As the non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches, it is as good a time as any to talk about the fantasy impact of potential late season call ups. You may have a tight race down the stretch run for a playoff spot or securing that roto championship. Grabbing a prospect and cutting bait on a underachieving vet could make the difference for your season. There are quite a few prospects that could be joining the ranks at the major league level that can offer a “spark” to your fantasy team just like MLB clubs hope they might impact their actual clubhouse. For the next two weeks, we will look which prospects are mostly likely to be called up and what, if any, fantasy impact they might bring. This week, we examine the most the National League and the most likely call up for every team. Let’s get right to it…
Noah Syndergaard, RHP (NYM) – I like Noah as a possible high impact fantasy performer because he has two ways to make it to Queens prior to Sept. The most likely event is that the Mets manage to “unload” Bartolo Colon on a playoff contender desperate for starting pitching. This might not happen until after the July 31st deadline as Colon should have no trouble making it through waivers with the $11M owed to him next season. Once this happens, Syndergaard is a legit option to replace him in the rotation for the remainder of the season. He is still under 100 innings due to injury and has seemingly gotten back on track after a difficult start to the season. The Mets might want to see what his plus Fastball and 12-6 curve looks like on the big stage this year with nothing else to play for.
Andrew Heaney, LHP (MIA) – Andrew had a taste off “The Show” earlier this season and was pretty terrible over the four starts he made for the Marlins this summer. It was good experience for him and he has had a chance to make adjustments back in AAA. He has had an excellent season over two levels in the minors this year and may be the best LHP prospect in the league. There is a good chance he will be back in Miami soon to finish off his season with a few starts to try to master his command and put his nasty slider on display.
Christian Bethancourt, C (ATL) – Christian had an opportunity to experience the majors earlier this season when he was called up during an Evan Gattis injury stint. Although he did not have stellar offensive numbers, he has shown some development with the bat in AAA this season and his defense and arm might give him a chance to contribute. It would not surprise me to see Gattis go down again and this would give Bethancourt a chance to play quite a bit down the stretch as the Braves should utilize his catching skills to make a run at the division title or a wild card spot. If given regular at-bats, he could give your fantasy team some points at the scarce catching position.
AJ Cole, RHP (WSH) – Washington probably won’t be calling up Cole this year. I have him on this list because I feel there is a great chance that he will be traded for a bat in the next few days. With Ryan Zimmerman a question mark, could the Nats pry away a big stick like Adrian Beltre? If so, Cole would be a candidate in a package going back to the Rangers and could immediately join the rotation in Texas. He has had a great season between AA and AAA and with only around 100 innings, he could offer fantasy owners a few nice starts down the stretch if he gets moved to Texas or another rebuilding team that trades Washington a significant bat.
Maikel Franco, 3B (PHI) – I don’t think Franco actually gets called up this year. He has struggled at AAA this year. However, I am picking someone from every team and Franco is the only player in the organization close enough to make any kind of impact this season. They won’t call him up unless they plan to play him every day. The Phillies might want to give him a chance to show off his plus power and give the fans something to get excited about since there has not been much happening in Citizen’s Bank Park this season. If they decide to make the move, he has plenty of opportunity to play. The team already seems resigned to platoon Ryan Howard and Franco can play 1B. He is a better than average fielder that flashes a plus arm, so they might want to give him a chance to play every day at 3B. Cody Asche hasn’t exactly been lighting it up. Ultimately, I think he will have little impact on your fantasy team either because he will not be brought up or he will struggle at the plate.
Jorge Soler, RF (CHC) – I know the rumors have Baez and Bryant being the hot call up candidates. Whereas Baez probably is ready, the Cubs really don’t have a need for him right now. Castro is having a great season and they have already committed to playing Alcantara every day at 2B. Sure they could bring one of those guys up to play 3B, but Luis Valbuena has held his own and out of options. I see the Cubs riding the infield out barring a significant injury. The reason I like Soler as a candidate to be called up AND make an immediate impact can be described in six words…Bonifacio, Sweeney, Lake, Schierholtz, Coghlan and Ruggiano. Soler would be an immediate upgrade both offensively AND defensively over any of these guys. Jorge already possess an advanced approach at the plate as evidence by his .396/.488/.782 slash line. He has missed time over the last year due to a leg injury or he would likely already be trolling RF in Wrigley. He is already on the 40 Man roster and is signed to a long-term contract. There is no club financial control elements that should hold him back. He should be in Chicago soon and should produce immediately for your fantasy team as pitchers try to adjust to him.
