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Thursday 19th Oct 2017

Well, to start, no, you are not hallucinating, or stuck in one of Stewie Griffin's time machines, but last week I did call "Week 5," and now we are at "Week 7." Since I start the season cycle essentially after the completion of the first week of play, I have always numbered as such, but the reality--per serious discussions between Lord Z and me--is that this is indeed the beginning of the seventh week of play. So, in an effort to mitigate as much confusion as permits, let it be "Week 7," and from there we move forward, henceforth and forever. Or, till the end of the season if I forget.

Last week, I started with the odd paths of Drew Stubbs and Colby Rasmus, noting the hitting anemic Braves must have felt pretty sure of themselves to drop Stubbs on May 2. Texas then signed the flychaser five days later, and five days after that, Stubbs hit a walk-off for the Rangers. Karma. It is a strange and scary thing, especially as related to baseball.

Which is not unlike Michael Bourn, released Monday by the Jays, then signed a couple of days later by Arizona, and now back in the Majors due to the injury to David Peralta. Not that I recommend either of these journeymen, save playing in the deepest of leagues to fill a space with something.

Which brings me to Matt Bush, where I linked to the Wikipedia bio on the former shortstop, felon, and Ranger (does Texas not care who plays for them?). I am not sure if the story merits saying much more than Bush doesn't seem like a stand-up guy--or wasn't in the past--but as a converted pitcher, the 5'9" right-hander has some serious gas. Over 88.6 innings, Bush has 131 strikeouts with just 71 hits allowed (1.174 WHIP). He won't start, and might be a closer some day, given Bush keeps a clean nose, but for now a story--though not sure if "feel good"--about a middle guy who can fill a gap with some whiffs should your team need it. By the way, Bush is already party to controversy, having hit Jose Bautista, which became the prelude to a scrum between Bautista and Rougned Odor.

There is an odd Bush connection in Brandon Guyer, a player I targeted for the week before Bush appeared on my radar. The Rays outfielder has been assembling a fine year, banging a pair of homers off Sonny Gray on Sunday, raising his season totals to .338-4-11 over 71 at-bats. A fifth-round pick of the Cubs in 2007, Guyer has a minor league line of .298-55-297 over 588 games, and .266-16-64 over 265 big league contests. Guyer is 30, so if you grab the outfielder, the relationship might be quick. And, when Guyer played at Durham in 2012, teammate Bush borrowed Guyer's SUV and was involved in an accident that led to 30 months in state prison.

A couple of top prospect hitters were promoted over the past week, starting with the Reds' Jose Peraza. Peraza, a 22-year-old Venezuelan, was originally signed by the Braves in 2010, and then was involved in not one, but two three-team swaps, starting with the complex Mat Latos and Alex Wood deadline deal of last year, then the Todd Frazier swap in December. Peraza was hitting .295-1-8 with six swipes at Louisville when called up, although the infielder/outfielder's tenure might be linked to Billy Hamilton's time on the bereavement list. The reality is the Reds would probably be better off letting Peraza play and develop at the Major League level as he has a much better set of skills than Hamilton, but don't really expect a full-time role for another year.

Similarly, the Yankees promoted catcher Gary Sanchez, another 22-year-old, signed in 2009 by the Pinstripes. A power-hitting backstop, Sanchez has minor league totals of .275-99-394 over 592 games with an .801 OPS. Sanchez had a great Fall League last year, hitting .295-7-21 over 22 games, and the catcher is the future behind the dish in the Bronx, meaning something needs to be done with respect to Brian McCann, signed through 2018 (with a 2019 option). If there is a way to grab either Peraza or Sanchez and hide them on your minor league roster, do so. 

Atlanta hurler Mike Foltynewicz has been up and down between the Braves and Gwinnett this year, with his most memorable start being May 2, against the Mets, when the New Yorkers clubbed three second inning homers off the 24-year-old right-hander. Foltynewicz was a first-round selection of the Astros in 2010, and went to the Braves as part of the Evan Gattis swap. If you are desperate for an arm in a deep format, Foltynewicz might make a good sleeper. Since the abuse at the hands of the Metropolitans, the 19th overall pick has gone 1-0, 1.20 over 15 innings with 12 whiffs and a miniscule 0.890 WHIP, holding the Royals and Diamondbacks in check over the past week. Based upon Foltynewicz' rugged 5-8, 5.23 line thus far in the bigs, most owners will be scared off. But, track a player who could even make a great cheap flier in DFS contests.

Back to Tampa, Matt Andriese twirled a two-hit shutout against the Athletics on Saturday, has made two starts thus far, and is 2-0, 0.56, with an 0.562 WHIP and eight strikeouts over 16 innings. The right-hander was a third-round selection of the Padres in 2011, and was then swapped to Tampa Bay as part of the 2014 Jesse Hahn deal, and he has a decent minor league mark of 41-29, 3.27, with 520 strikeouts over 584 innings. Andriese could be helpful in an AL-only format right now, and maybe more, meaning he is worth tracking.

Finally, the Giants are having issues with the bottom part of their rotation, and one of the team's top young arms, Clayton Blackburn, got the call to ATT. A 16th round pick of San Francisco in 2011, Blackburn is 34-24, 3.11 over 550.3 minor league frames, with 527 strikeouts and a 1.145 WHIP. The righty is 11-7, 3.43 over 154.6 minor league innings and has very little left to prove at Triple-A. However, I am not certain Blackburn is the tonic to the struggles of Matt Cain and Jake Peavy. Add him accordingly.

Please feel free to comment below with epiphanies, as you see fit, and don't forget you can hit me up @lawrmichaels.

On Monday, the Braves--a team who could surely use some hitting--bagged their investment in Drew Stubbs, and designated him, essentially making the former up-and-comer a free agent. Stubbs signed with the Rangers five days later but the moves reminded me once again about what a tough game--and business--baseball is.

For some reason, I always associated the seemingly talented Stubbs with another talent from the same basic generation in Colby Rasmus. Stubbs, 31, was a first-round pick of the Reds in 2006 (#8 overall) while Rasmus, 29, was a first-rounder taken by the Cardinals in 2006 (#28 overall). Perhaps because both had relative breakout seasons in 2010 is why I linked the pair, for that year Rasmus went .276-23-66-12 while Stubbs was .255-22-77-30.

Now both toil for the Texas teams, and though Rasmus was off to a hot start, his streaky stick has slowed, making him almost as vulnerable on the struggling Astros as is Stubbs, now a minor leaguer with the Rangers. Meaning it is just as tough for the Rangers and Reds and Cards and Astros to get it right as it is for us as fantasy GM's.

