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The last two weeks in this write up I mentioned Willson Contreras. The Cubs called him up last weekend, but it looked like he didn’t have a clear path to playing time with Miguel Montero and David Ross still on the roster. Willson smacked a HR in his first major league at bat earning him back-to-back starts. An injury to Montero on June 22nd led to another HR off the bench plus two more starts. In his six major games played, Willson has seven hits in 17 at bats with three HRs and eight RBI. Chicago stated this week that he would see time at first base (two games already with Anthony Rizzo battling a back issue) and outfield. Contreras has played third base in his minor league career as well.
I failed to pick him up in the high stakes market last weekend, which was big mistake and one that may hurt my chances of winning an overall prize. I had Montero on two rosters and a weak C2 on another. On each team, I lacked room on my bench to make a buy and hold move. I hope some of the Scout Army had the winning move as this kid is here to stay while delivering difference maker stats.
Kurt Suzuki found his power stroke over the last week. Kurt has a five-game hitting streak (9-for-21) with four runs, two HRs, and eight RBI. Suzuki pretty much delivered one-third of his season’s production over the period. Over his first 137 at bats, he had only eight runs, two HRs, and 17 RBI.
Jeff Bandy has started the last three games for the Angels at catcher. He has five hits in 11 at bats with two runs, one HR, and three RBI. In 2015 at AAA, Jeff hit .291 with 11 HRs and 60 RBI in 309 at bats. The lack of success for Carlos Perez (.186 with three HRs and 16 RBI in 161 at bats) may create a starting opportunity for Brandy while his success with the bat will determine his long term opportunity.
Houston called up A.J. Reed on June 25th to take over at first base. Over 222 at bats at AAA, Reed hit .266 with 11 HRs and 36 RBI. Reed had eight-game hitting streak (14-for-34 with five runs, three HRs, and seven RBI) over his last eight games in the minors. Over 994 at bats in his minor league career, A.J. hit .311 with 57 HRs and 217 RBI. I expect the Astros to move Marvin Gonzalez to third base.
Mark Reynolds has found his power swing over the last week. He has a five-game hitting streak (8-for23) with six runs, three HRs, and five RBI. Reynolds is on pace for 80 runs, 16 HR, and 62 RBI so there is still plenty of correction out there for his HRs and RBI.
The Seattle continues to use a two-way split at first base with Adam Lind seeing all the at bats against righties. Over his last six games (five starts), Lind has five hits in 22 at bats with three HRs and six RBI. His stats projected over 550 at bats would be 70 runs, 32 HRs, and 94 RBI. Unfortunately, Adam is only on pace for 412 at bats. His bat probably only has value in deep leagues.
James Loney has 10 hits in his last 23 at bats to bring his batting average into a relevant area (.305) while delivering four runs, one HR, and three RBI. His bat continues to be successful in batting average with minimal value in runs, HR, and RBI. There is still no update on Lucas Duda so James should remain the starting first base man for the Mets for another month or so.
I don’t respect Johnny Giavotella and I know you don’t respect him, but Johnny respect himself. Over his last 53 at bats, Giavotella hit .358 with nine runs, four HRs, seven RBI, and one SB. For Johnny to be playable, he needs to produce HRs or SBs.
Since being called up from the minors on June 10th, Jace Peterson has a hit or more in 12 of his 13 games (.326 with 10 runs, one HR, six RBI, and a SB). The Braves moved him to the leadoff position over the last week, which is a nice bump in opportunity. His major league resume doesn’t show upside in speed (15 steals in 27 chances), but Jace does have 150 steals in the minors in his 194 attempts over five years highlighted by his 2012 season (51 stolen bases). Peterson could be a sneaky out in speed if Atlanta gives him the green light.
Cheslor Cuthbert has been a very good replacement option for the Royals and Fantasy owners. Over his last 50 at bats, Cheslor hit .300 with seven runs, four HRs, and nine RBI. His success should lead to a better opportunity in the batting order. Cuthbert won’t be a free agent in deep leagues, but he looks like valuable player to be added in 12 leagues.
