MLB - Fantasy Baseball - Waiver Wire / Stock Watch Report
It is hard to ignore the early returns, to not glance at the standings and admire your first-place standings, to not stare in disbelief as your team falls to the basement in the first month of the season. Exercise patience with your team, but don't be afraid to make moves that will benefit your team. It is too early to worry about the standings, just about a month into the season, but you need to keep improving your roster if you want to stay on top or climb out of the cellar. This week's article is designed to help you target and acquire a few impact players either off the wavier wire or via trade.
Wavier Wire Targets
Nolan Arenado - 3B - Colorado Rockies - Owned in 33% of Yahoo! Leagues
We had USA Today's fantasy baseball guru Steve Gardner (@SteveGardner) on the FFToolbox Podcast in the pre-season and asked him which player in all of baseball stood out to him the most when he watched them in person in Spring Training and his response was Nolan Arenado of the Colorado Rockies. Arenado burst onto the fantasy radar two seasons ago when he was the MVP of the Arizona Fall League and fantasy analysts dreamed of his power potential in Coors Field. After a down 2012 due to lofty expectations, Arenado was off to a red-hot start in Triple-A and will finally get a shot as the everyday third baseman in Colorado. The talent and power are legit and enough fantasy analysts that I trust have bought in on Arenado that I am joining in on recommending him as a must own fantasy commodity.
Tony Cingrani - SP - Cincinanti Reds - Owned in 60% of Yahoo! Leagues
Few underrated pitching prospects generate the type of hype or pitch as well once they actually get called up as Cingrani has this season. The left-hander may eventually run into issues with walks when big-league hitters finally figure him out, but for now, Cingrani is striking out batters at an impressive rate, racking up 28 strikeouts in just 18 innings. In his last start, Cingrani shut out the Nationals over six innings, giving up just two hits, one walk and striking out 11. It may be too late to acquire his services in most competitive leagues, but I would certainly try to acquire him in a trade if possible.
Daniel Nava - OF - Boston Red Sox - Owned in 37% Yahoo! Leagues
At the start of the season, it looked like the offseason acquisitions of Shane Victorino, Jonny Gomes, Mike Napoli and Mike Carp would eliminate Nava from the mix with the Red Sox. Instead, Nava has taken over for an injured Victorino in right field and done nothing but hit (and make spectacular catches), batting .310 with four home runs and 16 RBI this season. Nava was never a highly regarded prospect but has done nothing but produce at every level in his career and even when Victorino comes back, Nava will likely play everyday in left field. Nava is an underrated fantasy outfielder on the rise that needs to be owned in every league.
Didi Gregorious - SS - Arizona Diamondbacks - Owned in 12% of Yahoo! Leagues
Gregorious is off to a tremendous start in his big league career (11-for-27 with a pair of home runs) but the reality is that he has never been known for his ability at the plate. The 23-year old is outstanding defensively, but owns a career .273/.324/.381 line in 1,766 minor league at bats. The regression is coming, or so we think, but for now Gregorious is on fire and is worth owning until he cools off. Gregorious is on the seven-day disabled list with a concussion, but should be back this week. Arizona GM Kevin Towers compared Gregorious to a young Derek Jeter when they acquired him this offseason and while that may be a stretch it shows you just how much faith and confidence the Diamondbacks have in him. Gregorious is worth picking up and stashing, just to see what happens more than anything, you never know.
Mark Ellis - 2B - Los Angeles Dodgers - Owned in 20% of Yahoo! Leagues
When you play fantasy sports, you develop an affinity for certain players. Ever since I started watching the Los Angelese Dodgers closely last season, Mark Ellis has developed into one of those players for me. The rock solid veteran doesn't have a ton of pop in his bat, but isn't a batting average liability and will score plenty of runs batting at the top of the Dodgers lineup. Ellis went 4-for-5 with a pair of home runs against the Mets last week and is now batting .342 this season. He is worthy of a pickup in all fantasy leagues as a solid depth addition.
1. Bryce Harper - OF - Washington Nationals
Harper is batting .360 with nine home runs in April and when its all said and done, could end up being the most valuable player in fantasy baseball this season. What Harper is doing as a 20-year old in just his second big-league season is unbelievable. If we were drafting a new league today, it would be between Harper, Ryan Braun, Miguel Cabrera and Justin Upton for the top overall pick.
2. Matt Harvey - SP - New York Mets
Harvey outdueled Stephen Strasburg last week to improve to 4-0 and owns a 1.54 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 35 innings this season. Fantasy owners shouldn't expect Harvey to continue to pitch this well but at this point he has already significantly outperformed his average draft position.
3. Justin Upton - OF - Atlanta Braves
Upton didn't hit his 12th home run until September 1st last season with the Arizona Diamondbacks and already has 12 with the Atlanta Braves in April. Sometimes a change of scenery is all it takes to unlock a players potential and with Upton, the potential to be a top-five fantasy performer has always been there, he's just now tapping into it.
1. Jason Heyward - OF - Atlanta Braves
When you factor in what you paid on draft day for Heyward, who enjoyed a legitimate breakout last season, this one hurts the most. Heyward is on the disabled list at the moment recovering from an appendectomy, but is hitting just .121 with a pair of homers this season. This might turn out to be a great buy-low opportunity for fantasy owners, but it doesn't look promising for Heyward who was primed to take the next step and become a fantasy star coming into the year.
2. Mike Moustakas - 3B - Kansas City Royals
Moose is batting just .169 this season and has just four runs scored and two RBI all season. Moustakas batted .406 with five home runs in Spring Training, so his struggles out of the gate are a bit surprising. It is still early, but the Royals and his fantasy owners have to be concerned.
3. Adam LaRoche - 1B - Washington Nationals
LaRoche has been a model of consistency in each of the past two seasons, so its too early to give up on him completely, but a .135 batting average in the first month of the season is just abysmal. It is too early to bail, but LaRoche has to stay on the bench until he turns it around
Down on the Farm - Rising and Falling Prospects
Rising - Anthony Rendon - 3B - Washington Nationals
Rendon, the top prospect in the Washington Nationals system got the call to replace Ryan Zimmerman who was placed on the disabled list with a hamstring injury. Widely considered the best hitter in college baseball entering the 2011 MLB Draft, Rendon missed a substantial ammount of time with leg injuries in his final collegiate season at Rice causing him to slide to the Nationals, who clearly got a bargain. Rendon was raking in the minor leagues, batting .292/.462/.500 with a pair of homers before getting the call up. Rendon is just 4-for-20 with an RBI so far and according to all reports, will be sent down once Zimmerman returns in a few weeks. The reality is that Rendon has little to prove at the minor league level and will likely be called back up down the stretch for the playoff run. His bat can help the Nationals right now and he should make a big fantasy impact down the stretch making him worthy of stashing or trading for now before his value takes off.
Falling - Yasiel Puig - OF - Los Angeles Dodgers
Puig played so well that he nearly forced his way onto the Los Angeles Dodgers Opening Day roster but his stock has gone the other way since the actual season began this month. The 22-year-old Cuban defector is hitting .333/.385/.625 with three home runs and nine RBI through 52 plate appearances at Double-A Chattanooga but was just placed on the disabled list with a sprained thumb and was arrested over the weekend for reckless driving. Sometimes with a prospect, their natural ability and talent is just so overwhelming that you have to overlook their flaws, which appears to be the case with Puig but he will miss a couple weeks with an injury, but when he comes back look for him to put up monster numbers this summer and get a shot in the big leagues. It's been a rough first month, but Puig should be fine long-term.