It is a tough game, but a little planning can often help, and one player who is interesting to plan around right now would be Evan Gattis. A DH only last year, Gattis hit ,246-27-88 with 20 doubles, but as we well know, he missed the last of spring and early weeks of the season due to hernia surgery. 

Gattis has been back for 20 games, hitting a rugged .207-1-7, but, in a move that could prove beyond interesting this past week, the Astros sent their investment to Corpus Christi partially to get into a groove, but mostly so the DH could work on his catching skills. Gattis caught 135 games for the Braves from 2013-14, prior to his swap to Houston, and now the plan is for Gattis to back up Jason Castro. That means if you have Gattis filling your DH slot, you will suddenly have a lot of flexibility, and perhaps three catchers with which to contend. That means a possible trade for what you need, so monitor Gattis' progress, and who in your league needs a catcher, with whom you can deal, and project some possibilities to strengthen your roster.

Looking at one other backstop, the Rockies' Dustin Garneau was a 19th round selection of the Coloradans in 2009, and over parts of eight minor league seasons has a line of .248-64-296 after 529 games. Garneau played a limited role of 22 games (.157-2-8) last year but has returned with a .333-0-2 mark over his first week of play since returning to Coors. Catchers come into their own later than other position players as a rule, and Garneau might make an interesting cheap FAAB pick in a deep NL format.

Turning to a couple of more hot new arms, I have to say I hate to endorse another Rockie, Jon Gray, Colorado's #1 selection in 2013, mostly because of his home park. Gray has pretty good minor league totals of 20-12, 3.76, with 285 whiffs over 284.6 frames, but until last week, his life at Coors was beyond miserable. However, over two starts last week, Gray is 0-1, with 16 strikeouts over 13 innings to go with a 1.38 ERA and 0.651 WHIP. Both starts were outside hitting friendly Coors, but those are some deadly numbers, making Gray a streaming possibility, as well as a potential DFS gamble when he throws in a pitcher's park. 

Another intriguing arm, that which belongs to John Lamb, might also be coming into its own. A fifth-rounder of the Royals in 2008, Lamb was part of the Johnny Cueto spoils the Reds culled last year at the deadline. The southpaw struggled over 10 starts after the trade, notching a 1-5, 5.80 mark over 49.6 innings, albeit with 58 strikeouts. Lamb started this season in the Minors but made his debut last week, holding the Giants to six hits and a run. Before nabbing the pitcher, do check out his injury status, for Lamb was lifted in the fifth inning of his start against the Brewers on Mother's Day. Otherwise, in most formats, Lamb is worthy of a roster spot depending upon your league format.

Boston is close to inserting Eduardo Rodriguez back into the rotation. Rodriguez, who went 10-6, 3.85 last year over 121 frames at Fenway, has been sidelined by a knee injury incurred over the spring. The lefty tossed 93 pitches for Pawtucket last week and might make one more start there before returning to Boston, although management could decide the hurler is ready now. Either way, if available, keep an eye on the Red Sox pitcher.

With Mike Moustakas injured, the Royals advanced Cheslor Cuthbert, a 23-year-old Nicaraguan signed in 2009. Cuthbert came up last year under similar circumstances but was overmatched, posting a .217-1-8 line over 19 games. This year, however, he has posted a .333-7-28 mark at Omaha with 12 walks to 14 strikeouts, Cuthbert could be ready for the Majors. Certainly, stash him in your AL-only league and do watch his progress in every other format.

Finally, the Dodgers seem as deep in outfielders as they do pitchers, but just as the team's hurlers get hurt, so do the flychasers seem brittle. Enter Trayce Thompson, acquired as part of the three-way White Sox-Reds-Dodgers deal of last season, who hit .260-13-39 over 106 games at Charlotte last year before the swap. Thompson has been with the big club all year, hitting .268-2-9 over 56 at-bats although with just three walks to 19 strikeouts. Meaning it is hard to endorse Thompson, but if your league is deep, sometimes the hand of an owner is forced.

Make sure you comment below as moved, and remember, you can indeed find me @lawrmichaels.

Hot on the heels of some top prospect pitchers being promoted to the Show last week, this past week was no different with another cluster of potentially awesome young arms arriving to ideally take a spot in baseball stats and lore.

Of course the local buzz was that of Sean Manaea, the Royals' first-round selection in 2013 out of Indiana State, whom the Royals swapped at the trade deadline last July to Oakland as part of the Ben Zobrist deal. With a 16-9, 2.82 minor league record (257 K over 214 IP), Oakland was clear that Eric Surkamp and Chris Bassitt (now injured) were not the answer to the bottom of their rotation, so the Athletics gave their top pitching prospect the ball Friday. The results were iffy: four runs, four hits, four walks, three whiffs, but not unlike Manaea. I say this in that I saw him pitch both at the Fall League, and then again this spring, where the big right-hander (6'5", 245 lbs.) would take a hitter or two to lock into a zone, and then be fine. As in during the spring, Manaea walked a batter, then whiffed the next four in a row and got six out more than efficiently. Obviously, Oakland is a good pitcher's park and for sure, times have changed with respect to grabbing rookie twirlers. Manaea does have a pedigree, if nothing else.

Detroit nabbed 23-year-old hurler Michael Fulmer in much the same way that Oakland copped Manaea: The Mets drafted Fulmer in the first round in 2011, and then swapped him to the Tigers as part of the Yoenis Cespedes trade, again at the trade deadline last season.

Fulmer has started 78 games over his six years as a minor league professional, accumulating a mark of 27-25, 3.21, with 385 strikeouts over 398 innings to accompany a 1.261 WHIP. Fulmer had a better debut than Manaea, earning a win with five innings (seven hits, two runs, four whiffs). Fulmer might have an easier initial adjustment to the Majors, but Manaea looks to be a better prospect.

Another arm that garnered looks this past week belongs to Adam Conley, who went 7 2/3 frames against the Brewers on Friday. Conley did not allow a hit, but he did walk four, and finally succumbed to a pitch count of 116. A second-round selection of the Marlins in 2011, the Southpaw turned in 81 starts over 439.6 innings, with 397 strikeouts and a 1.251 ratio. Conley debuted last year for the Fish, posting a more than respectable 4-1, 3.76 mark over 11 starts and 67 innings, with a good 59 strikeouts, acceptable 1.281 WHIP, and worth considering seven dingers. Conley, now 26, has seemingly stepped up his game this year with a 1-1, 3.67 record over five starts and 27 innings with 29 punchouts. He makes a decent gamble in an NL-only format and is worth tracking in anything mixed.