With Matt Duffy out about a month with an Achilles issue, Conor Gillaspie may have some value as short term cover. Over his last 15 at bats, Conor has six hits with three runs, one HR, and six RBI while starting three of the last four games. In 2014 with the White Sox, Conor hit .282 with seven HRs and 57 RBI in 464 at bats. His bat has limited upside in power, so in a way, he looks a like a similar player to Duffy with no real underlying speed. Gillaspie will only have value in deep leagues.
Eduardo Escobar has a seven-game streak (11-for-25) with six runs, two HRs, and nine RBI to gain momentum in the Fantasy market. He’s started seven of the last eight games. Eduardo had 12 HRs and 58 RBI over 409 at bats in 2015 with the Twins, which invite some power upside from the middle infield position.
There has been a lot of emptiness in Danny Espinosa’s stats lines in 2015, but his power stroke remains on the rise. Over his last 98 at bats, Espinosa has 10 HRs, 14 RBI, and two SBs. Danny continues to have batting average risk (.222), but he is one pace for 69 runs, 28 HRs, 65 RBI, and six SBs.
The Tigers have lost a beat in right field after the injury to J.D. Martinez. In his seven starts over eight games, Steven Moya has 10 hits in 27 at bats with seven runs, three HRs, and two RBI. At AAA in 2016, Moya hit .298 with 13 HRs and 38 RBI in 2015 at bats. His best season at any level came in 2014 at AA when Steven hit .276 with 35 HRs, 105 RBI, and 16 SBs over 515 at bats. He looks like the perfect cover for Martinez with about a month to prove his long term worth.
Max Kepler remains on a positive track. He’s started the last 14 games leading to a .302 batting average with 10 runs, two HRs, 10 RBI, and two SBs. Max flashed his upside in 2015 at AA when he hit .322 with nine HRs, 71 RBI, and 18 SBs in 407 at bats. Kepler is here to stay with a balanced skill set.
The Padres have started Travis Jankowski in center field in each of the last five games at the leadoff spot with Jon Jay battling an arm issue after getting hit by a pitch. Travis has six hits in his last 20 at bats with five runs, two RBI, and five SBs. Jankowski’s ability to deliver difference maker speed will make him very attractive on the waiver wire this week. In 2013 at High A, Travis hit .286 with 89 runs, one HR, 38 RBI, and 71 SBs over 493 at bats. As great as he may look, Jay probably still has the starting job. His success in speed make him an interesting short term buy and hold as the Padres could always more Jay in a trade.
Last week I missed the read on John Gant as possible pickup in the high stakes market. The Braves moved him into the starting rotation on June 12th. Gant allowed six runs and 19 base runners 16.2 innings with 15 Ks. Over eight games at AAA, John had a 3.14 ERA with 48 Ks in 43 innings. He had a 3.23 ERA in his six years in the minors with 434 Ks in 446 innings. His arm does have some early risk due to high walk rate (3.1 in the minors). His upside is tied to an impact changeup.
This is a very good chance that Miami calls up Chris Reed next week. Over nine starts at AAA in 2016, Reed had 3.42 ERA with 39 Ks in 50 innings. Reed has a losing record in the minors (14-37) over six years with a 4.14 ERA and 410 Ks in 493.1 innings. It’s tough to believe he will make an impact early in his career.
With Tyler Glasnow struggling with his command at AAA (47 walks in 84 innings) while still having success in ERA (1.61), the Pirates continue to call up low upside arms. It looks like Chad Kuhl will be called up on Sunday to face the Dodgers. Over 14 starts at AAA, Kuhl has a 2.58 ERA with 59 Ks in 76.2 innings. He has a career 2.79 ERA in the minors with success winning game (33-16), but he only strikes out six batters per nine innings with strength in his command.