AL-only waiver wire roll call
Recent callups in the American League haven't had much star power, but several have the skills and opportunity to make an impact in AL-only leagues.
The Brewers' recall of pitching prospect Jimmy Nelson has overshadowed other recent promotions, but with Nelson already owned in 41 percent of the leagues on CBSSports.com, owners in NL-only leagues have been left on the sidelines during the recent waiver wire action. On the other hand, AL-only owners have a bevy of available recent callups from which to choose. There are five players who have been promoted to the majors in recent days who have a chance at regular playing time and are still available in nearly all of our leagues.
None is a sure thing long-term, but here's how I think each of these players could help you in an AL-only league.
Chris Dickerson, OF, Indians: When Michael Bourn (hamstring) went on the 15-day disabled list, the Indians responded by acquiring Dickerson from the Pirates, who had him playing at Triple-A Indianapolis. Manager Terry Francona shifted Michael Brantley to center field, opening left field up for Dickerson. He has started there in four straight games, going 7 for 15 (.467). Dickerson has yet to attempt a steal, but with regular playing time, he should pick up a few, as well as provide a high on-base percentage. It's been awhile since we have seen Dickerson do that at the major league level, but in 2009, he posted a .370 OBP with 11 stolen bases in 299 plate appearances with the Reds.
Roberto Perez, C, Indians: George Kottaras' stint as the Indians' backup catcher turned out to be short-lived and uneventful, but now that Perez is backing up Yan Gomes, he could present the incumbent starter with a greater challenge for playing time. The 25-year-old had been regarded as a defensive specialist, but at Triple-A Columbus this season, Perez exploded with a .305/.405/.517 slash line. Park factors certaily played a role, as Columbus is a great home run park, but Perez still managed a .270/.353/.483 line on the road. He may not hit for a high average, but if he can continue to produce power, Perez could work his way into enough playing time to help in deep formats. He is certainly off to a good start, as he homered in his major league debut on Thursday.
Shane Greene, SP, Yankees: Chase Whitley's demotion to the bullpen created a spot in the rotation for Greene, and Masahiro Tanaka's UCL tear would have seemed to cement it. Though he struck out only two batters in his first-ever major league start against the Indians on Monday, Greene had a successful outing, allowing two runs over six innings. He didn't have head-turning strikeout rates in the minors, but Greene posted 11 percent swinging strike rates at both Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Double-A Trenton, while exhibiting decent control and ground ball tendencies. Even if he doesn't turn out to be much of a strikeout pitcher, Greene could be good enough at preventing runs to be useful to AL-only owners.
Jake Smolinski, OF, Rangers: The demotion of Michael Choice has opened the door for Smolinski to see regular playing time in the Rangers' outfield. After years of stagnation in the Marlins' system, Smolinski appeared to turn a corner in his first year in the Rangers' organization, though most of his playing time came at Double-A Frisco. He has always been able to take a walk and hit for contact, but he showed unprecedented clout at Frisco, hitting 10 home runs in 266 at-bats. Smolinski has begun his major league career by going 8 for 14 (.571), with three of those hits being doubles. Given that his Double-A power surge occurred at age 25, expectations for Smolinski should be tempered. but he's worth an AL-only flier in the event that he is doing some late blooming.
Christian Vazquez, C, Red Sox: Vazquez inherited the Red Sox's starting catcher role once the team designated A.J. Pierzynski for assignment, though he will be far from an everyday player with David Ross getting a healthy share of starts. Though Vazquez will likely get more playing time than the Indians' Perez, I would rather put a claim in on Perez. Because Vazquez will get at-bats and provide some OBP potential, he is worth owning in AL-only leagues, but he has shown little power in the upper minors. He is in the majors more for his glove than his bat at this point, so of the five callups featured here, Vazquez would be my lowest priority for a waiver claim.
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