Melchior: Callups just around the corner
Every year around this time, the anticipation over September callups starts to build to a crescendo. Rarely, though, does the reality of a highly anticipated callup's performance meet the expectations.
This is not to say callups can't make an impact. Though he wasn't the most hyped prospect to reach the majors last September, Chris Parmelee rewarded the owners who did pick up him up, as he hit .355 with four home runs and 14 RBI in his 21 games. So while odds are long on any callup making that kind of impact, it's worth scouring the waiver wire in search of 2012's version of Parmelee.
The biggest-name minor leaguers aren't always the best targets. Top prospects like Anthony Rendon , Jedd Gyorko and Gary Brown may not get added to their respective major league rosters, and even if they are, there doesn't appear to be much playing time available for any of them. Owners are better off leaving some of the big, close-to-major-league-ready names for their keeper league rosters and targeting one of the 10 minor leaguers listed below. Some, like Billy Hamilton and Wil Myers , could already be scarce in deeper leagues, but plenty of others should be widely available in the vast majority of formats.
While not all of these players are certain to be recalled, each has the potential to make a Fantasy impact over the season's final month. I've ranked them in the order of their likely impact, starting with the top player to target.
1. Dan Straily , SP, Athletics (39 percent ownership rate): We already know that Straily can handle big league hitters, as he put together an impressive 3.18 ERA over his first three starts with Oakland. Though he was sent down to make room for Brandon McCarthy , he could very well be the long-term replacement for Bartolo Colon , even though Tyson Ross is handling those duties for now. Should Straily get summoned on or around Sept. 1, he would be the player on this list most worth pursuing in standard mixed leagues.
2. Tyler Thornburg , SP, Brewers (4 percent ownership rate): With the release of Randy Wolf and likely innings limits for Mike Fiers and Mark Rogers , there are going to be opportunities for some young Brewers to prove themselves in the rotation over the season's final weeks. Thornburg appears to have the best shot of getting promoted into a starting role, though Wily Peralta is also under consideration. If the Brewers are looking to reward good performance in the minors, Thornburg should have an edge over Peralta. Depending on his matchups, Thornburg could have some low-end appeal in standard mixed leagues, and he'd certainly be worth pursuing in deeper formats.
3. Billy Hamilton , SS, Reds (25 percent ownership rate): Arguably, Hamilton has generated more excitement than any other yet-to-debut prospect this year. Now that he has broken Vince Coleman's single-season professional baseball record of 145 stolen bases, could Cincinnati be the next frontier? The Cincinnati Enquirer reports the Reds are considering Hamilton as a September addition. Should he get the call, Hamilton would probably be relegated to a pinch-running role, but in that capacity, he could still help owners with steals, making him a viable option in most mixed Rotisserie leagues.
4. Jenrry Mejia , SP, Mets (2 percent ownership rate): Just like Straily was passed over for another pitcher to fill a vacancy in his team's rotation, Mejia missed the chance to fill in for Johan Santana (back) Thursday versus the Rockies. That doesn't mean Mejia won't get starts in September, though, and the hard-throwing righty could reward owners looking for a late-season boost in strikeouts.
5. Wil Myers , OF, Royals (35 percent ownership rate): The Royals have indicated they are in no rush to promote Myers, but with so few impact players having a strong chance of getting a callup, it's worth making a speculative pickup. Myers hasn't slowed down much in moving from Double-A to Triple-A, and at the very least, it's conceivable that Myers could be used in a timeshare situation in the outfield down the stretch. Should Lorenzo Cain , Jarrod Dyson and Jeff Francoeur get more than their usual time off, that could afford Myers enough playing time to be a factor in deeper leagues.
6. Avisail Garcia , OF, Tigers (1 percent ownership rate): Most of the hype and callup speculation around the Tigers has centered around Nick Castellanos , but as an outfielder, Garcia is probably closer to being able to help the big league team out now. He is not guaranteed a promotion, and should he come to Detroit, Garcia could merely fill a reserve role. However, Brennan Boesch and Quintin Berry are not the most immovable of roadblocks in right field, so there is a potential opportunity for Garcia to get playing time and be useful to owners in AL-only leagues.
7. Jake Odorizzi , SP, Royals (9 percent ownership rate): Though the Royals don't have an obvious need for a starting pitcher, they have not ruled out the possibility of promoting Odorzzi. After breezing through seven starts at Double-A to start the season, he fared extremely well at Triple-A with a 2.80 ERA, even though he sustained a sharp decrease in his strikeout rate. On the off chance that one of the Royals' current starters gets hit with an injury or a severe late-season slump, it's worth putting in a claim on Odorizzi -- even in standard mixed leagues -- as he would likely be the next in line to join the rotation.
8. Adam Eaton , OF, Diamondbacks (3 percent ownership rate): The Diamondbacks' outfield situation is well set, but manager Kirk Gibson has shown a willingness to bench Chris Young -- and even Justin Upton -- when they have struggled over an extended period. It's not inconceivable, then, that Eaton could factor in as part of an outfield rotation. With Gerardo Parra also in the mix, that wouldn't leave Eaton with many plate appearances, but even with limited exposure, he could help owners with steals. Because he is an extreme long shot to see regular playing time, Eaton is more of an NL-only option. Owners just need to be aware that Eaton may wind up eating a spot on their Fantasy roster, as his debut might not happen until 2013.
9. Melky Mesa , OF, Yankees (0 percent ownership rate): Mesa's minor league stolen base totals aren't particularly noteworthy, but he has enough speed that the Yankees could be interested in bringing him up to use as a pinch-runner. He also has some nice power, but it's probably asking too much to expect manager Joe Girardi to find Mesa regular playing time. Consider him as an option for deeper AL-only leagues.
10. Danny Hultzen , SP, Mariners (20 percent ownership rate): There is no particular reason to expect the Mariners to call up Hultzen, especially since they haven't done so already. However, he had been shut down for a couple of weeks earlier this month, and since returning, he has had better results. The layoff also has meant fewer innings for the southpaw, so at least a callup isn't likely to be ruled out based on workload concerns. Hultzen may be the least likely prospect to be called up out of this group, but if he does get to pitch in the majors, he could provide owners in deeper mixed leagues and AL-only formats a shot in the arm.
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