We’ve reached the turning point of the 2016 season, and playoff pictures are coming into clear focus. The American League East and National League West are up for grabs, while the other divisions are being won by six games or more. Naturally, this is the time of fantasy seasons where owners are shuffling to find the last bit of help to carry their teams to fantasy glory. The waiver wire has been picked over numerous times, but there is still one last glimpse of hope. On September 1, a Major League team’s roster will expand from a 25-man to 40-man team. This means we will see many prospects that can help not only MLB teams, but fantasy teams alike. The next two weeks I will be focusing on the top five September call-ups, from each league, that can have a fantasy impact this season as well as be on fantasy rosters for the foreseeable future.
Gurriel received his call recently, and will receive many at-bats as the Astros try to close on Seattle’s 8.5 game lead in the AL West. At 32, Gurriel is hardly a prospect, but there will be a learning curve playing in MLB compared to the many years spent playing in Cuba. What should we expect? Signed in the middle of July, Gurriel spent little time in the minors. In 56 at-bats (15 games), Gurriel slashed .250/.262/.429 with two home runs, 14 RBI, and averaged one strikeout per game. His career was arguably one of the quickest through four different minor league levels. While the numbers don’t tell us much, there is a lot to be desired. Through 15 professional seasons between Cuba and Japan (one season), the righty slashed .335/.417/.580 with 250 HR, 1018 RBI, and 121 SB in 172 chances. Gurriel has shown the ability to hit during his time in CNS Baseball, but I didn’t notice his power numbers starting to decline after he turned 27. He hasn’t managed 20+ home runs since 2007. This isn’t a knock against him, but at 32 I don’t think we should expect great power numbers. I’d say it’s safe to say he won’t even compare to Yasmany Tomas. However, if you’re looking for some help, he could provide a steady bat and have a chance to drive in, and score, runs for a talented Astros lineup. Who knows, he could surprise everyone and end up with 10+ home runs as his scouting report is still a work in progress. If he’s available, grab him, but he is probably owned in a majority of leagues and has been for around a month.
Cleveland has a seven-game lead in the division and they will be an interesting team to watch come December. They lost out on Jonathan Lucroy and Carlos Beltran, but I’m a firm believer Yandy Diaz could come out of nowhere for the Indians and fantasy teams. Another Cuban slugger, the 25 year-old Diaz has murdered pitching at AAA-Columbus. Through 327 AAA at-bats, Diaz has slashed .321/.395/.450 with six home runs, 38 RBI, and has more walks (194) than strikeouts (185) through two minor league levels. Diaz won’t produce great power numbers, but he can hit, and hit well. Any player that draws more walks than strikeouts has an idea at the plate. Expect Diaz to get on base often, and score many runs. He has the ability to sneak a few home runs off pitchers, but his calling card will be his phenomenal defense. With the ability to play the “hot corner” and outfield, he becomes an interesting addition for fantasy teams. Assuming he carries multiple position eligibility, he could be the perfect waiver wire addition from a depleted free agent list.
Part of the overhaul the Yankees acquired from the Indians, and Cubs, Frazier has a great opportunity for a September call-up. The Yankees already called up slugger Aaron Judge, outfielder Tyler Austin, and catcher Gary Sanchez. Austin has slowed down, and Frazier could split time with fellow call-ups. 2016 has seen Frazier slash .269/.340/.448 with 15 HR, 54 RBI, and 13 stolen bases. Frazier owns a career (four seasons) slash line of .276/.357/.449 with 49 HR, 204 RBI, and 43 SB. While he may not steal many bases, Frazier can hit and there’s no questioning his bat-speed that can resemble the likes of Javier Baez. Like Beaz, Frazier has shown tendencies to struggle with the off-speed pitches, but there’s no denying his potential. Frazier is an outfielder that could have quick success if manager Joe Girardi gives him regular at-bats. Again, off-speed pitchers are his Achilles heel, but if he’s on, he is a lot better than most outfielders on the waiver wire. This comes from the twelfth ranked outfielder in my 2016 Minor League Maestros: Outfield.
Of all September call-ups, Hunter Dozier is the one player I’m focusing my attention on most. With the season-ending injury to Giancarlo Stanton, I’ve been looking for a cheap source of power. Don’t get me wrong, 2016 hasn’t been a great one for Stanton, but he started to come around after winning the Home Run Derby. That being said, I’ve looked for cheap sources of power, and Dozier could be a player that could provide plenty of it. Through two different 2016 stops, Dozier has slashed .306/.375/.550 with 23 HR, 71 RBI, and 74 runs scored. He’s been on a mission, and the 25 year-old is ready for his call-up. Even if he doesn’t play third base, Dozier could see time at a corner outfield spot. The Royals are only eight games behind the division-leading Indians, and while they may come up short of a playoff spot, Dozier could give them some extra pop in their lineup. He’s a season minor league veteran and can hit for power. He does have the ability to strikeout, but 2016 has been a season that clicked well through AA and AAA. Keep and eye out for Dozier’s call-up. You may be thanking when the 2016 season concludes.
It felt weird making a list of my top-5 September call-ups without having a pitcher included. With that being said, I reached for left field and pulled Jharel Cotton. No, the Oakland A’s are not positioning themselves for a playoff berth, but they’ve shown the ability to develop pitching. I still think of the days of Barry Zito, Tim Hudson, and Mark Moulder. While the Atlanta Braves are beefing up the arms in their minor league system, the A’s may have acquired another dynamite arm. The 24 year-old was the winning pitching in the 2016 Futures Game, and could be nearing a call-up as soon as this weekend. Acquired from the Dodgers, has had a successful 2016 campaign going 10-6 with a 4.61 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and 1[45:36] K:BB. Since being acquired from Los Angeles, Cotton has gone 2-1 with a 3.51 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 26:4 K:BB, and has held hitters to a .196 AVG. He’s about as ready as it comes, and will be given innings to eat up once his services are called upon. Monitor Cotton’s call-up as the righty has shown the ability to strike hitters out and manage his walks to a miniscule amount. He’s the perfect arm to snag off the waiver wire, and he’s pitching in Oakland.
Dan Vogelbach, 1B/DH, SEA
Yoan Moncada, 2B, BOS
Bradley Zimmer, OF, CLE
Alec Mills, RHP, KC
Adalberto Mejia, LHP, MIN
Jose Leclerc, RHP, TEX