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FAAB Factor-NL: Soler Power

Jan Levine

Jan Levine

Levine covers baseball, basketball and hockey for RotoWire. In addition to his column writing, he's the master of the MLB and NHL cheatsheets. In his spare time, he roots for the Mets.

National League - FAAB - 8/31/14

Thanks to the RotoWire beat writers who provided some names for this week's column. As September rolls on, several other names that were given to me will appear here, once it's firmed up that they will be promoted.

Starting Pitching:

Dylan Axelrod, Reds - No, I do not have a man-crush on Axelrod, but his performance in the two starts he made filling in for Homer Bailey warrants another mention. Axelrod tossed five scoreless innings while striking out eight, walking three (one intentional) and allowing just two hits Thursday against the Cubs. That outing comes on the heels of him allowing two runs in six innings against Colorado in his first start. It looks like Axelrod will remain in the Reds' rotation the final month of the season, building on the 3.06 ERA he posted in five starts after joining Triple-A Louisville in mid-July. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Tim Cooney, Cardinals - Cooney, the Cardinals' minor league pitcher of the month for July, has not slowed in August. He is 4-1 on the month with a 3.03 ERA in six starts, making him 14-6 with a 3.47 ERA and 1.30 WHIP. Those numbers would be a lot better, but he had a rough patch in May and June before righting the ship in July. Cooney could get promoted and see a spot start or two but more likely will work out of the bullpen. Mixed: $0; NL: $2.

Marco Gonzales, Cardinals - Gonzales, the Cardinals' first-round pick out of Gonzaga University in the 2013 draft, was called up to start the second game of St. Louis' doubleheader Saturday. He allowed one run on three hits and two walks while striking out five to get the win. Gonzales was prompted earlier this year and struggled in three starts, posting a 7.07 ERA with 10 strikeouts and 11 walks over 14 innings. He pitched well in the minors, moving from Double- to Triple-A, where he was 4-1 with a 3.35 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 39:9 K:BB in 45.2 innings over eight starts earning the call up Saturday. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Jesse Hahn, Padres - Hahn, sent down to the minors to manage his innings, was called back up with Chris Nelson being placed on the paternity list. Hahn was brilliant in his 12 starts for San Diego, posting a 2.96 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 65:29 K:BB ratio in 70 innings but will now pitch out of the bullpen. San Diego is being cautious with him, because between the majors and minors he has tossed 112.1 innings after throwing just 69 last season, so he will be limited the remainder of the season.

Andrew Heaney, Marlins - Heaney blazed through Double-A Jacksonville and made four starts for the Marlins earlier this year before getting sent down to Triple-A New Orleans for more seasoning. He has pitched well for the Zephyrs, going 5-4 with a 3.84 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 86:21 K:BB ratio in 77.1 innings over 14 starts. Miami is five games from the Wild Card and could use a boost at the back end of their rotation, which Heaney could give them. The one caveat is that Heaney, who has a low-90s fastball, slider and changeup, has already thrown 131 innings, 36 more than last season, so he might be limited to one or two more starts, unless Miami is willing to give him some more leash given his amateur history. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Chris Heston, Giants - Heston has had a fine season, his second at Triple-A Fresno, posting a 3.36 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 116:50 K:BB in 27 starts and 166 IP. He actually was released and re-signed by the Giants in July last year, so he truly has seemingly come from nowhere. Heston could see a spot start or work in long-relief in September. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Brad Penny, Marlins - The Marlins will flip-flop fifth starters, moving Penny into the rotation to start Tuesday against the Mets with Brad Hand going to the bullpen. Penny, who pitched well in the minors to earn the promotion earlier this month, held the Reds to one run on four hits over five innings in his first start for the big club back on Aug. 9, but he's given up seven runs in 8.1 innings since. If Andrew Heaney gets promoted, as I think he will, Penny will move back to the bullpen. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Yusmeiro Petit, Giants - Tim Lincecum's recent struggles caught up with him, as manager Bruce Bochy replaced him with Petit in the rotation beginning with this past Thursday's outing. Petit has been excellent out of the pen this year, but struggled in his six starts until Thursday, where he allowed just one run on four hits, no walks and nine strikeouts over six innings of a 4-1 win against Colorado. Even before that outing, Bochy may have been swayed by Petit's overall numbers - 3.59 ERA (2.78 FIP) and 87:17 K:BB ratio over 80.1 total innings - along with his solid seven starts with the Giants in 2013. If Petit, who Thursday established a Major League record by retiring 46 consecutive hitters, is able to pitch well, he could get a chance to run with the starting role the rest of the year. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.

