I started to put together a list of potential impact call ups during the week prior to the July 31st Non-Waiver trade deadline. Now that the deadline has past, most of my list has been blown up. Rather than reaching for the next best options with little fantasy impact, we will examine each AL team by their top remaining needs and determine what recent call ups or potential call ups could provide some fantasy impact for your playoff push.
High Potential Impact
Houston Astros – Dynasty leaguers and Deep Keeper leagues have been salivating over the Houston farm system for years. George Springer made a triumphant entrance into Houston this summer to the tune of 20 HRs and 50+ RBIs in just under 300 at-bats. His average has been lower than expected and the stolen bases haven’t been there, but Astros’ fans and Fantasy owners are thrilled with the preview of things to come. Unfortunately, Springer as well as fellow starting OF, Dexter Fowler, have dealt with some injuries this summer and Houston has had to send out the likes of LJ Hoes and Mark Krauss on a regular basis. Despite this, the Astros have been surprisingly competitive, but now its time to see what the future may hold. Enter two prospects: newly acquired, OF Jake Marisnick from the Marlins and Astros’ prospect, OF Domingo Santana. Marisnick has been called up several times this season by the Marlins and sent down due to having little success. Everyone seems to love his tools and he keeps getting chances. If he continues to play everyday, he can provide you with some steals and runs as he settles in. With the injuries to the Astros starting OFs, he does have a chance to play everyday. Santana is a plus power prospect that had a solid year in AAA slashing .292/.375/.469 in 390 at-bats. He does strikeout a ton and has struggled in his limited time in the big leagues this season with 11 strikeouts in 13 at-bats. That being said, he does offer some power stat potential if given a chance to play. Springer should be back soon, but Fowler may be gone for a while giving these two a chance to make a fantasy impact if their tools begin to develop.
Seattle Mariners – The Mariners had a glaring need in the outfield which the filled by acquiring Austin Jackson at the trade deadline as part of the David Price, three-team trade with Tampa and Detroit. The primary area of need for Seattle down the stretch is now the rotation. Its seems like it changes from week to week due to injury and ineffectiveness. This opens the door for top prospect, Taijuan Walker RHP, to make an impact in Seattle and your playoff push. Walker had some success in his late season call up in 2013, but has struggled to stay healthy and throwing strikes in 2014. In his three starts this season he has maintained a respectable ERA of 3.60 but a 7.8 BB/9 has caused him to get demoted after each start. The good news for fantasy owners is that behind King Felix and Iwakuma, there is plenty of opportunity. His high pitch count has kept him from earning quality starts, but he certainly has the potential to give you a boost in strikeouts (8.4 K/9) with his plus fastball and he is capable of pitching a gem on any day.
Sleeper Potential Impact
Texas Rangers – Injuries have decimated any chance for the Rangers to compete this year. They don’t have any legit pitching to speak of behind Yu Darvish, so they are mixing and matching with a few young arms with a few 30 something pitchers. With the injuries to Prince Fielder and Mitch Moreland, they are patching 1B with the likes of JP Arencibia, Adam Rosales, Jim Adduci and Mike Carp. Although the Ranger’s Brass is denying it, Texas fans and fantasy owners are clamoring for Joey Gallo. Yes he has slowed down a little in AA but with 37 HRs, 93 RBIs and a combined season slash line of .298/.415/.669, he would instantly provide an offensive spark in Texas. Yes he is a 3B, but has played a few games at 1B in AA this season and it might be worth the experiment to give him some experience to big league pitching. He may get exposed by major league pitching and strikeout a ton, but this is normal for young power hitters adjusting. He is still young at only 20 years old and Texas seems to be content to let him work on his plate discipline in the minors for the rest of the season. If he gets the surprise call, he might be the biggest potential fantasy impact for the remainder of the season with his incredible raw power.
Low Potential Impact
Oakland Athletics – Oakland is a favorite to go deep in the playoffs. They don’t have a noticeable weakness and the only player under 25 on their 25 Man Roster is Sonny Gray (24 yrs old). The A’s may not have need to call up any prospect for the stretch run. To further illustrate their “Win Now” mentality, Oakland has only 2 other players under 25 on their 40 Man roster: Billy Burns (24) and Raul Alcantara (21). The later had Tommy John surgery this season and won’t be an option. Burns was called up last week and failed to reach base in five plate appearances. He did steal 53 bases this season between AA-AAA and does have a chance to give you a few steals in roto leagues, but unless you are in a 30 team Dynasty league, he probably won’t be worth a roster spot this season.