Tony Cingrani, LHP (CIN) – You already know what Tony can do. He was drafted and owned in most leagues this season until he got hurt and never fully got his confidence and/or stuff back. In a way this is cheating because Cingrani is no longer considered a prospect as he has exceeded his rookie eligibility. The reason I have chosen him to represent the Reds on this list is because there isn’t anyone else ready to be called up and make an impact in the organization. The Reds are aggressively seeking to add a bat to their lineup and their rotation is pretty deep. Cincinnati could bring Tony back up to sure up their bullpen down the stretch. His plus fastball could be an effective setup for Chapman to close out games. He could offer your fantasy team additional strikeouts and holds to put you on top in a close race.
Nick Kingham, RHP (PIT) – Pittsburgh has been rumored to be chasing an “ace” type pitcher at the deadline. If this happens, Kingham could be a piece moving teams and is major league ready to contribute immediately. He has had an effective season over 20 starts in the minors but has pitched over 120 innings and may be best suited to pitch out of the pen this season. He has been a relief pitcher in the past and could plug right into the pen in Pittsburgh if they don’t pick up another arm at the deadline. Ultimately, he will likely be a solid starting pitcher in this league, but if the pieces fall into place, his command and three major league ready pitches could impact the Pirates playoff chances as well as your fantasy team regardless on what role he has.
Marco Gonzalez, LHP (STL) – I really wanted my STL contribution to be Stephen Piscotty. He is a major league ready talent and could get a chance for a rebuilding team if traded for a front line starter. Unfortunately, they already have too many outfielders on the 25 Man roster. Even if they send Taveras back down to AAA, they will most likely ride out Allen Craig in RF for the remainder of the season counting on him to give them a solid final two months if given at-bats everyday. Saint Louis is in a playoff chase and likely to go with the veterans to get them back to the World Series. Marco could be a sleeper fantasy contributor if the Cards don’t score the front line starter they covet. If they “strike out” on Price and Lester, they may have to call up Gonzalez to fill in the back of the rotation. He had a cup of coffee earlier this summer and was not very effective, but with Garcia and Wacha injured and Joe Kelly still a question mark, Marco might be the best option. Tim Cooney is the only other possible starter on the cusp. Marco was just drafted in 2013 but has moved through the system quickly due to polish and command. Although he doesn’t really have a devastating out pitch, he could give you a few quality starts down the stretch as he has just over 100 innings for the season.
Hunter Morris, 1B (MIL) – Milwaukee is another example of a team that will likely add a pitcher in the next day or two. Jimmy Nelson seems to have a handle on the final rotation spot and the Brewers should be adding a back of the bullpen guy. Beyond that their primary need seems to be bench depth. Of course their top 5 hitting prospects are in A ball or lower so we come to former prospect, Hunter Morris. He was thought to be a power hitting 1B that might take over after Fielder moved on, but couldn’t quite keep it together at AAA and couldn’t stay healthy. There is no guarantee that Milwaukee will call him up or anyone for that matter. He could be an option as the Brewers could us a left-handed power bat off the bench and maybe even work a platoon with Mark Reynolds at 1B. All that being said, Morris will likely ride out the season in AAA and get fully healthy for next season or will be limited to pinch-hitting duty if called up.
Archie Bradley, RHP (ARI) – Archie was a top 10 prospect going into 2014 and dealt with elbow soreness at the beginning of the season that give him a late start. He is starting to put it together now and could make the jump from AA to Arizona if the Diamondbacks wanted to take a look. He has pitched less than 60 innings on the season and should have plenty of juice left to show off his plus-plus fastball and curve. Arizona has nothing to play for and really has no reason not to give him a chance and the fans something to get excited about. He would immediately become the ace of the staff before he throws a pitch in the major leagues. If he gets the call, he could give your fantasy team a huge boost down the stretch.
