While we don’t treat this column as a weekly waiver wire column for AL-only leagues, every once in awhile we’ll take a break and highlight some players to consider adding in those leagues as well as in deeper mixed leagues. This week, I decided to take a look at some emerging talent featuring many names I have yet to write about at all this year. If you just lost yet another starter to injury or are finally ready to bench or cut a struggling veteran, here are some options to consider from around the American League that can help get you through a rough patch and possibly even become long-term answers worthy of grabbing now before they totally bloom.
C – Jose Lobaton, TB – It is a tale of two Jose’s in Tampa Bay, as Lobaton shares time behind the plate with 38-year-old veteran Jose Molina. While the elder Jose is renowned for the effect his pitch-framing adds to the equation, he has really struggled at the plate so far this year. His 3-for-3 game last night brought his average up to .194 on the year. Meanwhile, Lobaton has quietly delivered a .276 clip and started three out of four games prior to yesterday. As long as he’s getting 3-4 starts a week, he is worth owning in AL-only leagues.
C- Yan Gomes, CLE – Gomes has been seeing a little more action for the Tribe the last few days behind the dish, and his decent play coupled with the demotion of Lonnie Chisenhall should result in a slight uptick in playing time. Mark Reynolds will be playing more third base, freeing up the DH spot for Carlos Santana to take a break from behind the plate.
1B – Lyle Overbay, NYY – I am overdue to write something about Overbay and the impressive job he has done for the Yankees filling in for Mark Teixeira. He is quietly up to six home runs and 22 RBI’s on the year. He’s gotten some notice after a huge five-RBI game in Kansas City last week and makes an intriguing option if you are dealing with multiple injuries and are desperate for a player who gets consistent at-bats in a good offense. You could do worse in your UT spot in deeper leagues, so give the veteran a look while he’s hitting the ball well.
1B – Daric Barton, OAK – Barton returned to the big leagues last week when the A’s placed Josh Reddick on the disabled list. He has drawn a few starts at first base as Brandon Moss has shifted to the outfield for the time being. Barton showed some promise back in 2010, posting a robust OBP of .393, but he was never able to build on that success and his lack of power eventually led the A’s to look elsewhere. With OF Chris Young scheduled to return later this week, Barton’s time in the Majors could be brief.
2B – Adam Rosales, OAK – Injuries and the lackluster play of Eric Sogard have afforded the versatile Rosales some regular playing time over the last few weeks, and he has made the most of it. He is hitting .367 so far in May with one home run. Of course, we know that number should be two if it were not for Angel Hernandez in Cleveland last week. It’s always fun to see Rosales sprint around the bases when he hits a home run, so Hernandez deprived us of that highlight. It should be noted that he also qualifies at SS and has been seeing more time there with Jed Lowrie covering second base. Unless the A’s make a move to the Minors, Rosales should keep seeing enough action to be a reasonable MI option in deeper leagues.
SS – Elliot Johnson, KC – Last week, I touched upon Chris Getz's struggles for the Royals and posited that the team would have to think about making the move to Johnny Giavotella at some point. Of course, I neglected to mention Johnson, who proceeded to grab five starts last week. He doesn’t offer much more upside than Getz does, but until the team moves on, it looks like he’ll be in the mix for more consistent at-bats, and as such has some short-term value in AL-only leagues.
3B – Conor Gillaspie, CHW – Gillaspie became the regular starter at third base for the White Sox after Gordon Beckham broke his hand in April, forcing Jeff Keppinger to fill in at second base. Since then, he has emerged as one of the more consistent hitters on the team and could hang onto the job once Beckham returns if Keppinger continues to struggle. He has a couple more weeks to make his case, and it’s worth noting that manager Robin Ventura has slowly been moving him up in the lineup lately.
SS/3B – Mike Aviles, CLE – The Indians finally grew tired of watching Lonnie Chisenhall struggle, and finally sent him down to the Minors to try and get his bat untracked. It was disappointing considering the promising camp he had, but it does open the door for Aviles to get into the lineup on a more consistent basis. He’s up to seven games at the hot corner and five at second base, so in some leagues he now qualifies at all three positions. I remember Lawr banking on Aviles emerging at some point, and it looks like that time has finally arrived. Mark Reynolds will see increased time at third as well, but Aviles is now worth grabbing in all AL-only formats.
OF – Jarrod Dyson, KC – Don’t look now, but the speedy Dyson has been getting more playing time thanks to the lack of production from Jeff Francoeur. Dyson has started a bunch of games in CF as Lorenzo Cain has moved over to RF to spell Frenchy. He also hit in the leadoff spot in his last two starts. He doesn’t bring any power but has speed to burn. If you are looking for a stolen base boost, then run to your wire and give the speedy Dyson a look. He’s already given the team a nice boost and allowed them to move Alex Gordon’s bat down the lineup where he can drive in some runs. Even if he platoons with Francoeur, he’ll get the majority of starts as the lefty bat.
OF – Andy Dirks/Avasail Garcia, DET – The injury to Austin Jackson has created some new opportunities for both Dirks and Garcia. Dirks has batted leadoff the last three games and showed the benefits of hitting atop that lineup with his big day against Houston on Monday. He makes for a nice short-term grab in all leagues as long as he’s hitting leadoff. Garcia was called up yesterday and was promptly inserted into the lineup in CF. He had a nice September a year ago and has been hitting over .400 in the Minors to start the year. He will be given a nice look while Jackson is sidelined, and if he hits, he could stick at the expense of Don Kelly or Matt Tuiasosopo.
OF – Jimmy Paredes, HOU – The Astros released Rick Ankiel and designated Fernando Martinez for assignment. In their places, the team called up Paredes and Trevor Crowe and also activated J.D. Martinez from the disabled list. Paredes will be given a long look as the Astros keep throwing players into the mix and hoping someone will stick. He is off to a sluggish start so far, but the team seems committed to him, at least until Justin Maxwell returns in a couple weeks. Paredes' main asset at this point figures to be his speed and potential versatility. He is worth taking a flier on in AL-only leagues.
SP - Scott Kazmir, CLE – Kazmir has been getting increased buzz over the last week thanks to some very solid results. He raised eyebrows by striking out 17 hitters in his two starts heading into yesterday’s game against the Phillies. His velocity is back up to 2009 levels and he had a lot of people throwing large chunks of FAAB at him this week. I myself took the shot in a bunch of leagues just on the off-chance he is really back. I didn’t start him in Philly yesterday, and he didn’t fare too well, giving up four runs in five innings. He only managed to strike out three in the game and served up two more home runs, bringing that total to seven in only five starts. For now, I am going to treat him as a spot starter when he is at home, or in favorable matchups on the road.
RP – Ryan Madson, LAA – Madson finally began his rehab and passed the test, working a perfect ninth inning. He could get one or two more appearances before rejoining the Angels later this week. He will slot in behind Ernesto Frieri for the time being, but will likely get in the mix for saves as soon as he shows he is ready or if Frieri falters. If he is sitting out on your wire, grab him now if you are speculating for saves.