Los Angeles Angels – The Angels are in a similar situation as the A’s. They are battling for the division and likely won’t be looking at their minors for help. They did a nice job with some late season acquisitions to sure up their bullpen and their lineup is pretty solid throughout, The one opportunity would be a spot starter due to the injury of Tyler Skaggs. This may open the door for a few starts for LHP Jose Alvarez. He did have two appearances out of the bullpen this season for the Angels, but the club still views him as a starter. In 2013, he had a very effective season in AAA but struggled in 6 games for the Tigers last season. He has been sideline most of 2014 with injuries so he is relatively fresh and the Angels could give him a look. Either way, he is not going to give you any value for your fantasy team in any format.
High Potential Impact
Minnesota Twins – The Twins are essentially playing out the string as we head into August. 1B Kennys Vargas could give some fantasy value if he gets regular at-bats filling down the stretch. He has some power and RBI potential for deeper leagues. The glaring need for the Twins this season is starting pitching. Right now the rotation looks like … Kyle Gibson, Phil Hughes, Kevin Correia and pray for rain. Hopefully, Minnesota will use this opportunity to see what top pitching prospect, Alex Meyer RHP, has to offer. He is 24 and has spent the entire season in AAA, Rochester, and doesn’t really have anything left to prove. He has a 3.05 ERA with 10.3 K/9 in 112 Innings this season. He has some issue with command which is the only reason they have for keeping him down. If the Minnesota Brass is willing to take a look at the future this season, Meyer could be a huge impact on your fantasy team with his plus fastball and slider which produces a lot of strikeouts and ground balls. They may choose to bring up Trevor May instead, but Twins fans and fantasy owners are holding out hope that Alex Meyer gets the call.
Sleeper Potential Impact
Cleveland Indians – On July 31st, Asdrubal Cabrera gets traded to the Washington Nationals and the city of Cleveland anticipates the arrival of top prospect, SS Francisco Lindor. Not so fast…Cleveland seems content to allow the combination of Mike Aviles and Jose Ramirez play SS for the remainder of the season. Although Lindor is known more for his exceptional defense, arm and leadership, if the Indians have a change of heart, he could help your fantasy team with speed categories at the top of the order as Cleveland has no true leadoff hitter. They may also choose to bring up SS/3B Zach Walters whom they acquired in the Cabrera deal. Zach already has some MLB experience, but Lindor is the future and it would be exciting to see that start here at the end of 2014 and make a run at the last wild card spot.
Low Potential Impact
Chicago White Sox – The White Sox are another team that are basically done playing meaningful baseball. Chicago could use a lift at 3B. Incumbent, Connor Gillaspie, has hit just over .300 for the season but has shown no power and often takes a seat against lefties. Former Diamondbacks prospect, 3B Matt Davidson, is sitting in AAA showing off some power potential despite hitting below the Mendoza line. At worst, he makes a platoon candidate against lefties and a chance to face MLB pitching again after some time up in 2013. He is only 23 and still could be the 3B of the future and with service time no longer a concern for the club, it really couldn’t hurt to bring him up for another look. Unfortunately, there is not much upside for your fantasy team in 2014. He may hit a few HRs but will likely be limited in a platoon and that will not likely be enough to provide much fantasy value.
Detroit Tigers – The Tigers are another championship contender without much weakness. They are now crazy deep in their rotation and also sured up their bullpen with some July acquisitions. One area that they could use some more depth is OF after trading Austin Jackson. Rajai Davis is not an everyday player and they have a future stud on their 40 Man Roster tearing it up in AA. OF Steven Moya is 22 years old and his hit 28 HRs with 88 RBIs this season. He has plus power but lacks the hit tool and often looks lost in the OF. Steven missed some time from injury in 2013 and may need more development. He is too aggressive at the plate and swings at pitches out of the zone. That being said, he could be a nice bat off the bench in September for the Tigers. Unfortunately, he does not offer much fantasy value for your team in 2014. He is a great stash in dynasty leagues, but redraft leagues need not waste a roster spot.
Kansas City Royals – Kansas City is in the midst of a Wild Card chase and won’t likely tap into their farm system to help. They have a few AAA starters that could spot start here or there this season and their top hitting prospects are still a few years away. If I had to take as stab at a surprise call up, it would be OF Jorge Bonifacio. He is still in AA and has not had a great season, but he has 4 tool potential. If the Royals lose a OF to injury, they might need to reach down in their system for a replacement as I doubt they will run Jarrod Dyson out there every day. This is even less likely than Moya, but none-the-less would be an intriguing development. Although he should be on deep dynasty rosters, he would not offer any fantasy value this season even if he got the unlikely call.
