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The Graduates: Dillon Gee (1), Kevin Gausman (2), Arismendy Alcantara (3), Jimmy Nelson (5), Danny Salazar (7), Brett Anderson (17), Josh Reddick (21), Joe Kelly (23)

This is what happens when you take a week off in mid-July. Gee and Gausman are both back in their respective rotations and should be stalwarts in most leagues down the stretch. There’s always the chance that the Orioles will do something dumb with Gausman, but here’s hoping we’ve seen the last of their roster games. Alcantara was only scheduled to be up for a couple of days initially, but he’s shown enough for the Cubs to DFA Darwin Barney this week. In fact, he’s doing almost exactly what he was doing in the minors, hitting .286/.316/.543 with six extra-base hits and three steals in eight games. Jimmy Nelson got shelled in his first outing, but it’s safe to say that the second one went better, throwing a quality start against a depleted Reds lineup on Tuesday evening. Unless the Brewers end up being a surprise player for a starting pitcher at the deadline, Nelson should hold off the banished Marco Estrada.

While those first write-ups were overly positive, the next group is not so fortunate. Salazar returned on Tuesday night, but decided to pack his control issues and elevated pitch counts with him in his duffel bag. There will always be upside, but we’re now painfully aware of what the downside looks like. It’s getting really hard to believe at this point that Anderson was once a high-end starting pitcher with a bright future. Right now, he’s lucky the Rockies are employing a continuing sad sack of starters, so his job appears to be safe for as long as he stays healthy. Reddick returned to action on Tuesday night after missing nearly a month with his second major injury of the season, but did not get the start with the left-hander on the mound. There’s still upside there, and it’s worth a gamble if you need a spark, but that’s all he is at this point. Kelly has had one good start and one bad one since returning from his hamstring injury that sidelined him for nearly three months. The best you can reasonably hope for with him is that he can be serviceable at home the rest of the way.

The Departed: Casey Kelly (HM), Chris Taylor (HM)

I’m so tired. Tired of waiting. Tired of waiting on youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu. (I still really like you though, just please get healthy soon). As far as Taylor goes, with Brad Miller being not terrible lately and Nick Franklin being most likely to get traded, that probably leaves him in Tacoma for the rest of the minor league season. He’s pretty close to major league ready though.

And the ones who are still left waiting:

1) Mookie Betts, 2B/OF, Boston Red Sox (Previous Rank: NR)
With the recent winning streak Boston has been on, it’s not difficult to see why they sent down the struggling Betts, but it would be surprising to see him stay down for long given their playoff odds. And to be fair, if the Red Sox want to make a charge in August and September, they may need a performing Betts in the outfield given their unexciting options out there.

2) Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners (Previous Rank: NR)
Walker is now confirmed to be starting on Wednesday night against the Mets, however there’s certainly concern around his velocity dip of late in confluence with his shoulder ailment from earlier in the season. Eighty percent of Walker is still a decent real life pitcher, but he comes with too few strikeouts for our tastes in fantasy. And to add fuel to that fire, he only has two strikeouts combined in the two Triple-A starts he’s made since being sent back down.

3) Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs (Previous Rank: 14)
It finally happened, which is why Baez makes a huge jump in the rankings this week. There’s no opening for Baez at the major league level while he’s playing shortstop—Starlin Castro isn’t going anywhere (at least not now). However, he’s now started five of his last six games at second base where the path is not exactly full of resistance. As I always say, when position players in the upper minors play off their natural position, the major league club is preparing them for something. Here’s hoping it’s a call-up.

4) Andrew Heaney, LHP, Miami Marlins (Previous Rank: NR)
I was pretty disappointed to see Heaney’s first go round in the majors head south the way it did. He remains a very solid bet long-term, and despite struggling in his first two starts back down in Triple-A before an excellent showing against the very tough Iowa lineup, he probably won’t need to show much in order to get another shot down the stretch. After all, Heaney doesn’t have to be faster than the bear, he just has to be faster than Jacob Turner.

5) Dexter Fowler, OF, Houston Astros (Previous Rank: NR)
Fowler has been having a rather non-descript season thus far in Houston. Decent average, some runs and a few homers and steals sprinkled in. He’s also likely another two weeks away from returning to the lineup in Houston. He’s fine in 14-plus-team mixed leagues, but don’t worry as much about him in shallower formats. This has not been a ringing endorsement.

6) Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers (Previous Rank: 6)
Still waiting. Always waiting.

7) Noah Syndergaard, RHP, New York Mets (Previous Rank: 11)
Thor continues to do work in Triple-A, biding his time until he can finally blast that Sheryl Crow song he’s had downloaded on his iPod for the last two months.

8) Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks (Previous Rank: 12)
Don’t look now, but Bradley has gotten better and better each time out since returning to the Southern League, including striking out 10 in seven one-run innings on Saturday. Whether the organization will call him up this year is still up in the air, but as long as he continues to look good, he’ll rank prominently on this list just in case.

9) Justin Masterson, RHP, Cleveland Indians (Previous Rank: NR)
10) Chris Owings, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks (Previous Rank: 8)
11) Derek Holland, LHP, Texas Rangers (Previous Rank: 10)
12) James Paxton, LHP, Seattle Mariners (Previous Rank: 18)

Paxton found himself back on the mound again in Triple-A on Tuesday night, but only threw 60 pitches over three innings (giving up two earned runs). He’s likely another two turns away from being back in Seattle.

