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Every position is not created equal for Fantasy, and that fact impacts how aggressively Fantasy players are about the waiver wire. Any catcher or shortstop who shows a pulse ends up shooting up the ranks of the most-added player list, while the bar for Fantasy relevance at, say, first or third base is a lot higher.
Second base falls somewhere on the middle of the spectrum nowadays, with enough good young players and established stars around that you don't need to chase after the hot new thing until he is established. At what point can we declare someone established? I've been ready to say it about Rougned Odor for a while, and it is time Fantasy owners treated him as such.
We've written about him in this place more than a few times over the last month, but his 63-percent ownership indicates we haven't been getting the word out enough. Odor returned from the All-Star break just as hot as he was beforehand, as he went 6 for 14 with three extra-base hits in the Rangers' three-game weekend series against the Astros. Odor is now hitting .362/.404/.606 in 26 games since returning to the majors in mid-June, with four home runs and four stolen bases -- that's a 25-25 pace.
To put Odor's production in context, he rates out as a top-50 overall player in Fantasy since June 15. That puts him at No. 4 among second basemen, ahead of names like Dee Gordon, Robinson Cano, Jason Kipnis, and Kolten Wong, among others. And, it's not like this is some no-name player worth being skeptical about; Odor was a top prospect who clubbed nine homers in 114 games as a 20-year-old last season.
If Odor was a shortstop, he would've been 100 percent owned right now, but it's a bit easier to find help at second base. Still, at this point, his bat is too good to not have on your team, regardless of position. And we'll keep saying it until you guys believe us.
Taylor Jungmann, Brewers (63 percent owned)
I've had a hard time getting excited about Jungmann based on his minor-league career, but he continues to impress in the majors. It may never get better for the 24-year-old than his most recent three-start stretch, which has seen him go at least seven innings in each outing, with 16 strikeouts and only three runs allowed in 24 innings of work. In the minors, Jungmann had a real issue with control, as he walked 3.7 batters per nine overall and a whopping 4.2 in Triple-A, but that hasn't been an issue so far in the majors. It's still a small sample size, but as he continues to rack up starts like this, we have to take notice. There's a good chance Jungmann is back on waivers in three weeks, but you have to at least take a chance on what he is doing right now.
Brian Johnson, Red Sox (30 percent owned)
Johnson has never been considered a huge prospect, but it isn't because of his minor-league production. The 24-year-old -- who did sneak onto Baseball America's top-100 list before this season for the first time -- comes into his major-league debut this week with a 2.36 ERA over parts of four minor-league seasons. He is a former first-round pick, but had trouble staying healthy early in his pro career, logging just 90 2/3 innings over his first two seasons. He has had no trouble since, however, and is in the midst of his second impressive season in a row. Johnson has a 2.17 ERA over 203 2/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, with a 1.00 WHIP, 7.9 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9. Johnson doesn't project to be an ace -- he's your typical "crafty" lefty -- but the Red Sox's pitching needs mean he could stick in the rotation if he impresses. In deeper leagues where you might be looking for pitching help, he is worth a flier at least.
Vincent Velasquez, Astros (35 percent owned)
Don't let that little green "M" next to his name scare you; Velasquez will be back in the majors this week. He is set to pitch against the Red Sox Tuesday, after going down to Double-A to receive instruction and work during the All-Star break. Velasquez hasn't been quite as impressive as fellow rookie Lance McCullers in the Astros rotation, but he has shown enough positive signs to remain interested in him, especially with 12 strikeouts and only three walks over his last two starts. His flyball tendencies limit his upside, but Velasquez's strikeout potential and minor-league pedigree make him a good option to buy into if you want an upside play. Assuming both stay in their respective rotations, he is probably less safe than Johnson, but he also has significantly higher upside.
Tyler Saladino, White Sox (2 percent owned)
Saladino turns 26 today -- Happy Birthday Tyler! -- so he probably doesn't have a ton of upside left at this point. On the other hand, after going hitless in his major-league debut last week, he has hit safely in six straight games while starting each, so there is something here. His numbers at Triple-A Charlotte this season (.255/.332/.372) weren't impressive, though he had just a .277 BABIP, so it wasn't all on him. Plus, his overall Triple-A track record is much more promising, as he has a .282/.348/.423 line with 33 stolen bases and 13 home runs in 149 games. Even at his best, Saladino probably profiles as no more than an average player, but his shortstop eligibility, speed and plate discipline make him worth a look in AL-only leagues.