Yes, I am endorsing another pitching prospect.
After a year where we've been routinely disappointed, expecting Berrios, Urias, and others to fill the void that the Chris Archer's of the world created in the first half, I again have some hope for the landscape.
Jose De Leon returned to the Dodger's AAA rotation after battling shoulder and ankle injuries on June 7th. While it took him a few starts to get back into a groove, his last four have been stellar, supporting his top 20 prospect status...
Domination of the Mariner's AAA club on Tuesday night, combined with the terrible news about ace Clayton Kershaw have put the Dodger's in a spot where move(s) need to be made. Urias only has so many innings left and when he's on the mound, the bullpen works at least 3-4 innings, something I can't imagine Dave Roberts enjoys having to deal with. On top of that Brandon McCarthy hasn't been the epitome of health over the last two years and Bud Norris has allowed 13 runs over his last 15 innings.
De Leon seems to be the organizational answer if the Dodgers choose to take that route.
He had a great 2015, posting a 12.33 K/9 with a 3.4 BB/9 over 110+ innings between High-A and AA. His peripherals look a lot like Pittsburgh Prospect Tyler Glasnow's - hard to square up with great strikeout numbers. The crazy thing is that as much as I love Glasnow long term, right now, De Leon has better control and a serviceable third pitch. This makes me slightly more intrigued in De Leon short term, especially with innings left on his arm after missing most of the AAA season with injuries. On top of that De Leon doesn't seem to have Glasnow-esque control blowups.
De Leon or Glasnow rest of season, if they both were cemented in rotations this weekend, is closer than you may think.
One wrinkle is that the injury bug plaguing the Dodgers has stirred up rumors of acquiring Chris Archer from the Rays. De Leon could be in that package, which would make him an AL East starter for the rest of the season on a team that isn't keeping pace with the big boys. While that is something I'm slightly less excited about than De Leon in a Dodger's uniform, I still like his prospects moving forward. His fastball, change, slider pitch mix is clearly good enough to tango in the majors right now.
If you're looking for that likely available SP stash - 1% owned ESPN, 8% owned Yahoo - De Leon is your guy. In my eyes, he's addable pre-deadline in almost all formats. No doubt a clearer picture will emerge in the next week, but there's no point in waiting if you have the roster space.
Hot Bats and Playing Time
Tyler Naquin - I usually start off the player-by-player section with a ringing endorsement, but I'm lukewarm on the Indian's budding outfielder. Naquin is a guy who flew under the radar until late in Spring when emerged with some playing time due to Michael Brantley's DL woes. He has always possessed speed with a decent bat, but that power has blossomed recently with five homers over his last 10 games. Unfortunately this stretch looks unsustainable. His .417 BABIP, 31% HR/FB rate, and .313 rate should be massive red flags for anybody thinking he is the player to grab for the second half. With all that being said, he should be owned in your league while he is scorching hot. Not because you're potentially adding a stud second half outfielder, but because his production at the moment is better than most things on the waivers. Just understand that he won't have massive power numbers come October. He does make for an interesting commodity next season with Clint Frazier knocking on the door. (38% owned ESPN, 44% owned Yahoo).
Jurickson Profar - The good news is that Prince Fielder's lost ABs after the news he'll be done for the season are going to Profar. The bad news is that the Rangers seem content with Joey Gallo staying at AAA. Profar likely won't light the world on fire, but he's intriguing because we finally get to see what he'll look like as an everyday player. At one time, a prospect of the highest caliber, I'm only expecting a .300 average with 5-8 HRs the rest of the way. His hot streak from early June came with great counting stats and I'd expect something of the same if he's hitting at the top of a good Ranger's lineup. He's worth a look in most leagues, 12 teamers is where I found myself actively searching for him, but his positional eligibility could warrant an add in shallower leagues if you're desperate. (24% owned ESPN, 28% owned Yahoo).
