“Bruno’s Gold”: MLB Call-Ups and Their Value
The past few weeks I’ve given recommendations on either under performing players that I think are going to turn it around, or “under the radar” guys that I suggest adding. This week, I’m going to write about a few call-ups that we’ve seen make it to the show recently, and what each player’s fantasy value is moving forward. There are many more players that could be on this list, so let me know in the comments below (or on Twitter @BenBBruno) if there’s someone you particularly like that I left off. (Note: I focused mostly on hitters, so there are going to be pitcher call-ups left off this list.) Also, since I wrote about George Springer last week, I didn’t include him. Sticking with the “Bruno’s Gold” theme, I’ll give each player a certain amount of gold bars based on what I think their fantasy value will be this season, with 5 being the most and 1 being the fewest.
Marcus Stroman: Stroman comes with some risk as he could potentially be sent back down to AAA, although he’s scheduled to start Friday and with Dustin McGowan now pitching out of the bullpen, Stroman might be sticking around. He started the season pitching in relief and got hit hard in two of his five appearances, but pitched well in his first start on the year (6 IP, 5 hits, 1 run, 0 walks, 6 strikeouts) on May 31st. He’s only thrown 12.1 innings on the year, but his FIP (Fielder Independent Pitching) is 2.99 and good for 3rd best on the Blue Jays, making you feel much better about his 7.30 ERA. His numbers this season in AAA are fantastic and provide a bigger sample size. He started seven games and put up an 11.36 K/9 with a 2.13 FIP. He had great command as well, walking just nine batters in his seven starts. If Stroman is able to both stay in the big leagues and in the rotation, he’s a great guy to target. He has the luxury of pitching for a potent offense, making it capable to rack up some W’s even on off nights, and the offenses in the AL East aren’t as scary this year as they once were. He’s likely available in your league, costing you nothing. Stroman gets 3 gold bars, but only if he stays in the starting rotation.
UPDATE: Stroman got the win against the Cardinals on Friday, pitching six innings, giving up one run on seven hits, walking two, and striking out seven. If he continues pitching like this, it will be very difficult for the Blue Jays to remove him from the starting rotation.
Jonathan Singleton: Singleton is likely owned in most formats, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late to try to acquire him, especially if you need help with power. He likely won’t hit for a high average, as he didn’t at any level in the minors, but his power should translate to the majors (he hit a HR in his debut). In 54 games in AAA this year, Singleton hit .267/.397/.544 with a .277 ISO (Isolated Power), which is good for 7th best in the Pacific Coast League. Prefer more traditional stats? He had 25 extra-base hits in 195 at-bats and an OPS of .941. The kid can crush the ball. The Astros’ offense has been terrible this season, but with the addition of George Springer and now Singleton, the potential for improvement is certainly there. Also, there isn’t concern for him being sent back down to the minors, and he will be a fixture at first base for the rest of the season. Singleton gets 4 gold bars, and 4 ½ if you need power.
Oscar Taveras: Taveras was raking in AAA this season hitting .325/.373/.524 with 7 HR and 40 RBI before being called up by the Cardinals because of an injury to Matt Adams. Taveras is the type of hitter who puts the ball in play, as he doesn’t walk much, but he also has a fairly low strikeout percentage. Scouts love his power potential and he had 23 extra-base hits in 49 games in AAA, and he also hit a HR in his MLB debut. He’s off to a bit of a slow start (.227/.217/.409), but that’s over just six games at the big league level, so it’s not worth reading too much into. I don’t like his power as much as Singleton’s but he still has a high ceiling and is a must-own player for his potential. Things may get muddled when Matt Adams returns to the lineup, but my guess is that Taveras’ bat will be good enough to demand that he stays on the roster. He may lose out on a few starts here and there, but he’s talented enough to make up for missed days in the lineup. Taveras gets 3 1/2 gold bars.
Tommy La Stella: La Stella hit .293/.384/.359 in 47 games at AAA this year and has taken over at second base for the Braves from the struggling Dan Uggla. La Stella has hit for average and gotten on base at a great clip at every level in the minors, but his power is non-existent. His ISO in AAA this year was just .066 and he only had eight extra-base hits. He’s also had a great BB/K ratio throughout the minors, including a 1.79 ratio this season. Unfortunately for fantasy purposes, that’s about all he offers. La Stella will hit for a decent average and get on base, but hitting at the bottom of an inept offense for the Braves doesn’t offer much upside. He also doesn’t steal at all – just 25 steals in 306 career minor league games – making it even harder to pick up the slack from his lack of power. La Stella looks to be the classic case of a player that is better in real life than in fantasy. Through seven games played for the Braves, he’s already been an upgrade over Uggla, but unless you really need help with average and OBP, La Stella won’t offer you much fantasy-wise. I give him just one gold bar.
Gregory Polanco: He hasn’t been called up yet this season, but it’s only a matter of time. If you have an open roster spot, add him now. He’s hitting .356/.412/.547 in AAA. 4 gold bars.