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August 5, 2014

Deep Impact

Week 18

by Ben Carsley

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I bless the intros down in Africa.

Javier Baez, 2B, Cubs
Lost amid the litany of high-profile Cubs pitching prospects, Baez is a little-known power-hitting middle infielder who’s quietly made his way through Chicago’s system. Praised for his bat speed, raw power, and #rig but decried for his approach, eyesight, and streaky past performances, Baez is someone you should keep in mind in deep leagues nonetheless.

All jokes aside, Baez will be long gone in dynasty leagues but is worth a substantial bid in even in 10-team leagues if you need middle-infield assistance. He’s almost certainly going to struggle at first, as Cubs’ Twitter members Mauricio Rubio and Jordan Gorosh outlined here, but Baez is also capable of altering your fantasy playoff picture if he truly takes off. This is a second baseman with more potential than anyone save perhaps Robinson Cano moving forward, and we could see him start to pay dividends within a few weeks of his promotion to the majors.

If your immediate future hinges on your batting average, show some caution when it comes to picking up Baez in redraft formats. Ditto if you play in a points league, as he’s going to swing and miss at a George Springer-ian rate. But in most leagues, if you need R, RBI, and HR production from the keystone, Baez is worth a solid chunk of your remaining FAAB money. Go chase the unicorn.

Mike Foltynewicz, RP, Astros
There have been a ton of really high-profile promotions in the past few weeks, headlined by the man we just covered above. All the hype has allowed “Folty” to fall somewhat under the radar, but the Astros promoted their fireballing right-hander to the MLB bullpen on Saturday. It’s been a fairly rough year for Foltynewicz, so the promotion came as something of a surprise, but in the role he’s in right now, he’s still well equipped to help those in 20-team or AL-only leagues.

Command and control have always been Foltynewicz’ enemies, and that rang true at Triple-A this year, where Folty walked 11.6 percent of the batters he faced. Thankfully, that number came coupled with a 22.8 percent strikeout rate, which has led to a bad but bearable 4.75 FIP in Oklahoma City. Those numbers won’t put to rest any of the numerous scouts and analysts who believe Foltynewicz’s ultimate future lies in the rotation, but his stuff is indeed good enough to play in the bullpen right now.

Folty won’t be seeing any save opportunities this year thanks to the resurgent Chad Qualls’ White Walker impersonation, but if you need strikeouts or holds, you should have some interest in Folty anyway. As Mike Gianella pointed out to me on Twitter earlier this week, Folty probably won’t be too expensive as other owners fight over more prominent names, and the dividends he could pay are modest but real.

David Peralta, OF, Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks are a really bad offensive team. Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock, Cody Ross, and Chris Owings are hurt. Gerardo Parra and Martin Prado are gone. And with Nick Ahmed and Alfredo Marte already on the team, there’s not much help on the offensive side of the ball coming from the system. This team is regularly starting Andy Marte, Jordan Pacheco, and something called Ender Inciarte. They are a last-place deep-league team come to life.

This is bad, on the most part, but it does open up some intriguing possibilities for deep leaguers who are badly in need of at-bats. That’s where Peralta comes into play, as the 26-year-old with the unusual bat story is receiving steady playing time in the wake of Arizona’s injuries. And after raking in High-A last year and Double-A earlier this year, Peralta is also more than holding his own in 202 PA at the major-league level, hitting .313/.347/.469.

Peralta is benefiting from a .354 BABIP and is walking just 4.5 percent of the time, so just understand that some regression is coming. That being said, his batted ball profile is fine, he plays half his games in a hitter-friendly park and the D’backs have no reason not to play him five days a week. If you’re in an 18-team or NL-only league, there’s no reason not to pick Peralta up and hope you’ve found the senior circuit’s Daniel Nava.

Deep League Streamer of the Week: John Danks, White Sox
I know, I know: When was the last time anyone suggested John Danks for anything? It doesn't make me feel great, I'll give you that much, but Danks gets to face the paltry Rangers lineup on Tuesday night, and while he'll do so in an unfavorable home ballpark (his own), his entire job is basically to not give up a home run to Adrian Beltre. Other than that, he has little and less to worry about in the Rangers' lineup, so long as he's moderately careful with Alex Rios and reminds Shin-Soo Choo that he throws left-handed. This isn't a great ERA or WHIP play, but Danks can steal you a cheap win.

Twitter Question of the Week:

Ha, you thought I was going to go a whole week without writing about the Red Sox? NOT SO FAST.

Boston’s flurry of moves at the deadline answered a lot of questions, such as “will Xander Bogaerts move back to shortstop?” and “how will Henry Owens ever get to Triple-A?” and “I wonder when Tommy Layne will get his shot?!” It made life in a Red Sox uniform considerably more suspect for Betts, though, who’s seen every conceivable path to regular playing time in 2015 blocked, save for a drastic organizational reversal on the role of Jackie Bradley Jr. going forward.

In my humble opinion, Betts will either be traded this offseason or start the year in Triple-A and serve as next in line when an injury should occur. Given the medical backgrounds of Shane Victorino and Allen Craig, that’s not as cruel a fate as it originally sounds. So all is not lost for you yet, Betts owners, even if Mookie’s ETA has been pushed back by half a season.

Player Namedrop of the Week: Salomon Torres
Random RP Who Will Earn a Win: Seth Maness, RP, Cardinals
Random Backup Who Will Homer: Martin Maldonado, C, Brewers
Xander Bogaerts Adjective: Maturing

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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