Ryon Healy - I think the most surprising thing is that Healy has started in each of the last seven games for the Athletics. The results have been decent - .250/.280/.458 with 6 RBIs and 2 doubles - and he has progressed quickly through the A's system. His power has trended up this season to a point where I could see him being a 20-25 HR threat with a full season's exposure. I've never been particularly high on Danny Valencia, so I don't think the A's would be missing much if they ship him before the deadline. That would likely make for more Healy playing time and a better look at his overall skillset. Addable in deep leagues, but I can see a few matchup streams here and there in 12 teamers. (6% owned ESPN, 3% owned Yahoo).
Jedd Gyorko - I often love speculating on 'revenge games' for players heading back to old ballparks or playing old teams, but Gyorko took it to a whole new level against the Padres. He was 8-for-17 with four homers and seven RBIs in four games against San Diego. That added to the three other homers he hit against the Padres in late April, where he went 6-for-10 in two starts. While he could be in for a playing time boost with Jhonny Peralta and Matt Carpenter sidelined, I really don't think he's worth a look outside of 14 team leagues and deeper. (6% owned ESPN, 12% owned Yahoo).
Alex Bregman - He should have been owned a week ago in your league, and hopefully it's you with the lottery ticket sitting on your bench. The Astros are simply teasing us with the Preston Tucker call up and it isn't funny! (21% owned ESPN, 24% owned Yahoo).
Max Kepler - I'm confident I have mentioned him before in a column of mine, but the Baseball Prospectus Podcast Flags Fly Forever tipped me off to how low his ownership percentage still is. A low average that should climb back up, 10 HR, and 2 bags in under 200 plate appearances for a guy who was a pretty highly touted prospect should be causing more clicking of the 'add player' button than it is. Serious question. Who do you want rest of career - Buxton or Kepler? Defense is pretty far apart (Buxton is better), but it's your bat that keeps you in the majors and Buxton apparently doesn't own one. (30% owned ESPN, 19% owned Yahoo).
Tyler Skaggs - Not many arms piqued my interest this week, but one I'm pretty excited to see when he makes it back to the bigs is this Angel's southpaw. He's been literally untouchable in his last three rehab starts, allowing only six hits and three walks over 17.2 innings. In his last two he's only allowed one hit and his strikeout numbers were both in the double digits (12,14). That's a 29/3 strikeout to walk ratio in his last three starts, which is good, very good. He's always had the Ks, its just been a matter of the control and home runs which - fingers crossed - seem to be under control. He should no doubt start in the bigs Tuesday at Kansas City, but for some reason the Angels like Jhoulys Chacin. I've already added him in a 12 teamer and 10 teamer where pitching is few and far between, his potential far exceeds his ownership percentage right now. (5% owned ESPN, 8% owned Yahoo).
Andrew Cashner - Here we go again with Cashner. Two fantastic starts versus two tough teams. His ownership percentage is low enough where I don't think many are speculating to add him for a tough start in Toronto Tuesday, but the week after he'll line up to be a 2-start pitcher against the Brewers and Phillies. I was hoping for some an eye popping change in something when I checked out Brooks Baseball for his last two starts, but I came up with nothing. His fastball was the best it has been all year last night, and in the start before his slider was his best pitch, which we've seen in starts where he's been lit up. To me it seems like it's all day-to-day feel for him. He's always had the K numbers so if you're desperate in a roto league I can see an add, but I'm still play match ups for the time being. If you're in a weekly lock FAAB league, I would consider a $0 bid (if allowed) this weekend, sit versus Toronto, and hold him for that potential two starts next week. If he deals in Toronto, you'll miss out on some production, but look like a genius heading into the following week. (6% owned ESPN, 21% owned).
Eduardo Rodriguez - He was top 10 among change in SP ownership percentage when I checked today and I really don't know why. It could be the start today against Minnesota, but I'm really not too confident he dominates even a bad Twins team. In fact, I think some of the Twins bats are good plays today - Sano, Kepler, Dozier. I'm not adding him anywhere and I don't think you should be either. His xFIP is sky high at 5.91, he's not striking out anybody and has the control of a scared rookie. You have to think something is still wrong with him physically after flashes of greatness last season. I'd stay away for now. (16% owned ESPN, 21% owned Yahoo).
Best of luck as always, don't hesitate to tweet at me with any last minute questions, start/sit advice, or trade thoughts! @LanceBrozdow