Luke Weaver is a name I'm fairly certain a majority of fantasy owners were unaware of before this Michael Wacha DL stint. For one, he was overshadowed by the man-child Alex Reyes and his own call up. Unfortunately, I don't see much value for Reyes outside of possible holds and some ratio help in rotisserie leagues. His ownership percentage will likely jump if it's announced that he'll garner a spot-start, but at the moment that rotation spot is Weaver's to lose.
Before this call up, and even before his promotion to AAA, I had Luke Weaver as a top 50 overall prospect. It may seem kind of crazy but I'm only more confident in that estimation with how Mozeliak and company (Cardinals front office) handled him as he skyrocketed through their system. We've been through hell and back with the majority of starting pitching options this season, but a trend I've started to notice is that the prospect arms with good control have translated much better then those without.
While this isn't revolutionary to any extent, Joe Musgrove and Jameson Taillon immediately jump into my mind. Both are quality prospect arms who had great control numbers in AAA and haven't given you headaches at the major league level. A good majority of the remaining prospect arms came up with wavering control numbers and have maintained those question marks - Cody Reed, Robert Stephenson, Jose Berrios, Blake Snell all come to mind. (I think I'm giving Julio Urias a pass for his phenom status and the fact that he just turned 20 today, happy birthday Julio!).
Player A is Joe Musgrove.
Player B is Luke Weaver.
Player C is Jameson Taillon.
Seeing as Weaver's 77 innings came at the AA level, I would expect a bit of regression as he gains more experience and better hitters get a look at his stuff. Predicting very high level - that maybe pushes him to a 1.5 BB/9 and a 8.5-9 K/9 at AAA if he were to make more than just that one start. I'm not attempting to compare pitch-for-pitch how these three arms will compare rest of season, but what I'm trying to do is highlight the trend that minors league pitchers with good to great control who break onto a big league roster likely have higher floors than those with erratic control.
We are often drawn to the K/9s above 10 for our prospects but with that comes ample control and blow up risk. This, in my eyes, is the main reason we have been so disappointed with the crop of SP talent coming up from the minors. I feel like we are in a year with a lot of high strikeout youngsters with great stuff but less control.
I don't think Weaver possesses much of that coming into his first stint with a major league club. He's a strike thrower who shouldn't destroy every hope you have of maintaining good ratios in weekly leagues, and should even earn some wins on a team in the postseason hunt.
This happens every time a prospect bursts on to the scene, but I'm taking a shot with Weaver in all leagues. I'm confident a similar control profile to his minor league career will exist and to me that means I won't have to worry over whether he'll walk 4+ guys every time out.
Weaver is currently 8% owned in ESPN leagues and 20% owned in Yahoo leagues.
Oh, and he's also hilarious, there's another video lingering of him at FSU that I can't find. Brownie points to anybody who pulls that out of the internet.
Brandon Moss - Even though power isn't exactly something many fantasy owners have been hurting for this season, with Matt Holliday likely hitting the DL, there is a good chance Moss comes into the mix as a more than an everyday player. Matheny may still be hesitant to play him versus lefties with his .215 average, but even on those days I wouldn't be shocked to see him as a late inning pinch hit option who could be double switched into the game. He had 10 starts in a row before this new opportunity to produce and I think that is solidified. A .293 average with two homers and eight RBIs over his last 15 games is nice to look at and even better if it's in your fantasy lineup. He's worth an add in most five outfielder leagues and wherever first basemen production has escaped you. (31% owned ESPN, 30% owned Yahoo)
Kennys Vargas - A boom-or-bust asset that doesn't seem to produce from the left side of the plate, but a .529 average with three home runs as a righty means he'll be in a great majority of my daily lock lineups whenever the twins oppose a southpaw. His ownership percentage is rock bottom right now, and while there are a lot of righty masher options for the Twins, I think I'd keep him on my radar for the next few weeks as playing time may clear up a little bit. The leash is short, but he's probably one of my favorite platoon options in the coming week. (2% owned ESPN, 2% owned Yahoo)
