It doesn’t get any more Deep League Report than multiple thirty-something players who spent most of the season in the minors. No need to dawdle, let’s dive right in.
AL-ONLY POSITION PLAYERS
I wrote up Austin Hays in my Fantasy Freestyle last Friday as a late-season keeper-league pickup. The 22-year-old outfielder might not get a ton of playing time through the end of the season, but he has legitimate power, so if you need homers and are in a position where gambling on upside makes sense, Hays is a good flier. Bid $3 – $5 in deep AL-only leagues, and bump that up several dollars in keeper leagues.
A pitch to the face in Spring Training kept Rymer Liriano out for the entire 2016 season. Once a top prospect, the 26-year-old outfielder is just trying to prove that he belongs n the majors and that he can still play after missing an entire season. He played pretty well for the White Sox in Triple-A this season, hitting .256/.323/.416 with 17 home runs and seven steals in 500 plate appearances. Considering the lack of depth on the south side of Chicago in the outfield, it’s not hard to imagine a hot week or two from Liriano turning into regular playing time through the end of this month and the inside track at a starting job next spring. Bid $2 – $3 in deep AL-only leagues and a buck more than that in keeper leagues.
He isn’t much of a hitter and he doesn’t have much of a path to playing time in September with the Mariners, but Jacob Hannemann can still help your roto team in deep AL-only leagues. The 26-year-old outfielder stole 29 bases between Double-A and Triple-A this season, making him a threat on the bases in Seattle and a potential difference maker in leagues where steals are tightly packed. Don’t bid more than $2 since he probably won’t play that often, but don’t ignore Hannemann if 3-4 steals could make a difference for your team in the standings.
Ignore the numbers that Yohander Mendez posted during his cup of coffee with the Rangers last season. So you don’t have to look it up, he threw three innings spread across two games, allowing six earned runs while walking two and striking out none with an 18.00 ERA and a 2.33 WHIP. The 22-year-old was excellent in Triple-A this season, making 24 starts and putting up a 3.79 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP with 124 strikeouts and 43 walks in 137.7 innings. The tall lefty will be pitching out of the bullpen in Texas, so his value will probably be fairly limited, but he’s a legitimate pitching prospect. Bid $1 if you could use some non-closer relief innings, maybe $2 in keeper leagues.
Once a top prospect, Carson Fulmer has yet to develop the kind of control he will need to keep his walk rate at a reasonable level. His stuff is still amazing, though, which is why he keeps getting opportunities. His line in 126 innings across 25 starts in Triple-A this season was not pretty: a 5.79 ERA, a 1.56 WHIP, 96 strikeouts, 65 walks. His occasional flashes of brilliance are still dazzling, though, leaving a strong positive impression. He dazzled in his last start, throwing six innings while allowing one earned run on three hits and three walks with nine strikeouts against the Giants. Granted, it was just one start, and granted, it was against the hapless Giants. It was probably enough to get Fulmer a look in the rotation for a few more starts, possibly through the end of the season. Bid $1 – $2 in deep AL-only leagues if you need starting pitching and are willing to gamble. Steer clear if you’re in a tight battle in WHIP, though.
In 2015, Carson Smith was outstanding as a rookie for the Mariners, posting a 2.31 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP in 70 relief innings with 92 strikeouts and 22 walks. The Red Sox traded for him on the strength of that performance in December of 2016, envisioning him as the setup man to Craig Kimbrel. Since that trade, the tall Texan has thrown 4.7 innings in the majors, 2.7 innings last season and two innings this season. Smith is hoping to prove that he is healthy and can be effective again and should have the chance to do it with Boston over the next few weeks. If you need strikeouts from a reliever, Smith’s upside is as good as anyone’s. Bid $1 and hope that he stays on the mound through the end of the season.
NL-ONLY POSITION PLAYERS
Easily a top-five prospect, Victor Robles was a bit of a surprise callup considering that he has only played 37 games above High-A and is only 20 years old. That said, it makes some since in light of the fact that several of the Nats’ outfielders are either on the DL or nursing nagging injuries. The Dominican outfielder hit .300/.382/.493 with ten home runs and 27 stolen bases in 496 plate appearances split between High-A and Double-A this season, showing the hit tool, advanced approach and baserunning prowess that make him a top prospect. He doesn’t have a ton of home run power right now, but scouts expect that to come in time. He can hit for average, get on base and steal bags right now, though. If you need outfield help in a deep NL-only league, and especially if you need steals, bid $7 – $8 on Victor Robles. In keeper leagues, add enough to that bid to get him without surpassing whatever a reasonable salary would be for him next season.
At 31 years old, Kris Negron isn’t a prospect, but he could be a useful player in deep NL-only leagues down the stretch. He hit .300/.366/.501 with 13 homers and 13 steals in 437 plate appearances at Triple-A Reno in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. Defensively, he can play pretty much anywhere in the infield or the outfield, which should help him get playing time despite the fact that he won’t be starting every day or in a strict platoon anywhere. Don’t bid more than $1, but if you could use a well-rounded player that can fill in anywhere on your roster, Negron is a viable option.
Before he was picked up by the Cubs as a minor leaguer earlier this season, Mike Freeman hit over .300 with an OBP over .380 at Triple-A with two different organizations. The thirty-year-old second baseman isn’t a prospect due to his age and limited power potential, but he makes decent contact and can steal a bag or two. Most of the middle infielders available in deep NL-only don’t offer that. The veteran won’t play every day, but he should get some starts at multiple spots around the diamond with Joe Maddon writing the lineup cards. Bid $1 if you’re desperate for a middle infielder.
Veteran starter Odrisamer Despaigne has a 4.82 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP in 291.3 career innings with 171 strikeouts and 102 walks. That’s who he is – a starting pitcher who falls somewhere between average and replacement level. At this point in the roto season, though, bulk innings can make a big difference, especially in leagues with a minimum innings requirement. The 30-year-old won’t strike out a ton of batters and will probably walk more than he should, but you can’t be too picky if you need starter’s innings out of the free agent pool in a deep NL-only league. Bid $1 and hope that he gets to pick on the soft underbelly of the NL East for the rest of the season.
He made 22 starts in Triple-A for the Cardinals this season, but it doesn’t look like Sandy Alcantara will be making any starts with the big league club this September. The 22-year-old could still make an impact in deep NL-only leagues, though, since his upper-90s velocity has the potential to translate into a lot of strikeouts out of the bullpen. Alcantara could also easily walk six batters per nine innings in his first exposure to major league batters, so if you’re in a tight race in WHIP, steer clear. If you need strikeouts from a relief arm, bid $1. In keeper leagues, stretch that to $3 or $4.
After struggling in Triple-A last year, Jimmie Sherfy impressed this season, posting a 3.12 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP with 61 strikeouts and 10 walks in 49 innings. The 25-year-old has sustained that level of performance with the Diamondbacks so far, throwing six scoreless innings with six strikeouts while allowing two hits and no walks. He won’t get you any saves, but there’s no reason to think that Sherfy won’t continue keeping guys off base and racking up strikeouts. And when it comes to saves, if the closer ahead of you is Fernando Rodney, you never know. Bid $1 if you need bullpen help in a deep NL-only league.