OK, there is even one more starting arm out there in 22-year-old Jose Berrios, the Twins flame thrower who fanned 484 over 457.3 minor league innings after being a first-round selection in 2012 out of Papa Juan High School in Puerto Rico. The slender (6', 185 lbs.) righty chalked up 38 wins to 20 losses, with a 2.91 ERA prior to his promotion before taking some lumps with his first start Wednesday when the Tribe roughed him up for five runs, six hits, and a pair of walks, and it could be that Berrios is up before his time. However, the Twins, who are scrambling right now, could well choose to keep Berrios, who was 8-3 over 16 starts and 97 innings at Triple-A, meaning the next level is The Show. Berrios could well be the most talented of all these arms, so the issue is whether he has the skills and personality to grow at the highest level. But, if I were to pick one of the four, Berrios would be the guy.

With Huston Street broken, Joe Smith appears to be the heir apparent to saves for the Angels, at least until Street is back on the street, or gives a reason to turn to Cam Bedrosian. Smith earned 15 saves with the Halos in 2014, and five more last year, making him as safe a bet as there is. Do watch out for Bedrock II, who bagged 29 saves in the Minors.

Turning to some hitters, I like Mallex Smith, the fifth-round selection of the Padres in 2012 who went to the Braves as part of the 2014 Justin Upton swap. Over five minor league seasons, Smith assembled a .295-12-108 line, although with 226 steals and 296 runs over 337 games. Smith managed a decent 190 walks to 300 whiffs (.380 OBP) in the Minors, and surely, at .188-0-7, on a sorry Braves team, things might be bleak for a spell. But, do keep an eye on the speedy centerfielder, for learning with a team like this is a lot different than say the pressure on Fulmer, who is trying to find a niche on a team that is contending.

I am not sure if it is worth the mention, but I have long been a fan of Brett Wallace, who has stumbled around the Orioles, Jays, Athletics, and Astros organizations before landing with the Padres. To be sure, Wallace was a first-round pick of the Cardinals out of Arizona State in 2008 with a minor league line of .304-99-373 with an .858 OPS and .377 OBP over 650 minor league games. However, the talent just never seemed to move to the big leagues with a .246-34-121 line over 390 contests at the highest level. Wallace will be 30 in August, and I have no idea why the third sacker has caught my eye, other than I always imagined him performing better, and he is starting at third for the Pads (hitting .174-0-3 over 15 games). Call me a patron saint of lost causes (actually that would be St. Jude), but keep an eye on Wallace in an NL-only format, at least till the break (if he can manage to stay in the Majors that much longer). There has to either be a hot streak or his stepping up to his skill set at some point. 

Toronto will likely not miss the suspension of Chris Colabello nearly as much as the Marlins will miss Dee Gordon, but Derek Dietrich, with his .278-2-8 line, looks like the man. Dietrich, who qualifies at all the infield spots and played 26 games in the outfield last year, sports a .237-26-72 line over 214 games. Dietrich is getting playing time, but if his stick cannot deliver, Martin Prado can indeed play second. The Fish also have Chris Johnson, who hit .286-3-18 over 83 games split between the Braves and Indians last year. Johnson could sneak into the hot corner and move Prado, so check out the playing time there, as well. 

If you are playing DFS anywhere, make sure you check out Lord Zola's daily projections.

And, don't forget, you can always hit me up @lawrmichaels. 

In what might be more than just a stop-gap, three top pitching prospects were brought forth over the weekend. Blake Snell, Henry Owens and Aaron Blair all got starts, and save ultra leagues, all three might even be available on the waiver wire.

Of the three, we have seen Owens before, over 11 starts and 63 innings last year, resulting in 4-4, 4.57 totals with 50 punchouts. The lefty is tall (6'6", 220 lbs.), so one would think Owens should be more dominant, and his minor league totals of 595 whiffs over 536 frames suggest that could be the path. But for now, Owens is still learning the game at the Major League level. Among the three, he is the most likely to stick simply because there is little else to conquer at Triple-A. Owens was 1-1, 1.00 over three starts and 18 innings, with 23 strikeouts, but 10 walks. As witnessed by the Southpaw's Sunday performance which included four free passes and five hits over 3.3 innings, Owens is still a work in progress, meaning if you are rebuilding and this is a way to protect Owens, fine. But if you play him, expect some lumps, at least until the final months of play.

Snell was the top June selection as a High School graduate by the Rays in 2011, and since went 34-25, 2.74 over 436.3 innings with 488 strikeouts, and though the 6'4" lefty walked 217, he allowed just 22 homers while posting a 1.295 WHIP. Snell was clearly up for just the one start, but he comported himself well with five innings and six strikeouts to a pair of hits and a walk in a no-decision. Snell was 1-1, 2.51 with 21 whiffs over 14.3 Triple-A innings and will be the first one back in all likelihood should the Rays have a need to fill. I like Owens, but I like Snell better.

The 23-year-old Blair was drafted out of high school by the Astros (21st round) but went to Marshall University and was subsequently drafted #1 in 2013 by the Diamondbacks, who then included the prospect in the questionable Shelby Miller trade last fall. Blair has made 66 starts in the Minors, going 26-13 over 382 innings with a 3.51 ERA, 354 strikeouts and a 1.149 WHIP, all of which suggests the 6'4" right-hander will need his defense. On Sunday, Blair took the loss in his first start, allowing three runs over 5.3 innings. On a rebuilding team, times could be tough for Blair, but the Braves might as well let him gain experience in the Majors. Of the three arms, he is the least desirable. However, all three are excellent prospects and gambles depending upon your game.

Yet another hurler worth a look is Tyler Duffey, just brought up by the Twins. Following his strong 5-1, 3.10 record for Minnesota last year over ten late-season starts, it was speculated Duffey would crack the Opening Day rotation. Not to be, though like his mates, the fifth round pick out of Rice in 2012 started at Rochester where he went 0-0, 1.72 over three starts and 15.6 innings. Duffey is definitely a control guy (92 walks over 443 minor league innings with a 1.115 WHIP, although the Twins too might be in for a roller coaster season. All these young arms are interesting, and all are fine on a reserve list, but be careful not to stack up with too many at one time unless times are already desperate for your team.

Looking at an older arm, it is not likely that Oakland can keep it up with Eric Surkamp and Chris Bassitt. This means that Henderson Alvarez, formerly of the Marlins via the Rays by virtue of the million player 2012 Jose Reyes trade, might just be a guy worth tracking. Alvarez did undergo shoulder surgery in 2015 after four starts (0-4, 6.45) but in general had been developing well with an overall 27-34, 3.80 line over 563 big league innings, though with just 296 strikeouts. Alvarez has been rehabbing (three innings thus far at Stockton), and he did turn in a fine 12-7, 2.65 season over 187 innings with a 1.234 WHIP before the injury in 2014, so there is something there that could suit the Coliseum. And, I would still keep an eye on Jesse Hahn.

