The Graduates: Neftali Feliz (22)
This past week saw the sad-sack Rangers finally deal off their closer (who had been one of the best in baseball to this point) Joakim Soria to the Tigers, freeing their former star closer to retake the role. Unfortunately, Feliz still doesn’t have his pre-Tommy John velocity back and it’s manifesting itself in diminished strikeout numbers (he has four in 11 1/3 innings). He can keep the job without the whiffs, as they don’t really have a great alternative, but his value will be diminished if it doesn’t pick up a little.
The Departed: Joey Gallo (HM)
As much fun as this would be, there’s just zero incentive for the Rangers to rush Gallo when he hasn’t even gotten a half-season’s worth of at-bats at Double-A.
And the ones who are still left waiting:
1) Mookie Betts, 2B/OF, Boston Red Sox (Previous Rank: NR)
Picking up right where he left off before disappointing in Boston for a few weeks, Betts is hitting .361/.395/.556 in eight games at Pawtucket—where he’s unlikely to linger for long. There are still unrealistic expectations among many as to what kind of player Betts will be for fantasy purposes, but he doesn’t need to be a star to be valuable.
2) Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners (Previous Rank: NR)
The comments that Lloyd McClendon has been making about Walker don’t instill the most confidence in the organization’s ability to use the talented right-hander the way many think they should down the stretch. Of course, the six walks his last time out in Tacoma doesn’t instill a ton of confidence either. There’s always the chance his shoulder is still bothering him a little, and there’s also the chance that the Mariners will keep jerking him around, but the talent is there for him to be an impact pitcher as the season comes to a close.
3) Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs (Previous Rank: 14)
Since Baez played his first game at second base on July 17, he’s hitting .367 with five homers, 18 RBI, and only 12 strikeouts in 55 plate appearances. I say “only” because his strikeout rate is still north of 30 percent for the season. The official end of the Darwin Barney era doesn’t have an effect on Baez’s timetable, but it’s interesting to note that Arismendy Alcantara has still played half his games in center field, even with Barney out of the picture. There’s room for Baez if the Cubs want, and he’s doing everything he can right now to earn it.
4) Andrew Heaney, LHP, Miami Marlins (Previous Rank: NR)
It hasn’t been all smooth sailing since Heaney returned back to Triple-A, as he has a 5.03 ERA in those four starts, but a 17-to-3 K:BB ratio over his last two starts speaks with a little more volume. The bigger issue for Heaney has been the surprisingly strong performance of Jacob Turner in his absence. Turner has lowered his season ERA to 5.69 by allowing only three runs combined in his last two starts. And if you’re thinking “why would the Marlins waste time with Turner instead of getting Heaney some experience,” remember that Heaney is only about two weeks younger than Turner—who has seemingly been around forever.
5) Dexter Fowler, OF, Houston Astros (Previous Rank: NR)
Fowler’s return won’t be quite as fast as anticipated, but barring any unforeseen setbacks, he should be back in Houston by the second week of August.
6) James Paxton, LHP, Seattle Mariners (Previous Rank: 18)
If it feels like forever since we’ve seen Paxton at the major league level, it’s because that’s pretty much true. It was April 8, the last time he toed the rubber for the Mariners, but all signs point to him doing the same this Saturday after a successful final tune up at Triple-A, where he threw 78 pitches and allowed one earned run in 4 1/3 innings.
7) Noah Syndergaard, RHP, New York Mets (Previous Rank: 11)
Sunday’s start made it three out of four very strong starts now for Syndergaard, as he allowed just one earned run and struck out eight in five innings against the same team that racked up 11 hits against him on the first of the month (Salt Lake). The Mets continue to be non-committal publicly as to whether he’ll get a major league opportunity in 2014, but with Bartolo Colon potentially on the move and Daisuke Matsuzaka sidelined with an elbow injury, the door could be open for him to join the big-league team as soon as next week.
8) Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers (Previous Rank: 6)
9) Justin Masterson, RHP, Cleveland Indians (Previous Rank: NR)
Masterson is supposed to return to the Indians’ rotation on Friday night, but don’t be surprised if the next time we see him he is sporting a different uniform. The trade rumors are flying around about him at this point, and there appear to be enough teams interested that a deal could realistically happen. If he does move to the National League, his value should tick up nicely for the last two months of the season.
10) Derek Holland, LHP, Texas Rangers (Previous Rank: 10)
It’s never a good sign when your manager says that the team was considering shutting you down for the season before sending you out on a rehab assignment, but here we are with Holland. He’ll need three-to-four starts, and who knows how rusty he’ll be, but on talent alone, he’s still worth sticking with.
12) Matt Wisler, RHP, San Diego Padres (Previous Rank: 15)
Somehow, someway, Eric Stults is still a major league starting pitcher despite a 65 OPS+. Meanwhile, Wisler continues to hold his own in an extreme offensive environment, just biding his time.
13) Ken Giles, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies (Previous Rank: NR)
We’re not any closer to a Jonathan Papelbon trade, but every time Giles goes out there and dominates, it’s easy to envision what he’s capable of in the ninth inning.
14) Trevor May, RHP, Minnesota Twins (Previous Rank: NR)
15) Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks (Previous Rank: 12)
This is likely to go down as a lost season for the top prospect, as his most recent outing saw him get lit up for seven runs in Double-A. He should go into 2015 with the same expectations he had heading into this season, but potentially with a lower price tag.
16) Matt Lindstrom, RHP, Chicago White Sox (Previous Rank: NR)
There’s nothing wrong with the job Jacob Petricka is doing in Chicago, and there’s no certainly that Lindstrom will even get the job back, but guessing at the closer situation on the South Side is just terrible for your health.
17) Alex Meyer, RHP, Minnesota Twins (Previous Rank: 9)
18) Kris Bryant, 3B/OF, Chicago Cubs (Previous Rank: 13)
19) Nick Kingham, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates (Previous Rank: 16)
20) Jonathan Gray, RHP, Colorado Rockies (Previous Rank: 22)
21) Robert Refsnyder, 2B/OF, New York Yankees (Previous Rank: NR)
The man without the pedigree finally shows up on the list after two months of badgering by Yankee fans (I kid, I kid). The whole player-out-of-position theory works for all types of prospects, and Refsnyder is no exception. After playing second base the first three-plus months of the season, he’s now played seven games in the outfield since July 9. The Yankees’ two biggest needs? Second base and outfield. It’s unlikely to be a coincidence.
22) Nick Franklin, 2B/OF, Seattle Mariners (Previous Rank: 25)
23) Maikel Franco, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies (Previous Rank: HM)
It hasn’t been a season to remember for Franco, but he’s looking to end it on a high note, as he’s hitting .321/.341/.548 since the start of July. He’s still unlikely to see the majors this year, but with Marlon Byrd rumored to be on the block, there’s a chance the Phillies could move Cody Asche out to left field in order to get Franco some time at first base.
24) Jesus Montero, 1B/DH, Seattle Mariners (Previous Rank: NR)
The recipient of a one-day call up on Thursday, Montero finds himself back in Tacoma (where he’s killing the ball) to make room for the corpse of Kendrys Morales. His July OPS is now 1.120, and that’s after a few days of slumping after he was sent back down.
25) Dan Straily, RHP, Chicago Cubs (Previous Rank: NR)
With all the musical chairs in the Cubs’ rotation, the one guy who hasn’t gotten a shot yet is the name fantasy owners know best. He hasn’t done much to deserve the shot yet, and Kyle Hendricks and Tsuyoshi Wada are certainly holding their own, but between innings limits and potential ineffectiveness, Straily could get a shot in September.