One week from today, active Major League rosters will expand to forty players, meaning that we are all but certain to see a flurry of activity on September 1. Teams will bolster their rosters reinforcements of all shapes and sizes, ranging from a third catcher and a pinch running specialist to a legitimate waiver trade deadline acquisition. The majority of these additions will have little to no impact in the fantasy world, and, to be frank, the same may be said of the real world, as well. However, this is also the time of year wherein we see prospects receive cups of coffee - and, occasionally, a great deal of playing time. I’ve identified nine such prospects that may well be in a position to contribute to the stretch runs of both their team and your fantasy squad.
01. Jose De Leon, Dodgers, SP
De Leon has had a trying season that is right in-line with the Dodgers experience this season; he opened the season on the DL with an ankle injury, and spent more time there in May and June with shoulder soreness. He has been healthy all Summer, though, and the 24-year-old has dominated at Triple-A, pitching to the following line - 78.2 IP, 57 H, 20 BB, 98 K, 2.86 ERA, 0.98 WHIP. With Brett Anderson and Scott Kazmir hitting the DL, De Leon may well be next in-line for some starts.
02. Joey Gallo, Rangers, 1B/3B/OF
The acquisition of Beltran muddies the picture, but Gallo’s versatility should help him fit into the Rangers plans relatively soon. The team has received limited production out of 1B and LF, and giving the 37-year-old Beltre a few days off down the stretch makes sense. Gallo struggled in his limited opportunity in the Majors this season, but he has more than earned a genuine look at this point.
03. Lucas Giolito, Nationals, SP
Giolito and Gallo both appear to be on curiously short leashes, which is strange to see for two players were largely considered top-ten prospects entering the season. Giolito has a semi-clear path back to the show, though, as Stephen Strasburg and Joe Ross sit on the DL (and both with disconcerting arm issues). Fellow Triple-A starters Austin Voth and A.J. Cole also deserve a mention, as the Nationals clearly need help in the rotation.
04. Austin Hedges, Padres, C
Hedges reaching the Majors and playing a role is largely contingent upon the Padres moving Derek Norris in the coming days (which is a distinct possibility). It seems like something that should happen, though, given that the 24-year-old is batting .322/.355/.594 with 18 HR in 296 PA at Triple-A this year, and is now a career .323/.363/.579 hitter at the level. Hedges struggled mightily at the highest level last year, but he is not too far removed from being a top prospect, and has improved dramatically after having surgery to repair his hamate.
05. Ben Lively, Phillies, SP
The Phillies currently have three starting pitchers on the DL, and two of their five healthy starters have ERAs over 6. The 24-year-old Lively has been knocking on the door to the Majors throughout the season, and boasts a 2.82 ERA in 159.2 IP between Double-A and Triple-A. He lacks top of the rotation stuff, but he has a fairly high floor and should be in-line to open 2017 in the Phillies rotation.
06. Steven Moya, Tigers, OF
Moya has been up a few times already, having spent around six total weeks in the Majors already. Over that time he batted a solid .258/.295/.517 with 9 R, 5 HR, and 11 RBI in 95 PA. The powerful lefty has little left to prove in the minors, and he offers balance to a righty-heavy Tigers lineup.
07. Hunter Renfroe, Padres, OF
Padres fans have been clamoring for Renfroe throughout the season, and for good reason - he’s batting .308/.339/566 at Triple-A, with 28 HR and 96 RBI in 120 games. The 24-year-old is a consensus top-100 prospect with game-changing power, and the team’s current outfield is less than inspiring. It is worth noting, however, that Renfroe is not on the team’s 40-man roster, so they would have to make a roster move to make space for him.
08. Rio Ruiz, Braves, 3B
The Braves are going nowhere fast, and they are likely to be one of the more active teams on September 1 as they attempt to figure out the puzzle pieces heading into 2017. Ruiz is eligible for the Rule 5 draft this winter, and is all but guaranteed to be protected. He’s batting .265/.349/.391 with 20 2B and 9 HR on the season (484 PA), and profiles as an average regular at the hot corner.
09. Jesse Winker, Reds, OF
The sweet-swinging lefty is almost certainly the Reds best option for right-field right now, as the team has received the baseball equivalent of a halfhearted shrug from the position since dealing Jay Bruce to the Mets. Winker is batting .295/.385/.374 in 400 PA at Triple-A, with nearly as many walks (51) as strikeouts (52). The lack of power is far from ideal - but his hit tool and approach have never been in question.