High Potential Impact
Boston Red Sox – What happens when you trade two front line starters at the trade deadline? You need to find replacements for your rotation. The Red Sox were sellers at the trade deadline but somehow came away with a better lineup with guys that will still be under contract next season. However, they have two gaping holes in their rotation. Enter Brandon Workman, Allen Webster and Anthony Ranaudo. All three of these guys could get a serious look this season. I think RHP Allen Webster might be here to stay and offers the most Fantasy Impact for your team heading down the stretch. As with most prospects, Webster struggles with his command at times during the season and has been his downfall during his appearances in Boston. However, he has arguably the best stuff in the system with a plus fastball and changeup and a developing slider. With Boston out of the playoff chase, they can afford to be patient with him and let him try to work it out in the major leagues. Patient fantasy owners could be rewarded with a few quality starts during the fantasy playoffs.
Sleeper Potential Impact
Tampa Bay Rays – I really WANT to write about a replacement for David Price here. Somehow, Tampa might still have the best rotation in the AL East top to bottom without him. I give some credit to Tampa for this but more due to injury decimating the rotations for NYY, TOR and BAL and the dismantling of the BOS rotation. 2B Nick Franklin got traded out of Seattle at the trade deadline, but with Zobrist staying put, Franklin goes straight to AAA. I had a chance to go see him play this weekend when he was playing in town and he just looks off. He did rip a double on his last at-bat when the game was out of reach, but he looked lost during his first few at-bats. Hopefully he works out the kinks soon as he could get some playing time in Tampa as Zobrist can play multiple positions and would be an upgrade over Sean Rodriquez their current utility INF. I would expect to see him in Tampa in September at the latest and could help deeper leagues, but likely won’t contribute enough in 12 teams leagues to be worthy of a roster spot.
Toronto Blue Jays – The biggest prospect impact in Toronto will be the RHP Aaron Sanchez. He has pitched primarily as a starter in the minors and will move back into the rotation next season. Meanwhile, Toronto has injected some life into their bullpen by calling up top pitching prospect Sanchez. He has struggled at times with his command this season over AA and AAA. However in Toronto, he has been lights out in six appearances. Flashing his plus fastball and changeup, he has been very effective pitching out of the bullpen and providing the Blue Jays with some much-needed depth. He hasn’t wowed with strikeouts, but his overall command has been encouraging and could have significant impact on leagues that count holds and value advanced statistics for middle relievers like in Major League Fantasy Baseball Leagues.
Low Potential Impact
New York Yankees – My bold prediction SHOULD be coming true, but probably won’t. I thought 2nd Round draft pick this June, LHP Jacob Lindgren, had a chance to advance so rapidly through the system that he could reach the Bronx this fall. He got a late start but has completely dominated hitters at 3 levels and now sits at High A. It might be too late to get through at this point but for the record, Jacob has 11 appearances, 0.60 ERA, 6 hits, 4 walks and a staggering 30 Ks. Come on Cashman, make me look good. They have a need for a LHP in the bullpen in the Bronx and Jacob could make an impact on the Yanks playoff push. This is under Low Impact only because it is so unlikely to happen. If he does get promoted, you need to have him in your lineup as his strikeout potential is very valuable.
Baltimore Orioles – There isn’t likely to be any prospects called up to Baltimore as they try to nail down the AL East. Most AAA players are MLB veterans and journeyman and won’t impact your fantasy league if called up. Here is another long-shot…RHP Dylan Bundy. Dylan is coming off Tommy John surgery last season and has not been particularly sharp this year. He is working off the rust and regaining his command. On the plus side, he has already seen time in the major leagues back in 2012 and will likely jump up to the big leagues as soon as Baltimore feels he is completely healthy. He doesn’t have need for further development as he has three plus pitches and looks to take Baltimore by storm. I think the Orioles would prefer to wait until 2015, but if one of their starters goes down, I don’t see a better option in a playoff race.
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 10th from 11:30am-12:30pm EST we will have two guests – Jeff Nelson and Chase Jacobs. Jeff is a high school defensive coach in PA, 2 time Major League Fantasy Football Champion, and Chase is a writer for majorleaguefantasysports.com. We will be discussing the safety position as well as wide receivers. 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 11th from 1-2pm EST we will have two guests – Bryan Luhrs and Joe Iannone. Bryan is the owner of Real Deal Dynasty Sports, an author for MLFS, and also an owner in baseball & football. 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.