The Deep League Report featured a lot of big names over the last two weeks as high-end players switched leagues at the trade deadline. This week’s edition is a return to normal: minor leaguers who didn’t make any prospect lists prior to their promotions, middle relievers, and back-end starters. Let’s dive in.
AL-ONLY POSITION PLAYERS
It’s not too hard to envision Teoscar Hernandez taking the starting center field job from Jake Marisnick in the near future. The Astros love Marisnick’s defense, but he hasn’t hit enough to be in the lineup every day. A minor groin injury to Marisnick opened the door to playing time for Hernandez, who has hit well since his recall: a .280 AVG, a .400 OBP, a .560 SLG, and two home runs in 30 plate appearances. The 23-year-old had excellent numbers in Double-A and Triple-A, hitting .307/.377/.459 combined across the two levels with 10 home runs and 34 stolen bases. Bid a decent chunk if you need help in the outfield, especially if you need steals and/or play in an OBP league.
He hasn’t started hitting yet, but the Rays lineup is so thin that it wouldn’t take much of a hot streak for Mikie Mahtook to lock down a starting spot. The 26-year-old has an enticing combination of power and speed but frequently struggles to hit for average. That has been his undoing in the majors so far this season, as his .140/.194/.170 line isn’t exactly forcing the Rays to write his name on the lineup card every day. He isn’t as good as he looked during his stint in the majors last year when he hit .295/.351/.619 in 115 plate appearances, but he isn’t as bad as he’s looked with the Rays so far this year, either. He’s worth a speculative FAAB dollar or two in deep AL-only leagues.
Ezequiel Carrera returned from the DL on Tuesday and has started every day since then due to injuries to Kevin Pillar and Jose Bautista. It looks like Pillar will be back in the lineup on Tuesday, leaving Carrera and Melvin Upton Jr. to split time in right field while Bautista tends to his sprained knee. He hasn’t put up big stolen base numbers in the majors due to his inability to earn a starting job and hold it, but the 29-year-old has put up some big stolen base numbers in the minors, so he could definitely add a few steals to your roto team’s total down the stretch. Bid a buck or two if you need steals but understand that he might not get a ton of playing time and that the Blue Jays aren’t much of a running team.
With Huston Street and Cam Bedrosian both on the DL, it looked like the Angels were going to use a closer-by-committee arrangement until one of those pitchers was activated from the DL. Since then, though, Fernando Salas has emerged as the closer in Anaheim for the time being. The 31-year-old journeyman has been his usual mediocre self this year, posting a 4.64 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP with 39 strikeouts and 18 walks in 52 1/3 innings. He won’t help your rate stats or your strikeout totals much, but as long as he’s getting saves, he has plenty of value in deep AL-only leagues. He has a short leash, though, which means one bad outing could cost him the job, and either Street or Bedrosian could be back at some point in the last two weeks. Grab Salas if you need saves, but the second he loses the closer’s job, release him. Without the saves, he doesn’t do anything worthwhile.
Injuries and the emergence of Alex Colome cost him the closer’s job in Tampa, but Brad Boxberger is still a good pitcher who can help your roto team. Since he returned from his most recent DL stint at the end of July, Boxberger has made seven appearances for the Rays, allowing no runs over 6 2/3 innings while striking out five and walking four. If his strikeout and walk rates return to their 2014/2015 levels as the 28-year-old rounds back into shape, he could provide a lot of value via strikeouts and rate stats in deep AL-only leagues as the setup man behind Colome. Bid a buck or two, but don’t expect him to pick up any saves as long as Colome is healthy and dealing.
One of the most highly touted sleepers in roto circles coming into this season, Arquimedes Caminero was a disappointment in Pittsburgh, walking batters to the tune of a 1.70 WHIP and a 4.8 BB/9 in 41 innings alongside a 3.51 ERA that could have been a lot higher if he hadn’t been a bit lucky with regards to allowing hits on balls in play. His K/9 with the Pirates was only 7.0 despite his upper-90s velocity, another disappointment for owners who bought him on auction day.