13) Matt Wisler, RHP, San Diego Padres (Previous Rank: 15)
The more Padres’ starters end up in trade rumors, the better it is for Wisler. Unfortunately, he’s just not pitching very well of late, sporting a 7.58 ERA in his last four starts (though he does have a 15-3 strikeout-to-walk rate).

14) Trevor May, RHP, Minnesota Twins (Previous Rank: NR)
By all accounts, it looks like May is the next guy in line if the Twins find a desperate enough team to take Kevin Correia. He’d certainly be a WHIP risk, but the potential strikeouts could make him an interesting mixed league play in that park.

15) Alex Meyer, RHP, Minnesota Twins (Previous Rank: 9)
16) Kris Bryant, 3B/OF, Chicago Cubs (Previous Rank: 13)
17) Ken Giles, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies (Previous Rank: NR)

This is all about playing the Jonathan Papelbon trade bet. However, unlike fellow potential closer Jake Diekman, Giles can actually return some value if he’s not closing.

18) Nick Kingham, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates (Previous Rank: 16)
19) Jonathan Gray, RHP, Colorado Rockies (Previous Rank: 22)

I just like to imagine Gray walking around Tulsa in a “Who the F*** Is Yohan Flande?” t-shirt. It’s still not likely that he’ll be up this year, despite the Rockies’ previously mentioned atrocious rotation. In fact, Gray could be their best starter right now.

20) Matt Lindstrom, RHP, Chicago White Sox (Previous Rank: NR)
With Robin Ventura playing duck-duck-goose with Zach Putnam and Jacob Petricka, it’s sad that we are likely just counting down the days until Matt Lindstrom returns to reclaim this job. The things we do for saves.

21) Nick Franklin, 2B/OF, Seattle Mariners (Previous Rank: 25)
Someone please get this man out of Tacoma.

22) Neftali Feliz, RHP, Texas Rangers (Previous Rank: NR)
With the Rangers comfortably out of the race for the playoffs this year, a Joakim Soria trade could very well see Feliz return to his old role so that the team can evaluate their bullpen for 2015. He hasn’t missed many bats since returning (four strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings), but holds a 2.61 ERA and 0.77 WHIP.

23) Jesus Montero, 1B/DH, Seattle Mariners (Previous Rank: NR)
It looks like Montero is taking out his frustration from being sent back down to Triple-A out on poor minor league pitchers, as he’s hitting .444/.481/.806 with six homers and 26 RBI in just 18 games since the demotion. It’s all happening.

24) Maikel Franco, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies (Previous Rank: HM)
25) Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians (Previous Rank: HM)

Honorable Mention: Dylan Bundy, Wilmer Flores, Mike Foltynewicz, Stephen Piscotty, Joey Gallo

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eadyankee
7/23
If you had to take a guess, when do you think we see Baez playing (second base) in Wrigley?
bretsayre
7/23
August 14th.
eadyankee
7/23
That would be terrific. That would make him redraft league stashable right now.
eadyankee
8/04
10 days early! :)
medler312
7/23
Further Cub prospect question. Jorge Soler was called up AAA and he's already on the 40 man roster. Furthermore, rumors are rampant that the cubs will bring him to wrigley sooner than Baez and/or Bryant. If this is true, where does Soler go on the stash list?
bretsayre
7/23
He's very unlikely to make this list. I don't see a scenario where he gets to the majors in 2014. Especially not ahead of Bryant.
sldetckl16
7/24
I heard the same 'Soler up before Baez' tonight on a baseball broadcast (channel surfing Extra Innings and didn't catch which game) - guess the FO made a statement pointing out the advantages of not having to make a roster move (Soler) versus having to make a roster move (Baez).
grandslam28
7/23
With all cantata playing well at the major league level, you would have thought the cubs might move Baez to third to move up to the spot Plt is holding down with his .140 average.
grandslam28
7/23
Alcantara* Olt*
sbnirish77
7/23
The plot is thickening in Chicago. As soon as it appears Alcantara has succeeded Barney, Baez takes over Alcantara's 2B job in the minor's. Most probably would have bet that Baez would go to 3B and Bryant would be sent to RF. That's a lot of people playing out of position. Seems the Cubs might be looking at an infield of Bryant, Castro, Baez, and Rizzo next year with Alcantara as a super sub. And then trading Castro for pitching and replacing him with Russell later. I'm sure the plan isn't etched in stone but the move of Baez to 2B last Friday was telling something.
BarryR
7/23
Alcantara won't be a sub - Alcantara will either be their regular 2B or regular CF. Eventually, I suspect Baez will be at 3B with Bryant in RF with Almora and Soler in the other OF slots and Alcantara back at 2B. Of course, this doesn't account for the Russell/Castro situation, but I suspect a trade solves that.
seanqueue
7/23
I had one roster spot to use for a speculative play on a closer-in-waiting, and I ended up using it for Josh Fields over Ken Giles. My gut feeling was that Chad Qualls was more likely to be dealt at the deadline than Papelbon, and like Giles, Fields would return some decent value in Ks and ratios for the ten days leading up to the deadline. I'd love to know who others would choose given the choices, or if neither of the above, who would be behind Door #3.
bretsayre
7/23
I'd go Giles over Fields, but I like both. He's a better pitcher right now, despite the hot streak Fields is on.
bline24
7/23
Where is CJ Cron?
bretsayre
7/23
He'll show up post-deadline, but with no spot for him in LA, he's just an injury wait (and I'm still not sold on his bat anyway).