While we are in Oakland, I had a lot invested in Danny Valencia, but not Chris Coghlan. With Jed Lowrie--who can play third--hanging at second for the most part, Coghlan factors to get a good chunk of playing time. He banged a pair of homers over the weekend in Toronto and did have a nice .283-9-45 season with the Cubs a couple of years back. In an AL-only format, the multi-positional (first, second, third, and outfield) Athletic might be the filler of the gap. 

The Angels will be giving time to Rafael Ortega while Daniel Nava is sidelined. The 25-year-old Venezuelan did appear briefly (six at-bats, three hits) as a 21-year-old for the Rockies in 2012 and is a speed burner with 192 steals over 709 minor league games, posting a .289-36-212 line with a solid .355 OBP (277 walks, 381 whiffs). Playing time is the name of the game, and in an AL-only format, Ortega makes a nice pick up.

Lastly, there is Ezequiel Carrera, off to a nice start with the Jays. Carrera, who is 28 and has played with four teams over six seasons, is hitting .318-0-2 this year and banged a homer off Surkamp on Sunday. But over the long-term, his 39 walks to 134 strikeouts (.310 OBP) is more likely to reveal itself. Tread carefully.

If you are playing DFS anywhere, make sure you check out Lord Zola's daily projections which now include positioning. 

And, don't forget, you can always hit me up @lawrmichaels. 



It certainly did not take long for the injury bug to haunt our drafts in 2016. Those of us with A.J. Pollock and Ender Inciarte already feel the burn, and this past week a few more names hit the DL, making space for some free agent at-bats that could indeed help your squad.

For example, Glen Perkins is gone with something scarily deemed to be a "frayed labrum", which just sounds bad for a guy who uses said muscle to hurl a projectile. The Twins verified Sunday tha it will be more than the obligatory 15 days on the DL--in fact, to me, this sounds bad--but the closer for Paul Molitor today is Kevin Jepsen. The righty culled his second save over the weekend and is the guy for now, although I would keep an eye on Trevor May.

Charlie Blackmon--a top pick of many in NFBC-style formats--is out with turf toe, one of those seemingly minor sounding ailments that can haunt a player for a long time. Blackmon is down probably through the end of the month, and Ben Paulsen will continue to get everyday play, either in the outfield or at first. 

But, if Ryan Raburn is floating around in your free agent pool, the streaky hitter--off to a hot start of .357-2-3--will get some time and is a good bet in a deep league. Similarly, if out there, Mark Reynolds--also good out of the blocks at .280-0-3--who is equally streaky makes a good play.

Looking at backstops, the Tigers' James McCann is out with an ankle injury and that likely means Jarrod Saltalamacchia will handle the load. Salty definitely has some pop with 101 homers as pretty much a decade long part-timer who does very little else.

Texas catcher Robinson Chirinos has a broken forearm and is out until July it seems, and in an AL-only league, this could be a tough blow. Chirinos is one of those guys who could hit 20 homers if given 400 at-bats, and a lot of owners understood this going into the 2016 drafts. Right now, the Rangers have Bryan Holaday with a career .246-3-33 line as a Major Leaguer over 114 games.

Texas also has 27-year-old Brett Nicholas on the bench, owner of a minor league .275-60-355 mark over seven years of play, meaning neither is really worthy of much thought. The Rangers had signed Mike McKenry, who fit the Chirinos profile over part-time play, meaning both were .250-10-38 guys with 215 at-bats, but McKenry was released.

The other possibility is Chris Giminez, who has been down with a leg infection and is also several weeks away from being useful on the diamond. Meaning, I would not be surprised to see Texas make a bid for Jonathan Lucroy depending upon how the next weeks shake down in both Texas and Milwaukee.

However, were I plugging a fantasy hole, there is no question Boston's Christian Vazquez is the guy I would go for in just about any format. The 25-year-old Vazquez debuted in 2014 as a 23-year-old, posting a .240-1-20 total over 175 at-bats. But, the prospect then missed all of 2014 following Tommy John surgery, beginning his rehab with the Winter League in his native country. 

Since the Sox were high on Blake Swihart to start 2016, Vazquez started this season at Triple-A, but the change has been made. It has been a tough row to hoe for Boston and their "promising backstops," for just over the past years, Swihart and Ryan Lavarnway were among the guys thought to be the next stalwart catcher for Boston. I think Vazquez is the guy.

One more Texas injury, that to Shin-Soo Choo, who is out for a month with a calf injury. Enter Nomar Mazara, the 21-year-old phenom who busted onto the scene this past week, posting .444-1-5 totals. As a 20-year-old last year, Mazara put up .296-14-69 totals split between Double-A and Triple-A at age 20, notching 52 walks to 102 strikeouts, good for a .366 OBP. Mazara could well prove to be the exciting debut of 2016, and he may even force some nice decisions upon the Rangers management when Choo is ready to return. If by some miracle Mazara is available in your league, grab him.

If you are looking for an arm, not meaning to pick on the Rangers today, but Martin Perez has always been one of those guys who had talent but had trouble harnessing it. I watched Perez pitch against the Orioles Friday, and he looked very polished, so then I noticed the lefty has a solid 0-1, 3.44 record and though Perez walked six against the Angels two starts ago, six whiffs to a pair of walks were the results in a no decision. If you need an arm--and we all do--Perez is worthy of a look.

Finally, with the injury to Sergio Romo, San Francisco promoted Mac Williamson, a big outfielder, originally drafted by the Red Sox, with .290-52-210 totals over 322 minor league games. The 25-year-old had an exciting .298-5-14 spring over 27 games, and the Giants seem to come up with a guy like him every year: guys who get called up and explode for 4-10 homers out of nowhere. If you are in a deep NL format and need a hitter, give Williamson a thought.

Don't forget you can always hit me up @lawrmichaels.

Craziness and surprise players and second guesses are all part of the first week of 2016, when the "story" was indeed NL power hitting NL'er Trevor Story. In fact, aside from being clever in using Story as a lead, we will leave him, as the Rockies shortstop is hardly a secret.

However, there are a cluster of Week 1 performers worth our eyes, so let's take a look at them, starting with Reds shortstop Eugenio Suarez. A member of Lord Zola's Tout Wars team, Todd inadvertently nominated Suarez for $12 when he meant to open the infielder at $1 (and whom I rostered two years for a while on my AL Tout squad while Suarez played for the Tigers). Traded for Alfredo Simon last September, Suarez is well on his to earning Todd his $12 with a killer .368-3-8 week. Suarez did hit 13 big flies last year and though his on-base numbers are a little low (.315 range) the infielder similarly has some pop and a little speed for a middle infielder, and if you have an injury in a mixed league, chances are the shortstop is out there. You could do worse.

