The Graduates: Cameron Maybin (Previous Rank: 1), Arodys Vizcaino (2), Michael Taylor (3), Cam Bedrosian (9), Tyler Skaggs (12), Reynaldo Lopez (13), Dansby Swanson (15), Dominic Smith (16), Rhys Hoskins (18), Ryan McMahon (23)
Maybin returned Aug. 7 and has batted leadoff in six of the seven games he’s started since. Hitting directly in front of Trout is a good place to be, but he’ll have to run to have much fantasy impact. Maybin hasn’t stolen a base in his past 12 contests dating back to before his most recent injury.
Vizcaino and Bedrosian have grabbed primary closing duties for their respective clubs. Reports suggest that Bedrosian is unlikely to go on back-to-back days. That doesn’t dampen his value much.
Taylor was activated from the disabled list Sunday, before Washington’s doubleheader. I had been concerned about the possibility of reduced time, given how well Brian Goodwin performed in Taylor’s absence, as well as the presence of the .351-hitting Howie Kendrick. Injuries to Harper and Goodwin put that concern to bed.
Skaggs rejoined the Angels’ rotation nearly two weeks ago and has made three starts since. He’s been adequate, and should be a fine back-end starter for as long as he can take the ball.
Lopez is a much more intriguing graduation, coming off an eight-start stretch Triple-A Charlotte in which he pitched to a 2.70 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, and 63-15 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He struck out six Royals over six frames in his 2017 MLB debut. Despite the strong closing chapter of his minor-league career, Lopez is a better add for the strikeout hungry than those looking for ratio help.
Swanson is back with the big-league club after two weeks on the farm. He won’t lose time at shortstop to Ozzie Albies, but he’s batting eighth and there’s not much about his 2017 performance—in Atlanta or Gwinnett—that suggests standard-depth utility.
The Mets installed Smith as their everyday first baseman Friday. I’m optimistic about his ability to hit for average, but I want to see the power before I invest in a re-draft. First base has depth that we haven’t seen in a few seasons, so you’d have to be somewhat desperate to plug Smith in there the rest of the way.
I had Hoskins ranked 18th in the most recent list after having him slotted much higher for most of the season. That was mostly because of my slipping confidence that the Phillies would give Hoskins enough playing time to be fantasy relevant. Turns out they found at-bats in the outfield. Hoskins has three homers in six games as a Phillie. All Hoskins did in the minors was rake, and the fact that he didn’t appear on many (any?) prospect lists makes him a classic undervalued fantasy asset.
Sigh. Dahl is on the minor-league DL with back spasms.
Kela hit the disabled list with soreness in the same shoulder that sidelined him last month. It’s tough to imagine Kela grabbing ninth-inning duties this season, if he makes it back at all.
DeSclafani recorded one out in his most recent rehab appearance, yielding eight runs and eight hits over just 23 pitches. Turns out he was dealing with elbow tendinitis, not exactly an encouraging sign for a guy who’s missed nearly the entire season with a strained elbow ligament. Early reports indicate that DeSclafani will be able to avoid surgery, but there’s no chance he pitches in the big leagues this season.
1. Ronald Acuña (OF)—Braves (Previous Rank: 5)
Acuña is hitting .328/.400/.560 with five homers and four steals since his bump to Triple-A. He doesn’t turn 20 until a week before Christmas. It doesn’t make much sense for the Braves to promote him until next summer, but this is the kind of gamble you have to make with six weeks to go. Incremental improvement isn’t likely to change your place in the standings.
2. Tyler Glasnow (RHP)—Pirates (Previous Rank: 7)
Glasnow has a 1.57 ERA and 1.08 DRA, with 103 strikeouts in 68 2/3 innings since his bump down to Triple-A. He has a 30-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio over his past three starts. That’s right. Just one walk in each of his past three turns. Glasnow is pitching exclusively out of the stretch, which seems to be helping his long-standing control issues.
3. Jeurys Familia (RHP)—Mets (Previous Rank: 10)
4. Kyle Barraclough (RHP)—Marlins (Previous Rank: Unranked)
Familia has made a pair of rehab appearances, one each in High-A and Double-A. It won’t be long before he’s closing games in Queens again, assuming there are games to close. Barraclough made his way back from a shoulder injury much more quickly than I thought he would. Brad Ziegler hasn’t allowed a run since A.J. Ramos was dealt, so he’s not going to give the job away. I expect the Marlins to give Barraclough some opportunities to shut the door in September so they can feel comfortable about rolling with him when the 2018 season opens. Let me just say right here that I really like Drew Steckenrider too.
