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You thought all the big-name prospects had come up already..
OK, so Joey Gallo and Kyle Schwarber got sent back down, putting us back in stash mode with them, and of course, we're still not sure whether or not Corey Seager will debut this year. But that stretch of the year when playing the waiver meant beating everyone to the next big callup seemingly ended with the Miguel Sano promotion.
But the thing about the minor leagues is they're continually restocked, so as soon as one prospect graduates, another emerges to take his place. A month or two ago, we couldn't see beyond names like Sano, Byron Buxton, Noah Syndergaard and Carlos Correa, but now that they're no longer part of the prospect discussion, a newcomer from the 2014 draft class is catching Fantasy owners' attention.
Aaron Nola, SP, Phillies (19 percent owned)
Nola's numbers say plenty on their own. In his first full professional season, split between Double- and Triple-A, he has compiled a 1.97 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in 16 starts.
It doesn't get any better than that, does it? Well, he has averaged just 7.4 strikeouts per nine innings, raising some questions about his ceiling, but his floor should make him an immediate contributor in mixed leagues regardless.
He was thought to be close to major league-ready when the Phillies drafted him last year, with some pundits even suggesting he could skip the minors entirely, and he has shown his polish by dominating at every level. What he may lack in strikeout ability he makes up for in command, issuing 1.3 walks per nine innings this year. Only four qualifying major-leaguers -- Phil Hughes, Bartolo Colon, Max Scherzer and Michael Pineda -- have issued fewer than that.
One reason he has slipped through the cracks until now is because Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. kept insisting he wasn't ready yet, but now even he's admitting Nola's day is nigh.
"He's close," Amaro told MLB.com. "I don't think he's that far away, but when he's ready he'll be here."
How soon is "not far away?" Phillies MLB.com beat writer Todd Zola wouldn't be surprised if he's up before the end of July. And I wouldn't be surprised if he makes at least the impact Eduardo Rodriguez has -- and possibly closer to Noah Syndergaard -- when he is.
Cody Allen, RP, Indians (78 percent owned)
Normally when you see a reliever here, it's because his role has changed, so for me to write about Cody Allen, a reliever who has closed since the outset of the season, he must be doing something really special.
And he is. Over his last 24 appearances spanning 25 innings, he has allowed two earned runs on 11 hits with seven walks and 41 strikeouts. That's a 0.72 ERA, 0.72 WHIP and 14.8 strikeouts per nine innings, in case you don't have a calculator handy.
Those are elite closer numbers, and they're closer to what I expected for Allen coming into the year after a breakthrough performance last year when he had a 2.07 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 11.8 strikeouts per nine innings. I'm thinking his ownership percentage is still skewed by his rocky April, when he had an 11.57 ERA and 2.86 WHIP and for a while there looked like he might be on the verge of losing his job.
Clearly, he has turned over a new leaf. I'm thinking the Indians will, too. Their starting rotation of Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, Danny Salazar and Cody Anderson may have the highest upside of any in the AL. With better luck in the second half, they'll play their share of low-scoring games. I wouldn't be surprised if Allen outscored even Greg Holland the rest of the way.
Rougned Odor, 2B, Rangers (55 percent owned)
Though I've always liked Odor, I wasn't rushing to add him upon his return from the minors because I figured, "Why the rush?" Second base has had other useful players emerge off the waiver wire in recent weeks, so the demand wasn't especially high. And given his past failures, I figured others would be hesitant to move on him as well.
Given that he's still only 55 percent owned, that gamble appears to have paid off, but enough time has passed now that I'd rather not test my luck anymore. After all, Odor has been the sixth-best second baseman in Head-to-Head points leagues since his promotion (which I cite just to provide an objective measurement, not to ignore Rotisserie leagues), batting .357 (25 for 70) with three home runs and four stolen bases. He has struck out one every seven at-bats -- a rate more in line with his minor-league numbers -- and profiles as a 20-20 guy long-term, giving him a good chance of being at least as valuable as Kolten Wong the rest of the way.
You wouldn't want that kind of production to fall into the wrong hands.