Since being traded to Seattle, the 29-year-old has looked like a completely different pitcher. In nine innings spanning eight games, Caminero hasn’t walked a batter while striking out seven. If the Mariners and the young flamethrower have really figured out how to harness stuff, he could post some excellent rate stats and strikeout totals as part of a devastating one-two punch with Edwin Diaz at the back out the Mariners’ bullpen. He’s worth a $3-4 FAAB gamble in case these changes are real. Keep an eye on his numbers, though. If he starts walking lots of guys again, be prepared to release him quickly.
NL-ONLY POSITION PLAYERS
He might not have been in the Diamondbacks’ plans at the start of the season, but Mitch Haniger has forced his way into those plans and into the major league lineup. He hit .294/.407/.462 with five home runs in 236 plate appearances in Double-A, then hit .351/.437/.697 with 19 home runs in 271 plate appearances in Triple-A. Since joining the big-league club, the 25-year-old has hit .350/.435/.550 in his first 23 plate appearances, continuing the season-long hot streak that started in Double-A. As long as he keeps hitting, he’ll be in the starting outfield for the Diamondbacks, and it doesn’t seem like he’s going to stop hitting any time soon. Bid confidently in the $10-12 range, and bid more with confidence if your offense is sputtering.
He might not be the player he was in his prime, and he might not even be able to hit .200 in a full season, but that doesn’t mean Ryan Howard can’t help your roto team. His .197/.252/.448 slash line on the season is far from world-beating, especially at first base, but his 19 home runs would be a welcome addition on just about any team in deep NL-only leagues. The 36-year-old has heated up in the second half, hitting a blistering .345/.387/.776 with seven home runs in 58 at-bats since the All Star break. Tommy Joseph will be the Phillies first baseman next year, and he’ll get a lot of starts down the stretch, too, but Howard will get a decent share of starts as long as he keeps hitting like this, reminding us of the player who was an integral part of the championship team in 2008. If he’s available, bid $1 or $2 and ride him as long as he stays hot.
He didn’t appear on any major prospect lists coming into this season due to his age, but Xavier Scruggs slugged his way into the major league lineup in Miami by hitting .290/.408/.565 in Triple-A with 21 home runs. It’s not clear if the Marlins plan on playing the 28-year-old every day at first base for the foreseeable future, but he’s doing his best to tip the scales in his favor so far, hitting .333 with a home run in his first two games. His bat merits a $5-10 bid in deep NL-only leagues, and a little more than that in OBP leagues.
He’s not off to a great start in the majors, posting a 5.00 ERA and a 1.78 WHIP across nine innings in his first two starts with 13 hits allowed, three walks and nine strikeouts, but it’s not time to give up on Luke Weaver yet. He was terrific in Double-A, putting up a 1.40 ERA with a 0.95 WHIP in 77 innings with 88 strikeouts and ten walks, then made one scoreless start in Triple-A before making his big league debut. His low- to mid-90s fastball won’t light up the radar gun, but he has demonstrated that he can strike batters out and control the strike zone in the high minors. Maybe he ends up being a Quad-A starter, but it’s too early to bet on that. Bid a few FAAB dollars on him in case he shows that he can strike batters out and suppress walks in the majors. The payoff if he pans out is a lot bigger than the cost of throwing a few FAAB dollars his way.
Ryan Vogelsong has made three starts since returning from the DL. He was great in the first two, allowing one run in six innings against Atlanta and throwing six scoreless innings against San Diego. He didn’t fare as well in his most recent start, allowing four runs in 5 2/3 innings against San Francisco. The 39-year-old won’t rack up tons of strikeouts and will probably allow a few more walks than roto owners would like, but he should be taking the ball every fifth day for a team that plays in a pitcher friendly park in front of a good defense. If you need innings, Vogelsong is worth a FAAB dollar, maybe two if you’re desperate for starting pitching.