On the other hand, Houston might have a serious find in their 33rd round pick of 2013, Tyler White, who owns the first base slot for now. White is one of those guys I love, having posted a .422 OBP with 174 walks to 164 strikeouts over 294 minor league games, which included a .911 OPS and line of .311-35-215. If available, jump all over White.

With the injury to Kyle Schwarber, expect Jorge Soler to get the lion's share of playing time, and also expect that when is active Javier Baez, who played some outfield during the spring, to get into a groove as the team's utility player. Also remember how deep the team is with the likes of Ben Zobrist, who can play second and the outfield, but I would not expect a lot from Matt Szczur, despite his hot start (.571-1-4). A fifth-round selection in 2010, Szczur has some skills for sure, in speed (140 minor league swipes) but his on-base numbers, unlike those of White, are derelict. 347 whiffs to 199 walks was good for a minor league .346 OBP when we factor the .281 batting average, but in the Majors, over 153 at-bats, that number drops to .289 and I don't see Szczur improving it that much at age 26.

One more hitter this week, Jeremy Hazelbaker, was a fourth-round pick of the Red Sox in 2009, then was swapped to the Dodgers, then released, and signed as a free agent no less than twice by St, Louis. A left-handed hitting first baseman/outfielder--something of which the Cards have a surplus--has had a nice start with a .400-2-3 first week of 2016. But, like Szczur, I don't see much growth potential, partially because of his 295 walks to 789 whiffs (.341 OBP) but mostly with Matt Adams, Brandon Moss, Matt Holliday, and Stephen Pisoctty all vying for outfield/first base time, Hazelbaker will be a victim of those numbers.

Turning to some pitching, the big name of the week has to be Dodgers starter Ross Stripling who dazzled the Giants on Friday. Nabbed from Texas A&M in the fifth round in 2012, Stripling has made 48 starts with a 12-10, 2.83 mark over 235.3 innings. Stripling earned 213 whiffs to just 57 walks, with a 1.105 WHIP and just 12 homers allowed and on a team so good at developing pitchers, Stripling makes as good a rookie pitcher gamble as you will find.

A couple of more starters worthy of your interest continues with Vince Velasquez, the Astros second rounder in 2010, who then swapped the hurler along with Mark Appel for Ken Giles. Velasquez made 19 appearances after the swap last year, including seven starts, over which he posted a 1-1, 4.37 record, but whiffed 58 over 55.3 innings while posting a 1.275 WHIP. The down side is the Phils are not likely to set too many records for wins this year, but Velasquez is an interesting cog in a potentially interesting Phils rotation.

Juan Nicasio has been bouncing around the Majors since 2011, posting a somewhat boring 23-25, 4.83 record over 445.3 innings, which included 71 starts, largely for the Rockies. A change of scene to the Dodgers last year helped a lot as Nicasio, now 29, whiffed 65 over 58.3 innings. Control is a concern, as the big righty (6'4", 240 lbs.) did walk 32 last year (1.56 WHIP), but Nicasio could be a nice fit on a good Pirates team. He was easily a big FAAB target in all the premiere leagues last week, and a solid seven strikeout, zero walk start last week suggests maybe the new Buc is coming into his own.

Looking to a couple of relievers, again back the Phils where  Jenmear Gomez now has a pair of conversions and talk of committee or not, looks like he is primed to bag the bulk of saves this year. This is interesting, as the 25-year old Gomez only has that pair of saves for his career which spans back to 2006 when he debuted for Cleveland's Gulf Coast team, and Gomez is not really a strikeout guy with just 254 over his 445 big league frames, but, for now he has the hot hand and will likely get the ball.

Finally, expect Ryan Madson to be the right-handed platoon in Oakland's closer land, with Sean Doolittle being the Southpaw counterpart, meaning both will get save chances, and both can be stretched out over the season. My big fear of Doolittle is indeed that overwork coupled with his hard throwing would invite injury, but the Oakland is so good at interchangeable parts that this move makes a lot of sense in a lot of ways.


Never was there a game or time where hopes springs more eternal than with the opening of the baseball season. As proof of this, over the last couple of days Cory Luebke (who tossed 139.6 frames for the Padres in 2011, and not much since) earned a spot in the Pirates' bullpen while 32-year old situational lefty Dana Eveland made the cut in Tampa.

If you just finished drafting and are in a deep format, chances are something like the Marco Estrada or Evan Gattis injuries might have stung your squad for a bit, so, who are some guys who made rosters this spring who might be able to fill in with some innings or at-bats. Again, we are talking 20-team mixed leagues or AL/NL only formats, though with some success, these guys might indeed become more valuable even in shallower leagues. But, for now, most should be floating around the free agent pool.

Jesse Hahn (Oakland): OK, this is kind of cheating as Hahn was sent down following a horrendous spring where he had an 11.15 ERA over 15.6 innings but a forearm injury to Felix Doubront opens the door for Hahn to return. The Athletics hurler had some injury woes last year, but the righty did go 6-6, 3.35 with a 1.169 WHIP when he pitched last year and well, I have to think Hahn will work into a groove closer to those totals than his spring ones.

David Freese (Pirates): Two Opening Day hits? Wow. With Jung-Ho Kang injured, the equally brittle Freese has claimed the third base spot at PNC Park. Freese's numbers dropped since 2012, his final year in St. Louis, with the OBP falling from .371 that year, to .341 his first with the Angels to .323 last year. But, with a return to the National League and his best success, and on a deeper team meaning some time off, Freese could make a nice corner contributor.

Scott Schebler (Reds): Schebler is starting out as the left-handed hitting platoon in left field for Cincy. He had a decent enough spring hitting .255-3-12. Schebler, who came to the Reds via the three-team Todd Frazier deal last December, hit .250-3-4 with a pair of swipes for the Dodgers last year and a solid start could mean a starting gig, especially if Jay Bruce is moved.

A.J. Griffin (Texas): The former Athletic was sent down a la Hahn, but similarly was slated to be the #5 starter for the Rangers. Texas is said to be shopping for an arm, and there is Nick Martinez, but Griffin has always been a good WHIP (1.126) guy although he is vulnerable to the long ball, with 46 allowed over 288.6 innings (not necessarily good in Texas). Still, expect Griffin to make his start and with a little success, work the rotation spot, at least for a time on a team that should win some games.

