Note: FanDuel is hosting a one-day Fantasy Baseball league tonight. It's $5 to enter and pays out $100,000 in cash prizes. First place wins $10,000. Sign up now!
One of the biggest advantages of drafting elite college talents is, when they hit, they can move extremely quickly through the minors. The Cubs announced Monday they will call up top prospect Kyle Schwarber from Double-A Tennessee for the team's upcoming run of road games against AL teams, a move that comes barely more than a year after he was selected as the No. 4 overall pick in last year's amateur draft.
Schwarber is set to return to the minors Sunday and might not get much playing time beyond serving as a DH and emergency catcher for a six-game stretch, so Fantasy owners probably shouldn't be rushing to add him right now. However, the doesn't mean he should be ignored; he could be a rare hitting talent.
Schwarber has blazed through the minors, seeing time in all three levels of Class A in his first season of professional ball a year ago. He hit .344 with 18 home runs in 72 games, and has followed that up with a brilliant debut at Double-A. Despite being the 15th-youngest hitter in the Southern League, Schwarber has dominated the competition, hitting .320/.438/.579, with just seven more strikeouts (49) than walks (42).
Schwarber leads the Southern League in wOBA and OPS by healthy margins, and now has 30 home runs and a 1.042 OPS in his first 130 games as a professional. So, while he may not be looking at a long-term role with the Cubs right now, he is certainly the kind of difference-making prospect who is worth stashing beyond his brief cup of coffee.
There isn't an obvious spot for Schwarber in the Cubs' lineup right now, and this is still an organization that is stacked with young talent in the high minors; Schwarber will be joining Arismendy Alcantara and Javier Baez at Triple-A Iowa when the weekend ends. However, his talent seems too obvious to ignore, and any additional injuries in the outfield or behind the plate could earn him a one-way ticket back to Chicago -- for good.
Rougned Odor, Rangers (4 percent owned)
Prospects are the most exciting players in baseball, until they aren't. Rougned Odor wasn't the most blue chip-y prospect in the world in his time in the minors, but he did rank as a Baseball America top-100 prospect before making his major-league debut at the age of 20, and he did a solid job last season at that young age. Big things were expected for Odor this season, but he absolutely flopped, posting a .172/.274/.258 line that was enough to scare Fantasy owners off. Despite his success at such a precocious age, Odor's return to the majors hasn't exactly sent Fantasy owners racing the waiver wire; his ownership percentage has jumped just 10 points over the last week, or the same as the likes of Shaun Marcum and Chris Young. As it turns out, never having had the chance to fail makes you more attractive to Fantasy players than having failed already. Still, Odor's talent is obvious, and he played at a 25-15 pace with a .352/.426/.639 after being sent back to Triple-A, so there is a lot of potential value still there.
Ivan Nova, Yankees (20 percent owned)
Nova's overall major-league line isn't exactly the most exciting imaginable, as the 28-year-old has just a 4.20 ERA and 4.19 FIP over 537 2/3 innings in parts of five seasons. However, his last season before Tommy John surgery started to show some promising signs, as he was able to combine a career-best 53.5 percent groundball rate with above-average peripherals (19.8 percent strikeout rate, 7.5 percent walk rate). It all added up to a 3.10 ERA, with a 3.47 FIP and 3.68 xFIP that point to it being at least somewhat sustainable. Nova is working his way back from the surgery and could be back in the rotation next week, and he might be worth stashing while you wait out the short time left on his rehab.
Derek Dietrich, Marlins (1 percent owned)
I am a sucker for middle infielders with pop, I will admit. The ability to produce consistent power at 2B or shortstop is what makes Zach Walters so intriguing to me, and Dietrich falls into a similar camp. The 25-year-old has managed a .185 ISO over parts of three major-league seasons, the second best among all second basemen with at least 420 plate appearances in that span. For various reasons, he hasn't really received consistent opportunities in his career, and his .222 batting average gets us at least part of the way there when looking for an answer. However, he is on a 22-homer pace over 162 games and has a chance to get some playing time if Martin Prado's shoulder injury lingers longer than expected. Dietrich is just an NL-only option, but he could be a cheap source of power, as he showed in clubbing a game-winning home run in Monday's start against the Yankees.