Injury activation/updates:

Felix Doubront, Cubs - Doubront, acquired from the Red Sox for a player to be named later and on the 15-day DL with a right calf strain, allowed nine runs on 17 hits in 14.1 innings in his three minor league rehab outings. He started the first game of the Cubs' day-night doubleheader against the Cardinals on Saturday. He allowed just one run on seven hits and a walk while striking out four to get the win. With the rosters expanding two days later, look for Doubront either stay with Chicago after that start or be back on September 1. Doubront had thrown 59.1 innings over 17 games (10 starts) for the Red Sox, going 2-4 with a 6.07 ERA. Mixed: $1; NL: $3.

Matt Garza, Brewers - Garza, sidelined with a strained left oblique since August 4, threw a superb bullpen session Tuesday. He did not go on a rehab assignment, instead tossing a 47-pitch simulated game Friday and will rejoin the rotation Wednesday. Mike Fiers, who has been stellar in Garza's stead, will remain in the rotation and Jimmy Nelson will move to the bullpen.

Daniel Hudson, Diamondbacks - Hudson, trying to return from a second Tommy John surgery, tossed a scoreless inning in his first appearance for Triple-A Reno on Tuesday. That outing comes after fourth straight scoreless appearances for Arizona's Rookie League team. The hope is that Hudson, who will be promoted with the rosters expanding, will be able to make three-to-six appearances in the big leagues in September. Down the road, the debate is if Hudson can stay as a starter or need to move to the bullpen, but that determination will come once he shows he can make it all the way back to the majors.Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Daisuke Matsuzaka, Mets - Matszuaka, on the disabled list since July 26 with elbow inflammation, was activated and pitched out of the bullpen Thursday. He allowed three runs and failed to make out of the ninth inning against the Braves. In his three-rehab starts, Dice-K allowed one run in 14 innings of work. Matsuzaka was to be promoted when the rosters expanded, but got the nod Thursday when Vic Black landed on the disabled list due to a herniated disk in his neck. Matsuzaka will likely will pitch out of the pen the rest of the way, but could get a start or two if the Mets go to a six-man rotation in September to enable Jacob deGrom to meet his innings limit but still pitch to the end of the season. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Charlie Morton, Pirates - Morton, sidelined with a sports hernia since August 15, made a rehab start at Double-A Altoona on Thursday, giving up two runs on four hits with six strikeouts in four innings, but clearly was bothered by the injury. He got off to an excellent start this season but struggled prior to being sidelined, allowing four or more runs in five of his last seven starts. With Pittsburgh in the throes of a pennant race, Morton, who originally was diagnosed with right hip inflammation, could return to help Pittsburgh in the bullpen, but also could end up having season-ending surgery. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Hyun-Jin Ryu, Dodgers - Ryu, sidelined since August 14 with a Grade 1-2 glute strain, tossed a medium intensity bullpen session Tuesday. He felt no pain during or after that session and threw a two-inning simulated game to Juan Uribe and Drew Butera on Wednesday. Ryu will start Sunday, replacing Kevin Correia in the rotation, even though with the rosters expanding Monday, the Dodgers could have waited one more day and activated him without needing to send anyone down.