Vincent Velasquez (Phillies): Acquired from the Astros as part of the Ken Giles deal, Velasquez is set to be the #5 starter in Phillies-land with the demotion of Adam Morgan. With the Astros last year, Velasquez whiffed 58 over 55.6 innings, and posted a 1.275 WHIP. After six scoreless innings with eight whiffs his last spring start, the job defaulted to the 23-year old right-hander.

Cody Anderson (Indians): Obviously there is a lot of focus on starting pitching here, but the truth is we all know a team can never have too much. Anderson bagged the fourth starter spot mostly based upon his solid 7-3, 3.05 year over 91.3 innings and 15 starts last year. A big guy--6'4", 240 pounds--who is more control than power (44 whiffs to 24 walks)--Anderson had a solid 1.106 WHIP last year. He is the kind of guy who can get knocked around from time-to-time, but the fundamentals seem to be there.

Rey Fuentes (Royals): Speedy outfielder who made the team thanks to the injury to Jarrod Dyson, Fuentes had a cup of coffee with the Padres in 2013 (.152-0-1 with three steals over 33 at-bats), but at two levels within the Royals system last year, Fuentes hit .310-9-47 with 29 steals and a .364 OBP.

Steven Wright (Boston): The Red Sox are giving Henry Owens a little more time, so Wright, who had a solid 2.77 ERA with 19 whiffs over 26 innings gets the ball every fifth day while Eduardo Rodriguez remains sidelined. Wright is not really any more overpowering than Anderson (52 whiffs over 72 innings last year for Boston) but first month of the season the junk ball guys seem to do well while hitters are getting their timing down.

Tout Wars 2016  is now in the books, and Saturday, as part of the festivities, I went up against mates Ron Shandler, Chris Liss, Glenn Colton and Rick Wolf, among others in this year's AL Tout.

On Saturday morning, I published my wish list for the day, so here is the actual fall-out, with brief thoughts. Feel free to fire back at me @lawrmichaels, and see the final results here.

C - Jason Castro ($7): I like Castro elevating his game, four years into a career and on a contending team. Castro was a few bucks more than I imagined, but I do think he can do .265-15-60 on that team, and that will be worth every penny.

C - Ryan Hanigan ($1): I might have screwed myself some here as I targeted Blake Swihart, but he cost just a bit too much and then so did Josh Phegley when I only had $3 left for two players. I wound up with Hanigan, but I am thinking for the same price, Caleb Joseph was probably a better investment.

1B - Eric Hosmer ($25): I had targeted Albert Pujols, who went for the exact $19 I was hoping for, but Hosmer and his improving on-base and power numbers made me want to take the chance here.

2B - Jason Kipnis ($24): $5 more than I paid in LABR, but a guy I love this year.

3B - Danny Valencia ($11): A buck less than I projected. I not only am sold on Valencia, but even my mate Lord Zola has come around on the Athletics third sacker. So, the bottom line is now Valencia better deliver!

SS - Ketel Marte ($15): Same price as LABR, same upside, same happiness at having Marte on a second roster.

CI - C.J. Cron ($8): I needed power and Cron was there for the end game and I simply had enough cash to control the board. Cron has to be a major coup at this price: the kind who could indeed help win a title.

MI - Devon Travis ($6): Looks like I might have to pick up Eric Sogard to cover until Travis returns, hopefully in May. But like Cron, if Travis can play as we anticipate, I think he will prove to be a steal.

OF - Kole Calhoun ($18): OK, I love the guy, and he is someone who should give me 20-plus homers, and I hope 80-plus RBI.

OF - Kevin Kiermaier ($10): I had envisioned an outfield of Josh Reddick, Steven Souza, Kevin Pillar and Kiermaier, but the other three just were too expensive, so I adjusted accordingly. Or tried to.

OF - Eddie Rosario ($8): The Twins starting centerfielder had ups-and-downs getting adjusted to a full-time gig, but he wound up with a .267-13-50 line that included 11 steals and 15 triples. Now that he has been to the dance, he can step up his moves.

OF - Rusney Castillo ($7): Ideally the starting left fielder in Boston, like Rosario, with a full-time gig, and some acclimation to the USofA and MLB, Castillo can also give me double digits in homers and swipes.

OF - Coco Crisp ($1): Cheap but not that much of a gamble in that the Oakland managers are pretty sure Crisp is healthy, and ready to both play and contribute. For a buck, if he gets me five dingers and ten steals, he will be more than worth it.

UT/SW - Yonder Alonso ($7): Got him in LABR for a couple of bucks less, but again, my understanding is Alonso will be the everyday guy and his on-base numbers are getting better and better.

P - David Price ($27): I had targeted Chris Archer for this spot for $26, but I decided to blow the extra buck on Price, who is a better bet, like it or not.

P - Sonny Gray ($25): A buck more than anticipated, but Gray with Price gives me a better one-two pitching punch than any other team.

P - Marco Estrada ($9): Strikeouts, WHIP, and a good team smell like success.

P - Jesse Hahn ($7): Again, the Athletics are expecting 175 innings from Hahn, and if he picks up where he left off last year, look out.

P - Hector Santiago ($6): Common to my LABR team (as are Hahn and Estrada), I like Santiago to step it up as a third-year starting pitcher.

P - Ervin Santana ($4): As long as Big Erv can avoid getting suspended, for $4 he is a pretty good deal.

P - Nathan Eovaldi ($2): Was looking at getting a reliever here but simply could not pass on the Yankees starter. Ideally I will have a starter to swap for what I need, when I need it.

P - Craig Kimbrel ($22): Best stopper in the league? I hope so.

P - Roberto Osuna ($8): As the incumbent closer, I am hoping Osuna keeps the gig, and if not, if he can get me 10-15 saves, that will be good.

Res - Kendall Graveman: Will be in the Athletics rotation, and, well, can never have too much pitching, right?

Res - Rob Refsnyder: If he makes the big club, I can slot him in until Travis returns.

Res - Collin Cowgill: Another fave who should do ok as the fourth guy in the Indians outfield.

Res - Mike Zunino: Catchers get hurt, so obviously this is insurance, but Zunino can bang dingers.

It is starting to be crunch time as the Majors begin to whittle down rosters, and we speed towards Opening Day and the draft season reaches its apex. Of course, players come and go, so we can bid adieu to Maicer Izturis, Randy Wolf, Willie Bloomquist and Skip Schumaker, who all announced retirements this week.

On the other hand, I have indeed been drafting in some pretty deep--24-team, 35-man rosters--leagues and coupled with a few late signings this week and since there is often survival linked to nabbing the correct floatsam and jetsam out of the free agent pool, here are a few more names of interest who could be cheap or undrafted and might even be of interest on draft day, or help over the course of the season.

