If somehow Mike Zunino slipped through the crack in your league, his power swing is putting him position to earn starting at-bats going forward for the Mariners; Mike started five of the last seven games leading to six hits in 17 at-bats with three runs, three HRs, and five RBI. Over his last 40 at-bats in the majors, Zunino has six HRs and 10 RBI while still showing some batting average risk in Ks (12). He hit .286 at AAA in 2016 with 17 HRs and 57 RBI in 280 at-bats.
Jett Bandy continues to win the battle of have-nots at the catcher position with the Angels. He has a five-game hitting streak (6-for-16) with two HRs and four RBI. He’s started only six of the last nine games for LA, but his success should lead to possible short term value at the C2 position in shallow leagues.
At some point over the next couple of weeks, the Brewers should give Andrew Susac a chance at starting at-bats at the catcher position. Over 222 at-bats at AAA in 2016, Susac hit .266 with eight HRs and 36 RBI. The free agent catching pool remains weak so Andrew may be an upgrade for some team in a deep league if/when he is called up.
Justin Morneau has a seven-game hitting streak (9-for-28) headed into Saturday night with three runs, two HRs, and four RBI. His swing is rounding into form. He has 20/80 skill set even at age 35 as long as he gets enough at-bats against left-handed pitching (1-for-11 so far in 2016).
The Cardinals activated Brandon Moss off the DL earlier this week. He responded with six hits in his first 16 at-bats with three runs, one HR, and three RBI. St. Louis shipped Randal Grichuk back to the minors, which clears one more bat in his way. If your team is chasing power, Brandon has streaky upside in HRs while setting many days vs. lefties.
With Brett Lawrie on the DL with a hamstring injury, Tyler Saladino started the last eight games for the White Sox. He responded with eight hits in 30 at-bats with four runs, one HR, one RBI, and two SBs. Tyler has underlying speed 111 in 141 chance over 1991 at-bats in the minors while flashing some power (41). His upside is limited, and he will hit at the bottom of the batting order, but Saladino has enough talent to offer short term flash value if your team needs an injury replacement.
The Royals called up Raul Mondesi on July 26th to give him starting at-bats at second base. His bat didn’t look major league ready to me due to his 453 Ks in 1637 at-bats in the minors (25.0 K rate). Raul hit .249 in the minors with 31 HRs, 173 RBI, and 95 SBs. His speed is intriguing, but he only has 56 at-bats above AA in his career at age 21. Mondesi will hit his way back to the minors.
Jefry Marte saw his seven-game hitting streak (11-for-26 with three runs, two HRs, and seven RBI) end on August 5th. He’s started the last seven games, so the Angels seem committed to him going forward. His bats flashed upside at AAA in 2015 when Marte hit 15 HRs with 53 RBI and eight RBI over 357 at-bats. His success in the majors in 2016 projected over 550 at-bats would deliver 31 HRs and 93 RBI. Marte may surprise going forward if LA continues to give him a chance to play every day.
The Rays hopes to have newly acquired Matt Duffy back in the majors at the end of next week after his two month battle with an Achilles issue. Over 12 at-bats in the minors, Duffy has five hits with two RBI. Matt had a surprising season in 2015 (.295 with 12 HRs, 77 RBI, and 12 SBs) while lowering the bar in 2016. At the very least, Duffy should get a fair swing at starting at-bats for Tampa over the last seven weeks of the season.
The Brewers called up top shortstop prospect Orlando Arcia this week. He only had one hit on 11 at-bats headed into Saturday night. Over 404 at-bats at AAA, Orlando hit .267 with eight HRs, 53 RBI, and 15 SBs. His skill set projected over a full season would deliver about 10 HRs and 30 SBs.
Eduardo Escobar has responded well to a starting job after the Twins sent Eduardo Nunez to the Giants a couple of weeks ago. Escobar has 11 hits in his last 39 at-bats with five runs, two HRs, and seven RBI. He has no value in speed while his game projects to some upside in power from a middle infield position.
Over the last week, Avisail Garcia has started to find his power stroke. He has three HRs and six RBI over his last 12 at-bats while hitting .281 in his last 32 at-bats. Garcia struggled with Ks for most of 2016 season (77 in 269 at-bats), but he didn’t strikeout in his last 19 at-bats.
The Reds called up Scott Schebler after Jay Bruce was traded to the Mets. He’s started the last five games (5-for-18 with three runs, one HR, and three RBI). Over 289 at-bats at AAA in 2016, Scott hit .311 with 13 HRs and 43 RBI. His best two seasons in the minors in 2013 and 2014, Schebler hit 55 HRs with 164 RBI and 26 SBs over 966 at-bats. His bats should be one of the better options in the free agent pool this week.
The Red Sox called up Andrew Benintendi on August 2nd after hitting .312 between High-A and AA with nine HRs, 76 RBI, and 16 SBs in 372 at-bats. The best part of his game early in his career is his low K rate (9.6). Andrew has more walks (74) than strikeouts (63) in his two seasons in the minors. Over six at-bats in the majors, Benintendi has two hits with no production. His bat looks to be limited in power and speed at this point of his career with his base skill set pointing to high upside in his career. In a way, he could be on a path similar to Max Kepler in 2016. Boston probably won’t give him at-bats against lefties.
David Phelps threw the ball well in first game back in the Marlins starting rotation after pitching at a high level over 50 games as a reliever. He allowed no runs and five baserunners in 4.1 innings with four Ks. His depth in games will take a couple of starts. His next outing should give him a chance at 75+ pitches with his following step being 90 pitches. His arm did make a step forward in 2016 (2.45 ERA with 77 Ks in 58.2 innings) so he may be serviceable arm going forward as a starter.
I’m sensing the Reds will move Michael Lorenzen in the starting rotation over the next week or so. Over his last 9.2 innings, Michael hasn’t allowed a run with 10 Ks to lower his ERA to 2.42. His average fastball has been consistently over 96 mph since returning from the DL. Batters have only hit .091 vs. his sinker, .091 against his curve, and .133 vs. his cutter. Lorenzen has low innings with possibly sneaky upside with a starting job.
The Pirates moved Jeff Locke to the bullpen this week possibly leading to Drew Hutchison being called up. They acquired Drew at the deadline in the Liriano deal. Over 19 starts at AAA covering 109 innings in 2016, Drew has a 3.63 ERA with 115 Ks. He did struggle a bit in first minor league start for Pittsburgh (four runs and eight baserunners in seven innings). The move to the NL should lead to more upside if he gets a chance to start every fifth day.
The Dodgers may call up Brett Anderson next week. In his two appearances in the minors, Brett allowed one run in seven innings with nine Ks and one walk. His arm still needs to add more length so it may take him a couple of weeks to get major league ready.