5. Lonnie Chisenhall (OF)—Indians (Previous Rank: 4)
Chisenhall’s rehab has reached Triple-A, and he’s on track to return to Cleveland imminently. Despite the fact that Austin Jackson continues to rake, I still believe Chisnehall isn’t at risk of a strict platoon in left field.
6. Stephen Piscotty (OF)—Cardinals (Previous Rank: Unranked)
Piscotty is clearly too good for Triple-A. He’s swatted three homers in five games since his surprise demotion to Memphis. It might not matter, as Randall Grichuk is having an excellent month as the Cardinals everyday right fielder and there’s really nowhere else to put Piscotty.
7. J.P. Crawford (SS)—Phillies (Previous Rank: 14)
Crawford is up to .291/.389/.609, including 11 bombs since July 1. Arbitrary endpoint, sure. But is the prevailing narrative about his health—or lack thereof in the season’s early months—is true, it goes a long way toward explaining this surge. This is far more power than I expect regardless of what may have changed around mid-summer, but he looks like a viable back-end fantasy shortstop whenever the Phillies make the call.
8. Brent Honeywell (RHP)—Bay Rays (Previous Rank: Honorable Mention)
As with the guy at the top of the list, I have no expectation that Honeywell will make the majors this season. That said, his recent numbers at Triple-A Durham are eye-popping. Since the calendar turned to July, Honeywell has allowed four earned runs over seven starts, while striking out 50 and walking only seven. And that doesn’t include his MVP performance at the Futures Game.
9. Aaron Altherr (OF)—Phillies (Previous Rank: Unranked)
10. Jorge Soler (OF)—Royals (Previous Rank: Unranked)
11. Clint Frazier (OF)—Yankees (Previous Rank: Unranked)
The Phillies have no incentive to rush Altherr back from a hamstring injury that’s an aggravation of a previous hamstring injury. Look for him in early September. I’m having as hard a time quitting Jorge Soler as the Royals are quitting Alex Gordon. Gordon’s .197/.287/.289 isn’t enough to warrant regular time, even though he’s been his usual excellent defensive self in left field. Because Frazier injured his oblique at the same time as Aaron Hicks was ready to come off the disabled list, we don’t have much insight as to what the Yankees would do with four healthy outfielders. Frazier probably won’t be back until rosters expand, and likely not in a full-time role.
12. Ryan McMahon (1B/3B)—Rockies (Previous Rank: 23)
I wasn’t expecting McMahon to get the call until September, if at all, despite his absurd minor-league numbers this season. His ability to play all over the dirt make him a fine bench player for the Rockies, but he won’t be a viable fantasy option unless there’s an injury ahead of him.
13. Trevor Hildenberger (RHP)—Twins (Previous Rank: Unranked)
Hildenberger picked up a four out save on Sunday, one night after Matt Belisle blew one. To be fair to Belisle, he’s been terrific for the better part of the summer. But Hildenberger is the better pitcher with better stuff, inexperience be damned. Like every other team in the American League, the Twins are in the thick of the race for the second wild card. Easy to say from where I sit: a pre-emptive move makes more sense than a reactionary one.
14. Scott Schebler (OF)—Reds (Previous Rank: Unranked)
15. Mitch Haniger (OF)—Mariners (Previous Rank: Unranked)
Two months ago today—which was two and a half months into the season—Schebler had 18 home runs to Giancarlo Stanton’s 17. Stanton currently leads Schebler by 21. Haniger is working his way back after being hit in the face in late July. He’s not showing many ill effects at Triple-A Tacoma, mashing two taters in four rehab games there. Leonys Martin won’t block Haniger whenever he’s ready.
16. Chris Shaw (OF/1B)—Giants (Previous Rank: Honorable Mention)
17. Brian Anderson (3B)—Marlins (Previous Rank: Unranked)
Two lower-ceiling prospects who began 2017 at Double-A have hit at Triple-A and have a reasonable path to playing time down the stretch. Mike Aviles started at the hot corner for the Marlins recently.
18. Raul Mondesi (SS)—Royals (Previous Rank: 17)
19. Willie Calhoun (2B/OF/DH)—Rangers (Previous Rank: 19)
20. Raimel Tapia (OF)—Rockies (Previous Rank: Unranked)
21. Willy Adames (SS)—Rays (Previous Rank: 21)
22. Harrison Bader (OF)—Cardinals (Previous Rank: 20)
23. Austin Meadows (OF)—Pirates (Previous Rank: Unranked)
24. Franklin Barreto (SS)—Athletics (Previous Rank: 22)
25. Scott Kingery (2B)—Phillies (Previous Rank: 24)
I like prospects, you like prospects, we all like prospects. I don’t think any of them will get a legitimate chance to play in September, or won’t do anything with it if they do get the opportunity.