The Graduates: James Paxton (6), Justin Masterson (9)
It only took three-and-a-half months, but Paxton finally reemerged on a major league mound on Saturday, allowing two runs in 4 1/3 innings against the Orioles. Considering the matchup and the rust he was fighting off, it was a pretty positive outing overall. If the current schedule he’s on holds, he’ll pitch exclusively either at home in Safeco or in National League parks for the remainder of August—which is an awfully nice way to ease back into things after a long layoff. Masterson not only graduated, but he switched teams in the process. With the Cardinals, he should have an easier time finding value in mixed leagues than in Cleveland, and is certainly worth owning in 14-team mixed leagues and deeper (while streaming him in shallower leagues than that).
The Departed: Robert Refsnyder (21), Mike Foltynewicz (HM)
Sure, the Yankees not developing a positional prospect that’s made any sort of impact at the major league level since Brett Gardner is partly because their system as a whole has been down, but it’s also because of the same thing that Refsnyder must be feeling right now. Regardless of the hole, the Yankees have the cash to fill it cheaply. In this case, the Yankees brought in Stephen Drew to play second, Chase Headley to play third, and Martin Prado to play the outfield spot not taken by Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner. In other words, like Forrest Gump getting on the school bus, every position that Refsnyder could have been an option at is now taken. Foltynewicz gets the strange distinction of getting called up to the majors, but appearing in the Departed section, rather than as a graduate. That’s because he’ll be used in the bullpen the rest of the season, and with “Mr Untouchable” Chad Qualls holding down the back-end of the Astros’ pen, you can let him go in just about all redraft leagues.
And the ones who are still left waiting:
1) Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs (Previous Rank: 14)
So I guess it would seem the big jump last week was warranted. Baez will join the big club tomorrow as they start a series in Colorado—so essentially, it’s like an in-between stage between Triple-A pitching and major league pitching. The upside is still tremendous long-term, but his contact issues will hinder him until he shows he can make adjustments at the major league level. There’s always the small chance that he smothers the rest of the league with his aggressiveness, but expect the conservative, hope for the unlikely.
2) Dexter Fowler, OF, Houston Astros (Previous Rank: NR)
The not-quite-on-a-rehab-assignment outfielder is likely about a week to 10 days away from returning, and that alone makes him more valuable than most of the other names on this list. With the Astros’ offense having improved a good bit since he has last played (and the return of George Springer imminent), there should be more run-scoring opportunities for Fowler.
3) Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners (Previous Rank: NR)
The Mariners may have a full rotation now that James Paxton has returned, but if you look at the non-sovereign members of that group, it’s not difficult to envision a situation where Walker is needed down the stretch. And while this may not be vintage velocity Walker that we’ve seen of late, he’s still talented enough to warrant holding onto in most leagues with deep benches.
4) Andrew Heaney, LHP, Miami Marlins (Previous Rank: NR)
5) Noah Syndergaard, RHP, New York Mets (Previous Rank: 11)
Over his last three starts, Syndergaard now has a 0.52 ERA with 20 strikeouts and five walks in 17 1/3 innings—and that includes two starts in Las Vegas. If not for the magic of Jacob deGrom, Syndergaard would be in the Mets’ rotation right now, but it will either take an injury in the short-term, or deGrom’s innings limit to hit in the long-term to get him a spot. Either way, it would be a surprise if he didn’t rack up at least 4-5 starts before the season ends.
6) Derek Holland, LHP, Texas Rangers (Previous Rank: 10)
A rehab assignment at last. Holland threw two scoreless innings at Double-A last Wednesday to kick things off, but they didn’t go so smoothly in his second outing. On Monday night for Triple-A Round Rock, Holland only made it through one inning and gave up four runs with two homers allowed. We’re still looking at another 2-3 rehab starts out of Holland before he’s even considered in Texas.
7) Mookie Betts, 2B/OF, Boston Red Sox (Previous Rank: NR)
Betts finds himself back on the active roster now that the trading deadline has passed, but in a backup role. There is going to be a time when the Red Sox may consider playing him in centerfield every day given Bradley’s continued struggles, but he also has the fortune of being behind three injury-prone corner outfielders. Either way, I would expect Betts to rack up a good amount of playing time as we move toward September.
8) Chris Owings, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks (Previous Rank: 8)
9) Michael Pineda, RHP, New York Yankees (Previous Rank: NR)
I reiterate that I am terrified of pitchers with major shoulder injuries, but Pineda is getting close now and the Yankees are getting awfully desperate. There’s always a chance we see the old Pineda in the Bronx, but assuming that doesn’t happen (which we should all be), he can still be a pretty good source of strikeouts the rest of the way. Let’s just hope he can stay on the field (or even make it there in the first place).
10) Wilmer Flores, “SS”, New York Mets (Previous Rank: HM)
There’s no lamer managerial excuse these days than Terry Collins using the Wild Card race as an excuse to play Ruben Tejada over Flores. We all know Flores isn’t a shortstop, but he needs to be facing major league hitters so that the team can determine whether he’s an option for 2015 to take over for Daniel Murphy—who’s been mentioned in trades for a while now.
12) Trevor May, RHP, Minnesota Twins (Previous Rank: NR)
Not only did the Twins not trade Kevin Correia, but they dealt FOR a starting pitcher, which probably knocks May down the pecking order. We’ll get to him later.
13) Nick Franklin, 2B/OF, Tampa Bay Rays (Previous Rank: 25)
It finally happened, except Franklin wasn’t actually freed by his new organization—he just has another Triple-A playground to linger in for now. Some mild hitting in Durham should get him to Tampa in pretty short order though. Fingers crossed.
15) Tommy Milone, LHP, Minnesota Twins (Previous Rank: HM)
A soft-tossing starting pitcher in Minnesota? Why I never.
16) Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks (Previous Rank: 12)
17) Matt Lindstrom, RHP, Chicago White Sox (Previous Rank: NR)
18) Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians (Previous Rank: HM)
It’s a shame Lindor hasn’t been hitting the ball all that well since his promotion to Triple-A (.245/.315/.388 in 49 at-bats), but with him likely to be holding down the starting shortstop job on Opening Day in 2015, I like his chances of getting his feet nice and wet before then. If he can put together a little hot streak, don’t be surprised to see him get called up before the middle of the month.
19) Alex Meyer, RHP, Minnesota Twins (Previous Rank: 9)
20) Jorge Soler, OF, Chicago Cubs (Previous Rank: NR)
Sometimes it’s performance that earns a call up, and sometimes it’s a combination of performance and the contract that the player signed as an amateur. With Soler already on the 40-man roster, getting him up in September is close to a no-brainer. However, his playing time (and fantasy impact even if he does play a good amount) is still very much up in the air.
21) Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers (Previous Rank: 6)
With no trade at the deadline and Matt Kemp playing like Matt Kemp, Pederson stashers are now feeling much less confident than they were a week or two ago. He still could produce reasonably well given the chance, but alas, the chance must come first.
22) Maikel Franco, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies (Previous Rank: HM)
23) Kris Bryant, 3B/OF, Chicago Cubs (Previous Rank: 13)
24) Jonathan Gray, RHP, Colorado Rockies (Previous Rank: 22)
25) Dan Straily, RHP, Chicago Cubs (Previous Rank: 25)