Austin Jackson: Signed this week with the White Sox, Jackson is pretty much a similar statistical commodity to Avisail Garcia, Adam Eaton and Melky Cabrera at this point, and with DH open, all four should get plenty of time and at-bats. A crapshoot/afterthought before the signing, Jackson is actually a nice play in an AL-only format and a good fourth or fifth flychaser in a deep contest.

Kelby Tomlinson: Tomlinson will surely earn the utility spot on the team following his good .303-2-20 line last year when pressed into service after Joe Panik went down. Tomlinson has played a little third this spring and has enough stick to spell his infield mates with more stick than what the Giants bench has produced the past few years.

Coco Crisp: I noted last week that Coco is on a mission, and even though his spring totals are on the anemic side (.077-0-1), the Oakland management maintains Crisp is in great shape and determined to prove he is not nearly as through as last year indicates. Crisp has his eye on being the starting left fielder, although Khris Davis will clearly get his starts to keep Crisp as fresh as permits, but Coco is streaky, productive, and can still give you 10/10 in steals and homers or better. Right now, he fetches a bargain basement price, if that. 

Alex Guerrero: In my scoresheet league, Guerrero was pick #786 out of 840 picks. For a guy on a Dodger team with some potential holes and questions as the season draws near--especially one who played in 106 games last year and hit .233-11-36--nabbing the utilityman that late is a steal.

David Freese: Freese signed with the Bucs this past week, but he has not really been much of a force since 2012. Now 32, injuries and age have relegated the third baseman to the role of afterthought. If I had to pick a bench guy in a deep league, I would go Guerrero and Tomlinson before I froze out.

Dilson Herrera: The Mets have so many veterans up the middle with the likes of Wilmer Flores, Asdrubal Cabrera and Ruben Tejada that the now 22-year- old Herrera is kind of lost in the shuffle. He will start the year in Triple-A most likely, but this kid is oozing with talent while Cabrera and Tejada are not much of a long-term position threat. Drop Herrera in your back pocket for future considerations.

Doug Fister: Coming off a rough season in Washington (5-7, 4.19), Fister is an Astro, with a chance to make the rotation. I do have to admit that I have never been much of a fan of the guy, despite his success. But now, as a cheap crap shoot on a team that is really good where maybe Fister is a fourth starter at best, things point to some success.

Arquimedes Caminero: The 28-year-old Domincan holds my favorite name this spring (how I wish I had a team with Caminero, Socrates Brito and Homer Bailey), but the 6'4", 245 pounder throws hard and did a more than credible 74.6 innings last year, striking out 73 while posting a 1.232 WHIP. I am a big fan of having a couple of solid strikeout producing set-up guys to plug in as necessary, and Caminero is the flavor of the month for me.

In Saturday's Bed Goes Up, Bed Goes Down, I previewed some players I sought in preparation for the AL LABR draft.

So, later that same day, mob leader Steve Gardner assembled the masses and the likes of Rick Wolf, Glenn Colton, Tim Heaney, Eno Sarris, and Greg Ambrosius et al went at it.

It was a good draft, and though I have no clue whether my team will work or not, I did fill a mythical roster and was able to get virtually all the players I coveted for a little less than I projected. I did try to focus on the "three "S's," strikeouts, saves, and steals.

So, here goes. Feel free to comment below or hit me up @lawrmichaels. And, you can review the entire draft results here.

C) Caleb Joseph ($4): Hit .234-11-49 over 100 games last year, and bearing in mind that Matt Wieters' back is troublesome, I see most of the squats going the way of Joseph. I would like a little improvement on the average/on-base side, but for $4, a repeat performance would be just fine.

C) Jason Castro ($6): Two bucks more than I anticipated, but a modest $10 invested in my pair of backstops should give me 20-plus homers, and supporting stats to match.

1B) Joe Mauer ($13): Hardly the player he was five years ago, Mauer can still hit, and last year he managed 158 games while hitting .265-10-66. Still just 32, I would like to think the now first sacker can do a little better than that. The price of $13 was three bucks more than I planned, but it was late in the draft and I had the bucks. If Mauer is healthy, he will indeed play every day. He still has a .280-15-80 season in there somewhere, I hope.

2B) Jason Kipnis ($21): A couple of bucks more than I planned, but on this very good Cleveland team, I think Kipnis will up his numbers-maybe 10%-over last year.

3B) Danny Valencia ($10): I budgeted $12 for the Oakland third sacker, so two bucks to the good helped elsewhere. I have already mentioned what a perfect fit Valencia is for this team, and I think he too can improve his 2015 line of .290-18-66 with the security of knowing he is playing every day.

SS) Ketel Marte ($15): I had budgeted $9 for the slot, but again, savings elsewhere allowed me to pursue the tempting and speedy Mariners shortstop.

MI) Ryan Goins ($3): Deep league, few choices at this point, and he should make the team.

CI) Yonder Alonso ($5): A couple of bucks less than my projected cost for the guy Ron Washington said they want to grab 500 at-bats this coming season. Like Valencia, the first sacker is the perfect type of Oakland reclamation project.

OF) George Springer ($30): Though I listed my hope to cop Springer for $26, I actually budgeted $35 for him, so this was a good score of a player with major upside.

OF) Avisail Garcia ($15): I vastly underestimated the postential cost of Kevin Kiermaier (as noted by Todd), and I wanted some pop, so instead of $16 for Kiermaier, I dropped a buck less on the White Sox flychaser, whom I really like.

OF) Steven Souza ($12): Pretty similar to the Kiermaier line for a few bucks less. Ideally, Souza will build off last year like his shiny rookie mates of last season.

OF) Coco Crisp ($1): Crapshoot, but again, per Ron Washington, Coco is in camp, healthy, and determined to play. Bob Melvin wil give him time off, but for sure Crisp, who plays with a lot of pride, wants to prove that last year was a fluke. For a buck, if he can steal ten bases, he will have been worth the investment.

OF) Dustin Ackley ($9): I had $9 on the table and Ackley was my last acquisition, hence the opening put-away bid. Ackley did flourish once the Yankees used him properly, and hopefully he can pick it up, and maybe even spell second base once in a while, giving me some position flexibility.

U) Evan Gattis ($12): I am never sure of the direction of my team until I actually start buying players, and I penciled Gattis in for $13. Supporting the notion of not letting a player get by you at below value if you can help it, I grabbed Gattis as my first pick, and plugged my DH slot. As long as he hits like last year, we are good.

P) Chris Sale ($33): I budgeted $70 for Springer and Sale, so this was just fine for my ace.

P) Lance McCullers ($17): Upside on a good team with 180 or so whiffs if he can manage close to 200 frames.

