The joy of September call-ups is upon us, and that is indeed a fun time for fantasy owners to whet their appetites in anticipation of future stars and numbers. And, I will indeed look at some names this week, and for the remaining few weeks we have left this season. But let's start with the usual unsung guys who may be floating around in your shallow reserve list, or better, might make a nice and cheap DFS play.
I have always sort of been a fan of the Marlins' Martin Prado, and even grabbed him for my NL LABR squad. Prado has struggled with injuries this year, but up until yesterday was running an eight-game hitting streak, good for a .351-2-4 with five runs, bringing his season totals to .272-7-42 over 408 at-bats. Prado does indeed make a nice pick-up in your shallow mixed league and is a fairly cheap daily play ($3700 at FantasyScore), meaning he is a nice under-the-radar and cheap play in most formats.
The American League counterpart to Prado is the Twins' Eduardo Escobar, who is hitting .304-3-5 this past week, upping his season line to .254-8-40, not bad for a guy I nabbed for a buck in AL Tout Wars and who was a throw-in as part of a Strat-O-Matic swap a couple of years back. Escobar also qualifies at second, third, short, and the outfield, making him mega-useful, and still pretty cheap for a regular, so plug him in where you can.
On the pitching side, since Mike Fiers was swapped to the Astros, he has responded with three quality starts (in four tries), posting a 2-0, 2.25 mark with a 1.00 WHIP and 36 strikeouts over 32.6 innings. Fiers had a killer second half last year hurling for the Brewers, but he may well have a serious new home and his numbers might well kick up all over with his new environment.
OK, on to some rookies not named Corey Seager, starting with the Dodgers' Jose Peraza. Peraza, 22, was signed by the Braves out of his native Venezuela and swapped to the Dodgers this trade deadline as part of the mega-deal that also brought Alex Wood to Southern California. Peraza hit .293-4-42 over 118 games at Triple-A, with 33 swipes before recently being called up. Over his first three games in the Majors, he is .300-0-1, and though Chase Utley may get the starting nod as the Dodgers try to nudge into the post-season, Peraza is a name to watch.
The White Sox drafted 6'3" Erik Johnson out of UC Berkeley (so you know I have a soft spot for him) in the second round of the 2011 draft. No longer a rookie (Johnson has 51.3 innings posted in the Majors with a 4-3, 4.73 mark), the right-hander had a fine 2015 at Charlotte, going 11-8, 2.37 over 132.6 innings, with 136 whiffs and a fine 1.123 WHIP. Now 25, Johnson should get a start or two down the stretch, and then get a chance to vie for a rotation job in the spring.
I have been a big Alen Hanson fan since the then 19-year-old broke out with a .309-16-62 line at West Virginia. Hanson spent 2015 at Triple-A Indianapolis, producing a .268-6-42 line with 33 swipes over 109 games, and should finally get a chance to show what he can do in the Majors. But much like Peraza, with the Bucs pushing for post-season play, his real chance to shine will be in 2016. Still, if we track him now, we are ahead of the curve.
The rebuilding Tigers advanced shortstop Dixon Machado (.143-0-0 over his first three games), a 23-year-old, also from Venezuela, after his solid .260-4-47 season with 15 steals and 22 doubles at Toledo. Machado makes decent enough contact with just 83 whiffs over 547 plate appearances (35 walks) and he too should get a fall chance to show what he is made of. He should also improve with age and experience, if the infielder can keep his bat in the lineup.
Yet another Venezuelan to catch my eye is the Brewers' Luis Sardinas, signed by the Rangers in 2009, and swapped to the Brewers last January for Yovani Gallardo. That gives the 22-year-old six seasons of pro ball under his belt and a .288-6-160 line over 437 games, with 74 doubles and 99 steals. This year at Colorado Springs, Sardinas hit .283-1-32 with 15 steals over 94 games, and though he only logged 18 walks, similarly he only struck out 48 times. Another middle infielder, Sardinas has passed his rookie status baseline with 196 big league at-bats (.246-0-9) but the middle infielder is still both very young (22) and though he is 6'1", still weighs just 150 pounds. Give him some weight, power, and experience, and who knows what he might turn into.
DFS Watch: OK, Mastersball is dedicated to covering the fun market of Daily Games. In fact, you know we play FantasyScore and participate in the FanDuel Tout Wars contest (you play against all the Touts every Tuesday at the Tout Wars Challenge), so let's add to our daily MastersDaily coverage and simply pick a couple of series/games/starts this week that look good.
Pitchers to Watch: If you are looking for a cheap starter to build some hitters around, Chris Bassitt has pitched a lot better than his 1-6 mark shows, giving a strong 2.82 ERA and 1.16 WHIP over 73.3 innings. Bassitt is facing the Angels, who have some big sticks, but some holes as well, and he faces them at home.
Hitters to Watch: It is very hard for me not to like the Mets batters facing Aaron Harang on Monday, and I suspect the Tribe could have big fun with Buck Farmer and his 8.30 ERA come this Friday. And, though Robbie Ray's ERA is 3.86, he has been totally tortured over the past month, going 0-5, 7.83 with a 1.86 WHIP. He pitches in Colorado on Monday and against the Cubs on Saturday. Lick your chops, play those hitters against him.