Eddie Butler, RHP (COL) – Eddie had a forgettable debut this summer and immediately went on the disabled list and demoted to AA in order to get back on track. Butler has a plus fastball which he runs in the high 90s and a plus slider. Sitting in dead last in the NL West, Colorado could give Butler another shot at the rotation this year with about 95 innings pitched between all three levels this season. Another option is to let him pitch out of the pen after they trade Hawkins to give him some experience and confidence this season. His stuff might play into a future closer. Either option would give some immediate value to your fantasy pitching staff as the season winds down.
Joc Pederson, OF (LAD) – Joc is not a “sleeper” as most fantasy owners are aware of his 5 tool potential and are waiting patiently for the Dodgers to dump Crawford or Either to make room for him in Los Angeles. It doesn’t appear like that is going to happen this year. Pederson has nothing left to prove in the minor leagues, but the Dodgers would rather see him have regular at bats in AAA rather than sit on the bench. If nothing changes, he will get called up in September but would offer little help to your fantasy team. If this happens, he would be better classified under “little impact” category. However, the Dodgers may still pull off a trade for a front line starter in the next 48 hours and it would likely have to include Pederson. If Joc were traded to Tampa or Philly, I would like to think he would immediately join the club and provide immediate fantasy impact. A Price trade is looking bleak with Tampa making a run at a wild card spot and I think they would resist trading him for Hamels so he remains at the sleeper status for lack of opportunity at this point.
Matt Wisler, RHP (SD) – Matt is best major league ready pitching prospect in the Padres system. He is a possible candidate to get the rotation spot vacated in the event Ian Kennedy gets traded this week. He has four major league level pitches with good command. He could slide in nicely to the rotation down the stretch and provide a few nice quality starts for your fantasy team. He is still a sleeper in my view because it is looking less likely that Kennedy is going to get moved.
Kyle Crick, RHP (SF) – This pick is because I have to pick someone. A week ago, I would have listed Andrew Susac here with a chance to get some playing time with Belt getting hurt again and Posey moving to 1B. The Giants have beat me too it and promoted him this weekend. Crick is the best pitcher in the Giants system by a mile. With the acquisition of Jake Peavy, they don’t really need to call up a starter and the two closest to the majors (Escobar and Hembree) were just traded to Boston. The Giants are making a hard push for the playoffs and likely will not be leaning on any prospects this season. However, Cain is already down and if another starter goes down after the trade deadline, they might need to bring up Crick from AA to make it through the season. This could be a disaster. Crick has a chance to be a fantastic pitcher in the future but I don’t think he offers much for your fantasy team this season.
Bryan Luhrs Real Deal Dynasty Sports, Creator & League Commissioner MajorLeagueFantasySports.com, Fantasy Baseball Writer http://www.realdealdynasty.com @realdealdynasty _____________________________________________________________________________________ Major League Fantasy Football Radio This Sunday August 3rd from 11:30am-12:30pm EST we will have two guests Chase Jacobs and Ryan Ingram. Chase is a writer for majorleaguefantasysports.com and an owner in MLFF Champions League. Ryan is a writer as well and also an owner in MLFF league one. We will be discussing Tight Ends and Running Backs primarily. Sports Palooza Radio Network is who we owe thanks to in providing the platform. You can call in live at 646.915.8596, you can listen online live, or you can download the podcast.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio This Monday August 4th from 1pm-2pm EST we will have two guests Bryan Luhrs and Ryan Bishop. Bryan is the owner of Real Deal Dynasty Sports, an author for MLFS, and also an owner in baseball & football. Ryan is one of the original owners in our leagues who is in year 7 with us, and he is a good source of information and opinion. We will be discussing potential minor league call ups, what impact they could have, and the latest fantasy relevant information. You can call in live at 646.915.8596, you can listen online live, or you can download the podcast.