With the non-waiver trade deadline rapidly approaching, the first blockbuster deal of the summer went down Monday when the Rangers acquired Matt Garza from the Cubs for Mike Olt, C.J. Edwards, Justin Grimm and a player (possibly two) to be named later. Minutes later, MLB announced that it had reached a deal with Ryan Braun that would ultimately suspend the Brewers' slugger without pay for the rest of the 2013 season.
Lost in the shuffle, however, were a series of promotions from the minor leagues, which may yield immediate value while the likes of Olt and Edwards simmer in the Cubs' farm system. While other trades will be made to upgrade the rosters of teams contending for a playoff berth down the stretch, the promotions for young players to replace the departed veterans offer greater shifts in value, rendering the potential for profit in rotisserie and daily leagues alike.
Particularly in daily, digging in the corners for hidden value can pay off in a big way before the masses cut into the margins by following suit and boosting ownership rates.
Jonathan Villar, 2B, HOU – Although Villar is getting a look as the Astros' everyday shortstop, he's listed as a second baseman (at least for now) on FanDuel at a very reasonable $3,000. In addition to getting regular playing time, the Astros are using Villar as their leadoff hitter, where he should be given plenty of green lights on the basepaths if he proves capable of handling big league pitching, as the Houston offense will try to manufacture runs by any means possible.
Acquired by the Astros as part of the Roy Oswalt deal with the Phillies in July of 2010, the 22-year-old switch-hitter cracked the Baseball America Top 100 prospects list at No. 94 prior to the 2011 campaign. He has consistently been younger than his competition at each minor league stop after reaching Double-A as a 20-year old. In addition to walking at eight percent clip at every stop since High-A, Villar has become increasingly efficient as a base stealer including a 70-for-85 mark in the minors over the past two seasons. A switch-hitter, Villar has maintained better splits against right-handed pitching, including a .315/.379/.498 line at Triple-A.
Christian Yelich, OF, MIA, – The Marlins have been aggressively promoting young talent for the vast majority of the franchise's existence, but Yelich's call to Miami on Monday night may have been more surprising than the Marlins' decision to include Jose Fernandez in their Opening Day rotation, although Fernandez's impressive rookie campaign has erased any doubts about his readiness for the big leagues despite a very limited minor league track record. Foot and abdomen injuries have limited Yelich’s playing time in the minors this season, but he has more than held his own at Double-A Jacksonville with a .238 ISO and 11.7 percent walk rate. Much like the Astros, the Marlins are looking for answers at the plate and Yelich's big league debut Tuesday night in Colorado came as the No. 2 hitter ahead of Giancarlo Stanton. If that spot is more than temporary, Yelich on the road and against right-handed starters could be a useful matchup play at $3,100. Unfortunately, the Marlins wrap up a four-game set at Coors Field on Thursday afternoon before returning to Miami for a 10-game homestand against the Bucs, Mets and Indians. Still, Yelich is an elite prospect and has more polish and a better chance of maintaining a prominent lineup spot than the Marlins' “other” callup from Monday night...
Jake Marisnick, OF, MIA – Marisnick was part of the Marlins' return in the team's offseason blockbuster with the Blue Jays. Drafted in the third round by Toronto in 2009, the toolsy Marisnick is slowly putting all of the pieces together in his second go-round at Double-A with a .294/.358/.502 line after he posted a .233/.286/.336 mark over 55 games at the same level last season. It may only take a season or two for Marisnick, Yelich and Stanton to form one of the best outfield trios in the big leagues (assuming, Stanton remains in South Florida beyond this season), but the impressive tools (12 homers and 11 steals this season) are offset by still-developing plate discipline (17:68 BB:K) and the need for further refinement on the basepaths against advanced competition (caught stealing six times). At $2,400, Marisnick presents more of a bargain basement option than Yelich, but the price accurately reflects the two players' likelihood of having an immediate impact for the Marlins.
To clear space on the roster for Yelich and Marisnick, the Marlins optioned Derek Dietrich and Marcell Ozuna to Double-A.
Matt Adams, 1B, STL – Although he ranks second in my Adams cheat sheet, there are a few full-season leagues where Adams has occupied a reserve spot for the better part of fourth months just waiting for one of Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran or Allen Craig to suffer an injury. That speculative hold finally paid off when Holliday landed on the disabled list Saturday, which has cleared a temporary path to playing time at least through the weekend, and possibly longer. Adams would start on many big league teams, and in an everyday role has 25-30 homer upside over the course of a full season. The Cards rank fourth in MLB and first in the National League with 477 runs scored, and Adams should get in on the action batting in the middle third of manager Mike Matheny's lineup. At $3,000, Adams offers more than many of the first baseman currently priced $500-1,000 higher.
Wilson Ramos, C, WAS – Ramos has been given the nod behind the plate in 12 of the Nats' last 16 games, including four of five since the All-Star break. After losing most of his 2012 season to a torn ACL in May, Ramos has bounced back from two stints on the disabled list this season (hamstring) to deliver the highest OPS of his career (.818). He's currently buried in the eighth spot in the Washington lineup, but the increase in playing time and the recent slump from No. 2 hitter Anthony Rendon could foreshadow a bump up in the order for Ramos ($2,800).
Logan Schafer, OF, MIL – Schafer has started all but four of the Brewers' games dating back to June 10th (22-of-26 contests) and is the most likely beneficiary of Ryan Braun's season-ending suspension. In addition to having a near everyday job, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke has pushed Schafer into the No. 2 spot in the order thanks to a recent surge at the plate over the past two weeks (13-for-43, .302/.375/.558, two homers, five RBI, two steals and a 5:5 BB:K). Although he doesn't have an overwhelming power or speed tool, Schafer does everything well enough to believe he will take advantage of the opportunity and provide situational value ($3,100) when the Brewers face right-handed starters.
Adeiny Hechavarria, SS, MIA ($2,500) – Known for his excellent glove work, Hechavarria has been red hot in July ranking second only to Victor Martinez in hits (30) while hitting .417 with five RBI and three steals and ascending to the Marlins' leadoff spot.
Carlos Gomez, OF, MIL ($3,700) – Gomez has been battling minor elbow and shoulder injuries in recent weeks, and his production has fallen in a big way thanks to a 10-for-60 stretch including 23 strikeouts in July. Fortunately, he's salvaged an otherwise recent rough patch with three homers and five steals during that span, but the Brewers' 2013 season is officially lost and Gomez will be a candidate for additional days off if he continues to be plagued by various ailments over the final two-plus months of the season.
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