Michael Wacha, Cardinals - Wacha, out with a stress reaction in his right shoulder since June 17, threw three simulated innings and 45 pitches to a group of Double-A hitters on Wednesday. He has steadily increased his efforts since getting clearance to begin a strengthening and then throwing program a few weeks ago. Wacha is making a rehab start Sunday for Double-A Springfield, where he will throw 30-40 pitches. He could make a second rehab start if the Cardinals still have an affiliate playing. If not, he will return to St. Louis, possibly by the end of the week. It remains to be seen if that will be as a starter or reliever, with John Lackey and Justin Masterson in the rotation, though with Masterson struggling, he is a candidate to get bumped. Wacha got off to a great start, but clearly was hurting before he was sidelined, posting a 4.24 ERA in June, but could be back in about a month to help the Cardinals in their playoff push. Mixed: $6; NL: $17.

Relief Pitchers:

Carter Capps/Alfredo Figaro/Christian Friedrich/Dan Jennings/George Kontos/Tyler Lyons - This week's middle reliever call ups/activations, as well as expected call ups, were/will be in Miami, Milwaukee, Colorado, San Francisco and St. Louis. None have any substantial value, save for Capps and Lyons. Capps could get some set-up work for Miami while Lyons, after getting sent down to the minors in July, went 6-1 with a 3.72 ERA, 40 strikeouts and four walks in 46 innings. If Lyons gets a chance to start, which is an outside possibility, bump him a few dollars. All save for Capps/Lyons - Mixed: No; NL: $0; Capps/Lyons - Mixed: $0; NL: $2.

Ken Giles, Phillies - Those of you who own Giles like I do in the RotoWire Staff League are hoping that Jonathan Papelbon is traded this offseason, opening the door for Giles to close. Giles has shown that he is up to the role, posting a 48:9 K:BB ratio in 33.2 innings with a 1.34 ERA/2.00 xFIP through Tuesday. He has surrendered just one home run and hitters are failing to even make good contact against him, seen by the 17% line drive rate against him. Giles mixes a hard 97+ mph fastball with a nasty, late-breaking slider to retire hitters and both pitches are that of an elite closer. However, ascending to that possible status will have to wait until next year at the earliest, as manager Ryne Sandberg said he has no intentions of giving Giles a chance to close games this season. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.

Kevin Quackenbush/Dale Thayer/Alex Torres, Padres - With Joaquin Benoit again dealing with the sore shoulder that sidelined him 11 days earlier this month, it could be closer by committee in San Diego over the final month of the season. Quackenbush has been stellar lately and been setting up Benoit, while Thayer and Torres appear to be secondary and tertiary options. Quackenbush - Mixed: $2; NL: $7; Dale Thayer/Alex Torres - Mixed: $0; NL: $3.

Sergio Romo, Giants - Two weeks ago, it looked like Romo might get a chance to close some games, as manager Bruce Bochy enabled him to finish a game while Santiago Casilla was struggling. That proved not to be the case, but it looks like that was just a momentary stay for Casilla. Bochy said this week that Romo will share the closing duties with Casilla going forward. Romo, after struggling and losing the closer role in June, has been better lately, posting a 2.08 ERA in his last 18 appearances. That coupled with Casilla's struggles - 4.70 ERA his last eight appearances until he notched a save Thursday - prompted Bochy to make the change. Mixed: $4; NL: $11.


Mike McKenry/Jackson Williams, Rockies - McKenry is seeing additional playing time at catcher with Wiln Rosario landing on the disabled list with a left wrist injury. Matt McBride will also see action behind the plate and with Colorado going nowhere, there is no reason to rush Rosario back, though it's possible he returns by the second week of September. McKenry raked in part-time duty, but his history shows he will struggle with consistent playing time, and if that happens, McBride, who was profiled last week, could gain a larger share of the catching role. Williams, batting .256 with four homers and 34 RBI over 72 games with Triple-A Colorado Springs, was called up to give Colorado an additional catcher with Rosario out. McKenry - Mixed: $1; NL: $4; Williams - Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Injury activation/update:

Yadier Molina, Cardinals - Molina, out since July 9 with a torn ligament in his right thumb, rejoined the Cardinals on Friday for their four-game set against the Cubs. Molina moved fairly quickly from catching a bullpen session to light swings to full workouts and then rehab games. He was to be sidelined eight to 12 weeks but beat that timeframe in coming back Friday. Getting an All-Star catcher back this late, especially one who likely was waived in many fantasy leagues, is a major gift, so bid accordingly. Mixed: $22; NL: $55.

