Saturday Fantasy Pickup: Daniel Mengden, P, Athletics

Mengden will not be found high on top prospect lists but he may prove to be a hidden gem based on the season he is having. His ascension this season was rapid — he had not pitched above High-A prior to this spring.

After cruising through four Double-A starts with a 0.78 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 23 innings, Mengden was fast tracked to Triple-A where he was nearly as dominant. He had a 1.39 ERA and 0.84 WHIP in seven turns at Triple-A before being summoned to the A’s. Despite an 0-3 start, Mengden has delivered with a 3.00 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and 21 Ks in 18 innings.

Friday Fantasy Pickup: Cody Reed, P, Reds

Reed was part of the Reds’ haul in the Johnny Cueto deal last July, and made his debut with the organization at Double-A Pensacola. In eight starts for the Blue Wahoos, Reed went 6-2 with a 2.17 ERA and 1.12 WHIP while racking up 60 strikeouts in just 49.2 innings. Promoted to Triple-A Louisville to begin 2016, he posted a 3.20 ERA and 1.18 WHIP over 64.2 innings while whiffing 63 batters before his recent call to the bigs.

The left-hander was selected in the second round of the 2013 draft by the Royals. He’s a top-three prospect in the Reds organization and a consensus top-100 prospect in all of baseball. He stands 6-foot-5 and weighs in at a solid 225 pounds, and the 23-year-old uses that frame to pump his fastball in near the mid-90s on average. Reed also has a downright filthy slider that can dominate hitters on both sides of the plate. Impressive for such a young gun, there’s a refined third weapon in Reed’s arsenal as well. Option three is a changeup that comes in at close to the same speed as his slider.

Cincinnati’s hope for the future put his repertoire on display in his MLB debut June 18 against the Astros. Of Reed’s nine punchouts, the slider went for the final strike on six of them. His secondary pitches induced a ridiculous number of swings and misses — a whiff rate of 32.4 percent. The rookie will likely deal with hiccups along the way, but Reed is already a polished pitcher and will only get better with time.

Other Recent Recommendations: Tyler Naquin, A.J. Pollock, Devon Travis, Matt Moore, Justin Turner, Willson Contreras

RotoWire & FanDuel Fantasy Baseball Championship – Week 12

Summer is officially upon us, meaning time is running out to qualify for the championship round of 2016 RWBC tournament. All RotoWire users can sign up and show off their skills, as we have teamed up with FanDuel to run a $10, multi-entry contest exclusively for you every Friday from April 8 to July 15 for cash prizes and entries into the $5,000 championship that will be held on July 22. All you need to do is beat half the field in order to get cash, with the top-10 users from each event eligible to play for the crown. You can view the rules and enter the contest by clicking here.

 RotoWire writers play in a league that is separate from the reader base. Why? What goes on in this private league? Wouldn’t you like to know?

Thursday Fantasy Pickup: Tyler Naquin, OF, Indians

Naquin has now amassed a solid 107 at-bat sample at the major league level, and has done nothing to suggest that his solid minor league career has been a mirage. The 25-year-old posted wOBAs of .366, .383, .354, .359, .403, .359 and .344 over seven different minor-league stints of various duration, and has managed to best all of those numbers with his current .394 figure with the Indians in 2016. He’s even displayed much better power at this level than at any other time during his professional career.

There’s stolen base potential here as well, although it hasn’t truly manifested itself as of yet. Naquin posted double-digit steals at two minor league stops, and tallied OBP figures between .345 and .419 in seven of eight minor league stints as well. He’s managed average to above-average K/BB rates throughout his pro career, so his current 31.9 percent strikeout rate, six points higher than his previous high in a Double-A stint in 2013, is bound to shrink over time as he continues to adjust to big league pitching.

Finally, playing time remains on Naquin’s side at the moment. He’s solid on defense and has certainly done plenty to contribute, as evidenced by his .318/.376/.551 line. He’s also capable of playing all three outfield positions, and the Indians currently have two players at those spots on suspension (Marlon Byrd, Abraham Almonte) and one on the DL (Michael Brantley) with no clear timetable for return. The 2012 first-round pick thus seems to figure in heavily in Cleveland’s plans as the season approaches its midway point, and could well be a factor for the duration of the 2016 campaign.

Other Recent Recommendations: A.J. Pollock, Devon Travis, Matt Moore, Justin Turner, Willson Contreras

Wednesday Fantasy Pickup: A.J. Pollock, OF, Diamondbacks

When it was reported a few weeks ago that Pollock is dead set on returning this year and intends to resume baseball activities July 1, it flew rather under the radar, but indeed, the star outfielder is making steady progress and we’re now just over a week away from that date. At this point, it seems reasonable to expect that Pollock might well return within about two weeks after the All-Star break, with my most pessimistic estimation being Aug. 1. That means it’s time to beat the rush and quietly scoop Pollock up in any leagues where he’s been cut to the wire. Personally, I’m a Pollock owner who was hit hard by his freak (post-fantasy-drafts, naturally) injury in March, and it’s thrilling to hear positive signs about his progress.

I don’t think you need to be told what Pollock brings to the table, but in case you’ve got a goldfish memory (not a true thing, by the way — we need to figure out a new metaphor here), the guy hit .315 with 20 homers and 39 steals last year. Picking a player like him up off the wire — and he is on many, many waiver wires — in midseason is like winning the lottery. You’d like to win the lottery, wouldn’t you? Well, now you can.

Other Recent Recommendations: Devon Travis, Matt Moore, Justin Turner, Willson Contreras

Tuesday Fantasy Pickup: Devon Travis, 2B, Blue Jays

Having spent roughly the first two months of the season on the disabled list with a shoulder injury, it’s no wonder that Travis wasn’t widely owned coming out of most drafts before the season.  His tough .152/.204/.293 slash line in his first 12 games back from the DL certainly didn’t help his cause, either.  However, as the Blue Jays’ bats have heated up with the summer weather, so has Travis’ bat.

Monday Fantasy Pickup: Matt Moore, P, Rays

Once a stud prospect, Moore is still finding himself following Tommy John surgery two years ago. Moore broke onto the scene in 2011 when, after getting a September call-up, he tossed seven scoreless innings in Game 1 of the ALDS. A year later, he tossed 177.1 innings, racking up 175 strikeouts and posting a respectable 3.81 ERA. In 2013, he lowered the ERA to 3.29 and won 17 games.

Looking to build on the promising start to his career in 2014, Moore instead only made it through two games before suffering a torn UCL. Moore returned to the mound in July 2015 but struggled initially, prompting a demotion to Triple-A, though he did return to make six September starts in which he posted a 2.97 ERA. That good finish to 2015 didn’t carry over to the beginning of 2016, as Moore posted a 5.56 ERA through his first 12 starts of the season.

It’s been a different story the last two starts, however. In those starts, Moore threw a total of 13 innings and allowed just two earned runs. He also struck out 15 batters. So is Moore now all the way “back?” That might be reading too much into just two starts. But Moore is talented, and his performance the last two games should make prospective fantasy owners take notice. Plus, there are signs that point to continued success: Moore’s BB/9 this season would be a new career low and his average fastball velocity (92.7 MPH) is up from last year (92.0 MPH). It might be worth it to take a flier on Moore now with the hope that he truly is getting back to form.

Other Recent Recommendations: Justin Turner, Willson Contreras, Rajai Davis, Ryan Rua, Alex Bregman, Zach Davies