB is a bit ugly at 33:5, so he's no lock to get a 2015 call. Still, Reyes has had his share of health concerns and could even be an August waiver trade candidate, so keep an eye on Story.
Hector Olivera, 2B, ATL
A late start to the season and injuries have limited Olivera to just 69 at-bats this season, but with a .348/.392/.493 slash, he's demonstrated an MLB-ready bat. The 30-year-old looks to be the team's second baseman of the future, though he could also slot at third base given his age. Olivera hasn't played since July 13 due to a hamstring injury, but he's reportedly very close to a return. Add on a couple weeks to get in game shape, and we could very well see Olivera by month's end. He's worth a stash in most formats if you don't mind burning a roster spot for a few weeks.
Blake Snell, P, TB
Snell has already jumped two levels from High-A to Triple-A, and he may very well have one more 2015 promotion in him. The lefty has improved his K/9 from 9.1 to 10.9 year-over-year while improving his control simultaneously. In three Triple-A starts, Snell has a 1.93 ERA and 20:3 K:BB In 14 innings. Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi are really the only two starters locked into rotation spots, so the opportunity should be there for Snell by year's end assuming he's deemed ready. I like his upside quite a bit.
Alex Reyes, P, STL
Reyes turns 21 later this month and has just three Double-A starts, but despite that inexperience his stuff looks easily big-league ready should the Cardinals need another starting pitcher. Tim Cooney would be another option, but Reyes may be my No. 2 pitching prospect behind the Dodgers' Julio Urias, so keep him on your radars. Reyes' 13.6 K/9 is certainly elite, but a 4.3 BB/9 indicates that he still needs some smoothing of his rough edges. Marco Gonzales may also be next in line in the event of an injury, but if the Cardinals are looking to hit a home run, Reyes could get a look. It may actually work to his and the Cardinals' advantage that due to a shoulder issue earlier this year he's has throwing just 78.1 innings, as there should be more mileage left on his arm this season.
Khris Davis, OF, MIL
With Carlos Gomez and Gerardo Parra having been shipped out, the door is wide open for Davis to play every day the rest of the way. He's batting just .236/.321/.413, but he did go 2-for-4 with a double Wednesday and we know he has the power given his career 21 AB/HR rate. Davis has posted an 11.1 percent BB-rate his year, nearly double last year's 5.8 percent rate, but to get that BA up he'll need to drive down his 27.5 percent K-rate significantly. Improving his .151 BA against LHP certainly wouldn't hurt, and given Davis is a right-handed hitter, that seems doable.
Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, NYY
Ellsbury's .282/.353/.370 gives him an OPS that's just 24 points off last year's .747 mark, but his HRs are down from 16 to four and SB down from 39 to 14. Of course that's due in large part to playing in only 59 games, but given his low counting stats, there may be a buying opportunity here.
Billy Hamilton, OF, CIN
Of the 158 eligible players currently qualifying for the batting title, Hamilton ranks No. 157 with a .247 wOBA. An in-depth definition of wOBA is out of scope for my 2,000 words this week, but it essentially is a reflection of a hitter's value related to his producing runs. Only near-All-Star Omar Infante ranks lower with a .244 mark. Hamilton is batting .225/.269/.285 while managing a mere 12 extra-base hits. He was removed from the leadoff spot some time ago, but has still managed to swipe 51 bases due in part to a SB success rate that has improved from 71 percent to 88 percent compared to last year. This isn't a huge surprise really, as he got on base at a .308 clip in 547 PA's in 2013, but in 2012 he did have a .410 OBP. In addition, Hamilton sports a .264 BABIP that one would think could only rise given his speed, though we'd like to see his GB-rate more in the 50 percent range than its current 40 percent mark. He should be required to do 20 pushups every time he hits a fly ball, just like this guy. He's still just 24, so he has plenty of time to figure things out.
Yasiel Puig, OF, LAD
Puig seems to be coming around, as he went 2-for-4 with a walk and a three-run homer Wednesday against the Phillies. The long ball was his third in 10 games and leaves Puig with a still-modest .252/.325/.431 slash. His .189 ISO is in line with last year's .181, but he's also swiped just one base while his BB-rate has dropped slightly from 10.5 percent to nine percent this season. Say what you want about his demeanor and clubhouse presence, but Puig was an All-Star in 2014, still has immense upside, and he's just 24. A huge finish is very possible.
Addison Russell, 2B, CHC
Russell hasn't exactly made a Kris Bryant-like impact, but even at .235/.302/.362, he's still worth watching in most formats. His eight percent BB-rate isn't bad, but he's also struck out 28 percent of the time, hence the low BA. Russell though is just 21 and was generally considered a top five or 10 overall prospect prior to his promotion. It may not happen for him until 2016 or beyond, but if you're hurting in the middle infield this year, he's a decent guy to roll the dice on.
Michael Brantley, OF, CLE
At .303/.380/.448, Brantley hasn't exactly been awful, but compared to last year his OPS is down 63 points, his BA 24 points, and he's homered just eight times (20 in 2014) while stealing fewer bases. He's been hot lately however, and he's walked 11.3 percent of the time while fanning in a meager 7.8 percent of his PA's, both improvements over last year's elite campaign. A huge finish may be in order.
Nick Castellanos, 3B, DET
.242/.295/.348 isn't what the Tigers had in mind for Castellanos this year, but he has at least shown some progress in the power department, homering once per 33 at-bats versus a pre-2015 mark of once per 50 at-bats. That said, he's still striking out in 25 percent of his PA's while walking seven percent of the time. Castellanos is just 23 though and with his pedigree as a former top prospect, I remain optimistic.
Yordano Ventura, P, KC
Ventura is a hot-head with a 5.87 ERA in four starts since his return from Triple-A, but the talent remains and if you look beyond the overall 4.98 ERA, there are hints at improvement to come. Ventura's ratios are excellent with a 7.2 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 that feed into a FIP of 3.96. All numbers suggest he's pitched better than the results would appear to indicate. Still averaging an elite 96.1 mph with his fastball, Ventura has No. 1 upside as a starter, but he'll need to improve his secondary stuff as well as control his emotions.
Christian Yelich, OF, MIA
At .267/.340/.368, it's been somewhat of a disappointing season for Yelich, who hit .284/.367/.402 in his first full season a year ago. He's posted decent ratios with a 9.5 percent BB-rate and 21.4 percent K-rate and given that he battled injuries earlier this year, perhaps we can give him a bit of a pass. Yelich isn't all that far off last year's' .769 OPS, but we expected a bit of progress at least this year, progress that has yet to materialize. He may never be a superstar, but Yelich still has the look of a future 20/20 guy with a solid OBP.
Andrew Cashner, P, SD
Cashner's 7.7 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 are solid, and his velocity has been as good or better than ever, but he just hasn't been as consistent as he needs to be to anchor a rotation. In five of his last 11 starts, Cashner has allowed five or more runs, taking his ERA in that time from 3.00 to 4.08. With 21 year-to-date starts, he's in line to make 30 starts for the first time in his career assuming he can stay healthy. The Padres were surprisingly inactive at the trade deadline, so they still have some firepower on offense to support the pitching staff. Cashner should be a solid option in all formats.
Regan is a five-time Fantasy Sports Writers Association award winner.
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