First Basemen:

Ike Davis/Andrew Lambo, Pirates - Davis, who homered in consecutive games this week, started at first base for the fourth straight Saturday with Pedro Alvarez sidelined and wearing a boot on his injured left foot. Recently, Davis had seen his playing time drop due to his struggles and movement of Alvarez across the diamond from third to first. If Alvarez remains sidelined, Davis will see a spike in playing time and mild rise in value. Lambo, hitting .328 with 11 home runs and 42 RBI in 61 games with Triple-A Indianapolis, was promoted with Travis Snider suffering from a hamstring issue. Lambo has been red-hot at the plate, blasting six home runs in his past eight games, could get some action at first as well as both corner outfield spots. Davis - Mixed: $2; NL: $7; Lambo - Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Kyle Parker - Parker had a cup of coffee in July and hit okay since getting since back down to Triple-A Colorado Springs. His power was absent for a while but he has hit three home runs his last 10 games and he will warrant another look with the Rockies with the roster expanding. However, Colorado is still quite deep in the corner outfield and at first base even with Carlos Gonzalez (knee) out for the season, so at-bats might be limited for Parker the final month of the season in the majors. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Injury activation/updates:

John Mayberry, Phillies - Mayberry, out since July 21 with left wrist inflammation, will be activated Monday. He started a short rehab assignment with Triple-A Lehigh Valley on August 19, showing enough that he will come off the disabled list. However, with the Phillies looking towards 2015, don't expect Mayberry to get much playing time. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Joey Votto, Reds - Votto, on the 60-day disabled list with a distal strain of his left quadriceps, took groundballs at first base Wednesday. It's been a lost season for Votto, who has been sidelined twice with the injury. Votto has started to run and swing the bat, but there is no time left for a minor-league rehab stint with that season ending and he still has significant discomfort in his quad. Votto is eligible to return September 4, but won't be activated then and there is a good possibility he misses the remainder of the season. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Second Base:

Emilio Bonifacio, Braves - Bonifacio, acquired by Atlanta before the July 31 pre-waiver deadline, spent much of the first three weeks he was a Brave on the bench. Lately, that has not been the case, as Bonifacio has started seven of the past eight games through Thursday. He went 4-for-5 in that game, which could help him remain a starter, even though Andrelton Simmons, who Bonifacio was filling in for at shortstop, has returned to the lineup. Mixed: $4; NL: $11.

Alex Guerrero, Dodgers -Since coming back to Albuquerque, Guerrero has hit well, but there are questions as to whether he can handle second base defensively. Guerrero should be up in September, but may not see much time with LA in a pennant race. Moving forward, his bat will get in the lineup and he may need to hit well enough to offset his defensive issues to remain there. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Dilson Herrera, Mets - Herrera, acquired along with Vic Black from the Pirates in the Marlon Byrd/John Buck last August, was called up Thursday after Daniel Murphy landed on the disabled list with his strained right calf. Herrera, who started the season at High-A St. Lucie, went 3-for-4 Thursday, upping his line in 61 games at Double-A Binghamton to .340/.406/.560 with 10 home runs but he wasn't expected to contend for a spot until next year. With the Mets going nowhere this season, they elected to give Herrera a chance to show his wares. In addition, Herrera was likely called up over Matt Reynolds since Herrera and not Reynolds needed to be added to the 40-man roster by Nov. 20 to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. Hererra projects to be an above-average starter at second base in the future with a bit of pop and speed while bringing energy to the lineup daily. He may struggle initially and start 2015 at Triple-A, but the future is bright for him. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.

