Fantasy Baseball Today

Diving deep into Week 17 waivers

By R.J. White | CBSSports.com

Christian Vazquez is seeing his ownership rise in Fantasy leagues. (USATSI)
Christian Vazquez is seeing his ownership rise in Fantasy leagues. (USATSI)

If you play in a competitive Fantasy league, it can be hard to find quality waiver additions without being proactive. You may want to snap up a guy like Joaquin Benoit after the Huston Street trade ... until you find he's been rostered by another team for quite a while. Guys like Shane Greene and Arismendy Alcantara top the most added list, but many competitive leagues saw them snatched off the wire several days ago.

Never fear. Sometimes players that nearly everyone else is ignoring have something to contribute to your Fantasy team. I grabbed speedsters like James Jones and Jarrod Dyson in a deeper roto league months ago and both have given me stolen bases mixed with quality batting averages. Here are the players who have seen their ownership raise at least three percent in the last week but are still available in over 80 percent of Fantasy leagues.

Christian Vazquez, C, Red Sox; 11 percent owned, +6 percent

Vazquez was drafted out of the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy in 2008 and made his organizational debut as a 17-year-old at the rookie level. After struggling with the bat for a few years, he soared in his second attempt at Class A Greenville in 2011, hitting .283/.358/.505 with 18 home runs and 84 RBI in 392 at-bats. He has produced solid numbers coming up through the minors, even showing a little speed in 2013 with seven stolen bases at Double-A Portland, but he hasn't been able to match the power from his 18-home-run year.

Vazquez jumped out to a hot start in his first few games before the break, going 5 for 11 with three doubles and five RBI while hitting out of the nine-hole. He's getting an opportunity to show the team that he's the long-term answer behind the plate after the Red Sox parted ways with A.J. Pierzynski, but the team seems content with splitting time between Vazquez and veteran David Ross for the time being. He also has another higher-regarded catching prospect nipping at his heels in Blake Swihart.

Vazquez isn't likely to turn into a must-have option in standard Fantasy leagues over the remainder of the year. At his best, he's capable to providing a good batting average and potentially a handful of home runs and stolen bases if things break right. Those in two-catcher leagues should be willing to gamble on his potential over lowel-level second-catcher options like Dioner Navarro, Tyler Flowers and Welington Castillo.

Ken Giles, RP, Phillies; 11 percent owned, +4 percent

Giles has been a strikeout machine while rising through the minors, but he's also been mired in significant control issues. He spent all of 2013 with high Class A Clearwater, where he posted a 6.31 ERA while walking 6.7 batters per nine innings (and striking out 11.9 per nine). However, he managed to start 2014 off with a bang, posting a 29:5 K:BB ratio in just 15 innings with Double-A Reading. But while he didn't give up a lot of runs after his promotion to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, he posted just a 9:8 K:BB ratio in 13 2/3 innings before joining the Phillies.

The promotion to the majors in mid-June has been a turning point for Giles. After giving up a solo home run in his debut, he's fired off 13 2/3 scoreless innings while striking out 17 and walking just three during that span. Even more impressive than his overall numbers is that he's posted an 18.4 percent swinging strike rate, which places him third among all pitchers with at least 10 innings, behind Arolids Chapman and Koji Uehara but ahead of Kenley Jansen and everyone else.

Is this why his ownership has jumped in the last week? Possibly, but it likely mostly has to do with current closer Jonathan Papelbon sitting squarely on the team's trading block. If Papelbon were to be traded -- and the likelihood of that lessened when the Angels acquired Huston Street -- Giles would be the most-likely right-handed option to take over the job, at least until Mike Adams returns from the disabled list. However, the Phillies have a bullpen stocked with southpaws, and the team may decide to go with a slightly more established option in the ninth inning like Antonio Bastardo. There are probably better little-owned relievers who are more worth your time; I've added Neil Ramirez and Brad Boxberger in different leagues within the past week, for example.

Kevin Correia, SP, Twins; 8 percent owned, +4 percent

Trevor Cahill, RP, Diamondbacks; 8 percent owned, +4 percent

Unlike the previous two names, these are a pair of pitchers you probably recognize. Correia is a 12-year veteran who has posted quality starts in six of his last seven outings, giving up no more than two runs in any of those outings. Unfortunately, he's still a pitcher who gives up a lot of hits and doesn't strike many batters out. Fantasy owners shouldn't have any trust for him in the second half, and I wouldn't be surprised to see the Twins turn to younger options in the rotation if they don't catch fire immediately.

Like Correia, Cahill has never been a big strikeout pitcher (though he's fared much better than Correia in that regard), but he's a guy that still managed to have solid success in his first five seasons coming into 2014. But after posting a 9.17 ERA and 17:13 K:BB ratio in his first four starts, he was transitioned to the bullpen for the first time in his career. The Diamondbacks eventually sent him to the minors in early June, where he delivered a lot of strikeouts but also a lot of walks.

His uptick in ownership percentage is because he's back in the majors now, and he started the team's first game after the break, giving up three earned runs on five innings while striking out three and walking two. This should be very similar to what we see from Cahill most of the time while he remains in the rotation. He hasn't shown any reason to regain the trust of Fantasy owners at this point.

Sam Fuld, OF, Twins; 6 percent owned, +3 percent

In the mold of players like Jones and Dyson mentioned earlier, Fuld is a stolen-base threat who can have a positive impact on Fantasy lineups when he's collecting hits, getting on first and nabbing second.

He has started most of the Twins' games in center field since coming off the disabled list in mid-June, and while he struggled through the remainder of June, he caught fire during the first few weeks of July, hitting .450 with one home run, nine walks and four stolen bases in 40 at-bats. Those numbers are obviously going to be difficult to maintain, but he's still capable of hitting in the .270s, drawing a lot of walks (11.8 walk percentage this season) and boosting stolen-base totals in Fantasy lineups. Fuld is an excellent addition if you feel you can gain a handful of fantasy points by replacing an outfielder with a speedy stolen-base threat.

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