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July 1, 2014

Deep Impact

Week 13

by Ben Carsley

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Now is the intro of our discontent.

Nick Ahmed, INF, Diamondbacks
Ahmed is so gritty and such A Baseball Player (TM), Kevin Towers is probably mad he can’t trade for him again. After battling a “utility infielder” stigma for most of his professional career, Ahmed blew up in Triple-A this season, hitting .324/.390/.431 in 336 games. Sure, that line is bolstered by a .371 BABIP, but Ahmed doesn’t strike out much, will take a walk and can steal some bases, too. In other words, the average is a mirage, but he’s not a player without any offensive skills.

I don’t want to make it seem like Ahmed is a great long-term investment: in fact, he’s not even a lock to receive regular playing time right now, thanks to Didi Gregorius. But with Chris Owings and Chad Pennington both on the DL, Ahmed could be in line for several starts in the coming weeks, and he’s not a totally unappealing MI option in NL-only or very deep leagues. If you prefer Gregorius, that’s perfectly fine, but odds are Didi is owned and Ahmed is not.

Mookie Betts, OF/2B, Red Sox
Generally in this space, I focus on players I think you should add or consider adding in deep leagues. But I’m bringing up Betts for a different reason—if you own him in a deep league and don’t need steals or average help this year, I’m going to suggest you sell Betts while he’s at his apex value. I covered the basics of Betts’ call-up along with Mark Anderson earlier this week, so let’s get down to some strategy here instead.

Betts is a good but non-elite fantasy prospect who looks invincible right now because of his MiLB stat lines. We’ve yet to see him fail, which makes him valued more highly than he should be, and he’s a better MLB prospect than a fantasy one—a difficult distinction for many to make. If you’re playing for the long haul or you need SB and AVG right now, by all means, hold on to Betts. But if you don’t need what he brings to the table right now, know that he’s probably at the apex of his fantasy value at we speak. If you can lure away a no. 3 starter, a closer, or a power bat for him, and you’re in a playoff race, go for it.

Christian Colon, INF, Royals
It’s been a long, ugly path to the majors for Colon, the fourth overall pick in the 2010 draft -- selected before Matt Harvey, Chris Sale, Christian Yelich, Noah Syndergaard, Taijuan Walker, Nick Castellanos, etc. Colon’s slow ascent through the minors and the plethora of more attractive names selected after him have made him the butt of many jokes over the years. And it’s true that Colon profiles more as a utility infielder than a starter even on a second-division team.

But if you take a good long look at the Royals’ infield depth chart, you’ll see that there’s plenty of opportunity for Colon this year. Omar Infante is struggling badly, Mike Moustakas and Danny Valencia make an uninspiring platoon at third base, and Colon has the ability to play shortstop, too. This is a low-risk, low-reward acquisition in fantasy leagues to be sure, but if you’re truly desperate for MI help, Colon can hit for non-embarrassing averages and swipe the occasional base.

I considered writing about Raul Ibanez here instead, but Ibanez stretches the boundaries of acceptable discussion even in the deepest of leagues. Also, photographic evidence suggests he was mummified earlier this year.

Deep League Streamer of the Week: Vance Worley, Pirates
It’s 2014 and I’m unironically suggesting you start Worley this week. These are the joys that deep leagues bring. The 26-year-old has been decent in 20.2 MLB innings so far this year, allowing just four earned runs despite a 3.78 FIP. What’s more encouraging, though, is that Worley pitched to the tune of a 2.70 FIP with excellent strikeout and walk rates in 46 Triple-A innings.

This doesn’t mean he’s back to being the semi-usable pitcher we saw in 2011 and 2012, but it does mean he’s good enough to gamble on at home against the Diamondbacks on Thursday. The Diamondbacks, as you probably know, have a middling offense, and the Pirates, as you almost certainly know, play in a pitcher-friendly home ballpark. Add up Worley’s recent success and contextual factors, and you get a passable streamer in 18-team-plus leagues.

Twitter Question of the Week:

This is one of the more interesting trade queries I’ve received in the past few weeks. On the one hand, Polanco is off to a tremendous start in the majors and looks every bit the superstar we all thought he’d be. He’s the best player in the deal by a long margin. On the other hand, I actually had Correa rated as the no. 5 fantasy prospect in the game coming into the season, while Polanco ranked at no. 9 on my list. Now, Polanco has certainly leap-frogged Correa, but adding in Archer, a young, potential no. 3 fantasy starter, could tip the balance.

On Twitter I told Eric to make this deal, but the more I’ve thought about it (and yes, I still think about these things because I’m pretty cool), I think I might hang on to Polanco. It’s really 50-50-, though, and there’s something to be said about diversifying risk and taking the near-equal talent in Correa as well as an exceptional “throw-in” in Archer.

Player Namedrop of the Week: J.D. Clausser
Random RP Who Will Earn a Win: Burke Badenhop, Red Sox
Random Backup Who Will Homer: Reed Johnson, Marlins
Xander Bogaerts Adjective: Frustrated

Ben Carsley is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Ben's other articles. You can contact Ben by clicking here

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