We are skedaddling into the final third of the season, now with the trade deadline in the rear-view, and suddenly a bunch of prospects that should be of interest to fantasy owners has been summoned forth. Among the most interesting is Oakland pitcher Daniel Straily, a 23-year old 24th round pick of the Athletics in 2009. Straily has been very consistent, moving up a level-plus a year, culminating with 14 starts at Double-A Midland, going 3-4, 3.38 with a fine WHIP of 1.090. Straily then advanced to Sacramento and the PCL, going 5-2, 1.36 over eight more starts with an even better ratio of 0.774. Now, it is important to note both the Texas and Pacific Coast Leagues are hitter friendly, and that Straily assembled 8-6, 2.60 numbers over 138.1 innings, allowing 97 hits and 37 walks (0.969 ratio) while whiffing 175. Straily was solid enough his major league debut Friday, clocking at around 93 with his fastball, and moving the ball around pretty well over six innings and one run of work. Straily is a nice acquisition for the stretch run.
Corey Kluber was a fourth round pick of the Padres in 2007 who was subsequently swapped to the Tribe in a three-way deal that sent Nick Greenwood and Jake Westbrook to the Cards, Ryan Ludwick to San Diego, and Kluber to Cleveland. Kluber has had a couple of chances in the Show(0-0, 10.38 over 8.1 innings) that were clearly underwhelming. Kluber has pretty good minor league totals of 43-49, 4.39 over 764.2 innings with 775 strikeouts. Kluber does have control issues (768 hits and 307 walks) so depending upon what your team needs are at this point gamble accordingly.
One other arm to watch this week is the Royals hard throwing Jeremy Jeffress, drafted in the first round by the Brew crew in 2006. Swapped as part of the Zack Greinke deal, Jeffress has operated pretty much out of the pen since 2010, and though he has 465 strikeouts over 420.1 innings, like Kluber he has control issues with 253 walks. Jeffress does keep the hits down (345, with just 29 long balls), and in the pen he probably cannot do much damage to your numbers this year. However, Jeffress is more potential closing material for the future, however. Still he is an arm worth tracking.
Looking to a bunch of hitters, Anthony Gose now how a clear path ahead to start in Toronto. A second round pick of the Phillies in 2008, Gose was traded to Houston in 2010 (for Roy Oswalt), then turned over the same day to Toronto for Brett Wallace. Gose has impressive minor league numbers including a line of .265-30-182 with 84 doubles and 40 triples augmented by a speedy 223 swipes. At 21, Gose has developing power, but not a lot of strike zone judgment (501 strikeouts to 190 walks). Still, Gose is one of those kids who pose enormous raw talent, and though I would not expect much between now and the end of the year, keep an eye on him for 2013 as he gets his sea legs through the rest of this year. Meaning, in a keeper format, he makes a nice future gamble.
The Cubbies advanced a couple more of their prized prospects, starting with Josh Vitters over the past transaction period. Chicago's first round selection in 2007, Vitters is a third sacker with .283-64-297 totals over 529 minor league games. At 22, Vitters assembled fine totals at Iowa this season, hitting .304-17-68 numbers with a .356 OBP (30 walks to 77 whiffs): the best of his young career. Vitters, like his counterparts on today's list, also has developing power, with 32 doubles this year and projects to be part of a pretty good infield with Anthony Rizzo, Darwin Barney, and Starlin Castro.
Chicago also brought up Brett Jackson, their number one pick in 2009 this week. The 24-year old, drafted locally out of U.C. Berkeley (gotta love the local talent), Jackson has a .282-55-207 line over 402 games with 83 doubles, 34 triples, and 91 swipes. In general Jackson has shown a good eye (.379 OBP) although this season at Iowa he did develop into more of a free swinger with 47 walks and 158 strikeouts. Jackson is an outfielder, however, and like his young teammates will get a chance to show just what he can do. Again, Jackson makes a nice gamble towards the future.
Going back to the hot corner, Texas brought up Mike Olt, their first round selection in 2010 out of UConn. Olt, who has actually played first and the outfield this year, has .282-51-171 totals in the minors over just 237 games, including .288-28-82 numbers this year at Class-AA Frisco. Olt has shown a good eye (150 walks to 253 strikeouts) however, the big issue for him is where he will play on a team full of sluggers. Still, as with his colleagues on today's list, Olt is a real comer.
Now back to U.C. Berkeley. David Cooper was the Jays first round selection in 2008, and he too matriculated in the good old bay area. The 24-year old also has fine totals of .301-54-343 with 169 doubles over 517 games. Cooper actually has the best eye among today's prospects, with 245 walks to 289 strikeouts (.376 OBP). Cooper performed well enough during a 2011 debut (.211-2-12 over 27 games), and after .314-10-52 totals at Las Vegas this year, moved to Toronto with much better success this season (.282-3-7). Broken record. Take a hard look.
Finishing with a couple of players familiar to most fantasy players, Ryan Lavarnway was Boston's sixth round selection in the sixth round of 2008 out of Yale. The 24-year old has .286-85-334 numbers over 453 games, and at Pawtucket this year was .295-8-43 with 22 doubles. Lavarnway, who is probably gone in most deeper leagues, does project to be the Boston backstop within a couple of years, though with both Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Kelly Shoppach in tow, playing time this year could be an issue (and, watch Shoppach, who could wind up a waiver wire acquisition somewhere).
Finally, Philadelphia opened a slot for Domonic Brown, who was actually a 20th round pick of the Phils in 2006. Brown has had a couple of shots at earning a major league role, with just .233-7-34 totals over 296 at-bats. Brown was hitting .286-5-28 this season at Lehigh Valley and 239 at-bats. Brown did spend DL time with knee issues, however, with both Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence gone, he will get a chance to show what he can do the balance of 2012. Which means if you need everyday at-bats, he is as good a prospect gamble as you will get.