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September 6, 2011

Resident Fantasy Genius

Prospect Impact

by Derek Carty

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Nearly a week into September, most of the players who will receive callups have already received them, and we’ve begun to see how playing time will be doled out. While Jason Collette recently showed us that September callups don’t usually have a big impact, there are some who might be able to help out a fantasy team in need, especially in AL- and NL-only leagues.

Stephen Strasburg | WAS | SP
Strasburg is the exception to Jason’s rule, if ever there was one (though, to be fair, Strasburg isn’t really a September callup; he’s coming off the DL). Back from Tommy John surgery, Strasburg makes his 2011 debut today in a great matchup against the Dodgers. His minor-league rehab starts have been excellent, and he should be picked up in all but the shallowest of leagues. He’ll be a true impact player the rest of the way.

Jesus Montero | NYY | DH
Montero’s long-awaited callup finally happened. He probably won’t start every day, but he’ll start against lefties, and probably against some righties, as the Yankees try to get a look at their potential 2012 designated hitter. Montero started the season very slowly, but he picked things up in the second half and should be a good source for batting average (though not playing every day will limit even the best of batting averages) with a little power. His catcher eligibility makes him an excellent AL-only play, but unless he gets full-time play, his mixed-league value is limited.

Leonys Martin | TEX | OF
Martin hasn’t started a game since his callup, even with Nelson Cruz on the DL. Still, Josh Hamilton is always an injury waiting to happen, and Endy Chavez and Craig Gentry aren’t exactly a potent center-field tandem, so it’s possible Martin could see some starts before the season is out, especially if Cruz is out until the last week of the season. If he plays, he’s a decent source of speed.

Dayan Viciedo | CHW | 3B/OF
Though he’s not technically a September callup, Viciedo is worth mentioning. A prospect with monster power potential, he’s finally getting a chance to start every day between right field and DH with Carlos Quentin out. Quentin will be returning soon—possibly this week—but Viciedo has been excellent thus far and should still draw at least semi-regular playing time, likely at the expense of Adam Dunn at DH and occasionally spotting Quentin in right field. It’s possible he could also play some third base in place of Brett Morel, but he’s been playing in the outfield all year at Triple-A. His biggest improvement this year has been his patience at the plate, which should help him both see better pitches and receive more playing time.

Chris Marrero | WSN | 1B
Marrero, another not-quite-September callup, has been starting every day since the end of August. Once labeled a five-star prospect—and the Nationals’ best—by Kevin Goldstein, Marrero is a guy who hasn’t lived up to his upside over the years. He was once seen as a guy with the upside to hit for both power and average, but the power hasn’t come along as expected. His average has been good, but he does have a propensity to strike out, so it seems most likely that Marrero will post a .250-.260 average with a homer or two over the rest of the month. That’s unlikely to have much of an impact in all but the deepest of mixed leagues, but Marrero is still a must-own in NL-only given his everyday job.

Juan Francisco | CIN | 3B
Starting three of the four games since his callup, Francisco has been red hot, batting .303 with a homer. He’ll likely draw the majority of the playing time at third base until Scott Rolen returns later this month and is a must own in NL-only, especially at a position as shallow as third base. A better bet for solid play than Marrero, Francisco is worth considering in medium-depth mixed leagues for teams in need of a third baseman. He could post a useful batting average along with a bit of pop.

Tom Milone and Brad Peacock | WSN | SP
Milone has already received the call and drawn a start, and will receive a favorable matchup against the Astros later this week. A lefty with stuff that doesn’t impress scouts, he has terrific control, which could allow him to be a successful back-of-the-rotation starter. The strikeout numbers have been there in the minors, but a league-average strikeout rate is probably the best we can expect for the time being. Finesse, control-artist types are much more likely to succeed if they can draw ground balls, which Milone will probably only be able to do at a league-average rate. He’s worth a flier in NL-only, but I wouldn’t get your hopes too high.

Peacock hasn’t been recalled and isn’t on the 40-man roster, but he’ll supposedly be recalled today. The Nats had previously said Peacock would draw some September starts, but now there’s talk he could piggyback on Strasburg’s starts as they limit his pitch counts, coming in when Strasburg’s day is over to throw a few innings. That could make him a lot less valuable than if he were starting his own games, but it would put him in line for some wins in games that Strasburg doesn’t go five innings. Peacock has much better stuff than Milone and a higher upside. There are scouts who say he still has some work to do, but he should be at least mildly effective and worth an NL-only flier.

Jerad Head | CLE | OF
Head has been receiving a lot of time in Cleveland’s outfield, but given his poor performance and the return of Grady Sizemore, he’s unlikely to be given many more starts. He’s safe to ignore, even in AL-only leagues where those starts could draw your attention.

Andy Dirks | DET | OF
A more suitable AL-only target, Dirks has only Magglio Ordonez standing in his way for playing time now that Brennan Boesch is officially out for the season. He’ll draw occasional starts and could draw more than that if he plays well or if Maggs get injured (always a possibility). He’s no superstar, but Dirks would certainly be worth a flier in deeper mixed leagues if he finds a way to play every day. He’s not a guy who will excel in any one category, but he’ll provide a little value everywhere.

Matt Moore | TB | SP
Perhaps the top pitching prospect in baseball right now, Moore could wind up drawing a couple starts later this month. He might be worth a flier in AL-only as a result, but the Rays’ schedule is ridiculously hard over the final two weeks of the season, with two series against the Yankees and one apiece against Boston and Toronto. There’s great potential here, but I’ll pass for 2011.

Vin Mazzaro and Sean O’Sullivan | KC | SP
Neither are prospects anymore and won’t really be September callups, but with Danny Duffy getting shut down after yesterday’s start, someone is going to need to step into his rotation spot. Mazzaro and O’Sullivan are the top two candidates. Neither is very good and should be ignored completely in mixed leagues, but whoever replaces Duffy will have a terrific matchup in Seattle this weekend, followed (most likely) by two pretty good ones against the White Sox. If you’re looking for wins or even a few strikeouts in an AL-only league, consider these two. I placed bids on both in CardRunners Sunday night.  

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