Devon Travis - Even though the middle infield landscape is a little bit different this season with all the depth and production, I'm floored that Travis is below 50% owned in both ESPN and Yahoo leagues. It could be a consequence of owners migrating to fantasy football and missing these pickups, but that just means you have a depth advantage heading towards the trade deadline in most leagues. His .370 average over his last 15 games along with the four homers he hit makes him a top 30 player in that same stretch of time according to ESPN's player rater. He's probably right around that same mark in Yahoo leagues as he sits with a .667 SLG and a great spot atop a stacked Blue Jays lineup. Please pick him up, this production is nothing new for Travis and it has stuck before with positive health. Example time, I was very content dropping Jonathan Schoop for him in one redraft league, can't fault a Schoop owner for doing the same. (44% owned ESPN, 44% owned Yahoo)
Melvin Upton Jr. - Another Blue Jay who finds himself in a very beneficial situation as he falls into the everyday center field job. He hit a noticeable rough patch in July, but the production prior to that was so good that I noticed he wasn't being dropped in a lot of leagues. This doesn't necessarily help you owners who are hunting for adds, but maybe you're lucky enough to be in a league where he's still on waivers. Three steals last night is his best Billy Hamilton impression and I think he's worth an add where you need OF help to see if he can repeat that six homer eight stolen base June. (31% owned ESPN, 40% owned Yahoo)
Travis Jankowski - I've seen a lot of people panicking on Twitter that they're struggling for steals, asking for advice from the experts on speed based trades, yet Jankowski is under 30% owned on nearly every site. Stop complaining and start clicking! On top of the bags, of which he has 8 in his last 15 - behind only the 75%+ owned Hamilton and Villar - he's batting .356 in that span. Fun fact: ESPN's player rater has Jankowski's production in roto just behind Nolan Arenado over each of their last 15. (26% owned ESPN, 24% owned Yahoo)
Gary Sanchez - Still stuck with only DH eligibility in ESPN leagues, that should change soon and when it does I would expect his ownership percentage to climb steadily. The catcher landscape has been and will always be terrible, so it shouldn't come as a surprise if I say that Sanchez will probably be a top five option rest of season. Crazy? No way, Grandal jumped up 10+ spots in a few weeks with his hot stretch and I'd almost rather have the consistency that Sanchez has shown with the bat early, even with less power. (9% owned ESPN, 20% owned Yahoo)
Quick Look at a Few Arms
Tom Koehler - I'm almost scared to recommend Koehler to people as we've been so used to mediocrity for a while, but his last four starts have been really good. 23/6 strikeout to walk ratio and three wins for a club that is in the hunt. The Marlins need Koehler if they keep skipping Fernandez in hopes of a postseason shot and so far I haven't seen anything that says he won't keep this up. If I told you over a two start stretch in June he had 21 swings and misses on his slider you would probably be surprised, right? Now how about 32 swings and misses in his last five starts? Not as much, but the consistency (8,6,6,6,4 in those five starts) is where this success has come from and that slider has been deadly of late. Take a shot on him if needed, his start at home agains the White Sox on Sunday looks good. (21% owned ESPN, 23% owned Yahoo)
Braden Shipley - A pitcher who has never really struck out anybody in the minors (5.81 K/9 in AAA 2016, 6.78 K/9 in AA 2015), runs into a bad Mets lineup and Ks seven and he's suddenly owned in two of the leagues I play in?! While that small sample size of my leagues doesn't reflect his sub 5% ownership overall, if people in my leagues acted like this on Jankowski I wouldn't be doing so well! Enough tooting my own horn, I wouldn't touch Shipley with a 10 foot pole. (3% owned ESPN, 4% owned Yahoo)
Ervin Santana - Possibly one of my favorite two start options heading into next week, he gets HOT-lanta who aren't living up to that name and the Royals over next weekend. He's been pitching well with no blow up start since way back in mid June. In the CBS Sports Expert Points league I'm in, trying to jump into the top two, I'll be bidding some FAAB on him to maintain my pace. You should give him a look as well. (37% owned ESPN, 43% owned Yahoo)
That's all for this week, as always good luck and feel free to comment on here or mention me on twitter if you want opinions on anything. I'll be there! @LanceBrozdow