P) Marco Estrada ($8): A few bucks more than anticipated, but again, on a solid team, coming off a solid year, Estrada can get me innings, WHIP, and whiffs.

P) Jesse Hahn ($6): Again, per Wash, Hahn is healthy and learning new pitches and is ready for 175 innings in a pitcher's park.

P) Edinson Volquez ($4): Filling out pitching with a good starter on a good team coming off a good year. Volquez' stuff is not as electric as when he was brought up, but he is still pretty good.

P): Hector Santiago ($2): Not sure why my mates seem to hate a guy who had a 3.55 ERA with 162 strikeouts over 180.6 innings last year, but I am willing to bite.

P) Craig Kimbrel ($21): Locking up some saves, which was the prime directive, with the best closer around?

P) Brad Boxberger ($11): I guess job security scared some off, but if Boxberger gets swapped, it would be to close elsewhere.

P) Luke Hochevar ($1): Filler, but potentially helpful filler.

Res: Chris Young: As in the pitcher.

Res: Kendall Graveman: More bench support in view of never having enough arms. Again, per Wash, Graveman is healthy and ready to take the ball every five days.

Res: Collin Cowgill: Long time fave, playing in the one sort of weakness area the Indians have, so 300-plus at-bats should be in the mix.

Res: J.B. Shuck: Bench spot, hopefully with some speed.

Res: T.J. House: He is healthy, and lurking should there be issues with the Tribe's rotation.

Res: Nick Martinez: Don't forget his hot start last year, right? Hopefully, Nick won't, and will build off of that.

There is, in my opinion, a lot of value in mock drafting.

And, while I am not an ADP person, I do understand the value of knowing roughly when a player will or should be selected. However, I prefer to transitively participate in mocks, and literally see where players are picked and fall, so I can see for myself how the draft chips fall. 

But, mocking tells me more than this, especially if when I participate in a mock, I change around strategies from draft-to-draft. For, even though the first few rounds of picks might be similar in all drafts, the development of my team might be radically different were Clayton Kershaw my first pick once, then Manny Machado during a second draft, and then Mike Trout a third time.

Mocking also gives a much better broad feel for the player pool, for though we all have guys we love and guys we loathe, it is indeed hard to remember everyone who might fill a specific hole. But, mocking shows who might slip to the middle rounds and more important. who will fall to the end. 

For, though we can build a foundation of stats with the selections the first six rounds, and ideally help stabilize those totals in rounds seven through 18, it is the jackpots in the late rounds that usually win the first place prize for teams. 

So, while I have been mocking--a lot with the #MockDraftArmy driven by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., whom you should contact should you have an interest--I have been scouring the late rounds for bargains. So, this time, let's look at guys who in 12-team leagues hardly get drafted at all, and in 15-team mocks maybe in the 19th round or later.

These players are lesser known, and some are vets who have been dismissed. But, if you are scrounging for late picks or auction selections that I would guess would carry a price of $5 or less relative to the depth of your league, dollar structure and time nominated, here are some names to consider. Should you be able to control your board with $35 or so remaining in a 15-team auction, I am confident you could walk away with almost all of them.

So, who are these guys?

Odubel Herrera (OF, Phillies): A 24-year-old Venezuelan, Herrera hit .264-4-24 over the first half of last season but then kicked it into gear, going .329-4-17 in the second half, jumping his OBP by almost 100 points from .297 to .394. Herrera, who was a Rule 5 pick from the Rangers in 2014, swiped 16 bases and could actually steal 30 bags (he did it twice in the minors) and with experience could parlay some of his 125 minor league doubles and triples into homers, meaning 15/30 potential. If you play games where defense counts, he will help you there, too.

Aaron Altherr (OF, Phillies): A bad team will force roto players to look elsewhere for production, which can be a mistake, for bad teams do hit homers, score runs and earn saves. The Phillies, who are working through their bad team karma, promoted Altherr, their ninth-round selection in 2009, and the 6'5" flychaser responded accordingly. Altherr was hitting .294-8-38 at Lehigh Valley, then .241-5-22 as a Phil. But, over the last month of 2015, he lifted his OBP by 50 points and the outfielder really does have 20/20 capabilities.

Jose Iglesias (SS, Tigers): Iglesias hit .303 split betwen Boston and Detroit in 2013 and then missed all of 2014 due to injury. But he returned to hit .300 last year over a full season with Detroit. True, he hits a pretty hollow .300 with 52 RBI and 83 runs cumulative over the two seaons and 836 at-bats, but in an AL-only format, you could do a lot worse.

Neil Walker (2B, Mets): A .271-16-71 mean over 162 games per Baseball Reference, and yet Walker rarely gets selected before round 19 it seems. Not sure what Walker did for us to dismiss his skill set, but I would be glad to roster him.

Robinson Chirinos (C, Rangers): Double digit homers two straight years playing part-time, Chirinos did raise his on-base numbers last year by 30 points to .325 despite his average dropping seven points to .232. If he plays full-time, the Ranger will hit a little better I believe, but if the function of a second catcher in fantasy is to contribute without really inflicting pain, Chirinos fits that description.

Marco Estrada (P, Blue Jays): Does give up homers, and sometimes his ERA gets knocked around, but over 722 big league innings, Estrada has a 1.150 WHIP and whiffs eight per nine innings. He never gets picked (except by me as a last starter).

Jason Castro (C, Astros): Castro has battled injuries and streakiness as he has matured with the Astros. But, this is now a team of veterans, and, it generally takes catchers a little longer to master hitting in the Show because catching and calling a game is the primary directive. Castro hit .276-18-56 in 2013 and now has two more years under his belt. Castro, who often is not selected in mocks, is a fine late power source.

Nick Castellanos (3B, Tigers): He hit .255-15-73 last year but struggles to make contact with 293 strikeouts and a .304 OBP over 313 games with Detroit. Castellanos actually turns 24 this week, so let's give him a little time--and I am inclined to like third seasons--to step up, and .270-25-90 totals will be your reward. Swear.

Brandon Phillips (2B, Reds): I have taken Phillips in the last round of two 12-team mocks to serve as my middle infielder. True, he is on the downside of his career, but he is 34 (not dead yet) and hit .294-12-70 with 23 swipes last year. Even with the same totals and half the swipes of 2015, he will be a fine choice in any format for 2016.

Alex Gordon (OF, Royals): Is it that Gordon was hurt a lot of last year, or that it took awhile to re-sign with the Royals or what? But, Gordon seems to be an afterthought, selected in the 23rd round of the #MockDraftArmy 12-team league. Huh? He did have an .809 OPS last year despite the injury, and is still just 32. Go figure.

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