Cory Spangenburg, Padres - Spangenburg could be called up Sunday, but if not, he will be up Monday when the rosters expand. He missed two months with a concussion, coming back in late-June, and should make his major-league debut this week. Spangenburg, selected 10th overall in 2011, is a player who knows the strike zone, makes good contact and has some speed but is not viewed as an elite prospect. He hit .331/.365/.470 in 66 games upon his return to Double-A San Antonio, albeit with just two homers while going 14-for-23 in stolen base attempts. With San Diego looking to the future, Spangenburg should see some time, but will it come at the expense of Jedd Gyorko or Yangervis Solarte? Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Injury activation/update:

Derek Dietrich, Marlins - Dietrich, who landed on the DL with a right wrist strain on July 4, was activated and sent down to Triple-A New Orleans on Tuesday. He went 7-for-21 in his rehab stint and should be up when the rosters expand Monday. Dietrich likely will get another to prove he should Miami's first option at second base. He has shown he can hit a bit, but his defense is a work-in-progress, which will define how much playing time he gets in the future. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.


Everth Cabrera, Padres - Cabrera, sidelined with a hamstring injury for the second time this season, ran some light sprints in the outfield Wednesday. He has already taken grounders and hit in a batting cage but he will need to show he can consistently run without any setbacks before he is activated. The original hope was that Cabrera would rejoin the Padres around when the rosters expand Sept. 1 but he may not be activated until a few days after that. Prior to being sidelined, Cabrera struggled, hitting just .232 with a poor .272 OBA, but he had shown some signs of life, including on the basepaths, after returning from the first hamstring injury at the end of July. Mixed: $4; NL: $11.

Chris Owings, Diamondbacks - Owings, out since June 25 with a strained and slightly dislocated left shoulder, will rejoin the Diamondbacks on Monday. He began a rehab stint with Arizona's Rookie League team on August 17, playing a few games there before joining Triple-A Reno on August 22. The good news is that Owings is no longer altering his swing to compensate for the injury, but instead swinging normally. Owings was hitting .277/.313/.458 over 72 games with six home runs before the injury. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.

Third Basemen:

Maikel Franco, Phillies - After a rough first half, Franco has torn it up since the Triple-A All-Star Game, batting is 308/.313/.552 in 44 games through Thursday. He really turned it up in August, batting .308 with a .552 slugging percentage, bolstered by seven home runs, albeit with one walk and 16 strikeouts. That inability to draw walks and lack of plate discipline are the major areas he needs to work on, but his bat and power should carry forward to the next level. Franco will be up this week and see the majority of the action at the hot corner with Philly looking to the future. Mixed: $5; NL: $14.

Brent Morel, Pirates - Morel, who has had several cups of coffee this year, was called back up Saturday. He will back up Josh Harrison at third base. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Kris Negron, Reds - Negron has been seeing additional time at third base with Todd Frazier manning first in Joey Votto's absence. Negron hit well in the minors to earn a promotion when Brandon Phillips was sidelined and saw much of his time at second while Phillips was out. He has carried that fine play over to the majors, earning more playing time, now at the hot corner. Negron is not a big prospect, but he warrants additional time and could see most of the action at third base, at least until Votto comes back, if that occurs. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.

Injury activation/update:

Juan Uribe, Dodgers - Uribe, sidelined with a tight right hamstring, served as one of the two designated hitters in Hyun-Jin Ryu's simulated game and then ran the bases Wednesday with no incident. Uribe should be back when eligible on August 31, giving the Dodgers stellar defense at the hot corner along with a surprisingly potent bat.


Brandon Barnes, Rockies - Barnes is seeing additional time in right field with Michael Cuddyer (hamstring) sidelined. It's possible that Cuddyer misses the balance of the season. If that proves to be the case, look for Barnes to see playing time versus lefties as well as at DH at times when the Rockies are in AL parks. Mixed: No; NL: $3.

Abraham Almonte, Padres - Almonte, traded by Seattle along with Stephen Kohlscheen to San Diego for Chris Denorfia before the July 31 non-waiver deadline, saw sporadic playing time after first coming over the Padres. That has changed lately, despite the return of Cameron Maybin (suspension) and presence of Will Venable, as Almonte has started nine of the past 11 games through Thursday. Overall, Almonte is batting 18-for-57 (.316) in 18 games for San Diego and he should see solid playing time the last month with the Padres in evaluation mode for 2015. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.

