Last week, we looked at three starting pitchers who have a chance to make an impact over the season’s final month and establish themselves as back-end rotation options for dynasty leagues. This week, we’ll take a look at a couple of recent position player call-ups who have a chance to earn keeper status heading into the winter. These two players are looking to secure playing time for the upcoming season and if they are able to impress over the last month, it could go a long way toward earning an opportunity to display their enticing fantasy profiles over the next few seasons.
Sweeney, 24, came to the Phillies as a part of their return for franchise icon Chase Utley on August 20th and they seem intent on finding out what exactly they have in their newest acquisition, giving him starts in five of their last 10 games. Pete Mackanin intimated that there’s a “good chance” for him to receive extended September playing time.
A former 13th-round selection by the Dodgers in 2012, Sweeney played every non-battery position in the field during his time in the minors besides right field and first base and displayed an interesting fantasy profile over his last few seasons in the high minors. The switch-hitter approached double digits in home runs (hitting 14 in 132 games at Double-A in 2014 and nine this season in 116 games in Triple-A Oklahoma City) in each of the last two seasons while hitting at least 30 doubles and averaging 32 steals over the last three seasons as he’s moved up the ladder from High-A to Triple-A—albeit at a 65.6 percent success rate. After having a very productive season at Double-A Chattanooga in 2014, where he hit for a .288/.387/.463 line (141 wRC+), Sweeney struggled this season in his first taste of Triple-A action, seeing his isolated power mark drop from .176 in Chattanooga to a .138 clip this season in the Pacific Coast League. Overall, he saw his wRC+ mark dip to four percent below league average. However, Sweeney was successful on 32 of his 45 stolen-base attempts this season before being shipped to Philadelphia, playing primarily second base and center field.
Sweeney has appeared at four positions (second base, third base, center field, and right field) in his time with the Phillies and has clubbed three home runs in his first 24 major-league at-bats (including one off of Matt Harvey on Wednesday night). If the Phillies come to the realization that Cesar Hernandez is best deployed as a utility option, Sweeney could show enough to get a real opportunity for the starting second-base job next season—or at least establish himself as a productive utility man who gets enough at-bats all over the diamond to be fantasy-relevant in deeper leagues over the next few seasons.
Duvall (who turns 27 on Friday) became Reds property at the July 31st trade deadline as the second piece coming back from the Giants in the Mike Leake trade. Duvall’s fantasy appeal is based solely on his prodigious power; his 30 home runs (in 125 games) at the Triple-A level this season mark his third season of 27-or-more homers in his five full minor-league seasons.
The right-handed-hitting Duvall owns a lifetime .841 OPS in 2,690 career minor-league plate appearances and the Giants were willing to send their former 11th-rounder in 2010 packing after he struggled mightily in 77 plate appearances last season (.192/.234/.342 with three home runs) during his first bite of the proverbial big-league apple. Duvall is a natural third baseman, playing there a majority of his time in the minors before splitting his time at the infield corners over the last two seasons at the Triple-A level in the Giants system. Quite obviously, Duvall won’t be seeing any extended time at either of those positions in Cincinnati over the foreseeable future and was playing in left field at Triple-A Louisville prior to getting the call on Monday.
Duvall wasted no time in showing his power to his new organization, hitting a pinch-hit home run off of Justin Grimm in his first at-bat as a Red. For unknown reasons, the Reds insisted upon starting Ivan DeJesus and Skip Schumaker in left field in the two games since, but with Marlon Byrd now out of the picture, it isn’t hard to envision a scenario where Duvall sees the bulk of the action in left over the rest of the season. If given an opportunity to display his power down the stretch, Duvall could put himself on the inside track to the starting left-field job in Cincinnati in 2016, where he could hit 20-25 home runs with regular at-bats. Although Jesse Winker is almost assuredly the long-term answer in left field for the Reds, they may choose to give him a full season of Triple-A time next year with the big-league club likely to not be in contention. If the oft-rumored Jay Bruce trade occurs over the winter, that could open up another corner-outfield spot as well.