As the trade deadline ticks down, major-league teams have mostly come to the conclusion about whether they should be buyers or sellers. The Red Sox shipped away veteran pitcher Jake Peavy for a pair of pitching prospects, and plenty more action could be on the way this week.
The also-rans of the American League have the chance to shed dead weight and evaulate young talent. We already saw the same Red Sox cut A.J. Pierzynski and give catching duties over to unproven prospect Christian Vazquez. What other young American League talent could be in for an extended look over the next two-plus months if sub-.500 teams decide it's time for a change? The answer to that question could have a Fantasy impact for the aggressive owner in certain formats.
OF Mookie Betts didn't light the majors on fire during his first stint with the team, but he's 13 for 36 with four extra-base hits since returning to Triple-A. It would be logical to give him another look and get him acclimated to the majors before potentially taking over as a regular next season. SP Allen Webster already got the call and made his season debut Sunday, and even though the results weren't much to speak about (two earned runs, five walks in 5 1/3 innings), he's been successful enough at the Triple-A level that he warrants consideration for pitching-needy Fantasy teams. SP Anthony Ranaudo may not get more than a few September starts as his promotion would start his service clock, but he's earned a shot by going 12-4 with a 2.41 ERA with Triple-A Pawtucket.
SS Francisco Lindor is the key name to know here, as Asdrubal Cabrera is set to become a free agent at the end of the season. If the Indians can find a deal they like before the deadline, a hole could present itself at shortstop. While Lindor may not be called upon immediately to fill it, he could see regular time in September. The highly-rated prospect is getting off to a fast start in Triple-A, hitting .370/.433/.640 with two home runs in 27 at-bats. 2B/SS Jose Ramirez would likely fill in at shortstop in the interim, and he also presents the opportunity for Fantasy value, as he has the ability to contribute quality batting average and speed to lineups. Called up last week with Cabrera dealing with an injury, Ramirez is 6 for 19 over the team's last five games, though with no stolen bases.
2B Micah Johnson has the potential to be the next great stolen-base weapon in Fantasy leagues. He swiped 84 bags across three levels while hitting .312/.373/.451 with seven home runs last season, and though he hasn't racked up steals at the same rate this year (20 stolen bases in Double-A and Triple-A), he has turned in an impressive .314/.372/.429 line across the two advanced levels. The team is reportedly more willing to move Gordon Beckham, who has one year left of arbitration eligibility, and Johnson could be the playing-time winner if a deal is struck. 2B/SS Carlos Sanchez is another option if Beckham is moved, and he already made his major-league debut earlier this year. Sanchez has amped up his power in 2014, knocking six home runs with Triple-A Charlotte after hitting a total of three home runs over his first five minor-league seasons. He has solid batting average and speed potential as well, though not at the level of the aforementioned Johnson.
The Twins need to find some answers in the rotation, and they could wind up turning to SPs Alex Meyer and Trevor May at some point during the next two months. Meyer is regarded more highly on prospect lists, and he has run through batters to the tune of 115 strikeouts in 101 1/3 innings while posting a 3.11 ERA in 20 Triple-A starts. May has been quite good as well, striking out 84 batters in 82 2/3 innings and posting a 2.94 ERA in 15 Triple-A starts. The team probably won't want to start the service clock of either during a lost season, but either one could be a candidate for September starts. 2B/SS Jorge Polanco saw a little time with the Twins in late June and another game in July. He's likely going to need at least one more full season in the minors before being ready to contribute.
OF Domingo Santana was clearly not ready for the bigs when he saw a four-game stint with the team in early July. He went 0 for 13 and struck out 11 times, which seems like a typo but is not. He strikes out quite a bit in the minors as well, but he's show the ability to hit for some solid power and contribute a handful of steals; he smacked 48 home runs and stole 19 bases in 2012 and 2013 combined. Santana's bat has gone cold since his return to Triple-A Oklahoma City, so he's more of a wait-and-see Fantasy option than anything else. SP Nick Tropeano isn't a huge name on prospect lists, but he continues to deliver at each stop, striking out around a batter an inning while keeping his walk rate in check. He's shined at Oklahoma City this season, posting a 2.64 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 87:24 K:BB ratio while giving up just 64 hits in 92 innings. He looks ready to face major-league pitching.
SP Alex Gonzalez turned in a 2.62 ERA in 65 1/3 innings in the Carolina League before joining Double-A Frisco, where he owns a 2.82 ERA and 30:15 K:BB ratio in 38 1/3 innings. His walk rate looked much better before he issued six free passes in his last outing, and with the team limiting his innings at the new level -- Gonzalez hasn't pitched more than 5 1/3 innings in any of his nine starts -- he likely won't have any type of major-league impact this season. The team doesn't seem likely to give any of their top prospects a shot as most are still at least a year away in their development. One option could be RP Cory Knebel, acquired in the trade that sent Joakim Soria to the Tigers. The righty put up excellent numbers before the move, and he could factor into the closer situation with the Rangers at some point in the near future.