Randal Grichuk, Cardinals -With Shane Robinson (shoulder) landing on the disabled list, the Cardinals called up Grichuk this week. Grichuk had a cup of coffee earlier this season and will fill a similar role as then; fourth/fifth outfielder and pinch-runner off the bench. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Joc Pederson, Dodgers - Pederson's final line at Triple-A Albuquerque was .307/.437/.590 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI and 30 steals in 119 games, as he became the first 30-30 player in the PCL in 80 years. His overall numbers warranted a promotion a long time ago, but a crowded LA outfield kept him in the minors. Pederson plays an excellent defensive center field and his left-handed power plays well regardless of what park he is. He will be up this week with the rosters expanding, though he may not see much time with the Dodgers in a pennant race. Pederson's talent could result in the team moving an outfielder or two this offseason in order to make room next year for him. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.

Stephen Pisciotty, Cardinals - Pisciotty continued his rise on the Cardinals' prospect list last year but hit some road bumps this season. He got off to a hot start, peaking in June, but has struggled since then, batting just .235 since the All-Star Game. Despite that, Pisciotty still profiles as a possible starting or at worst fourth outfielder in the majors. What could hold him back is his lack of true power, though he offsets that with a good approach at the plate and solid contact skills. With St. Louis in a playoff hunt, Pisciotty won't see much time in September, if he is promoted. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Nolan Reimold, Diiamondbacks - Arizona claimed Reimond off waivers from the Blue Jays on Thursday. Reimold, a second-round pick of the Orioles in the 2005 draft, spent parts of 2009-13 with Baltimore, during which he hit .252/.324/.437. He spent much of 2013 recovering from a second surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck, but was designated for assignment on July 1. Reimold was claimed by the Blue Jays, but hit .212/.283/.404 in 22 games, earning another DFA. With Mark Trumbo at first base due to Paul Goldschmidt's injury and Alfredo Marte playing left field, Reimond could get a shot to play left field the final month of the season and prove he deserves a contract to stay in the desert. However, with A.J. Pollock (hand) expected to return Monday, Reimold will likely be deployed primarily off the bench over the final month. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Jorge Soler, Cubs - The next player in the Cubs' prospect pipeline to get called them year is Soler, who was promoted and started in left field Wednesday. Soler, who signed a nine-year, $30 million contract with the Cubs in 2012, was batting .338/.432/.687 with 14 home runs and 54 RBI through 61 games across three minor league levels this season to earn the call up. He moved in July from Double-A Daytona to Triple-A Iowa, where he hit .282 with eight home runs in 32 games; heating up the past week or so after a slump. Soler, despite his high strikeout rate, has shown a solid walk rate in the minors, so while his batting average might suffer a bit in the move to the big leagues, he could have a decent OBA while posting strong power numbers. He got off to a good start blasting a home run in his first at-bat Wednesday against Mat Latos and has continue to hit home runs his first few days in the majors. Mixed: $45; NL: $75 (based on trying to win this year, but if lots more minor leaguers get called up, scale the bid down a little bit).

Jose Tabata, Pirates - Tabata, who was sent down in June to make room for Gregory Polanco, got the call to replace Polanco, who was struggling and needs to regain his confidence, which could come in the minors. At the time he was demoted, Tabata was hitting .289/.327/.331 with four doubles and 14 RBI in 62 games and he posted similar numbers in 39 games with Triple-A Indianapolis, batting .281/.337/.349 with 12 RBI. He will be a fourth outfielder for Pittsburgh, but could see more time than that if Andrew McCutchen has any setback from his rib injury. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.

Injury activation/update:

A.J. Pollock, Diamondbacks - Pollock, who had successful surgery on June 2 to repair his broken hand, will be promoted when the rosters expand September 1. He began his rehab with the Diamondbacks' rookie-level affiliate about a month ago, progressing to Triple-A Reno, where he played three games before getting he was sidelined due to swellng in his hand resulting from him getting hit by a pitch while he was playing in the Rookie League. Pollock probably has been ready to return for a few days but Arizona opted to keep him down with the team going nowhere ans promote him when the rosters expand. Pollock, the team's starting center fielder, was batting .316/.366/.554 with six homers and 15 RBI in 52 games. Mixed: $5; NL: $14.